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12 Fun Writing Games for Kids to Improve Writing Skills

by | Aug 10, 2023 | Core Skills

Writing can feel daunting to young learners—there are so many letters to memorize, sounds to recall, and words to spell! You might be wondering what the best writing games are to help your child learn to write.

The Short Cut

  • Learning to write is essential to developing Core Skills, one of the 5 C’s at the heart of the Begin Approach to helping kids thrive in school and life. 
  • Early learners with strong Core Skills (like reading and writing!) do better in school and build a solid foundation for all other learning
  • Writing games work well for teaching kids because they tap into kids’ natural love of play

Begin has your family covered with simple and engaging writing games! With minimal equipment required, these activities can be set up within minutes and provide tons of fun opportunities to learn.

Before we dive into our favorite writing games, let’s discover why writing is important in child development.

Why Writing Is Crucial to Development

From their early scribbles to drawing recognizable letters, writing is a useful form of self-expression for young children and allows their ideas to flow more easily. It’s also a critical Core Skill that helps kids with all other areas of learning as they get older.

What’s more, the alphabetic code is reversible, so children who use sounds to determine words for writing are simultaneously advancing their ability to read coherently. Win-win!

This is a lifelong skill that your child will use every day, so it’s important to know how to best nurture and develop emergent literacy skills from a young age.

By playing the writing games outlined below and taking the time to practice, your young writer will be an expert in no time!

Why Games Are Important for Learning

Fun Writing Games for kids to improve Creativity and Learning

You know that it’s important for your child to develop writing skills, but you may be wondering why you should incorporate games into their learning.

Why can’t your child just sit down with a pen and paper to practice writing?

Less Stressful Learning

Being asked to sit down and practice writing skills can be daunting for some kids. It can also be frustrating when they come across letters or words they struggle with. Reach back in your own memories and you might find some frustration there—it’s no different for your own kids.

Games, on the other hand, decrease stress levels and get children excited about learning.

While playing learning games, your child will not only be practicing their writing skills, but they’ll also be more focused on completing the fun activity than getting frustrated that they can’t write the uppercase Q, Z, or J.

When children see that learning doesn’t have to be tense or highly stressful, it can also change their perception of educational activities. In fact, they may be more willing to participate in future educational games.

Motivation

Providing natural motivation is one of the biggest advantages of playing writing games.

Kids are more likely to pay attention to the instructions and participate when they see the activity is fun. This is much more effective for teaching writing (and other) skills than simply handing them a worksheet.

Some educational games also allow children to play in pairs or groups. Interacting with peers or family members in this way is an excellent opportunity to develop critical social skills, such as listening to others, communicating effectively, and taking turns.

Friendly Competition

Kids can be very competitive—with their friends, siblings, and sometimes even with mom and dad. Playing writing games can foster a spirit of fun, healthy competition that helps kids learn by tapping into their desire to win.

Plus, if you involve multiple children in these activities, the child who wins can learn to congratulate their fellow competitors and not just brag about their accomplishment. And the one who loses can learn to celebrate another person’s win and keep trying.

Critical Thinking Skills

By nature, most games require participants to incorporate Critical Thinking skills (another of the 5 C’s), planning, and Creativity (yet another of the 5 C’s!). That’s a lot of mental work.

Writing—and other types of educational—games can help your child develop these essential life skills.

Now that we’re clear on why writing games are important, let’s get into the activities you can introduce to your child today.

We’ve divided these into three sections—writing games for preschoolers and kindergarteners, first graders, and second graders. So, feel free to scroll to the relevant section for your family, and let the games begin!

Writing Games for Preschoolers and Kindergarteners

Kid doing writing games

1. Disappearing Letters

What You’ll Need

  • A chalkboard
  • Chalk
  • A paintbrush
  • A cup of water

What to Do

Start this activity by writing a repeated letter, word, or your child’s name on the chalkboard using your chalk. If you’re writing a single letter, start by writing it five times in a row.

Dip the paintbrush in the cup of water and have your child trace over each of the letters, erasing them one by one.

Once your child has mastered one letter, move on to multiple letters until they’re comfortable using this activity to “write” their name and short CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words like dog and cat.

This activity is great for working on developing your child’s fine motor skills as well as their spelling abilities, which will aid them as they take pencil to paper!

2. Hands-On Writing

What You’ll Need

  • A tray or bin
  • A fun material such as sand, flour, or shaving cream—anything that can hold a shape
  • A pen and piece of paper (optional)

What to Do

To start this activity, grab a tray or bin that’s deep enough to hold your chosen material.

Fill your tray and bin with sand, flour, shaving cream, or anything else that can be used to form a shape. This is what your child will use to develop their writing skills!

Say a letter to your child (or write the letter on a piece of paper for them to copy, if needed) and have them write the letter in the sand, flour, or shaving cream with their finger.

Eventually, you can work your way up to having your child write whole words, like their name, or people and things they love (favorite foods or toys, friend and family names, etc).

Don’t worry too much about what the letters look like—even scribbles are OK! Whatever your child writes to produce a letter or word is great progress.

This activity lets you make writing a fun, sensory experience! Try using different materials to keep your child engaged and to learn more about the world around them while they practice their writing skills.

You could also use a fingerpainting method for this writing game to work in some colorful fun!

3. Yarn Letters

What You’ll Need

  • Blank sheets of paper
  • Pencils
  • Yarn
  • Child-safe scissors
  • Glue

What to Do

Grab the blank sheet of paper and help your child draw a letter of the alphabet with a pencil. Then hand them the yarn, scissors, and glue, and help them trace the letter by cutting and gluing the string onto its shape.

Performing this task is an effective way for your child to develop their fine motor skills, a key component of writing. In addition, this hands-on activity allows children to continue learning their letters.

Writing Games for First Graders

Two kids playing writing games

4. Roll the Dice

What You’ll Need

  • A piece of paper
  • A pen or pencil
  • A dice

What to Do

This writing game is all about creating a fun story with your child using dice to determine how many words you get to add each turn!

Start by having your child choose a main character, a setting, and a problem. For example, your character might be a cat, your setting might be a garden, and the problem might be that the cat needs to find some food.

Write the first sentence of your story based on the character, setting, and problem you’ve chosen with your child. Using our example above, the first sentence might be, “Once, there was a cat in a garden who couldn’t find any food.”

After you write the first sentence, have your child roll the dice. Whatever number the dice lands on is the number of words they’ll add to the story—not one word more or less!

You can assist your child by sounding out tricky words and helping them write if needed. Once they’ve added their words, it’s your turn to roll the dice and write your next round of words based on the dice number.

Take up to five turns each before finishing your story together by choosing an ending. Then read your story aloud to see how it all flows!

5. Speech Bubbles

What You’ll Need

  • A piece of paper for drawing, or a printed cartoon
  • A pen or pencil

What to Do

For this activity, start by having your child draw a picture with a character or two. You could draw this scene together or use character printables to color and decorate together.

Once you’ve finished creating your characters, it’s time for each of you to draw and fill in a speech bubble for your character’s thoughts (or a conversation bubble, if you drew more than one character).

For example, if your character is a dog, maybe he’s standing by an empty bowl. What might a hungry dog say? Some options could be, “Where’s my food?” or “I hope they bring pizza!”

Let your child’s imagination run wild when filling in the speech bubbles and make this activity even more enjoyable by writing down all suggestions, including the silly ones!

Speech bubbles are some of the most fun options for writing games as they’re quick, easy, and short for young writers.

This may help your child feel less intimidated as they explore more words to add to their vocabulary and practice forming their letters correctly.

6. Birthday Cards

Kids doing arts and crafts

What You’ll Need

  • Colored pens or crayons
  • Pencils
  • Blank birthday card

What to Do

Birthdays are a day most people look forward to. For kids, this day usually means lots of gifts, games, a birthday cake, and, of course, birthday cards.

Help your child create a unique birthday card for their friend, neighbor, cousin, sibling, mom, or dad—whoever they want! Once they select the recipient, get the supplies you need and help them write a sweet message for their loved one.

This is a wonderful activity for your child to practice putting their thoughts on paper. They can also add flowers, hearts, stickers, or anything else that will help to make the card extra special.

Note: This activity can be used for any occasion, not just birthdays. Is it the holidays? Has the family been invited to a graduation party? Do you have a family member who’s not feeling well?

All of these are excellent opportunities to create a special card for a loved one and practice writing at the same time!

7. Map Out the Story

What You’ll Need

  • A blank sheet of paper
  • Colored pencils (or crayons)

What to Do

The aim of this writing game is simple: create a setting for a story.

Children love when a book they’re reading includes pictures and a map to bring the story to life. With this activity, they get to create their own!

All your child needs to do is draw a map of the story setting of their choosing, labeling the different areas. This can be a story they’ve read or one that’s just popped into their head. It really doesn’t matter as long as they’re excited about it.

To help them get started, you can ask prompting questions, like:

  • Does your story take place on land or in water?
  • If it’s on land, what and who lives on that land?
  • If it takes place in water, what types of interesting creatures are there?
  • What’s the weather like?
  • How many characters are there?
  • Where do these characters live?
  • What do the characters do?
  • Are there any landmarks?

Once your child is clear about the world of the story, it’s time to draw and create it. Now you can also help your child write a story that takes place in their invented world.

For this activity, we’re not expecting incredible artwork or penmanship. Instead, the main focus is to have kids practice gripping pens or pencils, and of course writing.

Writing Games for Second Graders

Young girl in class playing writing games

8. Grocery List Writing

What You’ll Need

  • A piece of paper for making your list
  • A pen or pencil

What to Do

Turn the task of writing your grocery list into a game!

You can do this as part of a make-believe or role-playing game with your child, or you can create a real grocery list together before the shopping gets done.

Try planning out some meals for the week ahead, and then make a list with your child for each of the ingredients needed. Explain that writing a list helps us to remember all the things we need to buy, and discuss what items you might need to purchase.

Keep it simple and help your child by sounding out words as they write. Once the list is written, your child can enjoy checking off each item one by one after it’s been put in the cart!

9. Household I-Spy

What You’ll Need

  • Two pieces of paper (one for you and one for your child)
  • Two pens or pencils (one for you and one for your child)
  • A timer or timer app

What to Do

One of our favorite writing games is this version of I-Spy with a twist!

Grab your paper and write each letter of the alphabet down the left-hand side. Once you and your child have each written the alphabet on your respective papers, set your timer for 10 minutes.

You’ll then race from room to room to find and write down as many objects as possible that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Write each object next to its corresponding letter and fill in as many as you can within the time limit.

You could also set a handicap for this writing game to raise the stakes! For example, if your child’s time limit is 10 minutes, cut yours in half so that you have to find as many objects as possible in five minutes.

10. Accordion Storytelling

What You’ll Need

  • A sheet of paper
  • Pen
  • Ruler

What to Do

The first player will start the story at the top of your clean sheet of paper by writing two sentences on separate lines. They can write about any topic they want.

When they’re done writing, they’ll need to fold the paper over the first sentence and pass the paper on to the next player. This means that the first sentence won’t be seen. The next writer will only be able to see the second sentence on the page.

This player will need to write their own two sentences based on the line they can see. After that, they’ll fold down the first line of what they wrote and pass it on to the next player, too. The paper will continue to be passed around and folded like an accordion.

The round ends once all the paper has been folded up, and there’s no space left to write. Once you’ve reached this stage, open it up and read the story aloud together.

What interesting story did you come up with? Get ready to have a good laugh!

Note: You can take turns reading one sentence each, or you can nominate one person to read the whole story to everyone.

This is a great game to play with the whole family or even just two people, although it is the most fun with at least three players. It will encourage both creativity and writing skills!

11. Pen Pal Writing

Boy playing writing games

What You’ll Need

  • Paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • A pen pal

What to Do

Writing letters to pen pals is very traditional. In a nutshell, it involves two people in a long-distance friendship who communicate by writing letters to each other.

Now, with the advancement of technology, very few people still do this via snail mail. But it can be a great way to encourage children to write!

Who can your child write to? They can choose a friend who’s moved schools, a cousin who lives in another state, or their grandparents. It can be anyone they’d like to send a message to!

This is a fun way to help children learn about mailing letters and how the postal system works. They also get to create memories and can keep the letters their pen pal writes to reflect on for years to come!

12. Rewrite the Ending

What You’ll Need

  • Paper
  • Pen or pencils
  • Storybook

What to Do

Children will need to exercise their imaginations to play this game.

To get started, read a book out loud to your child. (This can be an old favorite or a new story.) Once you’ve finished reading, encourage them to create their own version of the ending.

It can be challenging for children to imagine their favorite stories in a different way, so you might need to help your child think outside the box:

  • What if the frog never turned into a prince but into a big elephant instead?
  • What if the three little pigs learned karate and decided to fight the wolf?
  • Could the little mermaid have a twin sister she just discovered?

This activity lets your child exercise their imagination while also practicing their writing skills. If this is done with multiple kids, it will be fun to see what exciting versions of the script each child comes up with.

Enjoy Learning to Write with Begin!

Mom helping daughter with writing games

From creating sensory play activities with sand and fingerpaints to writing a grocery list together, there are so many ways to get creative with your child and make writing a fun shared activity. We hope this guide inspires you with some new favorite writing games!

For even more writing fun, check out the fun digital games in our award-winning HOMER early learning app or unbox a learning adventure with our HOMER Explore Letters Kit. Watch your child build their literacy skills, using their imagination to lead them through a variety of writing and spelling activities!

Author

  • Dr. Jody LeVos

    As our Chief Learning Officer, Jody leads a highly knowledgeable team of early learning experts at Begin. She has a Ph.D. in Developmental Science, focused on children’s mathematical and cognitive development.

Dr. Jody LeVos
As our Chief Learning Officer, Jody leads a highly knowledgeable team of early learning experts at Begin. She has a Ph.D. in Developmental Science, focused on children’s mathematical and cognitive development.