grandparents-day-grandma-granddaughterWriting is a great way for your students to express themselves and become stronger communicators. Narrative writing, in particular, helps young writers realize the importance of creating stories with a message and tap into their own experiences to shape those stories.

A great way to bring narrative writing into the classroom this year is to involve someone else from your students’ lives, in this case, their grandparents. With Grandparents Day coming up, it’s a great time to make time for these special relatives.

Narrative Writing Prompts for Elementary Students to Celebrate Grandparents Day

Your students will benefit from writing and will also get to know their grandparents better with these writing prompts!

Note: Some of your students may not have grandparents or they have not had much interaction with them. Have those students think about an older person in their life who has made an impact on them and use that person in place of a traditional grandparent.

The Five W’s

Have your students center these writing prompts (with the exception of writing prompt #2) around the five w’s, when, where, who, what, and why. Ask them to create their stories using that exact order. That way they’ll set up the situation (when and where ), introduce characters (who), describe what happened (what) and then tell readers why it was important (why).
The five w’s are a good format to use for narrative writing, especially for younger students who are still working on their personal voice and story structure.

Writing prompt #1: Tell me a story about the best day you had with your grandparents

This writing prompt is great for getting your students to work on their descriptive and narrative writing skills. They’ll have to describe in detail what happened during that great day with their grandparents. This prompt is also a good way to work on using different voices, pronouns and organically incorporating quotes into their writing. As you assign this prompt to your students, give them an example of a special time you had with your grandparents from your childhood.

Including Descriptive Writing in the Narrative

Your students may have completed some descriptive writing prompts before, like “write three sentences about what the sky looks like outside.” This prompt is a little more challenging because students have to recall details from their special day, describe those details and put them in order. We suggest you give them a list of descriptive vocabulary words that they can use in their writing to help illustrate these details.

 

PROJECT IDEA

Have your students contact their grandparents (if possible) and talk to them about that special memory. Ask them to write down if their grandparents recall different things from that day that they may have forgotten. If your students are unable to contact their grandparents, have them recall the details as best they can and use the five w’s to put them in order. Make sure they focus on why this day was so special to them at the end of the writing prompt and take some time to reflect on why it was so important.

Then, have your students draw a picture of the events that happened on that day. Use this as an opportunity to introduce the idea of symbolism to them. For example, they might draw the bench that they sat on with their grandpa at the park or a picture of the baseball game they went to with grandma. Combine the students’ writing and drawings into a memorable classbook that they can look back at to remember the special day they had with their grandparents forever.


Writing Prompt 2: Interview your grandparent or an older person in your life about a time before cell phones or the internet. Write about what that time was like as if you were there.

To kick off this writing prompt you’ll want to lead a discussion asking your students to think of examples of how technology makes their lives easier. What do they think they couldn’t live without when it comes to electronics and why?

This discussion will help them create interview questions to ask their grandparents and also give them some context for what their grandparents tell them when talking about a time before cell phones or the internet.

Interviewing Techniques and Open-Ended Questions

While not everyone will grow up to be a journalist, knowing how to interview someone or at least how to ask good questions and listen to the answers is an important skill.

Discuss why it’s important to hear stories and listen to other people with your students. It can also be helpful to give them an interactive activity that demonstrates listening skills, have two students come up and show the class what good listening and poor listening skills look like.

After your students have an idea of what good listening skills look like, they will need to come with what questions to ask their grandparents. Encourage them to come up with open-ended questions like:

  • What was your life without technology like?What did you like to do?
  • Was life harder then than it is now, why or why not?
  • How did you get around without GPS?
  • How did you do research for school?

Have your students take notes while they interview their grandparents so they can remember what was said. Younger students can use a series of pictures to help record what their grandparents say about life without today’s technology.

 

PROJECT IDEA

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After your students have the interview notes from their grandparents, have them visualize themselves in a time when there are no cell phones or internet and write down what they see. They can write about how a day in their life would change. You can also encourage your students to tap into things that they enjoy outside of the digital world like reading, drawing, playing sports, cooking or writing and talk about what they would do for entertainment without technology. Have your students then draw a picture of themselves in a world without technology. You can then combine their drawings and what they wrote to create a classbook that they can share with their grandparents!

 

Your students will come out of this exercise more grateful for technology than they were before - and that is never a bad thing! Who knows, they might come out of the activity with a newfound appreciation for off-screen activities.

Prompt 3: Ask your grandparents about a life-changing event that happened when they were younger. Describe the event to me and tell me how you would react if the event happened while you were alive.

People like talking about the past, especially when their past is so different than current times. Though grandparents of your current second graders were probably born in the ’60s and not the ’30s, things were still pretty different when they were growing up.

For example, your students may not know about the Vietnam War or how big of a deal going to a Beatles concert was. Now, that’s where this prompt turns into more than just a writing exercise - it’s a history lesson too.

In addition to asking the grandparents about the event, have your students ask the following questions to get a better overall feel.

  • How did people feel about the big event?
  • What made it such a big deal?
  • How did your parents feel about the event?
  • Is there anything similar to the event today?

When it’s time for them to talk to their grandparents, ask them to use this worksheet to record what they tell them about the events in the “Fact” areas. Have them wait to fill in the closing portion of the worksheet, this will be where they brainstorm how they would react during the event.

 

PROJECT IDEA

Have your students bring their worksheets into class after they have their facts about the event and discuss what their grandparents told them in small groups of 3. As a group, they can talk about how the event would make them feel and then see what other classmates have to say and use that input to come up with their closing statement i.e. how they would react if the event happened to them.
After they have their closing statement, have them write about the event. Allow them to do additional research if they want and include that in their writing, but make sure that they tell you about the event from their grandparents perspective and use their closing statement!

Have your students add an illustration to their writing by drawing a picture of themselves in a time machine hovering over the event. Combine their writing and illustrations to create a cool, historical classbook that they can share with their grandparents. If you have the time in your schedule, invite grandparents to your classroom to hear presentations of your student stories.

 

Need More Inspiration?

We strive to make teachers lives easier by offering lesson plans and writing prompts that can be brought into the classroom.

Once you’ve decided on which Grandparents Day writing prompt or exercise you’ll use, compile all of your students’ stories into a classbook and enter our National Book Challenge.