engaging-writing-promptsAs teachers, we know how creative our students can be—from silly questions they ask to the stories they make up in their head. But it takes practice to improve their writing skills and put those creative ideas to paper.

Writing prompts help elementary students with a variety of skills support that creativity we all enjoy. Prompts give your students a chance to learn how to tell a story, understand how to use research to write an essay and formulate an argument that persuades readers.

Review our tips to help you craft writing prompts that will inspire your students to write thoughtful, fun, unique and intriguing pieces of writing. In fact, these writing exercises will make you want memorialize their writing by publishing a classbook!

Creating Engaging Elementary Writing Prompts

Writing helps students practice skills like grammar, spelling and story organization. The process of writing—draft, revisions, editing, and final draft—teach your students to always think about what they write, even if it’s just an email 30 years from now.

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to encourage your students to provide more than one-sentence answers on writing exercises.

Coming up with writing prompts that aren’t the same old questions students have heard before takes work, and so we gathered a few tips to help spark some ideas and make it easier to put together your next writing prompt.

Play to Your Students’ Interests

What do you hear your students talking about in the classroom? Do they love unicorns? Or do your students love the Marvel movies? Do they adore rainbows or play a specific video game? Are your students doing some dance they saw on YouTube all over the place?

No matter what they like, there’s always a hook that will work as a writing prompt. Here are a few quick ideas - we have included full project ideas below:

  • If you could be any animal (real or fantasy), which would you pick, and why?
  • What is your favorite toy? If that toy could come to life, how do you think it would spend its time?
  • Imagine there are no video games, Internet, iPads or even televisions. How would you spend your free time? How would the world be different?
  • If you had to make up a new dance move, what would it look like? How would you get everyone else to get on board with your new dance

PROJECT IDEA

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Going off the idea that most kids like the idea of superheroes, provide the following writing prompt: Imagine everyone in your family has a super power. Who has what power and how does it work? Tell your students that it might make a fun dinner conversation to discuss their thoughts with their family before finalizing their answer. Finish off the project with a drawing of their superhero family and create a super-powered classbook!

Add Writing Exercises into Other Subjects

When you make your lesson plans for subjects such as social studies, math or science you can look for opportunities to create writing prompts based on those existing lessons.

There are lots of opportunities to plan cross-curriculum projects for your class. For example, if you’re studying the states and learning the capitals, you might ask what state is each student’s favorite and why? Or, which state would your students like to travel to and what would they do once they got there?

Whether you ask the class to do an involved writing prompt with research, outlines and multiple drafts, or it’s a short and simple prompt that focuses on an imaginative answer and tells a story. Writing prompts can work for you in a number of ways - and give your students a break from reading in their textbook.

 

PROJECT IDEA

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Every student learns about planets at some point or another and space is always a fascinating subject.  Writing prompt: You discovered a new planet what would it look like and would people be able to live and/or would other life forms? Describe your planet based on your knowledge of the planets in our solar system. Once they complete their writing exercises, your students can create an illustration of their imaginary planet, maybe even adding in any life forms that inhabit the planet. Create a classbook out of these stellar projects, and then have a space-themed party to celebrate the published books when they arrive.

Use Two- or Three-part Prompts

You already know that one of the of the best ways to get information from your elementary students is by asking questions. Not just yes-or-no questions, but you get the info you need by asking more involved questions that require detailed answers.

Notice how all of the writing prompts we’ve used as examples in this post (and all of our posts, really!) involve more than one part. It might just be the addition of “and why?,” or it might be a second, related question that helps your students expand their answers. The additional parts are there to require your students to think of other details, facts or characteristics and reasoning, depending on the nature of the topic.

Oftentimes, the more detailed the prompt, the more in-depth response you’ll elicit from your students.

 

PROJECT IDEA

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The following multi-part prompt is great because all students have thought about how much they dislike school rules - so give them the opportunity to change them through writing. The prompt could be something like, if I was in charge of the school, what rules would I add? What rules would I get rid of? What would you do if no one followed your rules? This prompt is a great opportunity to talk about how rules help keep us in line and what might happen if those rules were to change. Pair this prompt with drawings of the students as the principal to complete the projects. Make this writing assignment one to remember by creating a classbook. We bet that your students and their families will get a kick out of reading about how students would change things up in the school.

 

Teacher Tools

Visit our online teacher’s lounge for more tips and ideas about improving your students’ writing. We want to help you cultivate a love of writing in your students, too.While you’re on our website, sign up to receive your free classbook publishing kit. Provide your students with the memory of creating a classbook and keeping the finished product forever!