Writing Skills

Below are some 21st century writing skills you may want to touch on.  If you are in a state that requires a portfolio review, I have found that having a few of these activities to show can be a benefit.

Writing Skills (printable checklist)

1. Friendly Letter 

  • To grandma
  • To a pen pal

2. Business Letter 

  • To the President or a Senator / Representative
  • A letter of complaint (or thanks) to a company

3. Titles and Subtitles

  • Work on proper punctuation when editing writing projects

4. References

  • Cite references when doing copywork

5. Dictionary Use

6. Thesaurus Use

  • Start working crossword puzzles; make liberal use of a crossword puzzle dictionary
  • Use a thesaurus when editing writing projects
  • WORDSTORM.  Love this.  An open-ended thesaurus of sorts that also maps word associations.

7. Parts of a Book

  • Wikipedia on Book Design
  • Visit the library and ask a librarian to give you a tour.
    • Library Scavenger Hunt
  • Choose one Part and mention it to your child a few times when reading books
    • Author
    • Illustrator
    • Call number
    • Front
    • Back
    • Title page
    • Text
    • Pictures
    • Table of contents
    • Index
    • Chapters
    • Glossary
    • Bibliography
    • Sidebars
    • Charts
    • Preface
    • Introduction
    • Dedication
    • Foreword
    • Prologue
    • Epilogue
    • Captions
    • Footnotes
    • Prequels
    • Sequels

8. Elements of a Story

9. Literary Devices

  • Teaching ideas at Instructional Strategies Online
  • Explained by Disney movies.
  • Antonyms
  • Synonyms
  • Simile
  • Metaphor
  • Extended Metaphor
    • Character is the diamond that scratches every other stone.  -Bartol
    • Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke. – Beaconsfield
    • Happiness is always the inaccessible castle which sinks in ruin when we set foot on it. -Houssaye
  • Imagery
  • Personification
  • Hyperbole
  • Idioms
  • Allegory
  • Analogy
  • Foreshadowing
  • Oxymoron
  • Pun
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Alliteration
  • Assonance
  • Consonance

10. Writing: Fiction

  • Read, do copywork from, and compose:
    • Picture books
    • Story books
    • Chapter books
    • Fairy tales
    • Folk tales
    • Mystery
    • Legends
    • Novels
    • Fantasy
    • Fables
    • Historical fiction
    • Tall tales
    • Myth

11. Writing: Non-Fiction

  • Read, do copywork from, and compose:
    • Signs
    • Labels
    • Lists
    • Logs
    • Telephone books
    • Instructions
    • Informational books
    • Autobiography
    • Biography
    • Newspaper
    • Magazines
    • Schedules
    • Historical documents
    • Atlas
    • Letters
    • Journals
    • Summaries / paraphrase
    • Rules
    • Research
    • Persuasion
    • Comparison

12. Writing: Poetry

Years 1-3

  • Go to Librivox and search for “children’s short works.” Download one or more collections for listening.
  • Nursery Rhymes
  • Short Poems
  • Narrative Poems

Years 4+

  • Go to Librivox and browse for works that interest your child.
  • Make listening to poetry part of the family routine.
    • While working on art projects
    • While lying on a blanket in the woods
    • During poetry tea-time once a week
  • Learn how to analyze poetry.
  • Learn to write different forms of poetry, if so inclined.  Shadow Poetry has an exhaustive listing of types of poems with examples.
    • acrostic
    • ballad
    • cinquain
    • etc


  1. I just found your web site in a search of right- brain kids and homeschooling. I am so excited to use some of your ideas!! My kids will love them. Please keep posting more:)

    1. Stacey – I am so glad it can be of use! I’ve had all this stuff floating in various folders and bookmarks for years, but I finally found some time to put it in one place. Right now I’m beefing up the main pages and posting a little; after that I’ll post more regularly.

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