Writing is building, but with words. Showing your students how to write gives them the tools to build a strong foundation. Helping them figure out how to write well is how you help them create castles and skyscrapers and anything else they can imagine. Keeping these key strategies in mind while teaching your elementary school students to be effective writers will help you, in turn, teach them more effectively.





Tip #1: Read a Variety of Texts

read books to your studentsAs T.H. White once advised, “Read. Read everything you can lay hands on!” It’s no secret that reading will help your students improve their writing skills, but when their reading selection is limited, so are the benefits. Reading a wide variety of texts allows your elementary students to see a myriad of writing techniques in action and study how different uses of voice, figurative language and other elements affect the impact of their experience as they read. In short, the more diverse their reading materials, the more strategies and concepts they’ll pick up along the way  allowing them to implement, and even experiment with, in their own work.



Ask each student to write a couple of paragraphs about their topic using one of the types of writing you’ve covered in class, such as opinion writing or personal narrative. Then, ask them to write about that topic again from a different angle—if they wrote to persuade the reader with their first draft, they might try a descriptive writing method for the second. Discuss in groups or as a class how their two pieces differ. Finally, ask your students to choose one of the two to elaborate on, revise and illustrate—then publish their work in a themed classbook featuring a wide variety of writing styles and methods.

Tip #2: Read Aloud Together

read aloud for writing inspirationWords are meant to be heard, not just seen. Most kids learn to read by listening to someone read to them, and many adults enjoy listening to audiobooks or podcasts. Listening isn’t just entertaining—it can help improve reading comprehension as well as teach your elementary students about the cadence of different words and sentence structures. Listening to someone read can help them pick up on rhythms and rhymes they may miss when reading silently to themselves, while having your students read aloud is a chance for them to practice correct pronunciation as well as hone critical reading and thinking skills.



Some writing is meant to be experienced audibly. To fully explore this aspect of writing with your students, ask them to write their own short radio plays or skits. Have them pair up with other students and read each other’s work aloud (quietly!) as part of the editing process. Once editing and revisions are complete, set aside a day to have volunteers perform the skits for the class. Be sure to take photos! Last but not least, publish their skits and photos in a fun classbook collection of classroom drama done right.

Tip #3: Encourage Collaboration

collaborate to publish classbooksYour students have a lot to learn from you—but don’t forget that they can learn a lot from each other, too! When practicing writing or editing, try pairing up students who need a little extra help with the more advanced writers in your class and asking them to peer edit each other’s work. Or, you can ask your elementary students to form small critique groups they’ll work with throughout the school year in order to become more effective writers together. Even professional authors join writer communities and associations in order to keep learning and growing—why not have your students follow their good example and learn a little something about teamwork in the process?



Collaborative classbook projects can make writing more fun than ever for your elementary students. Choose an overarching theme for your book, then ask your students to brainstorm story ideas that tie into that theme. When it’s time to edit their work, have them pass their stories to another student to proofread and illustrate. Publish their writing and drawings in a uniquely collaborative classbook they’ll treasure for years to come!

Tip #4: Put Writing in Context

put writing in context by publishing itTo bring out the best in your young writers-in-training, make sure they know the value and benefits of writing beyond getting a good grade or doing well in school. For any given assignment, be sure they know who they’re writing for, and for what purpose. It can even be helpful (and can double as a fantastic reading or research assignment) to explore instances when writing changed someone’s life—or even the world—for the better. Inspirational and informative stories like The Freedom Writers Diary or Johann Gutenberg and the Amazing Printing Press help put your lessons into context and motivate your students to write more effectively and enthusiastically than ever.



For a great class project that mixes a little history into your writing lessons, ask each of your students to research and write about a different historical event related to writing or publishing—for instance, the invention of the typewriter or the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Once they’re finished writing, ask them to provide illustrations to accompany their work. When it’s ready to send to the printers, collect their work and assemble it in chronological order to publish their work in a cool historical classbook.

Effectively Teaching Elementary-Level Writing

There are many ways to teach effective writing tools and techniques to your elementary students. However, for a truly poignant lesson, emphasize writing as a process—one with real-world impact—by publishing their work professionally. Seeing their words appear in a physical book shows them the value of putting their best effort into their writing, and how rewarding it can be to share work they can be proud of with others.

And it isn’t just for the kids! Publishing is as rewarding for us teachers as it is for our students. Seeing your students’ faces light up when they hold their books in their hands for the first time is an unforgettable moment, regardless of whether it’s your first classbook project or your fifteenth. Every child deserves to experience the thrill of being published—and with a little help from you, they could be published authors in just a matter of weeks.

For more teaching tips and other free educational materials, check out our online teacher’s lounge, and be sure to sign up for your free publishing kit!


Image sources: Lead image via Shutterstock; Images 1, 2, 3, 4 via OpenClipart.org