Motivate Kids to Write Using Easy Art Accents

In this post, I’m going to teach you how to motivate kids to write using super easy art accents!  These easy art accents truly motivate kids to write and reward them for their work!  Even my most timid writers quickly find a reason to write if they know they can stick a sticker, add googly eyes or paint to create a fun border design.

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In addition, these easy art accents add color and charm to any child’s story.  Be sure and check out the many easy art accent ideas listed at the bottom of this post!

Markers vs. Crayons

Motivate kids to write using markers

First, before I go into detail on how I use easy art accents to motivate children to write, I first need to address the use of markers vs. crayons.  The truth is, these easy art accents motivate children as young as 2 to write!  In fact, peeling and placing stickers is one of the very first writing activities that I do with 2 year old.  Using markers is the second.

Why Markers?

When our little tots want to draw should they use markers or crayons first?  Like many moms, when my oldest son began showing interest in drawing of any kind, I bought crayons.


It’s the day when your child catches you writing a grocery list and wants a turn to “write.”   Excited, I got out the crayons and paper, sat next to him and drew scribbles, then some circles.  I told him that we only color on paper.  He took the crayon and scribbled too.  My son scribbled a lot.  And on the paper.

Doing good so far.

However, over the course of a few days or weeks the following things started to occur:

  1. The crayons dulled down to the paper
  2. My son discovered the joy of peeling paper
  3. Crayon wrappers and wax crumbs filled the table space.
  4. The crayons broke easily…
  5. …and apparently tasted good.

As a result, I switched to markers.  They wash out.  Moreover, markers are bolder in color and bigger for a comfortable toddler-handle-bar-grip when children are just starting to draw.

motivate kids to write, toddlers

When the markers dry out, I just give them new ones.  If you shop at Walmart during their back to school summer sale (beginning right after the 4th of July), you can get a simple 10 color box of markers for 97 cents!

Pop the Top!

Finally, when you’re teaching your young child how to use markers, it’s important to make sure they learn how to “pop the top” otherwise you’ll end up with lost caps and dry ink often.

motivate kids to write using markers motivate kids to write using markers motivate kids to write using markers motivate kids to write using markers

This can be learned really early.  My daughter knows and loves to “pop” at 27 months!motivate kids to write using markers, toddlers motivate kids to write using markers, toddlers

Easy Art Accents

Many of the easy art accents that children add to the border of their writing simply involve marker.  Again, markers are super simple to use and add color and charm to any child’s work!  Here’s a list of art accents that require markers only.

Birthday Party

motivate kids to write using markers, birthday

Candy Canes

motivate kids to write using markers, candy canes

Gumball Machine

motivate kids to write using markers, gumball machine

Leopard Rosettes

motivate kids to write using makers, leopard spots

Pumpkins on Vines

motivate kids to write using markers, pumpkins

Ring-Tailed Lemurs’ Tails

motivate kids to write using markers, lemurs tails

State Fair

motivate kids to write using markers, state fair

St. Patrick’s Day

Tiger Stripes

students use markers to color tiger stripes

Valentine’s Day

So Many Other Easy Art Accents!

Now, let’s look at the many other simple and charming additions that children can put around the border or their writing.  Remember, these easy art accents motivate kids to write and reward them for their work.  Each time I teach a guided writing lesson, I start by hanging up a sample art accent.  It catches the students’ attention and sparks in them a desire want to make one of their own.

The deal is, students get to add their art accent AFTER they’ve completed their story.  So, seeing the sample art accent motivates them to write.  Then, actually being able to add the art accent rewards them for their hard writing work!

Materials to Have on Hand

Here’s how these easy art accents work and are implemented at home or in a classroom.

Bordered Paper

First, for all of my writing classes, students write on bordered paper.  That way they can decorate the border around their writing with an art accent.  You can print and use this paper as well.  Here is the paper for Grades K-2 and Grades 2-7.  There is also bordered paper without lines to use with very early writers.

motivate kids to write, paper motivate kids to write, paper

Protecting Your Work Surface

Second, anytime children use markers, glue, glitter glue, etc, you’re going to want to protect the child’s work space.  Here are a few ideas to protect the desk or table that your child or students are working on:

Manila folders*, a Dollar Tree table cloth, or plastic table covers with elastic*.  Anything that works for you and keeps your tables clean is fine.  I prefer to use old manila folders.  They’re more durable than table cloths and can be used over and over again.


Third, my writers and I use these adhesives on a regular basis.  They’re good to have around at all times.

Glue sticks*, Elmer’s Glue*, and Glue dots*

Crafty Materials

Fifth, here’s a list of super simple materials that my students use to accompany different stories and essays.  Below, I will link to examples on how we use each material!

Additionally, I recommend having a flat, rectangular, plastic container* to catch glitter*, sand and salt.

The Finished Product

Then, as soon as students are done completing their art accent, they place their story in a plastic page protector*.  If an art accent includes paint, glue or glitter glue, they wait for the border to dry completely before placing it in the plastic page protector.

motivate kids to write

Finally, they place their story in their writing folder or binder.

Setting Up a Classroom

If you are a regular classroom teacher conducting the guided writing lessons from my website, I suggest setting up an art accent table.  This is what I do for my summer camps when I have 12-24 campers.  My campers write at tables in the front of a room.  So, I set up an art accent table at the back of the room.

As campers finish their writing, they move to the back table to complete their 5 minute art accent.  Then, they either set the piece aside to dry, or place it in a plastic page protector*.  If students are simply using a calendar picture, stickers or markers, they will complete their art accent at their seat.

Print a List of Material Ideas

Here, I’m attached a lit of materials that your students can use around the border or their stories and essays.  Surely, this list will cause you to generate ideas of your own!  Also, I will be adding more materials as I use them in my own teaching.  You can receive new ideas regularly by signing up to receive my FREE monthly newsletter below.

Now, here’s a list of materials for you to print and use!

Easy Art Accent Ideas to Motivate Your Kids to Write!

Check out these easy art accent ideas that I’ve used to motivate kids to write and have posted so far!

Calendar Pages

This is by far the most popular and cleanest art accent that we use!

motivate kids to write, calendar pages


Glitter Glue

motivate kids to write, glitter glue


motivate kids to write, googly eyes


motivate kids to write, markers


motivate kids to write, paint

Pipe Cleaners

motivate kids to write, pipe cleaners