Four Games to Practice Writing Skills in the Elementary Classroom

Find the Right Words

Keep a supply of unusual items (or pictures) in a handy location that students will not be able to identify. These might be odd implements, unfamiliar plants, insects or foods, antiques, or any other small items that they are not likely to recognize. Challenge them to think of at least twenty words that describe the item.

Later, when you have a bit more free time, have them refer to their descriptive words to help them write a descriptive paragraph. Mix the paragraphs up and see who can match the correct paragraphs to the objects that are being discussed. You can even set this game up as a team event and enable a bit of gentle competition to promote clear and vivid writing.

Behind the Green Glass Door

Try this guessing game when your group has a few moments to wait between activities. You can keep it going for the entire year as players catch on slowly to the pattern. The challenge is to discover what kinds of things can be behind the Green Glass Door simply by listening to what is and is not there. The leader begins by listing some items that are and are not behind the Green Glass Door. Items to start with include puppies and kittens, but not dogs or cats; pizza with pepperoni and peppers and cheese but no olives, anchovies or sausage; all types of balls but no toys; and schools and books but no papers, pencils or crayons. Allow students to venture guesses about what can go behind the Green Glass Door, and continue to give examples of what can and cannot go back there.

The secret is that things that have double letters in their spellings can go behind the Green Glass Door (hence the name of the game that really is a clue!). Once a student figures out the secret, swear him or her to secrecy and keep the game going until all players have figured out the commonality. It’s a great game to encourage lateral thinking and vocabulary, as well as a bit of spelling on the side.


For this simple time-passer, make up a set of cards in advance. You will need several groups of cards that contain one card with an unusual word (so difficult that your group will not recognize it) and its definition, as well as the same word on cards for all members of the team that simply have the word followed by "BLUFF!" written on them. Divide your group into teams, and give the team a matching set of cards. The members in turn read their word and either read the correct definition if it’s on the card or create a plausible fake definition on the spot. The opposing teams should try to figure out which definition was the real one and which ones were bluffs.

Following Directions-More or Less

Pair students up for this game, and make it as elaborate or spontaneous as you wish. One student needs to write down directions to complete a small task, such as draw a simple picture or perform a common activity. The partner must read the directions and do them exactly as written. The winner is the person (or team) who has written the most accurate directions and followed them most completely. The students will find quite quickly that writing clear directions is not only important, it is very difficult!