Playing cards are a teacher’s secret weapon. You should always have a deck at home and possibly one in a travel bag or the glove compartment of the car. Whenever you have a spare couple of minutes (that’s literally all it takes), grab them and help your child improve their writing skills with one of these super-fun games!
Writing can be a real challenge for some children. Staring at a blank page and being told to fill it not only with words, but with enough words to make a coherent story is a big ask but it’s one that’s expected of them from as young as 6-years old!
To help you help them, here are five games you can play to encourage writing at home using playing cards.
Make a sentence silly
Copy a sentence from their reading book (or any book but one that they are reading will make them feel more involved) onto a piece of paper or a whiteboard. Next, shuffle a deck of cards and draw one at random to make some changes. The aim is to make a very silly sentence that is still grammatically accurate.
Use the following rules:
- If you draw a HEART, change a NOUN
- If you draw a SPADE, change the VERB
- If you draw a DIAMOND, change an ADJECTIVE
- If you draw a CLUB, change an ADVERB
Build a (silly) sentence.
This is similar to number 1 except you start with a blank piece of paper. Shuffle the cards and draw one at a time, writing down the corresponding word type (see above). You can add as many determiners (the, a, his, that etc.) and conjunctions (and, but, or, so, however, despite etc.) as you need.
The aim is to create a single sentence. It can be tougher than it seems!
Cut it down!
Find and copy a sentence from your child’s reading book. Shuffle the deck of cards and draw one at a time. If it is a red card (heart or diamond), your child has to remove a word from the sentence; if it is a black card (spade or club) you have to remove a word. However, the sentence has to make grammatical sense at all times. It’s trickier than it sounds!
Build it up!
This is the reverse of Cut it Down! Shuffle the deck and draw a card at a time. This time, a word has to be added to the sentence. Again, the sentence must be grammatically accurate at all times. Hint: start with a noun!
Writing by numbers.
This is my favourite. Decide who’s going to go first then shuffle the deck and draw a card. You have to write a sentence that contains exactly that number of words. The sentence must be grammatically correct (you might want to use semicolons for very long sentences!). When you have finished, the next person draws a card and continues the story following the words-to-card rule.
You can make all of these games more or less challenging by deciding which cards you are going to use. Removing the aces and picture cards from the deck eliminates the possibility of having to write very long, or one-word sentences.
Noun: naming word
Verb: action word
Adjective: modifies, changes or describes a noun
Adverb: modifies, changes or describes a verb
Determiner: specifies relationship to the noun (my book, the dog, a rainbow, those people)
Conjunction: joins basic sentences together (and, but, or, so, yet, because etc.)