How to Write with Word Cards

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How to Write with Word Cards

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Today’s notebook paper topic is: Writing with Word Cards. This is a little tidbit I’ve shared before within another blog post and I thought it would be worth mentioning again all on its own. I started using this with Rebecca, our 10th grader, was very young and it still works today with her and with her younger brothers.

Pros & Cons of Using the Writing Cards

You can use this technique with creative or more technical writing- with a curriculum focus or free writing/something you put together as a writing prompt. In this example, we used Story Starters by Karen Andreola as our inspiration for writing. Actually, Karen provides a lot of writing helps already within her text, but this using word cards is just one more tool in my writing toolbox for my kids.

  • When they are younger I like it for picking out key items they need to include in their writing.
  • As they get older I still like them to help my kids focus on word variety.
  • The downside is that a set of word cards may sort of lead your kids down one path vs another depending on the words you provide. In this example, I added the word storm to the list though none occurs in the prompt- so it’s definitely a leading sort of word.

Working with Word Cards

How does it work? I provide the cards in a library pocket based on the prompt. The cards have words on them that must occur somewhere in the student’s story.

  • You can have a student look at all the cards and begin writing or
  • you can have them choose a card one by one (from inside the pocket) and add a sentence to their story using that word- this works pretty well for new writers.
  • Of course all the self-editing and editing parts of the process remain the same, but the word cards give some more framework for the written response.
  • It also adds a kinesthetic approach to writing if only in a small way.

Again, this is a quick and thorough way to enter the writing process for a student and provides another way to coach your student on his writing. You can even make the word cards from notebook paper, but in this case I used index cards.

Notebook paper is a flexible tool to use with word cards. I usually have my 5th grader skip lines and write on every other line- another way to modify the use of wide ruled paper with younger students. Skipping lines allows their writing to be spread out more and provides more room for editing.

I hope you enjoyed this quick writing idea using word cards and notebook paper. Join me tomorrow for another great way to use ordinary notebook paper in your homeschool!


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  1. I love this idea! I think I'll try it out with my daughter this week to practice her new vocab words from the Prairie Primer. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is an amazing idea! How many words would you say to start out with for a VERY reluctant writer? Thank you so much for sharing your idea.

    1. With a very reluctant writer? How about just using all the words you give him. Maybe only do three words instead of 5 or 6 and have him write one sentence for each word.

      This one is my idea, but you would probably like Games for Writing by Peggy Kaye. She has tons of ideas for reluctant writers.

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