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Writing Prompts that Work

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A very common mistake we see teachers and parents make is feeling responsible for figuring out what children are going to write about.

From our 10+ years of experience, trust us when we say what children mostly need for writing is a blank piece of paper and permission. That really is the secret. In fact, one of the oft repeated comments we hear from children who write with us is: we love how you let us write about whatever we want. Truly, we don’t need clever projects and cute worksheets as much as we need to expose them to lots of good writing and let them just go for it.


So why are we sharing writing prompts? Because sometimes they are just what children need to gather up their courage to try. We just need to use them in the right way. Here are a few things to remember:

1. Keep their own ideas paramount

If they have an idea, these writing prompts are not necessary.

2. Make the writing prompt flexible

“Can I change the name?” “Can I change the place?” “Can I do it this other way?” The answer is always YES. Allow the prompt to be a jumping off point.

3. Remember to make these prompts invitations and not assignments

A good way to do this is to hand them all the writing prompts and let them choose the one that “tugs” at them.

4. Consider using these to help with the "muddy middle"

Sometimes it is easy for writers to start, but they get stuck in the middle. We’ve found prompts like this helpful in moving stories forward out of the middle towards the ending.


We’ve been surprised out of all the magical things in our Writer’s Boxes, these simple prompts have consistently been the favorite. When we send them to our writers, we print them on stickers so they can peel them right off the page and stick them into their notebook if they want to.


We’ve formatted the attached labels as Avery 5163 in case you’d like to do the same!


We are on your team!

Carrie and Emily

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