classbook-brainstormBrainstorming is fantastic for young students because it helps them expand their thinking as a group or individually. Brainstorming has several benefits besides just coming up with ideas for a writing project. While brainstorming students will: Tap into prior knowledge on the topic, facilitate healthy communication, learn to respect each other’s ideas, dive into their own individuality and creativity and expand on main topics and ideas. The pre-writing worksheets below will help you teach your students about brainstorming and ideation.

Brainstorming and ideation is where good writing begins and can be introduced as early as kindergarten or first grade. But the question is, how do you introduce this concept to your young students and show them how to organize their ideas in a methodical way?

Using Pre-writing Worksheets to Introduce Brainstorming and Ideation to Elementary Students

Pre-writing worksheets allow your students to put their ideas on paper in a structured way so that their writing can start to take shape.

Kindergarten and 1st Grade Brainstorming

Although kindergartners are just learning the basics of reading and writing, it is important that you show them a way to organize their ideas around a main topic. Our kindergarten and first grade brainstorming worksheet are based on the classic mind map that is widely used today by everyone from professional writers to CEOs. This form of idea organization is simple and easy for kindergartners and first graders to understand and they can write as little or as much as they want.

Your students can use this worksheet to brainstorm individually or as a group,  if they are brainstorming as a group, we suggest giving every student a copy of the worksheet so they can reference it when they start writing.

2nd and 3rd Grade

2nd and 3rd graders are able to structure sentences and understand the key components of a story. At this grade level, it is important to start introducing more creative writing processes,self-ideation and brainstorming. With this worksheet, your students can come up with words or phrases that they can refer back to for future writing projects when they have to come up with what they want to write about.

With the worksheet above, your students will fill in people, places and things they find interesting. After students choose their topic from the worksheet, have them create a mind map with information relating to the topic they chose (you can use the kindergarten worksheet above for mind mapping or have them create their own). Once they write about the topic on the worksheet, they will color in the check mark next to the person, place or thing they wrote about.

This 2nd and 3rd grade brainstorming worksheet is something your students can keep in their language arts folder throughout the school year. The can even use it to write about topics they didn’t get a chance to cover during summer break.

4th and 5th Grade

By the time students reach 4th or 5th grade, they have probably already had some exposure to brainstorming and ideation. At this point, they are able to develop their ideas to create more complex pieces of writing that include character and setting development and important plot points that lead up to a resolution.

When brainstorming, your students should first think about what the main idea of their story should be. For example, if they are writing a personal narrative, ask them about an important event in their lives. If they are writing something fictional, ask them what their main character or characters learn and that can be their main idea.

After your students establish their main idea, use this worksheet to help them brainstorm key parts of their story. This will keep them on track as they create their dynamic pieces of writing.

4th and 5th graders may want to rush through this step of the writing process, but encourage your students to take the time and really think about what they want to show and tell the reader in their writing.

Brainstorming Class Book Topics as a Group

When it comes to writing a classbook, you may want to spend some time brainstorming as a class, and include  some tips for coming up with topics for your classbook as a group. We have plenty of classbook inspiration and topic ideas available to help get started brainstorming with your class.

These tips can be implemented during any brainstorming and ideation sessions you have in class, the important thing is that all students feel that their ideas are heard. You should first set some ground rules to ensure that your class understands that everyone’s ideas are valuable.

  1. There are no wrong answers.
  2. Do not say “no” to any ideas or say something is a “bad idea”.
  3. This is not the time to say why you do or do not like an idea.

We suggest approaching this group brainstorm with a few strategies that are often used in the business world during creative ideation sessions.

Identify the goal before you begin ideating topics.

We all know that class discussions can easily get off track so, it is important to identify what the goal of the exercise is. In this case, the goal is to come up with ideas for a classbook.

Set a time limit

Set a timer for your book topic ideation session this can be as long as you would like, but we suggest keeping it under 15  minutes. After 15 minutes, discussion can sometimes become counterproductive and your students’ attention spans may start to dwindle. You can always schedule a second brainstorming session if you need to.

Only one person can talk at a time

We know that having one student talk at a time is usually easier said than done, but you want to make sure all of your students’ ideas are heard. You can use the classic “talking stick” and have students pass an object to each other when they have an idea. Whoever has the “talking stick” is the one who gets to talk and everyone else listens.

Now, they don’t use talking sticks in the adult business world (although sometimes maybe they should), but for class discussions at the elementary level, they are helpful in making sure that an idea doesn’t get lost because someone else was talking.

Write everything down

As you proceed through the book topic brainstorming process, write down all of the ideas on your whiteboard. After the discussion has ended, wait until the end of the day or the next day and have students vote on which ideas they like best for their classbook.

Additional Resources

Head over to our online teacher’s lounge to find suggestions and ideas from your fellow teachers that will inspire you. We want to give your students the tools they need to help develop their skills as young writers.

Also, don’t miss the chance to sign up to receive your free classbook publishing kit. Use the publishing kit to create an amazing keepsake book for your class!