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.
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.
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.
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.