Great Fun with the Writing game

Monday, 8 August 2011 at 11:10 am

Writing games provide skills practice with authentic texts …

Simple games can provide opportunities for language experience, explicit teaching, coaching and collaboration. Here’s a simple one I was playing recently. You need 45 minutes for crafting, reviewing, revising, sharing and feedback.

Start with two sentences:

Jack went up the hill. He found Jill.

What to do

Organise students into pairs or groups of three and explain:

Your task is to work with others to enhance the sentences by improving vocabulary, working on the sequence of words or groups of words and providing detail about your ideas which enable readers to imagine what is happening.

Your improved sentence should be interesting and grammatically correct. It must also make sense. Take care if trying to be funny … your ideas must make sense.

Walk students through the task, one step at a time and allowing time for small group discussion. You may wish to follow the sequence below. As students share their ideas, move around the room offering feedback, encouragement and coaching.


  • Copy the sentences.
  • Cross out the word ‘went’ and substitute another word. Read your sentences to make sure they make sense.
  • Add one word to describe the hill. Read your sentences to make sure they make sense.
  • Add a word to describe either Jack or Jill. Read your sentences to make sure they make sense.
  • Make one sentence. (Note: most groups substituted the word, ‘and’ for the full stop.) Read your sentence to make sure it makes sense.
  • Remove ‘and’. Add one or more words to make your sentence sound right. Read your sentence to make sure it makes sense.
  • Add words to describe what is happening on the hill. Read your sentence to make sure it makes sense.
  • Think about how your sentence sounds. You may swap the order of words to improve how the sentence sounds. Read your sentence to make sure it makes sense.
  • Reflection: Do all the words you’ve added connect with other ideas in the sentence? Read the sentence carefully. Check that all the words and ideas make sense together.

Sharing, reflection and feedback

Each group reads their sentence innovation aloud and receives feedback from the group and the teacher. Scoring aspects of the sentence is a fun way to support students to improve. For example, Tier 1, or everyday words score nothing, but Tier 2 and 3 words, which are more sophisticated or specialised, score one point each. That is, ‘pretty’ scores no points, but ‘stunning’ scores one point; ‘walked’ scores nothing, but ‘ambled’ scores one point.

Other examples may include:

  • an original idea scores one point,
  • swapping a phrase from one part of the sentence to another scores a point,
  • correct tense throughout scores one point.

It is great to focus the point system on the mini-lessons you’ve been providing. This provides opportunities for students to apply their learning and for you to monitor progress.

Here’s an innovation from a Year 5 trio below:

As Jack staggered up the incinerated hill, he found sweat-covered Jill, pouring pails of water on the raging fire.

This is loads of fun, so have a great time!

Do you have a fun lesson to share? What’s working well in your classroom?

by Angela Ehmer

11 comments on: “Great Fun with the Writing game”

  1. This is a great idea and I can see the kids really enjoying it. I will pass on the idea to staff.
    Thank you again.

  2. Thanks Angela.
    I am going toplay it at our staff meeting this week.

  3. love it Angela, thanks so much!!!!

  4. Great Idea, thanks so much

  5. What a fanstastic idea.


  6. Great stuff- love it. Thanks Angela.

  7. Love it!
    It’s great and you can target what you want adding to it- different conjunctions, adjectival phrases, adverbial phrases or just plain old better nouns. You can tier activities really well.
    Thank you.

  8. Very good, has come just after our STRIVE PD, so can take advantage of those Tier 2/3 words in a fun way. Will pass it on. Thanks

  9. Thanks for these sparkling ideas.They can be applied even in large classes.The point is that we need such creative ideas for developing learners abilities to help them promote their writing skills.The writing is getting more and more neglected.My question is about the possibility of integrating writing in grammar lessons since students are generally active in grammar le.How can we benefit from their being motivated in grammar to build a bridge between grammar and writng?

  10. I tried this with my year 5 students, but with some changes on the go e.g. Used the IWB and allowed students to show their writing ideas on it. Very interactive, exciting and motivational idea that I will be trying to use regularly in term 4.
    Your ideas and resources you share are inspirational! Thank you so much.

  11. thanks Angela…love it…have already put it on my top priority list… always your ideas are so meaningful and purposeful to kids and us…have a good day