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Discern To Learn

  • Writer's pictureTheresa Peters

The Family that Writes Together

Holidays are a time for special meals and nostalgic treats - a time we mark with family recipes.


Have you ever thought of a recipe as a piece o writing? Family recipes offer a delectable opportunity to foray into family writing! Homeschooling is all about family; let me show you how to use your family secrets as a smorgasbord of writing options.




Recipes are Process Writing: How-To's


Every day people write useful and helpful pieces to help people succeed at something. In fact, process writing is a great career! In education we usually call it a "how to," but the pros get a professional title. Perhaps you have a budding process writer in your home?


I noticed recently, as my 14 year old baker was following one of our family recipes that the instructions are a bit... or altogether missing! Or when they are they I probably do not follow them! Baking together is a great time to get your recipes updated with the proper instructions (and ingredients!) so that when your kids make their favorite family feast it tastes just like Mom's (or Dad's).


How Can you Update Your Recipe Book and Get your Child Writing?


Children of all ages can write a favorite recipe out. Here is a quick start method to get going:

For your Youngest Children: 1. Print out the recipe if it is already online somewhere - or get out your recipe book. If your cards a personal heirloom - make a copy for your child to write on!

2. Let them read the recipe card aloud to you and make sure they understand it all - our handwriting is often illegible to youngsters or we use short forms they do not understand.

3. Bake together and get them to fix the recipe- change the ingredients or amounts. Have them write out the instructions so they could make it themselves! Be sure to show them all those little tricks for knowing when something is mixed enough or when not to overdo it! It's these points that make the recipe Yours!

4. While you clean up they can make a second draft of the recipe (writing is all about the editing process. They're not done yet!)

5. Read their recipe. Give lots of positive feedback, then tell them there are a few corrections. Then correct the worst of the spelling etc. Perhaps show them how to format it like a recipe with the ingredients listed in the order they are used.

6. Then they make the corrections.


For Older Children: 1. Print out the recipe if it is already online somewhere - or get out your recipe book. If your cards a personal heirloom - make a copy for your child to write on!

2. Let them read the recipe card aloud to you and make sure they understand it all - our handwriting is often illegible to youngsters or we use short forms they do not understand.

3. Orally tell them changes you make when you do it and things they need to know to make it just like you do. They will make notes on the recipe.

4. Have them write or type up a new recipe in proper form.

5. Now you edit. Don't forget to start with praise - then give them some corrections to do.

6. Now they bake it - and they follow the instructions just like they wrote them. Does it turn out like yours? Are there things they had to ask about? They should add those details to the recipe!


Create a Family Writing Experience

Writing a family cook book is a great idea. This can be as elaborate or simple as you wish and it makes a great gift! It will take a while and be a long term project though so don't start in December and expect it done for Christmas! If you have a photographer in the bunch they can take photos of the food for the cook book! Someone else can do graphic design.

Everyone can work on their favorite recipes!


Work through the same process as for doing one recipe - or perhaps do interviews with each child and just do #3-5 on the older child instructions to get this cook book going!

Your social child can interview extended family members and collect memories of family gatherings or meals to include in the finished product. Maybe each extended member of the family has a recipe to contribute?

Consider publishing it through a photobook company and printing one copy for each child.

Don't forget to also put a current photo of each family member creating the book.


Family Cook Book Writing Extension

Did you make some fun memories creating this cook book? Or stressful ones? Use your experiences as jumping off points for creative writing.



Story Ideas:

Perhaps your family is one of those magazine kinds and you have instagram worthy stories of how well you all work together, and no mess was made while baking... maybe you would like to have your children write about one small part of the experience!


Maybe there is a funny story you all feel comfortable sharing that someone can write to add to your cook book?


  • It's not quite like that in my house... not even a Little like that! In my house, we probably don't want to share Exactly what happened! We'd like to be a bit more creative - besides - it is your book! Tell a story of what would have happened if a cleaning elf arrived

  • Take a walk down memory lane with one of the dishes - where has she or he been served before? Is she/he proud to be part of the family traditions?

  • Write a funny just so story about one of the dishes (A just so story is a story that claims to tell the origins of something)

  • Write a fairy tale with a prince and princess... your dish doesn't have to be the main character but have it served somewhere glamourous (or notorious!)



Story Starters:

  • I was just about to whip the eggs (or fold in the chocolate chips...) when my fingers began to tingle....

  • Christmas morning has arrived but something terrible has happened to the scones (or croissants or whatever?!)...

  • "Do not dare to touch me one more time," screamed the (choose an ingredient)....

  • Everything was ready for the perfect family dinner. Grandma and Grandpa had just pulled in and Aunty (someone) was on her way... now if only the jello would cooperate... (remember this is not a real story... make it funny!)

  • Snow drifted lazily down creating a blanket of peace to cover our neighbourhood until the siren broke through the night sky with terror....



Tips for Making Family Writing a Fun Experience instead of a Stressful One!


The secret is so simple yet so complex - isn't parenting always?!


The secret to a fun time is to have fun!

I know - my genius overwhelms me too ;) The problem is how to make it fun - how to have fun! It really helps if your kids want to do the project and it really helps if you do too. This is a family writing project - not just for the kids but for everyone to do together!


TIPS: -LOTS of time. Do not rush this with a short deadline. Plan to do it over a Long period.

-Treats! Who doesn't like treats. If every time you work on this project you are all looking forward to getting together and being together and enjoying some treats then that will go a long way!

- Schedule it - maybe once a week or once a month - make it a date.

-create a working team - this isn't a project managed by the parent. Set up a writing committee - what skills does each person bring to the table? How can everyone contribute? Make the project fit your family!

-change the format - who says it has to be recipe cards or a photo book ... it can be a blog, a vlog, a website - again - what skills do you have in your family? Use them all.




Writing - especially homeschool writing - is a family affair. All of life is education and your family traditions are no different. Use every opportunity for fun family writing opportunities!



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