How to Encourage Reluctant Writers? Get them Giggling!

One of my favourite things about being a teacher was encouraging a love of writing. Seeing children progress and enjoy their writing brought me a lot of joy.

But let’s face it, not all children are keen writers and some are reluctant to write at all. Well in my experience one of the best motivators to encourage children to write is humour – get them engaged through a good old belly laugh! We all love a good giggle right?

I’ve witnessed humour encourage the most reluctant of writers in the classroom. Why? Because laughing makes us happy and brings bags of enthusiasm to the table. It also helps children to relax. Sometimes learning activities can be quite serious, which can increase stress and anxiety levels and lead to a reluctance to participate.

There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.

charles Dickens

Funny books are written to encourage reluctant readers so it makes complete sense to use the same approach to encourage writing too.

Be funny, be silly, be gross!

I’ll give you an example of where I used humour in the classroom. A lesson that springs to mind is one where the children had to write a recipe for a monster. The meals and ingredients were quite…unappetising! The children loved it and some of their ideas became quite gross! I remember a monster soup recipe that involved stirring in vomit and chopping up eye balls. I won’t recall too many examples in case you’re about to have your dinner! The point is that children find being gross very funny and in this lesson they were happily giggling, while scribbling away – the reluctant writers too.

Here are some other ideas you could consider to incorporate humour into some writing at home:

Keep a ‘Funny Things’ Journal

If something funny happens during the day, encourage them to write it down. They could even write a letter to a relative to tell them about the funny incident.

Speech Bubbles

Find a funny picture containing people, animals or cartoon characters and ask them to write the dialogue to match. Add speech bubbles to the image for them to write on.

Hilarious Jokes

Write down their favourite and silliest jokes, or make up their own.

Funny Poems

I would recommend watching Michael Rosen performing his poems, they are more like short stories and are very funny and entertaining. Chocolate Cake is a great one and is sure to get some giggles. Children could write what they like about the poem or what they find funny about the performance. They could write all about the yummy foods that they would sneak out of bed for.

Write Silly Sentences

Build a sentence from a bank of words that makes grammatical sense, but sounds silly, such as – The cow had a bath on a bus. You could take it in turns to say a word until you complete a silly sentence and then encourage your child to write it down. Or you could write half a sentence and they could complete it.

Play Consequences

I used to love playing this at school, this is a great old school game to teach your children and I’m sure it will lead to some funny writing. You could build a story together using the same method.

Play Would You Rather?

Your children could create and write the questions themselves or they could write the answers and explain their reasons. Here are some examples:

  • Would you rather have butterfly wings or a horses tail?
  • Would you rather have a tiny head or a giant foot?
  • Would you rather be a duck the size of a horse or a horse the size of a duck?

Use Funny Books

Read a book together that they find funny – then do some writing linked to the book. They could describe their favourite character or write about the part they find the funniest. Perhaps you could encourage your child to write their own version of the story.

Create Recipes for Fictional Characters

Like the monster example I described above, but choose a character from one of their favourite books. A robot could be a good one – think of sprinkling nuts and bolts, or adding lashings of petrol – you get the idea!

Naturally parents and teachers can be hesitant to go too far with the silliness in case they find themselves having to rein the children back in again. Obviously there have to be boundaries, but in my experience, getting children giggling has a positive impact on their learning experience, can lead to some great writing, and even better, increase their enjoyment of writing. What’s not to love about that?

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