Run-on sentences and those that just run on, and on, and on

Grammar girl has a highly readable explanation of what a run-on sentence is and how to fix one depending on the writing style you want to achieve: http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/run-on-sentences.aspx - also available as a podcast.

Here is a fun example of a really long sentence, though not a run-on since it is all connected phrases:

Have you heard how Cuthbert Hatch
To find a gas leak struck a match
And thereby hastened his dispatch
To realms unknown to you and me
Who have not yet been foolishly
Inclined to leave posterity
To puzzle for itself just why

Online Grammar Exercises - roughly following Strunk & White

well written grammar exercises and explanations


Trace your own story


Combine guided practice with creativity in simple tracing exercise.

Use this tracing font to type something of interest to your child. For the youngest child their name, or a word or two on a favorite subject may be enough. For a slightly older preschooler, ask them to tell you a story or tell about a game they are playing. Type exactly what they say in the tracing font, and print it out using only the lower half of each page. Show your child their own words, then ask them to trace the letters and illustrate their story.


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Writing Unblockers


Reading a poem, quote, joke or short powerful piece can be a great writing unblocker. Read out loud together, then ask your child to 'quickly take ten minutes and write whatever this makes you think about'.

Some good website sources for 'unblockers' are


Some kids will write a reaction to the piece, like what they thought about it or how they liked it. That is ok, but I ask them to 'make something new from it'. Take the 'Underwear Poem' for example:
Underwear Poem

As soon as Fred gets out of bed
His underwear goes on his head.
His mother laughs “Don’t put it there,

The Editing of the Declaration of Independence


Perfect for perfectionists - take a look at Jefferson's rough draft, with many crossouts and changes. Kids may also be interested to learn that Thomas Jefferson was pretty upset about how the Continental Congress further edited his original document.

Here's a few possible assignments that can get kids thinking more deeply about Independence Day:

1) Read the final Declaration together, answering questions, and then ask the student to write it in their own words, as if they were telling a friend what the Declaration is about.

2) What was Jefferson thinking as he wrote the first draft? Does anything strike you about his edits? What was he trying to achieve? (Some of the edits were likely made directly by Benjamin Franklin and possibly John Adams.)

Down to Grade/Age: 
3rd Grade
Up thru Grade/Age: 
High School

Dinner Diary


Simple literacy activity - start a 'dinner diary' and encourage kids to make entries. A parent may write the entries for younger children to illustrate.

Keeping a family diary is a fun way to remember events, special stories or funny things that someone said. Brief entries but with specific details or quotes are often the most fun to look over later. Children enjoy hearing their words read back to them at a later date, and writing down verbatim what very young children say can be quite entertaining!

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Up thru Grade/Age: 
High School
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