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Kids nowadays have many options to turn their hobbies, talents and ideas into digital content that can be shared with an appreciative audience. Whether it’s writing a blog, recording a vlog, producing a podcast or building their own video game, the tools they have to support their creativity are endless. But if we want to teach our kids to create projects with meaning and purpose, we do not just stop at selecting the most fitting tech tools for them to use and then simply leave them to it. As mentors we need to guide them in developing the skills they need to come up with their best work.
When starting out any project, we use writing to put our ideas down, clarify our purpose and outline our next steps to reach our desired outcome. The next time you see your kids getting excited about creating something with their digital devices, that would be a really good time for you to introduce them to the value of writing.
Blogs and Vlogs
Kids can use blogs and vlogs to document all kinds of things, from what they do in the day to a new skill they’re learning. Before they begin a blog or a vlog, help your kids identify and write their purpose for sharing. Is it to inform, entertain, explain or persuade? Allow time for free writing so they can get a clearer picture of what they want to share. Once they have identified their purpose, you can look up specific writing templates to help them structure their blog post or script for their vlog.
This might sound like it’s taking away the fun and spontaneity of sharing in the moment, but you can always approach the task of writing in a casual manner such as making conversation about their work. You might want to try and say things like, “Before you publish your post, how about we take a look at it again and see if your readers or viewers will understand you clearly?”
“Do you think you got your message across?”
“Do you think the points you’ve made connect back to your main idea?”
“Why don’t we try using some transition words so your ideas can flow smoothly?”
Practice speaking with them in collaborative “we” terms so that they feel supported when revisiting their work, or asking what they think so they can evaluate their choices and still feel ownership over their work.
Podcasts are a novel way to practice writing skills through script writing and interviews. Kids can use podcasts to create audio stories or write reports about an activity in school. If it’s an informative podcast, do some research together on the topic that they want to talk about. Take down notes, organize the facts, then write down talking points that can guide them through the recording. For interview podcasts, they may want to interview family members or experts in a field they are interested in. Use writing to teach kids how to ask relevant and engaging questions. Have them write a list of questions then let them check whether they are interesting enough to spark a conversation.
Have kids create their own podcast and let them figure out the theme and topic. They can come up with relevant questions to ask. You could even include a mini-lesson on closed and open-ended questions so they know what kinds of questions to ask. Producing a podcast is a great way to develop creative storytelling skills. There are many ways they can play with this such as writing a narrative story, recording it and then adding some music or sound effects to make their storytelling come alive.
Coding and Game Design
Coding and Game Design have a lot in common with creative writing. Coding can introduce valuable writing skills such as logic, sequence and attention to detail. When kids code, they need to plan different functions and commands to make a project work. Just like in writing when they must pay attention to word choice or the cohesiveness of their ideas for their stories to “work” or flow well. It can be said that coding is a different language that kids can play around with all while gaining the organizational skills needed in writing.
Games are one of the first ways your kids will be taught to code. Before making a game, kids need to think about the setting, the characters, the plot and the ending. They have to define what constitutes a win or loss in the game. Writing can be used to teach kids to explore different story structures as they work on the progression of their game.
A popular choice could be The Hero’s Journey. Like creative writing, game design needs to incorporate strong storytelling techniques to keep players engaged in the game. Just as we introduce conflict scenarios in narrative writing to make our stories captivating, game design sometimes can incorporate a friction or strife in the plot to make it interesting.
So you see, writing is an essential part of developing future-ready skills. It especially makes it interesting when we practice it in context with creating digital content and helps us build and grow our writing muscles.
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