The message in a bottle theme is one that has been used countless times in books, films and television shows, as the idea of finding a random message that could mean anything is compelling. If you are looking for ways to help foster your child's writing abilities, use the message in a bottle theme to inspire a variety of writing activities.
Read and Write Messages in a Bottle
Many books have been written around the concept of finding a message in a bottle, including children's books that you can read to your child. For kids ages 5 and up, "Pirate Patch and the Message in a Bottle," by Rose Impey tells the story of a little boy pirate who finds a message in a bottle from his parents in need of rescuing from a dangerous island. For kids ages 10 and up, "Three Times Lucky," by Sheila Turnage uses a message in a bottle to set the stage for an adventure mystery starring a spirited middle schooler searching for her past. Encourage your child to write her own short story with the message in a bottle theme and read it aloud when she is finished.
Motivational Message in a Bottle
Have your child write a motivational letter in a bottle to herself. Help her brainstorm about goals and dreams she has for her future, then write it in a letter. Put the message in an empty bottle, and rather than throwing it into the sea, put it away somewhere for a year. Your child can read her original message the next year, and revise, add to, or write a whole new one each year until she reaches adulthood. It is an opportunity for your child to look at the progress she made toward her goals each year.
Send a Message of Love
The message in a bottle concept is often associated with two loved ones who are separated by distance. Have your child write a letter to a loved one who lives far away, such as a grandparent, cousin or friend who moved away. You can find tiny glass bottles at craft stores. Tuck the letter into the bottle and pack it securely in a box surrounded by newspaper and other packaging materials to safely ship it. Label the box with" fragile" as well, before taking it to the post office or shipping center. Your child's loved one is sure to appreciate this extra special message of love upon receiving it.
Bottle Writing Game
Invite your child's friends over for this writing activity and guessing game. This game is ideal for school-aged kids. Give the kids 10 to 15 minutes to write a short adventure story with a beginning, middle and end. The story should include clues as to the writer's identity, but that are not too obvious. If the kids need writing prompts, you can tell them they must include a phrase like "when suddenly," in the story or "when the monster jumped out." Put each completed story in a small bottle with a cork or cap. Put the bottles in a small inflatable pool or water activity center. The kids must then fish out a bottle and read the story inside, even if it is their own. The other kids have to try to guess who the author is based on the clues in the story. While the game gets easier to figure out towards the end, the point is to get their creative writing juices flowing and encourage them to feel confident enough to share their stories.
- Pirate Patch and the Message in a Bottle; Rose Impey
- Three Times Lucky; Sheila Turnage