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NanoWrimo for Kids

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NaNoWriMo or National Writing Month or some less cool people call it November, can be a great time to work with students on creative writing. Whether students are using speech-to-text, learning to type, or working on story plotting there are so many amazing educational concepts to integrate into NaNoWriMo. Students with special needs and elementary school students can get in on the fun. NaNoWriMo is a great opportunity for kids! There are so many chances to learn.! 

NaNoWriMo or National Writing Month is a challenge that goes on for all of November. For those of you that don’t know the goal is to write a 50,000-word novel in one month!

I know that sounds impossible, but it’s not. I’ve done it. 

Not only that but I’ve hosted a Nano Wrimo Club and helped kids build their writing skills and confidence while having fun! 

There are so many amazing things we can teach students with and without disabilities during NaNoWriMo that it seems like a crime not to get our students engaged. 

They can learn

  • Goal setting
  • Persistence
  • Story Mapping
  • Typing Skills
  • And so much more

Keep reading to learn my ideas about how to get started and get kids excited about how to set up your students to do NaNoWriMo and make sure to join my email list to get access to my free resource library, which includes a NaNoWriMo Goal sheet for kids! 

If you are a special education teacher or a one-on-one service provider make sure to join my email list! In addition to staying up to date on my posts, you also get access to my free resource library, which is full of a lot of great printable freebies!

Click here to join! 

Before starting something with our students, we as educators must have a goal in mind. With NaNoWriMo for kids, there are lots of things we could choose to work on. 

Maybe you have a student who needs to work on typing more fluently. Maybe your student is learning about making good plots or believable characters. Maybe your student is writing for the first time ever!

Set your own learning goal and focus on it, and don’t feel like you need to chase after every single thing you could possibly teach during NaNoWriMo. Pick one maybe two goals and really zero in on them.

For example, when I ran a NaNoWriMo Club out of an elementary school my goal was community building after school. I didn’t have any writing or academic goals. I just wanted to give kids interested in creative writing a chance to socialize after school.

Because of that, we had a very cafe-like atmosphere. There were grocery store cookies background music and time to socialize before and after quiet writing time. 

I’ll be honest I don’t think I read a single story the kids wrote because I was more focused on having them engage with each other.

After you’ve picked your goal, make sure you’ve set it up as your main focus. 

If you want to work on story mapping, then students need to complete story maps and check them off as they go. 

You’ll be focusing on the quality of the story and maybe they have to spend a lot of October brainstorming.

If your focus is on learning to set and achieve goals then you’re going to want to focus on word count. Have each student set a goal for themselves with your help and calculate how many words they have to write per day to meet that goal.

 If they’re doing the traditional 50,000 then it’s 1,667 words a day.

Also, make sure to join my email list to get a free NaNoWriMo Thermometer so students can track their own progress!

Next, you’re going to want to make sure kids have reasonable expectations of themselves. 

What these expectations are going to be depends on the students. I wouldn’t expect third graders to write 50,000 words in a month. 

I also wouldn’t expect kids with communication devices or who are just learning to type to write as much either. 

Talk over with your students what appropriate goals are.

You want the goals they set for themselves to be achievable but still a little challenging.

For more ideas on making goals with your students, see my post on doing New Year’s Resolutions with Students. 

Here’s a fun story about the one year I did and finished NaNoWriMo. I wrote 50,000 words. I leaned back all proud of myself, only to realize that the last scene I’d written was the start of the book. 

It had taken me writing roughly 48,000 words to get to where the story started. 

Now when I went back to edit, I cut and sliced here and there, but of all those words, I think only half survived to the 2nd draft. Even fewer were in the third.

NaNoWriMo is not about writing good stories. It’s about getting over the fear of writing and just doing it and being creative. 

Emphasize that at every step of the way.

In that vein, tell everyone they aren’t allowed to use the backspace button.

This always makes kids nervous, particularly the perfectionists out there. It gives you the chance to work on a secondary goal of working on emotional flexibility. 

A big scary part of the creative process is that what you make won’t be perfect. Let your kiddos lean into that part of the process and learn that sometimes it’s okay to let mistakes stand.

If you were to open anything I’ve written during NaNoWriMo you’d find it full of notes I wrote myself that say things like “I hate this scene, let’s pretend it never happened,” “CUT THIS!” or my personal favorite, “Sarah hasn’t slept in 48 hours because insomnia sucks, this next part is far too subtle for her sleeping brain so here’s a summary of what it should be…”

When doing NaNoWriMo for kids, encourage your students to have a sense of humor about it. 

If you give grades, stress this is about meeting goals, not writing a best-seller or even something readable.

Just get words on the page! 

The last thing you’ll need to do is track how kids are progressing on their goals. 

If this is about storyboarding for you, see how close they’re sticking to their story. Keep track of any changes they make that improve the plot. 

If your goal is about typing, take data on how many words they type in a minute an what their error rate is. 

The easiest goal to track for NaNoWriMo for kids though is word count. The computer can keep track of it for you and kids love to see how much progress they’ve made. 

Make sure to join my email list to get access to my free NaNoWriMo Tracking Thermometer! 

When introducing NaNoWriMo to kids, make sure that it’s fun and engaging. The goal is to make students feel excited to create. 

Much like with the kids, you don’t want to get bogged down with trying to make sure it’s perfect or that their end products are publishable. (They probably won’t be). Instead, try to have fun and celebrate any progress they make.

At the end of my Nano Club, I made cookies and gave everyone little paper crowns with their name and final word count on them! It’s a great way to help kids build pride and feel good about putting in hard work.

Another great idea for NaNoWriMo for kids is to have them track their progress toward their word count goal. Make sure to join my email list to get my free printable thermometer along with access to the rest of my free resource library!

Click here to join! 

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