Tag Archives: teens

Writing Opportunities for Teens

With a group of ambitious teens in one of my co-op writing classes, I am constantly on the lookout for opportunities for them to stretch their creative wings. If you have a young person who likes to write, here are a few outlets you might consider:

Writing Conferences – Sometimes writing conferences, such as Write2Ignite!, offer workshops for teens as well. This month, the classes at Write2Ignite! will be taught by author Vonda Skelton and graphic novelist Chris Schweizer. They’ll cover everything from creating characters, plotting your story, writing good dialogue, and illustrating your own graphic novel.

Publications – There are several publications both online and in print that are looking for teen authors. Here are a few of them:

  • DevoKids.com – This online devotional site for children features devotionals, recipes, and articles written by both adults and students.
  • Devozine – A devotional print magazine is written for teens – by teens. Students may submit devotions and poetry based on a theme.
  • New Moon Girls – This print magazine for girls features articles, stories, and artwork by girls ages 8 and up. Issues center around a theme.
  • Skipping Stones – An international magazine for students ages 8 – 16, Skipping Stones features essays, stories, letters to the editor, proverbs, and riddles, as well as artwork and photography.
  • Stone Soup – Written by kids, this features poetry, fiction, book reviews, and artwork by students up to age 13.
  • TeenInk – This magazine and website work with teens to publish their writing, art, and photos.

Self-Publishing – This year, some of my students participated in National Novel Writing Month. So, after a few more months of polishing their work, we’re going to self-publish them.

  • Lulu.com – This is the site we’re going to use. It’s simple to do, and we can keep the books as a private project so only family and friends can order them.
  • CreateSpace.com -This is Amazon’s self-publishing company and easy to use as well.


This past week, I’ve seen some great changes in my oldest son’s behavior. And the best part is, I didn’t have to tell him to do it.

John is almost 14, and this year at co-op he’s made a lot of new friends. Between his old friends, co-op friends, and scout friends, he’s been invited to a lot of events recently, from birthday parties to air soft parties to just hanging out for an afternoon. The result: his attention had often turned away from doing things with his siblings to preparing for the next get-together.

Part of me understood that this was a natural occurrence with growing up and moving into adolescence, but part of me was saddened by the change in the relationships, especially that with his six-year-old brother. “Play with Luke. He looks up to you,” I would say. John would be obedient, and do what I asked — but I felt discouraged that I even had to ask.

That is, until a couple of days ago. I was walking through the house, when John called me over. “Watch this, ” he said as Luke stood beside him, grinning from ear to ear. “This is ‘Man-Fighting.'” The two then began to wrestle on the floor, rolling around and punching each other. Finally Luke pinned John down and told him to say “uncle.”

Then, yesterday at the pool, Luke was swimming around in the shallow end by himself. John had been jumping and diving in the deep end, when suddenly he came up to Luke and started playing a game with him. Luke shrieked and laughed in delight the whole time.

Last night, Luke decided to make up an obstacle course in the yard. He had placed several objects in a line, such as pieces of wood, sticks, balls, etc., and the goal was to run and jump over them as quickly as possible. I did it once, my husband did it once, and then John came out; he did it over and over again with Luke, as they raced together, fell down together, and laughed together.

What caused the change? I’m not sure, but I’m so thankful for it. Instead of reminding John to be kind to Luke, I can just smile and tell him what a great job I think he’s doing. Must be a sign that he’s growing up.

Group Movie Night

Last fall, Suzanna, one of the teens we know, said to my friend Heidi, “Miss Heidi, we need to have a Star Wars marathon, and watch all six movies in one day.”

This suggestion from a teenager with a lot of stamina was well-received by my friend. Though Heidi couldn’t quite bring herself to watch all six in one day, she did break them up into pairs and invited families to her home to watch the double feature. They began watching the first movie on a large-screen television set up in her livingroom. The group broke for dinner and snacks, then watched the second film.

My oldest son was the only one in our family to go, as the Star Wars series is a bit too intense and violent for my younger ones. He enjoyed going each time, though, so when a more family-oriented movie was presented, we all went.

This past Saturday, moms, dads, and children gathered in Heidi’s home for supper and The Tale of Despereaux. She made a huge pot of chili and another pot of soup, and guests brought drinks, chips, and dessert. It was good to eat and talk with other parents while the kids laughed and joked with their friends. After supper, we all settled in to watch the film.

What a wonderful idea, the group movie night! We have a movie night every week at our house, where we get a movie from Netflix, Redbox, or the library, cook up come frozen pizzas, and watch it together. This movie night was extra special, though — a time for friends to come together, for moms to reconnect, and for dads to get to know one another.

In this way, Heidi’s Movie Night is a great example of the different dynamic that occurs in relationships among homeschoolers. These teenagers didn’t gather at a friend’s house by themselves, with their parents out of the way; they went with their parents and siblings to meet in a home where the host family was present and involved. Parents knew where their children were and what they were doing. It wasn’t strange, it wasn’t awkward; no one’s “style” was “cramped.” Everyone enjoyed hanging out with their friends while still being part of the group.

So if you have a large television and living area, give the group movie night a try. It’s a good, safe way to get the kids together.