Middle School Writing Assignment Ideas For Kids



Notes on Journal Prompts
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Based on the assumption that an academic year, in most cases, consists of 180 days divided into 4 quarters, I have grouped these prompts accordingly. You, of course, may choose to use any of these at whatever time you like.

There are eight graphics on this page to serve as general visual bookmarks. Additionally, please consider using the following text links to jump to specific points on this page:

Go to 1st Quarter Prompts
Go to 2nd Quarter Prompts
Go to 3rd Quarter Prompts
Go to 4th Quarter Prompts

1st Quarter Journal Writing Prompts

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What follows below is a simple listing of prompts.

If you'd like to make these really POP (and save yourself some effort at the same time), you may be interested in Journal Jumpstarts, Volume 1, which contains prompts 1-20 listed below.

1. Write about going back to school after summer vacation.
journal writing prompts
2. Write a thank you note to a friend who gave you onion and garlic-flavored chewing gum.
journal writing prompts
3. Draw an imaginary constellation. Write a story such as ancient people might have told about it.

4. Describe a real made-up dream or nightmare.
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5. Write about your favorite childhood toy. journal writing prompts
6. Write out the best or the worst day of your life.

7. Finish this thought: if I could change one thing about myself (if you can't think of anything, you might want to consider telling how you got to be perfect!)

8. If and when I raise children, I'll never...

9. I have never been more frightened than when...

10. Persuade a friend to give up drugs.

11. Five years from now, I will be...

12. Write about a day you'd like to forget.

13. Invent and describe a new food.
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14. Describe an event that changed your life forever, or make up and describe an event that would change your life forever.

15.  Describe someone who is a hero to you and explain why.

16.  Write about a time in your life when you struggled with a choice and made the right one.

17.  Imagine yourself in a different century and describe an average day in your life.

18.  Which character from a book would you most like to meet and why?

19.  Three goals I have set for myself are...

20.  What would you do if 300 mice had just gotten out of their cages in a pet shop where you worked?

Just like the above 20 prompts, prompts 21-40 listed below have not been "dressed up" much.

To see them in their finest clothing, you may want to download Journal Jumpstarts, Volume 2.


21. What would you do if you were locked inside your favorite department store overnight?

22.  What would you do if you woke up one morning to find yourself invisible?

23.  What would you do if you were able to communicate with animals?

24.  What would you do if you could travel into the future?

25.  What would you do if you could travel into the past?

26.  What would you do if someone just gave you $1 million?

27.  What would you do it all the electricity in the world just stopped?

28.  What would you do if you could travel free anyplace in the world?

29.  What would you do if the dinner served to you in a fancy restaurant came with a fly in the mashed potatoes?

30.  Write a list of at least 50 things that make you feel good.

31.  Describe the perfect day.  Put in as many details as you can.  Make it a possible day, not a "dream day."

32.  Who is the person from history that you would most like to meet and talk to?  Why?  What would you like to ask?

33.  Who is the person from literature that you would most like to meet and talk to?  Why?  What would you like to ask?

34.  Compile a list of words that describe you as a child.  Compile a second list that describes you as you are now.  How are these lists the same?  How are they different?

35.  Compile a list of inanimate or animate objects to which you might compare yourself metaphorically.  (I am a windmill.  I change direction or my thoughts whenever someone talks to me...)

36.  Tell about what triggers anger in you or someone else.

37.  Invent a monster and describe it.  Tell where it lives, what it eats, and what it does.

38.  What is your favorite kind of weather?  Why?

39.  What is the best book you have ever read?  Why did you like it?  Did reading the book change you in any way?  What way?

40.  Write about what you didn't do this weekend.

Prompts 41-60 (listed below) are included in Journal Jumpstarts, Volume 3.

Just display the prompt of the day via your digital projector, SMART Board, or classroom TV and take a break from your whiteboard for awhile!


41. Think about an incident that happened to you and exaggerate in the telling. Make it into a tall tale.

42.  If you were ruler of the world, what things would you banish absolutely for all time (rain on weekends, eggplant, and so forth)?  Make a list.  Use your imagination.

43.  If you could go back in time anywhere and "anywhen," where/when would you go and why?

44.  What law would you like to see enacted which would help people?  How would it help?

45.  What commercial on TV do you dislike beyond all others?  What about it is particularly annoying to you?

2nd Quarter Journal Writing Prompts

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46. Design some gadget, machine, building, or other creation that might enrich the future. What does it look like? What does it do? How does it function? In what ways might it benefit people?journal writing prompts

47. What current fashion in clothing do you particularly like or dislike? Explain. journal writing prompts

48.  Convince someone why music or art or computers are important in your life.  Make them appreciate your viewpoint.

49.  If you had $100,000, how would you spend it?

50.  Be a building you know well.  Talk about your life and memories.

51.  You are to tell a person from a distant planet or from another era what pollution is.  Make that person understand what causes it and why it is bad.

52.  If you could do something that you never have done before, what would it be?  Why would you want to do it?

53.  Begin a list of questions that you'd like to have answered.  They may be about the future or the past.

54.  What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date and why?

55.  Write one characteristic or habit about yourself that you like and describe it.  Or write about one thing you don't like about yourself.

56.  What is your hobby?  Why do you enjoy it?

57.  If you could go somewhere where you've never gone before, where would you go and why?

58.  What's, if anything, would you be willing to fight or even die for?  Explain your answer.

59.  If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?  Why would you make this change?

60.  Is there a machine you feel you could not live without?  Explain.

The following prompts (61-80) are included in Journal Jumpstarts, Volume 4.

Just like all of the volumes in the Journal Jumpstarts series, Volume 4 features 21 high-quality animations that add “punch” to the prompts.

Use these animations in your own Powerpoints wherever you choose to do so.


61. Write about what you think you will be like and what you will be doing 10 years or 20 years from now.

62.  Did you ever stick up for someone?

63.  Describe your neighborhood bully.

64.  Write about a baby-sitting experience.

65.  Describe a great fort you built for a great game you played as a child.

66.  Write about an enemy who eventually became your friend.

67.  Write about a time you cheated and got caught.

68.  Write about a privilege you earned.

69.  Write about the stray animal you brought home.

70.  Did you ever send away for something that turned out to be a disappointment?  (Or order something over the Internet)

71.  What is it like to go shopping with your mother?

72.  Write about a time you performed in front of an audience.

73.  Write about a difficult decision you had to make.

74.  Write about learning to skate, to ride a bike, to climb a tree, or to turn a cart wheel.

75.  Did you ever get lost in a strange town?

76.  Were you ever locked in or out?  What did you do?

77.  What was it like to spend your first night away from home?

78.  What was it like to come back home after a long vacation?

79.  Write about a disappointment.

80.  Write about something minor that turned into a big deal.

The following prompts (81-100) are included in Journal Jumpstarts, Volume 5.

All of the prompts in the Journal Jumpstarts series are titled and listed in a clickable table of contents, making it easier to determine where to resume.


81. Did you ever win or lose a contest? Tell the story about what happened.

82.  Write about something you desperately wanted when you were younger.

83.  Did you ever know someone who had "everything"?

84.  Write about the time as a child you played in one of the following: treehouse, a cornfield, a construction site, a junkyard, an abandoned house or barn, a stream, a cemetery, a swamp, a pasture, railroad tracks.

85.  Did your mom or dad ever make you wear something you hated?

86.  Write about a time you were talked into something and you regretted it.

87.  Were you ever in a helicopter, limousine, racecar, hot-air balloon, submarine, or horse-drawn  carriage?

88.  Did you ever forget something really important?  What happened as a result?

89.  Write about an experience in a hospital.

90.  Were you ever accused of something that you didn't do?

3rd Quarter Journal Writing Prompts

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91. Write about a disastrous trip or vacation.

92.  Were you ever given a responsibility that you couldn't handle? journal writing prompts

93.  Were you ever in a fire, flood, tornado, or hurricane?

94.  Describe the best concert you ever attended.

95.  Write about a window you broke or something valuable you lost.

96.  Did you ever catch fireflies?  Crickets?  Frogs?  Snakes?

97.  Write about a time you tried to help and ended up making things worse.

98.  Did you ever break an important promise?

99.  Write about moving to another city or neighborhood.

100.  Describe an outdoor game you used to play in the summer time.

101.  Write about building sand castles or mud pies.

102.  Did you ever meet a famous person?

103.  Write about mowing the lawn, burning leaves, or weeding the garden.

104.  Describe the club you organized as a kid.

105.  Describe a car or bicycle accident you were in.

106.  Write about being a misfit.

107.  Write about a day spent in another country.

108.  Write about a time you out-smarted someone.

109.  Write about going shopping for new clothes.

110.  Did you ever turn someone in or tell on someone and feel bad about it later?

111.  Imagine that you are an animal in the zoo.  What type of animal are you?  How do you feel about being caged?  How do you feel about people that visit and watch you?

112.  Write about a time your parents embarrassed you.

113.  Describe learning something from a friend.

114.  Write about a time you gave someone good advice.

115.  Write about the funniest thing that ever happened to you.

116.  If you had to escort a visitor from outer space for a 30-minute tour of your community, where would you begin and end?

117.  Be a grape that becomes a raisin: describe how it feels to shrink, to shrivel, to become dry and wrinkled.

118.  Be an icicle that becomes water.  Describe how it feels to be cold and firm and full of beautiful crystals but only to melt and lose your shape.

119.  You go to the store with your parents and baby brother.  Your parents go into a store and tell you to watch your brother.  You take your eyes off your brother for just a minute and you can't find him.  You...

120.  I really hate it when my mother/father/sibling...

121.  What if the use of robots in school becomes a workable reality?

122.  What would you pack in your suitcase if you could not go home again?

123.  You have just met an alien from another planet.  He wishes to take a student back to his planet.  Convince him you would be the perfect specimen for him to take.

124.  If you could change one law, what law would it be and how would you change it?

125.  How forgiving are you when a friend lets you down?  Explain.  Give an example.

126.  What if you were named principal for the week?  What would you do?

127.  If you could only speak twenty words for the rest of your life, what words would head your list and why?

128.  It started out as an unusual Monday morning, when I...

129.  As I approached the deserted house at the end of the road, I saw...

130.  Do you think girls are raised differently from boys?  If so, in what ways?

131.  Do you think you are treated differently because you are a boy or girl?

132.  Do you think men and women are equal in today's society?  Why or why not?

133.  Do you think a woman will be President of the United States in the near future?

134.  Two men or women have it easier in our culture?  If so, why do you think so?

135.  Have you ever wished you were either older or younger?  What would you consider to be the benefits?  The problems?

4th Quarter Journal Writing Prompts

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136. Describe what you think of as the typical mother.
journal writing prompts
137. Describe what you think of as the typical father.
journal writing prompts
138. Do you think women should take men's last names when they marry? Why or why not?
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139. Would you rather have a brother or sister? Why?

140.  Describe a fight you had with your mother.  Now tell it from her point of view. journal writing prompts

141.  Write a short biography of your mother.

142.  Write a short biography of your father.

143.  Visualize a time when your mother was laughing.  Recall a time when you two shared a good laugh over something.

144.  Write a physical description of your mother.  Write as if you were looking at a movie rather than a photograph.

145.  Concentrate on a particular habit that your mother has and write about it.

146.  If you had three wishes, what would they be?  (Do not ask for three more wishes)

147.  What is something special and/or different about you?  Why do you think it is special or different?

148.  Write about two things that your family has taught you.

149.  Write about some of the things that you worry about.

150.  Describe a happy memory of your family.

151.  How do you know someone loves you, even if he or she doesn't say it?

152.  Name one thing you like about yourself and why you like it.

153.  Imagine yourself as a teacher.  What type of student would you like to teach and why?

154.  Name and describe a teacher who made a difference in your life.  What did that teacher do that was so special?

155.  What makes you proud to be an American?

156.  Describe the one thing that gives you the most comfort.

157.  If you could be a character in any book, TV show, or movie, who would you be and why?

158.  If you had to work in any store at your favorite mall,  which store would it be and why?

159.  Describe the most difficult thing about being your age.

160. Describe one possession that means the most to you.

161.  Who is the most important role model in your life?

162.  Describe your best personality trait.

163.  If you could study one subject in school that wasn't offered, what would it be and why?

164.  If you had a chance to live anywhere you could, where would it be and why?

165.  Write about the pros/cons of year-round school or a four-day school week.

166.  Write about your favorite sport.

167.  Is the school year too long?  Too short?  Why?

168.  What does your summer usually consist of?

169.  Who should be paid more, professional athletes or teachers?  Why or why not?

170.  What class do you enjoy the most and why?

171.  Write about the worst fight you ever had with a friend.

172.  If you had only one month to live, what would you do?

173.  Describe your dream house.

174.  Who is your favorite person to be with?  Why?

175.  What would be your ideal job when you grow up?  Explain.

176.  If you could guest star on any TV show, what would it be and why?

177.  What do you think your life will be like in 10 years?  20 years?

178.  Describe how you would manage your own radio or TV station.

179.  What is your definition of success?

180.  The saying goes, "Money cannot buy happiness."  Do you agree or disagree?  Why? journal writing prompts

journal writing prompts
journal writing prompts

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Writing Lessons and
Activities for Every Grade


* W.R.I.T.E. =
Write, Revise, Inform, Think, and Edit

How do you help your students overcome their fear of the blank page? How can you make writing an exercise in personal expression, not drudgery? One key to better writing is better writing assignments -- and the Internet has them. Let's tour a few of the finest writing activities that the Web has to offer.

 


Visit Our
Language Arts
Subject Center

For more lesson ideas and many additional resources, be sure to visit Education World's Language Arts Subject Center.
 

Ray Saitz, a teacher/librarian and facilitator of information technology at Clarke High School in Newcastle, Ontario, put his 15 years of English teaching experience to work in creating a haven of resources for educators like himself.

He is becoming a "wired librarian," and his Web site, Outta Ray's Head, is his niche and offering to the educational community at large.

"Essentially, I became frustrated at finding endless ideas on the Internet but no lessons with tips on evaluation and with original handouts for the class," Saitz told Education World. "Most of the sites that I came across were mainly elementary, and I wanted secondary school lessons."

Several terrific tried-and-true Writing Lessons are featured on the site. Saitz explained that two of his favorite and most successful activities are The Biography Assignment and Review of Anything.

In the biography activity, students work in groups of four to create six good interview questions. Each student conducts an interview with a partner and then the two exchange roles. Their grade is determined by their performance in creating interview questions, writing the biography of their partner, and designing a cover for a book or a magazine article based on the interview.

The review writing lesson involves studying and creating a review of any object, person, or thing other than a book or a film. Students combine the characteristics of the informal essay and the review to write and share an oral presentation that has a thesis and incorporates techniques presented during class.

Another activity that hasn't yet made it to the pages of Saitz's site has students writing the end to a short story. "The gist of the lesson is to take a murder/mystery/suspense short story of about two or three pages and copy it," he explained, "but omit the final important last paragraph. You can make up some story about how the story was discovered in an old trunk and the end was rotted off. Read the story with the lights out and make a big deal of acting it up to build suspense. Just when it nearly ends, stop and ask the students to complete the ending using the same style as the writer.

"The students all write pages and pages," added Saitz, "and then a few days later, you can come into the class with the original ending. I say it was found just that day and was in the newspaper. Then they compare their endings to the author's."

Saitz hopes that his site and its lessons provide a resource of ideas that will help teachers extend their repertoire. "I think that I learned the most when I was a student teacher and I saw other teachers teaching," he said. "When we graduate and start teaching, we can stop growing and learning. I hope that the lessons on the site help other teachers realize new possibilities or open new avenues of discovery."

These writing lessons and activities will allow the young authors in your classroom to shine!

Paragraph Writing. Many elementary teachers lose heart as they read short, choppy paragraphs from their students that contain little variation in sentence structure. Successful Paragraphs is a lesson plan with a unique approach to improving student writing. Students list three material things they wish for, three happenings that would make them happy, and three places they would like to visit. They follow a specific pattern to create a paragraph that tells what it would be like for them to enjoy all those things. Using the template helps them see how variation in structure makes for more interesting reading!

Terrific Topics. Often the most difficult part of writing is getting started, and this problem is frequently related to the quest for the perfect topic. A good topic is the well from which ideas flow, so it needs to be plenty deep! If you too are having difficulty coming up with assignments that will bring forth the wonderful stories your students have to tell, visit Writing Topics. This page, from the Write Source, suggests several topics for papers your students will love to write, and all grade levels are addressed. Be sure to bookmark or print this resource from The Write Source, a development house of educational materials.

Story Boxes. Creativity and language flourish in Story Boxes, an activity included on the Pizzaz Web site. You can collect objects for the story boxes, or you can have your students fill the boxes with objects and words written on pieces of paper or sticks. As the students draw objects from the box, a story unfolds. Use the plan as an oral storytelling activity or a written composition. This is not the only excellent lesson in the collection, so visit the homepage for more gems. Best of all, permission to print and copy the handouts is granted for classroom use!

Free Activities. Each month, Zaner-Bloser: Writing offers new, free activities on-line for use with students in grades 3 and up. The activities may be printed and shared with students to exercise their writing skills. A recent issue of activities addressed descriptive writing. Don't miss this opportunity to glean a few excellent handouts and ideas from these experts in the field.

More Free Activities.Scholastic.com: Writing also provides free activities to download and print. (To access these documents, you will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.) Some activities take a few minutes to load, but they are worth the wait. Sample activities include two types of stationery for student letters and a handout that encourages students to contemplate and write about their plans for the future.

Pop-Up Cards. There is an art to writing a good greeting card and an art to making it pleasing to the eye and unusual. Pop-up cards are definitely unique! Your students will be amazed when they follow the card-making directions at How to Make a Pop-Up from Joan Irvine: the Pop-Up Lady. When the work is complete, your students will have a lovely pop-up animal card that is ready for their own special sentimental touch -- the right verse!

Heroic Efforts. Have you noticed that in all epic tales -- Great Expectations, The Odyssey, Star Wars -- there seems to be a prevailing pattern in the story? This site explores the progression of the hero throughout these tales based on observations contained in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell. Visitors to The Hero's Journey can examine the steps in a hero's story and read examples from ancient stories or present-day movies that illustrate the concepts. As a final project, students can follow the guidelines of the site to create their own hero stories in this pattern.

Essay Writing. What could be easier than writing a simple essay? Writing one with assistance from the Guide to Writing a Basic Essay! This site takes students through choosing a topic, organizing ideas, composing a thesis, writing the body of the paper, creating an introduction and a conclusion, and adding the finishing touches. With this on-line guide, there is no excuse for a poorly constructed essay.

Writing Worksheets. High-school English teachers have been waiting for a source like this! At OWL Handouts, the Purdue University Online Writing Lab has collected and published handouts for students that address everything from writing research papers to spelling and punctuation. Choose from an extensive group of straightforward guides to complement writing assignments in your classroom. Your students will thank you!

Teach your students to create great friendly letters and give them a reason to learn how! First, introduce the topic of the friendly letter and compare it to the business letter with the examples at Letter Formats. Next, have your students make their own stationery or print one of the cute selections at Friendly Stationery from Jan Brett.

You might have your students write to famous authors, political figures, or even celebrities. You'll find addresses for many well-known actors, actresses, and musical performers online. (Do a Google search for "celebrity addresses." You'll want to supervise student selections if you allow them to use this site.) Add an element of fun by calling the assignment "Dear John Letters" and having the students write to famous people who have John as a part of their names. Don't forget Elton John, Olivia Newton-John, and Pope John Paul II!

Is a business letter more what you had in mind? Then Parts of a Business Letter will help you prepare your students for the business world. Give your students some pointers in writing business communications, and then have them write letters to organizations. They could write to support the efforts of a charity or to complain about a problem with a product or a service. You might even have them write to an address in the book Free Stuff for Kids (published by Meadowbrook Press) and request free materials.

Anyone who writes knows how daunting the empty page can be! Graphic organizers help students overcome the blank sheet and help them put their thoughts in a logical order.

Kathy Baxter and David Leahy of Greenway Elementary School in Beaverton, Oregon, created graphic organizers and placed them on the school Web site for all to see. Setting and Events are designed to be used in writing personal narratives, and Persuasive helps students create persuasive pieces by forcing them to state an opinion, support it with three points, give examples, and summarize their belief in a conclusion.

Writing Plans from The Teacher's Desk
Put one of these great writing activities to good use in your classroom. Choices include a list of assignments for fifth- and sixth-grade students to write a paragraph a week for two years!

A+ Research and Writing for High School and College Students
Designed for upper-level students, this guide helps kids write research papers without going nuts! The site explains how to write a research paper, tells how to locate information on the Internet, and advises students about what material is best found in the library, not on the Web.

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
Copyright © 2010 Education World


Last updated 08/04/2011

 

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