ESL Creative Writing Projects

ESL creative writing projects are a fun way to get kids interested in writing. Writing is one of those things that kids either seem to love or hate. And those that hate it always greet writing assignments with a groan and endless complaints.

classroomBut there is no reason for writing classes to be a drag, or for it to feel like pulling teeth just to get your ESL class to finish a journal prompt. Here are a few creative ideas for writing projects that will make your students actually enjoy their writing time.

Recipe Book

Kids love treats and cooking, so why not embrace it and have them put together a class recipe book? They can ask their parents for the details of a recipe that they love eating at home, or they can get creative and make up their own zany candy recipes, or even recipes for magic potions.

The important thing is to get creative and use a class recipe book as a tool to teach them about lists and grammar. As a bonus, have a recipe party day where they can make a recipe from the book and bring it to school.

Email to their future/past self

We are so used to using email to communicate that we often forget how complicated it can be to non-native speakers. What makes a good subject line? Do you need an opening and closing like you do for a letter? What is cc and bcc?

You can cover all of this in a fun and engaging way by having students write emails to their future or past selves, giving advice, asking questions, or reminding themselves about important things. As a bonus, have them or their classmates write a response from the “future.”

Penpals

Instead of giving them boring imaginary letter writing assignments, how about having them write to real pen pals in an English speaking country? They’ll learn all of the basics of letter writing and get lots of practice, while also forming connections and friendships around the world. For resources to connect with other teachers who are seeking penpals for their students, check out

For resources to connect with other teachers who are seeking penpals for their students, check out teachers.net, global read aloud and edmodo.

Re-write popular movies

Who doesn’t love to talk about their favorite movie? Let your students re-write the movie, not as a summary, but as though it were their own story. Give them free reign to change the ending, make it silly, or alter any aspect of the plot that they like.

Write and perform a class play

Writing a play is a great way to incorporate lessons on dialogue, action, exposition, story structure, and characters.  Hearing their play read out loud as they are practicing and performing it will also help them develop an ear for what works in writing and what sounds unnatural when it is read aloud.

Go all out with props and costumes when you perform it – students will love seeing their ideas and hard work come to fruition. If you can perform the play for other classes or for parents, even better!

Write for a cause

Are they sick of the construction noises outside of the school? They think the playground near their house needs more swings? They want their mom to let them eat chocolate pie for breakfast every morning?

Let your students choose one issue that they care about and write a persuasive letter to someone who might be able to do something about it. This brings home the important role that writing can play in our lives and just how powerful a tool it can be to enact change. Bonus points if they actually send their letter!

The Neverending Story

Start with a simple sentence – “We were in English class yesterday.” Each day, or multiple times a day, choose a student to add one or two sentences. Encourage them to be a silly as they want. Every now and then, read the entire story to the class.

Eventually, students will get past their fear of speaking up or looking silly in front of their peers, and will be jumping out of their seats to add the next zany line to your class’s neverending story.

If you introduce your students to writing in English as something that can be fun and incredibly useful in their lives, instead of just another assignment that they have to do, your students are a lot more likely to take to it. They are also a lot more likely to internalize what you are teaching them about writing so that they can use it themselves when they need to. 

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