Writing practice - write a letter, an article and a short story

Activity 1

Write an invitation

It’s party and festival season. You have decided to celebrate with your friends and neighbours by holding a party at the local community centre. Write a letter inviting them to join you.

You could include information about:

·       The time and place of the party.

·       The reason you are celebrating (e.g. Eid, Christmas, Birthday etc.).

·       What food and drinks people are bringing.

·       What activities there will be for children.

·       How they can help with preparations for the party.

Remember: plan your writing, use correct punctuation, use paragraphs and include an introduction and conclusion to your letter.  


Write an article 

Describe an important event in your life.

This could be:

·      An important birthday.

·      A wedding day or anniversary.

·      A graduation, getting a job or promotion.

·      Passing your driving test.

·      A celebration.

You could include:

·      The day, time and place.

·      People who were there.

·      Why this event was important.

Remember to plan your writing, use paragraphs and check for correct spelling and grammar.


If you are bored with doing reading and writing exercises why not read a simple story or even write a short story yourself? It is a great way to put theory into practice and to use your spelling, punctuation and grammar skills. Look at some pieces of writing my students have done.

Creative writing examples

                                         My secret place

I found it by chance. I hadn't been looking but when I came across it I knew I would never stop visiting that wonderful place.
I had been feeling sad as my best friend had moved away to another town. Although she said we would keep in touch and could visit each other I knew things would never be the same. I felt very alone. Alone in a place where everybody had busy lives and friends and families. I had nobody. I knew lots of people but I didn't consider them to be my friends. I would never want to share secrets with them as I know they would not really be interested. Then one beautiful sunny day I went for a walk. I walked through the park and across a field and discovered a little forest. It was full of fresh green trees and clumps of flowers. The first time I found it was in spring and there were daffodils and tulips. A yellow and red bed. A few weeks later the bluebells had taken over.  A blanket of blue beauty. Every time I went I would find something different. A different flower, a different colour and a different me.  It makes me feel so happy! I have never seen anyone else there. That's why I call it my secret place.

(Written by Miriam. IELTS student)

Take a look at the lovely children's story below which one of my students wrote at Christmas. It is only short but there are lots of very good language features. Read it and try and write one yourself!
                            Barnaby Bear's Christmas 
Barnaby walked quickly along the street. He pulled his lovely new scarf over his ears and put his hands in his pockets. It was getting colder and colder. He stopped to look at a beautiful Christmas tree in a shop window. It was decorated with twinkling lights which looked like little stars.  Barnaby wished he had more time to stand and admire the tree but he knew he would have to hurry if he wanted to catch the 5pm bus. He carried on walking and after about 5 minutes he arrived at the bus station. He asked for a single ticket to Great Yarmouth and was told it was bus number 25. He joined the queue of people and waited for the doors of the big, shiny red bus to open. It was so cold! “I think it is time for snow!” said the old man who was standing behind Barnaby. Barnaby turned to look at him and was about to speak when suddenly large snowflakes began to float down from the sky. Some little children started screaming with delight.  “It’s snowing! It’s snowing!” Barnaby was also excited about the snow but wished they would hurry and open the bus door. He didn’t want his new scarf to get wet! “Doors open please!” he said quietly to himself, just at the same time as the man behind him also said exactly the same words! As if by magic, the doors opened and everyone quickly got on the bus.
Barnaby found a window seat and made himself comfortable. The journey to Great Yarmouth would take one hour and Barnaby planned to spend the time writing Christmas cards for his family and friends. “May I sit here, please?” Barnaby recognised the man who had been standing behind him in the queue. “ Yes, of course!” he replied. The man smiled and sat down. “Pleased to meet you. I’m Mr C.” he said. “ Pleased to meet you too, I’m Barnaby Bear.” Secretly Barnaby hoped Mr C. would not want to speak too much as he really needed to write his Christmas cards before he arrived in Great Yarmouth. Almost as if he had read Barnaby’s mind , Mr C. immediately closed his eyes and started to snore lightly.
Barnaby wrote all his cards and put stamps on them. He would post them as soon as he got to Great Yarmouth. He knew he was not going to have much time after today. Christmas is such a busy time for bears. He looked out of the window and realised that it had been snowing all the time. Everywhere was covered in white! The fields and trees looked so clean and beautiful. The sky was black and little stars twinkled just like the lights on the Christmas tree. “How beautiful!” sighed Barnaby. He must have sighed very loudly as it seemed to wake up Mr C. “Oh, hello Barnaby Bear! So it snowed! Beautiful, isn’t it?” “Yes it is! I do love the snow.” replied Barnaby. “What about you Mr C.? Do you like the snow?” asked Barnaby. “ Snow means it is Christmas, so of course I do!” replied Mr C.  winking at Barnaby. “Do you like Christmas, Barnaby Bear?” Barnaby smiled and decided he liked Mr C. and that he could tell him the truth. “I love Christmas and especially this year because I am going to be a Christmas Bear for the very first time! That’s why I am going to Great Yarmouth as I am going to meet Father Christmas there and he is going to give me to a little boy or girl for Christmas! I hope he chooses someone nice for me!”  Mr C. looked at Barnaby and smiled warmly. “Don’t worry, Barnaby Bear. I have already found the perfect child for you in Great Yarmouth. You will be loved forever.”
The bus stopped and they arrived in Great Yarmouth.  Mr C. (Mr Christmas of

 course!) told Barnaby to go and visit the wonderful Christmas markets and the famous

 Hippodrome Circus. Barnaby has never been to a circus and isn’t really sure what it is! “Go

and enjoy yourself!”  he told Barnaby   “ and on Christmas Eve at 5pm we will meet at my

sleigh. The elves will put you in a lovely box and you will be ready! Ready for a wonderful

Christmas and a new life in Great Yarmouth!” 

(Written by Emilia for her children - First Certificate student)

 The Silver Sea-Swan and the Magic Pearl

When Ernest was a boy, his favourite story was ‘The Silver Sea-Swan and the Magic Pearl.’ It was a magical tale about a mythical creature. In real life, there is no such thing as a silver sea-swan! Swans are white, or rarely, black. And they live in fresh water – in lakes and rivers, not in seas or oceans. In the story, the sea-swan was a lonely creature who lived in the North Sea. It had a treasure, a beautiful pearl, that had magic powers. It had the power to ‘magnify’. The Silver Swan - automaton - YouTube

It was just a story. Except – fast forward ten years and Ernest was working as a ferryman. His job was lookout. One jet black night, as he was scanning the horizon, he saw a strange bird in the distance. It must be a goose, he thought. Then he noticed a long, arched neck. It looked so graceful! And it was strange how the starlight was reflecting off the bird. It looked silver! His spine tingled; he felt really spooked! Surely, it couldn’t be? After a few minutes, the bird called to him, the most wonderful siren-sound. Then Ernest knew it was the sea-swan. He lowered a lifeboat and rowed towards it. The swan swam towards him. As it reached his boat, it opened its beak and he saw a huge, gleaming pearl. It sparkled, almost diamond-like. He knew that the swan was gifting him the pearl, as the story promised. He took it and he thanked the swan. It swam serenely away. 

When Ernest returned to land, he sold the magnificent pearl to the highest bidder. He made a fortune! Ernest was good and kind and he wanted to help; to make a difference. With his money, he made many donations to charity and so many people’s lives improved. He felt happy and fulfilled. The man who bought the pearl, Selwyn, loved it very much. He put it in a safe and took it out to look at it every day. Selwyn’s wife loved it, too. She asked him for it. She wanted it to be made into a ring, so she could wear it and it would always be with her. Selwyn refused! He was a selfish man who did not want to share the pearl with anyone. In the end, his wife felt that he loved the pearl more than her. She left him, taking their two daughters with her. Selwyn was left alone. He had the pearl to look at, but no love or warmth in his life. This is the power of the Magic Pearl: whatever is inside you, it will shine a light on and magnify. 

Now write your own story! Be creative!

Make a simple plan first. You need a plot and characters! How creative are you?

Create a mind map - draw a bubble in the middle and add six bubbles around it.

1. Write your own subject in the middle bubble. 

 2. Label each outer bubble with a different aspect of your subject. List your ideas under each heading - just one or two words for each idea.

 3. Number the bubbles in the order you want to write your ideas.

 4. With the planning done, expand your ideas into sentences. Each bubble will probably form a separate paragraph of four or five sentences, depending on how many ideas you have. Enjoy your writing!


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