Teaching writing to young kids can be a little intimidating at first. Once kids know the basics of sounding out words and can begin to put together simple sentences, we can help them practice writing by providing creative writing ideas and giving them ample time to engage in free writing. Without a doubt the best way to help young children develop writing skills is to have regular exposure to engaging creative writing activities. If kids have writing tools available and write regularly they will naturally experiment with print making and beginning writing.
There is also a difference between learning to write letters (handwriting) and learning to write. Letter formation and handwriting develop as part of phonics instruction and fine motor skill development. Learning to write has more to do with learning to share ideas in pictures and words, Children learn writing skills through freewriting, writers workshop, and instruction in the writing process.
To help children learn to write and share ideas we recommend providing various opportunities for writing practice. Try things like:
- Modeled writing where you as an adult write and think aloud as you share what you are writing with input from students
- Shared writing where adults assist in recording information and invite children to share the writing tool as they add information (pictures, letters, or words)
- A lot of unstructured, independent free writing through pretend play opportunities and informal writing that students choose
- Authentic writing activities like making cards, writing letters, making shopping lists, etc
- Ideas for writing journal prompts that are part of a weekly or daily writing routine
Another helpful resource is this article from Days with Grey about helping preschoolers develop early writing skills.
WHAT ARE WRITING PROMPTS?
Let’s take a closer look at the concept of writing journal prompts. Writing journal prompts are questions or topics that give kids an idea to write about. They can be on a wide variety of topics, and they often include different types of writing. Writing prompt ideas should include opportunities to experiment with narrative, expository, and argumentative (opinion) writing. They can also be descriptive writing that helps a child expand on stories and thoughts.
It is helpful if writing prompts are broad enough and related to a topic of interest that allows kids to easily respond and come up with ideas to write about.
BENEFITS OF USING REGULAR WRITING PROMPTS
While some kids are naturally inclined to write often on their own, others are not as drawn to regular writing activities. This is where variouus writing lessons can come into play. By incorporating creative writing prompts into your daily or weekly routine, kids will get the chance to do meaningful writing more regularly. This can help develop confidence in their writing abilities and lead them to want to write more on their own.
Writing prompts also expose kids to a wide variety of topics to write about. Journal writing can be an excellent way to discuss new vocabulary and encourage kids to then use vivid word choices in their writing. The more that they practice writing, the more comfortable they will get.
By using writing prompts you can also get kids participating in different types of writing. In our writing journal prompts we’ve included informational non-fiction (expository) writing prompts, narrative writing prompts, and persuasive (argumentative) writing prompts. Throughout each set kids will have the chance to write factual or procedural responses, tell or make up their own stories, and share their own opinions on various topics.
Writing sentences helps with the fluency of spelling, punctuation, thinking skills, and imaginary writing strategies as well.
This training video includes:
- Helpful tips for strengthening fine motor skills needed for handwriting
- A quick introduction to the stages of writing development
- Meaningful ways to provide beginning writers with engaging opportunities to write
- Tips for beginning writing workshop and using writing prompts in preschool and kindergarten
TIPS FOR USING THE WRITING JOURNALS
Be mindful of your students’ stages of writing and be sure that the approach you use is developmentally appropriate for their needs.
For younger preschoolers modeled writing or shared writing are terrific ways to start using writing journal prompts. Start by sharing the writing prompt. Discuss the prompt with kids and help brainstorm some possible responses. Then model drawing a detailed picture to go along with the prompt on chart paper or dry erase board. As kids are ready use the unlined writing prompt pages and have kids draw their own pictures to respond to the prompts. Later in previous writing sessions as kids are ready move on to labeling the items in the picture or writing a sentence on your modeled writing.
If you have kids with a wide range of writing abilities, remember that writing instruction can be done in small groups to allow for more differentiation. You might do a whole group modeled writing on a topic. Then in small groups work with kids at their level. Pre-writers can use the unlined prompt pages to draw detailed pictures that share their ideas. Beginning writers can also use the unlined prompt pages but in addition to the detailed picture they can add labels to the objects in their picture or write a phonetically spelled sentence to go along with the picture. As kids learn to phonetically spell a simple sentence on their own and use some basic sight words, you can switch to using the lined writing prompt response pages.
As you incorporate writing journals into your routine, consider how you’d like to present your journals. For some kids it is easiest to provide one page at a time and then compile into a journal after pages are completed. Other options include:
- stapling small sets of prompts into a weekly or monthly journal for each student
- adding hold-punched pages to individual binders (best for homeschool or individual use)
- using a binding machine to create spiral bound monthly journals
Remember to focus on quality writing over quantity. We’ve included many options in each of our writing journal prompt sets so that you have a lot of choices, but we do not recommend that you use every prompt. In the beginning you could focus on really modeling the steps taken to respond to a prompt–brainstorming ideas to respond, drawing a detailed picture, then labeling objects or writing–over the course of a few days or a week. Then move to individual responses as kids are familiar with the process.
Writing should be fun, not a chore. Most kids will enjoy the variety of topics included in the writing prompt sets. However, some might do better if they are able to choose between different prompts when responding. If that is the case for your child or group, consider offering the option between choosing two different prompts to respond to. This little change to your routine can help increase student motivation.
Once the kids start following prompts, this will just help to reinforce various writing strategies and also help with storytelling. They’ll actually have fun when they practice writing because it allows them to think about what to write and then they’re able to put those ideas for writing on paper. Creative prompts and creative writing exercises are a fun way for the kids to write something that they’ve wanted to while working on grammar as well.
Use these free printable writing checklists to help students review their writing and focus on key developmental writing skills.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT OUR WRITING PROMPT SETS
“Amazing product!! I always struggle with writing prompts- great ideas!! Can’t wait to see December’s prompts– glad I got the bundle!!”
“This is such a great deal! We have some advanced Pre-Kindergarteners who needed something more they could do! So we printed these in a booklet form and they LOVE them! They get to keep them in their cubby and any time they want to do something a little harder than the tracing letters, counting up items, etc., they can get their “journal” and have the teacher explain the prompt for them to follow. We let them do it in any order. It’s been great so far. I also love that they are in monthly folders with MULTIPLE front pages! Genius!”
“It is great to have many monthly journal prompts in one spot. I will be purchasing the other months too.”
SEE THE WRITING PROMPTS IN ACTION
Throughout the Writing Journal Prompts series we’re sharing a quick glimpse into what is inside each new set. Below is a quick summary of the themes included in each set and the links for more details.
If you love them all, grab the complete growing bundle. You can get it at the current price which includes all sets below, and you’ll get any new versions we add in the future. Score!
AUGUST JOURNAL PROMPTS
In addition to some general prompts this set also includes prompts for the following themes: End of Summer, Back to School, All about Me, and Family.
SEPTEMBER JOURNAL PROMPTS
In addition to some general prompts this set also includes prompts for the following themes: 5 Senses, Fall, Apple, Leaf, and Pumpkin themes.
OCTOBER JOURNAL PROMPTS
In addition to some general prompts this set also includes prompts for the following themes: Community Helper, Spider, Bat, Monster, and Halloween themes.
NOVEMBER JOURNAL PROMPTS
In addition to some general prompts this set also includes prompts for the following themes: Farm, Kindness, Food, Gratitude, and Thanksgiving themes.
DECEMBER JOURNAL PROMPTS
In addition to some general prompts this set also includes prompts for the following themes: Gingerbread, Winter, Holidays and Space themes.
JANUARY JOURNAL PROMPTS
In addition to some general prompts this set also includes prompts for the following themes: Snow, Robots, Balls, and Bird themes.
FEBRUARY JOURNAL PROMPTS
In addition to some general prompts this set also includes prompts for the following themes: Dental Health, Valentine’s Day, Friendship, and Habitat themes.
MARCH JOURNAL PROMPTS
In addition to some general prompts this set also includes prompts for the following themes: Rocks Worms & Mud, St. Patrick’s Day, Spring, and Seed themes.
APRIL JOURNAL PROMPTS
In addition to some general prompts this set also includes prompts for the following themes: Eggs, Insects, Butterflies, Trees & Earth themes.
MAY JOURNAL PROMPTS
In addition to some general prompts this set also includes prompts for the following themes: Flower, Zoo, Ocean and Fish themes.
JUNE JOURNAL PROMPTS
In addition to some general prompts this set also includes prompts for the following themes: Beach, Pirate, Ice Cream, and Super Hero themes.
JULY JOURNAL PROMPTS
In addition to some general prompts this set also includes prompts for the following themes: America/Fourth of July, Camping, Watermelon, and Bubble themes.
TRY A WEEK FOR FREE
Want to try out a few writing prompts? Get a whole week of prompt ideas for free! In this 19-page free printable we’ve included 2 journal covers and 5 journal prompts. Each journal prompt is presented in all three formats (without lines, with lines, and label only) that are offered in each monthly journal set.
SAVE WITH THE WRITING PROMPT BUNDLE
Get kids writing often with regular journal writing prompts. This 800+ page writing journal BUNDLE includes simple writing prompts on a wide variety of topics with different purposes for writing for the ENTIRE YEAR. Kids will grow in their writing abilities and confidence in them through consistent opportunities to write.
Because we know kids are at all different stages in the writing process each writing prompt set includes both unlined and lined journal response pages.
If you already have pre-made journals use the mini prompts and glue them directly into your existing journals.
All Writing Journal Prompt Sets Include:
1) Tips for and a quick overview of Writer’s Workshop
2) Multiple Journal Cover Page Options
3) Journal Pages with Writing Prompt Idea (with lines and without lines)
4) Extended Page with Lines (for advanced writers)
5) Mini Journal Prompts (to be cut and glued into notebooks or writing journals)