November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNo, its affectionately shortened name. Most students today would tell you they prefer texting and emailing to long form writing such as essays and research papers.
Still, many good writing and grammar principles can be taught with long form writing including the development of vocabulary and spelling, how to structure writing into a presentable format (outlining, plots, etc.), and of course harnessing the power of creative expression through the written word.
Encourage your online student to grow his writing skills this month. Writing a whole novel isn't necessary either! Here are some fun writing prompts by grade level.
– Pick a theme (adventure, mystery, science fiction, etc.) and give an interesting beginning sentence
– Have your student record the story (and go back and write it together afterward if he's still learning to write)
– Place a random object (like an apple, pencil, spatula, etc.) in front of the student and have him describe the item in a few sentences.
– Remove limits with fun starter questions like "What would you do with a million dollars?", "If you could live anywhere, where would it be?", "If you had a superpower what would you do with it?"
– Give a creative ending sentence (Have your student work backwards with a plot.)
– Give 2 main character descriptions (Make characters extremely different like a pirate and a baby or a fisherman and a dentist. Let your student figure out how to join them in a short story.)
– Have your student write a thank you letter to a specific professional (firefighter, trash man, President, movie star, etc.)
– Have your student pretend he is going on vacation. Have him write about where he would go and what he would see.
– Offer mash-up ideas with 2 different literature genres
– Have your student swap journals with a friend and make up an ending to his or her real life
– Encourage your student to write a prequel or sequel chapter to his favorite book
– Have your student write from an object's perspective
You can find tons of more writing prompts online. Pinterest has some fun writing prompts for kids, and there are many online articles and websites with fun starter questions to get your student's mind turning and writing!