Looking for a creative way to work on your teen’s writing skills? Here’s an idea for you: have your kids work on writing product reviews online!
Not only will your kids get a thrill from seeing their review published online, but the activity is excellent for both critical thinking and writing skills practice. And it’s outstanding prep for those longer papers they’ll have to do later.
This review will be on something your kids know well and use a lot. But to write a credible review — one that others read from beginning to end and take seriously — it has to include a few things.
Any links in this post may be affiliate links. See my disclosure statement.
What is Product Review Writing
Product reviews involve critical thinking and persuasive writing skills and is a writing style all students should master. It includes all kinds of things like leaving a review of your favorite restaurant on Yelp, posting your opinion about the new shoes you just bought on Amazon, or sharing your thoughts on the book you read this month in book club online.
It may seem simple – just post your opinion, right? But writing a fair and thoughtful review actually takes some skill and practice. That’s why it’s important to add this type of writing to your language arts lessons. You teen will learn a valuable life skill while having fun writing.
How to Write a Product Review
If your tweens haven’t had a lot of experience with this style of writing, help them feel comfortable by teaching the basics and discussing the content of their review together. Kids often become very animated when they sit down one-on-one with you to discuss the pros and cons of something they’re passionate about.
Encourage your kids to take notes during your talk and when you’re done, they can get writing. Remember, an online review can be a single paragraph or more, depending on what your kids want to write and your instructions.
Here are 3 helpful steps to writing credible online product reviews.
First, the review needs to open with a clear statement either for or against the product.
Does the product do what it’s supposed to do? How well? Write an opening sentence that answers those two questions.
To catch readers’ interest right at the start, use colorful adjectives in that opening sentence. Try to avoid “good,” “great,” or “bad.” Overused words make less of an impact on readers. An online thesaurus is a valuable and convenient tool for this. See the colorful adjectives I just used in my last sentence (valuable and convenient)?
Second, the review needs to dive right into the “whys” behind your kids’ opener.
That means giving examples to support and explain the opening statement. What makes the product excellent? Why should people not spend any of their money on this product? For the body of their online review, kids explain the parts of the product they think people need to know about, what those parts are supposed to do, and how well those parts perform.
This portion of their online review actually requires a lot of advanced critical thinking. But if your kids are experts on the product they’re reviewing, this will be super easy for them.
Finally, end the review with a closing statement.
Do you recommend this product – yes or no, and to what extent? Sometimes a product is best for people of a certain age group, skillset, or interest level. In their closing statement, your kids should give a specific recommendation that speaks to those differences. People who read online reviews look for that! They rely on it.
Closing with a statement like this will create a review that gives readers a clear idea of when the product should be used, how, and by whom.
Teens Should Avoid This When Writing Product Reviews
There is one major mistake kids need to steer clear of in published online product reviews, especially after they have done all that complex critical thinking.
The big no-no is this: grammatical errors.
Misspelled words, incorrect punctuation, poor sentence structure, and using the wrong word in the wrong context (for example, using “except” where “accept” should be used) are all common errors that make published pieces of writing look sloppy and kills the writer’s credibility.
Sloppy is not credible. It makes the reader question the writer instead of taking the piece of writing seriously. If your kids need help with grammar, please do so before they publish their review.
Product Review Ideas
Here are a few topics to consider as part of your lesson on product reviews. As you know, there are endless places online for them to share their opinions.
They can write about:
- the latest video game they mastered
- a book they read
- a blockbuster movie they’ve seen
- an app they use
- food they eat
- a restaurant they frequent
- the theme park they visited on vacation
- something they’ve purchased recently
I’m sure your kids will have no trouble finding something to review.
Creative Writing Products
One of our go-to places for writing resources is Writing Rockstars. We’ve used a number of their programs, with huge success.
They have a short course on writing reviews, called the Textual Analysis Short Course. In this course, older kids will go more in-depth on their product reviews, following a structure commonly used in language arts classes.
Textual analysis is when you critique someone else’s work and includes reviews of things like books, movies, and products.
For their writing, kids get to pick their own topics because it’s more fun for both the teacher and the student. Truly, I’ve learned more about paintball guns, skateboards, horror films, and American Girl dolls – to name a few – than I would ever have known about otherwise.
Try the online product review with your kids. There’s nothing like knowing their writing could be seen by a large number of people to make them step up and do their best. And if you want more formal help teaching writing to your teen, give Writing Rockstars a try.
Writing Activities for Teens
Need more writing ideas for your language arts class? Here are a few that will make writing fun for kids.
- Brainstorming Tips & Tools for Middle School
- Improve Creative Writing Skills with a Game
- Reluctant Writers Improving Writing in 3 Months