Writing is often a subject or skill students in special education classes dread. Students who have language and fine motor delays are better served when we focus on functional writing. Functional writing activities focus on written communication students will need life long. Here are 10 different writing activities to try with reluctant writers.
Community based writing activities
These writing skills are fantastic to weave into your life skills units.
- Practice signing in and out: This is a functional writing skill students will need for doctor’s offices, work sites, etc. Students will be expected to be able to write their first and last. They’ll also be expected to stay within the provided space when they write.
- Practice their signature: Students need to be able to sign their name at the bank, doctor’ office, stores, etc. Students should be able to consistently sign their name.
- Fill out an application: Whether it be for housing or a job, students need to know and be able to write (or communicate) their personal information. We use the leveled ask and answer sets to practice writing answers to WH questions. It’s differentiated so we can use it with non-writers as well.
Functional social writing activities
We use written communication in a variety of ways. Students need to practice functional writing skills in these ways.
- Learn to write cards: Practice writing invitations, thank you cards, birthday cards, etc. with your students. It’s a great way to target social skills as well as writing.
- Practice addressing envelopes: Work on how and where to write addresses on the envelope, staying in the space, etc.
Personal writing ideas
- Making lists: teach students to make and use their own visual supports. For example, making a to do list or a grocery list. Writing lists on paper and devices is the best way to practice this functional writing activity.
- Journaling: Help students see the value in self-reflecting and writing it down. It’s a great way to incorporate discussions on coping strategies and reflecting on what did or didn’t work.
- Writing phone messages: Have students practice listen to and write down a verbal message for someone else.
- How to write directions: There are lots of different reasons we need to write directions. It could be to get to a place, care for a pet, make something, etc. Practice writing directions in a variety of ways with your students to ensure that they are able to generalize this functional writing skill.
- Sending an email and text: Online communication is something our students need to know and practice. To be truly functional, teach students to write both formal and informally.
More functional writing ideas
Read these blog posts to see how to sneak in more writing & incorporate math.