In his great book, Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire, Rafe Esquith recommends that each of his 5th grade students write a book each school year. In our family we don't just limit it to books... last year members of our family compiled a family cookbook, wrote book on flowers, made an art kit, created a slideshow, wrote a collection of stories about ancestors, started a scout newsletter, and made a family time line.
Each person must create a big project that encompasses their talents and skills they are learning this year. Many time these projects count towards our church's "Personal Progress" young women's program or "Duty to God" young men's award, but we count them as a huge success in writing.
Creating a big project requires planning, writing, editing, illustrating and a final presentation. When you create something big and take it all the way to completion, you write differently...you write better. Knowing that you are writing for an audience gives you a voice and it makes you want to do better. These projects also encourage computer skills: learning how to type, center, choose a font and size, find and insert a photo or clip art, print, etc. The creator gains incredible confidence as they share it with others.
Projects serve as a catalyst, sometimes one project can lead to another and can even lead to finding your passion. My daughter's love of changing the letter fonts, creating and organizing information on a variety of projects directly lead to her love of graphic design!
So, this year challenge your family to write a book, or create a BIG project on something that they love.
Check out the National Novel writing Month. It's in November and challenges kids and adults to write a complete novel in one month. We've never done this, but thousands around the world have! Find out more at: http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/