Let me start this post off by saying that I am a writer. I love the whole writing process. I have never been a very outgoing or talkative person, but give me a blank sheet of paper or a word processor and I can fill page after page with my thoughts while enjoying every minute of it! I always did just fine learning with traditional workbooks, essay questions, book reports, and research papers.
BUT I have discovered that writing does not come so easy for everyone. Boys especially seem to have a more difficult time getting their thoughts put into words on paper. They have better things to do!
I have a brother 8 years younger than me who did not like writing! He is a hyper, creative, imaginative, talented, extremely smart young man; but writing reports or even filling in blanks in workbooks just was never his "thing." He would NOT have thrived in the public school system at all! But homeschooling allowed him to explore his interests in his own special way, and he is now a successful adult soon to graduate from college!
God, in His infinite wisdom, has blessed me with at least one son (Big Brother) who is so much like his uncle it is SCARY!
So in trying to find ways to make learning more meaningful and engaging for Big Brother, I have compiled a list of 10 Fun Report Alternatives for Reluctant Writers! Many of these were things my own brother used to do when we were growing up as homeschoolers.
These can be adapted and used for all ages and grade levels!
1. Give an Oral Report or Speech
Is your reluctant writer a big talker? Let them speak! Instead having them struggle to write their book reports, field trip reports, or research reports down on paper, give them the opportunity to present their report orally.
This can be as simple or as elaborate as you and your student wish! Sometimes I will just ask Big Brother to tell me what he's learned about a topic, and he will just sit beside me and tell me what he knows in a very casual, conversational manner. This is a very simple way for me to evaluate his comprehension.
My own brother would actually set up something like a pretend press conference where he would put on his church clothes, set up a podium and microphone in our living room, and give a speech on a topic for all the family to hear. After his speeches he would answer questions from the "audience." Other times we would have mock debates with one another. This made for some fun family memories while giving him a way to show what he knew without having to be bogged down with the work of writing.
2. Put on a Play
I cannot tell you how many times Daniel Boone (my brother) rescued his daughter (me) from the Indians who kidnapped her and her friends in our living room growing up! All children learn through play, so why not make the most of it?!
Let them have fun acting out what they have learned for you! This can be complete with costumes, props, backdrops, songs, sound effects, etc. Puppets are fun to make and do shows with, too!
3. Make a Video
We videoed many of my brother's speeches and plays so there would be record of them. He has also always had a passion for making his own movies. He filmed everything from battles to moon landings growing up, just depending on what he was reading about or interested in at any given time.
Give your reluctant writer access to a video camera and let them create a movie, documentary, or commercial about their book or research topic. Then pop some popcorn and enjoy the results!
4. Record an Audio Drama or Radio Show
My brother had his own FM radio transmittor he had built in his bedroom. His station broadcast around the block. He also had a tape recorder and was kept supplied with blank cassette tapes (this was in the 90's...he records digitally now!).
Your student who would not write you a paragraph to read may just surprise you with what they can record for you to listen to! They can tell stories from history, create a radio drama of their favorite book, or host a talk show and discuss current events. Allow them time to go all out with theme music, sound effects, and fun voices.
Once again we find an educational use for everybody's favorite building toys! Big Brother has built the Alamo numerous times with LEGO bricks then acted out the famous battle with his mini-figures! This fun playtime letsme know he is learning from things we read, hear, and see.
After a reading or other learning assignment, challenge your student to recreate some aspect of the lesson using LEGO! (I have a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to LEGO Learning. You will want to be sure to follow!
6. Create a Diorama or Model
This can be as simple as using a shoe box and some toy soldiers or getting models from a hobby store. Encourage your student to create a scene from a book, replicate a historical event, or build a model of something they have studied for science. Lincoln logs can build a cabin or fort. Popcicle sticks can build boats or people. Encourage their imagination and creativity!
Does your student like to draw, color, paint, sculpt, sew, etc.? Have them illustrate something they have learned about instead of asking for a written paper!
8. Create a Powerpoint Presentation
This can be really fun, especially if your student is into technology! In several college classes I have taken, I was required to make Powerpoint presentations on various topics I was studying. So this would be an especially good assignment idea for high schoolers!
9. Character Dress Up
Allow your student to "become" a character from a book or historical figure for a while! Let them dress up, use props, play, and perhaps give a presentation. This is so fun! Big Brother has put pots on his head to be Johnny Appleseed, dressed in red and worn a badge to pretend he was a Canadian Mounty, put on gray pants and shirt to be a Confederate soldier, and dawned his coonskin cap to lead the pioneers through the Cumberland Gap as Daniel Boone! Be sure to take pictures and videos of these special "homeschool moments!"
10. Create a display
Three-panel display boards are available at Walmart or any hobby store. We used to create displays with these every year to show things we had learned, trips we had taken, etc. and displayed them at our homeschool group's end of year program. Big Brother is going to be starting on his end of year display soon. These are also often used for science and history fair projects. Give one of these boards to your child and ask them to display things they have learned with pictures, writing, art, stickers, etc. Then take pride together in all they have learned!!
Many of these activities are even fun and beneficial for students who actually do like to write, and they could be completed in addition to a writing or workbook assignment if you like.
Have you found this post inspiring? What fun things do your students do to let you know that they are learning?
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