If your children or students are bored with writing a clear-cut “How-to” assignment, here’s a twist—let them write it in story or visual format with their personal commentaries. In keeping with the mission of the newSongpress.net, young authors also are encouraged to write with a Christian perspective. This blog post will present information to help young writers with writing how-to expository writing, with one example from learning an athletic skill and the other from hands-on furniture restoration. Plus, through March 1, 2023, there will be a contest. See the end of this blog post for details.
Many children and teens like to write stories
Here’s a way to give their stories some structure…
Jesus often taught in parables. Throughout time, people have loved to hear stories, and it can be another great way to teach readers how to do things well. Plus, your children or students may want to add inspiring or inquiring words to share their faith in their stories.
Here’s an example you can share in teaching this approach--
The sound of the whistle pierced the air. Olivia shot from the platform and into the pool. Dan dove in the lane next to Olivia's and whipped out dolphin kicks. The other racers joined in their own lanes, all face down. In seconds they worked the flutter kick, like machines in constant motion. Toes pointed. Legs straight. Power came from hips wobbling back and forth and legs rising and lowering fast. Power came from their arms, too, as they pulled them back through the water, one at a time. Quick side breaths were caught, in rhythm with the arms, for most, on the right arm reach. Next, each swimmer blew bubbles into the water, chin tucked, and reached forward with the other arm, thumb angled slightly downward, till the hand sliced the water. An extra stretch of the leading arm rolled the shoulder, keeping the swimmer streamlined, like a fish.
Each time Olivia pulled her arm back under the water, she scooped water with her hand, fast, fast, to get it out of her way. Then she rammed her bent elbow up out into the air, cleared her arm from the drag of the water and reached forward again for another watery slice.
No time to look at others. No time to pause, but in her brain, Olivia pleaded with God to give her strength. Words from Isaiah 12:2 lit her mind…the LORD is my strength and my song…
The shouts from the crowd on the side bleachers reverberated against the walls. Tick, tick, tick.
Dan flip turned first when he reached the far end of the pool. Before any bubbles could pop, Olivia flip turned. Her feet shoved off the wall. Think skills. Think skills.
Everyone splashed and glided through the refreshing water to claim the 50-yard finish line. Olivia and Dan led the pack. Then they both stretched an arm to touch the other end of the pool at the same second. Astonished, they laughed and slapped a high five. Olivia squeezed her eyes for a quick prayer of thanks.
To get started…
Your children/students can make a list of things they enjoy doing and know very well. For instance, walking a dog, setting up a tent, cooking, or riding a bicycle. In my story, I captured the steps for swimming the front crawl, as some call it, freestyle. My challenge to your writers is to first think, picture, and then write the steps of how to do something and then turn it into a story. Did you notice that the story format caught your attention, but when I switched into expository writing to explain, the action was gone! Maybe you even noticed a slowdown in your interest?
Jesus knew people LOVE stories. He taught with many parables, which are short stories that teach a lesson or religious principle, such as the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus used this story to help us learn about God’s awesome love for all of us. Through the powerful messages in this story, we also learn how to care for and help each other.
Parents and teachers, you can tell the young people in your lives, they don’t have to write a story every time to explain how to do something, but they can try it to see how their readers really pay attention to what they are teaching. Plus, they might have fun! They can even add in some humor, like--
My sheepdog stepped in the gooey, white glue I forgot to close and move out of the way.
That may sound more interesting than just writing--
When you are done with the glue, make sure to close it and keep it safe.
In my swim story, if a cut away from the action was desired, a funny antic by someone on the bleachers could be added.
Your writers can also add in more details than I did, such as what their characters look like and say to each other.
At the end of their how-to stories, writers can recap and list the important steps.
Like a recipe format, list all the needed supplies. Then list the steps in the correct order for making their creations or completing their skills.
(If your young writers are writing about their cooking projects, there are several kid-friendly recipes in Dig Deeper: a Discussion and Activity Guide for Victor Survives Being a Kid. It’s a free download and the recipes can show children and teens a format for writing their recipes. Click here if you want access to the free download. Also, at the end of this post I will refer to one of the recipes, from an earlier blog post.)
My friend, Silvia Ferrara, had an excellent idea, especially for young children with big imaginations. Write how unicorns brush their teeth. Sounds like a fun picture book to me! Then, I recommend young writers list the steps they use for brushing their own teeth. One could even turn this into a compare and contrast with how a unicorn vs. the writers brush their teeth. Children do need to learn how to write compare and contrasts! 😊 Now perhaps your young writers want to turn their how-to assignments into something preposterous first, have some fun, and then add on a more serious version that pertains to their personal experience.
Another story format is a personal anecdote, where the writer gives details of personal experience while creating a project or skill set.
We often see this in videos on YouTube. Because we are seeking for our children/students to develop their writing skills, here is a personal anecdote approach for a how-to- on furniture restoration. It was created by Amber Hale, a multi-passionate entrepreneur who writes on her two blogs, is a health coach, a social media manager for businesses, and also enjoys thrifting vintage items for resale.
This project may interest older youth and inspire them with their own creativity. They may also be motivated to sell their products or give them as gifts.
May God bless your writing times with your children or students. May God’s love shine brightly on all your teaching, and may your young writers have much joy in sharing their How-to writing projects with family, friends, or classmates. This style of writing lends nicely for students to practice public speaking by presenting their own area of expertise with lots of hands-on items to show while they present. Who knows, maybe they will present their work on YouTube or another social media audience!
An important focus of new Song Press is to inspire Christian parents, teachers, and pastors to guide youth to be young authors. If your children/students are interested in starting a blog, you can go to kidslearntoblog.com to read about different programs such as Edublog and Kidblog.
Your young authors also might like to query other bloggers about being a guest blogger on their websites. They can ask the bloggers for a copy of the guidelines so they will know the topics that are of interest to the blogger, the preferred length for a blog post, and other details.
Now to learn about our…
From now through March 1, 2023
First, second, and third place winners plus honorable mentions
We look forward to publishing parts of winning submissions in an upcoming blog post, so children and teens can have the joyful experience of being young Christian authors who are published.
Send your How-to entry via Contact on newSongpress.net. You may also send a brief summary and you will be sent an email with instructions on how to send the complete version. Please include child/teens’ name and age in each entry. Enjoy!
If you are not already a regular reader of these blog posts, I invite you to sign up for my email newsletter, to receive periodic blog announcements to help guide children and teens in their writing. Click here to do so.
For the promised recipe for Fried Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce, click here.