Reading 101: A Guide for Parents

Writing Activities for Your Second Grader

Writing allows children to express their thoughts, creativity, and uniqueness. It is a fundamental way in which children learn to think critically, organize and communicate ideas, and make thinking visible and permanent. And learning to write well helps children to be better readers!

Overview

Writing with purpose, style, and structure

Second graders are learning how to write a variety of types of compositions, including stories, reports, and letters. They write about a range of topics with the audience in mind.

Second graders are polishing a wide range of basic writing skills, including writing legibly, using capitalization and punctuation correctly (most of the time!), and moving from invented spelling to more accurate spelling.

For most, handwriting becomes automatic, so they can concentrate more on the content of their writing rather than on the mechanics.

Second graders can organize their writing to include a beginning, middle, and end. They can write a simple essay with a title and introductory sentence, provide examples and details that support their main concept, and write a concluding sentence.

They are learning how to revise own writing and offer meaningful feedback to peers about their writing.

Be a writing role model

Make sure your child sees you writing. She will learn about writing by watching you write. Talk with her about your writing so that she begins to understand why writing is important and the many ways it can be used.

Does spelling count?

With second graders, you’ll see less invented spelling and more correct spelling (especially words from a word wall or vocabulary list). A good teacher will be able to tell the difference between the misspellings that indicate normal literacy development and those that suggest a possible learning disability. If you have questions, talk to your child's teacher or reading specialist.

Struggling with handwriting?

Handwriting involves more than just making letters on a page — it requires strong fine motor and visual-motor skills. Here are six multisensory techniques to try if your child is struggling with writing.

3 writing tips for kids who don’t like to write

Watch as an expert shares more tips for encouraging your child’s writing, including using dictation (speech-to-text) technology. (This video was produced by Understood.)

What does second grade writing look like?

Try these writing ideas at home

Write for a reason

Help your child see that we write for a specific purpose and audience. Here are some writing prompts to try:

  • Have your child write instructions for taking care of the family pet. These will be useful as you plan your summer vacations!
  • Make a shopping list before going to the grocery store.
  • Write an online review of a book or an item you recently purchased or a recipe you tried.
  • Talk about the presidential election and write a description of the kind of president you want.
  • Find a picture in the newspaper and write an article to accompany it.
  • Have your child start keeping a personal diary, a household guestbook, or a baby book for a younger sibling.

Make a journal jar

A journal doesn’t have to be a diary. It can also be a book where your child writes about ideas or answers questions, like “If you could do anything next summer, what would you choose?” A journal jar is a place to keep all those ideas and questions. Wash and decorate a wide-mouthed jar, like one that used to contain peanut butter. Then, write or print out journal prompts on slips of paper. Ask your child to pull out one prompt each day and write about it in her journal.

Play “tell me how”

In this activity your child pretends she’s writing to a space alien who doesn’t know anything about our culture. This alien does everything exactly as it’s said or written. Your child’s job is to choose an everyday task, like brushing her teeth or making a sandwich. Then, she needs to write step-by-step directions about how to do the task for the alien. When she’s done, you get to be the alien and try to follow the steps exactly as she wrote them. She may be surprised at what she left out!

Play a writing game

This turn-taking writing game is based on a classic kids’ book by Remy Charlip called Fortunately. In it, something lucky happens and then something unlucky happens. Each event is introduced by either the word “fortunately” or the word “unfortunately.” To play, take a piece of paper and write a sentence beginning with “Fortunately,” such as “Fortunately it was a sunny day. I wanted to play outside.” Pass the paper to the next player, who will add an “unfortunately” sentence, such as “Unfortunately, I had to clean my room.” Keep going until the story is too silly to continue.

Family letters

Help your child write letters to relatives and friends. These may include thank you notes or just a special note to say hello. Be sure to send your child a letter or card once in awhile too so that she is reminded of how special it is to get a letter in the mail. And consider finding a pen pal for your child.

Family stories

Ask your child to interview a family member about his or her life. Encourage your child to write a short biography, and include a photo or drawing, and a meaningful quote from the relative. Your child may want to share it with family members.

Reader's theater

Encourage your child to read her stories out loud. Listen carefully with patience, and give positive feedback about her ideas and her writing!

Bookmaker

Turn your child's writing into books. Paste her drawings and writings on pieces of construction paper. For each book, make a cover out of heavier paper or cardboard, and add special art, a title, and her name as author. Punch holes in the pages and cover, and bind the book together with yarn or ribbon.

Field notes

Encourage your child to take notes on trips or outings, and to describe what she saw, using all of her senses. This could include a description of a walk outside, a ride in a car or a bus, or other events that lend themselves to note taking.

Young reporter

Encourage your child to take notes on trips or outings, and to describe what she saw. This could include a description of nature walks, a boat ride, a car trip, or other events that lend themselves to note-taking.

Writing to remember

If your child likes a particular song, suggest that she learn the words by writing them down. Also encourage copying favorite poems or quotations from books and plays.

Play a game with pictures

Photos and images are great story sparkers. Do a web search and find a few interesting images. Or cut out pictures from magazines. The pictures can be realistic, such as a photo of students on a playground. Or they can be fantastical images, such as a superhero flying in space. Glue a couple images into a notebook. Then ask your child to write about one of them. You can prompt her, asking her to include what she sees, what the people are thinking, what will happen next—or just let her imagination run free.

Make an “I can” book

As your child learns to write, she’ll also be learning other new skills. Making an “I Can” book will let her practice writing skills and keep track of her other accomplishments. Staple together a bunch of blank sheets of paper to make a book. As your child reaches a new milestone, such as learning to tie her shoes or hit a baseball, she can draw a picture on a new page of the book. Younger kids can then write, “I can tie my shoes.” Older kids can write a few sentences about what they’ve accomplished.

Create a family scrapbook

A family scrapbook is a great way to save memories and jump-start your child’s writing. Use an inexpensive photo album to keep souvenirs of things you do together. This can include photos, ticket stubs, and found objects, like pretty leaves. Your child can begin by writing the date and a line about where you were and what you did. Then, you can work together to write a more detailed summary. Don’t forget to include funny or even annoying moments!

Fostering a love of writing at home

This video is from Home Reading Helper, a resource for parents to elevate children’s reading at home provided by Read Charlotte. Find more video, parent activities, printables, and other resources at Home Reading Helper.

Write, revise, and edit

Writing poems

Teacher Lynn Reichle and her second-grade students go on a writing adventure called the Writers' Workshop. (From Writing and Spelling, part of our PBS Launching Young Readers series.)

"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables