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60 Free Writing Prompts and How to Use Them

My friend Jamie from "Not So Wimpy Teacher" is here to share an amazing freebie for you! Read on to learn more! - Anna

Hey there! It’s Jamie from Not So Wimpy Teacher, and I’ve got a special gift for you today: 60 Free Writing Prompts. There are five prompts for every month of the year. Some are fun, seasonal prompts, and others are evergreen—you or your students can pick and choose and use them any time. I know you’ll find some you and your students love.  

 

This gift is actually a little bit ironic. For years I’ve been known as the writing teacher who hated writing prompts. I made a big deal about how I didn’t use prompts in my classroom and told anyone who would listen why writing prompts are not the best way to teach writing. And I still stand behind my reasons.

 

I believe that when we tell students what to write about, we take away some of their excitement about writing. Nobody likes being told what to write about all the time. It’s hard to enjoy writing when you don’t like the topic. And students don’t work as hard on a piece that is not meaningful to them.

 

Often, when we give kids writing prompts, we aren’t really teaching them how to write. Instead, we are giving them detailed instructions on how to complete one specific project. But the skills aren’t transferable to other writing projects. They also miss out on the opportunity to practice valuable writing skills like learning how to generate topics, conduct research, use evidence, or write exciting leads and interesting details. 

 

And let’s not even talk about how boring it is to read 25 papers about the same topic. 

 

But I also recognize that there are times when writing prompts are really useful! So, along with these 60 free writing prompts I’m giving you, here are my 5 favorite ways to use them.

 

Pre- and Post-Assessments


I like to start and end each writing unit with an on-demand writing assessment. The point of the pre-assessment is to see what skills your students already know. This helps you to choose the correct lessons and provide appropriate support throughout the unit. It also gives you a baseline from which to measure growth. 

 

The post-assessment shows you how much your students learned over the course of the unit. It’s nice to have the pre-assessment for comparison, especially when a student’s final writing project isn’t perfect (so, pretty much always).  

 

Prompts are helpful for these assessments because students only have a limited amount of time to complete the writing sample. You don’t want them to waste half the time trying to decide on a topic. Also, in the case of pre-assessments, students may not even understand a genre well enough to generate their own topic. 

 

Substitute Lesson Plans


Another great time to use writing prompts is in substitute plans. Even if your writing curriculum is straightforward (and most traditional writing curriculum is not), there might be a lesson you want to deliver personally. Or your district might be plagued with a sub shortage, and you have no way of knowing who might step in to cover your class when you’re gone. 

 

Writing prompts are a great way to keep things simple while ensuring your students still practice writing. Your kids will likely enjoy the break from working on their masterpiece. And the sub will appreciate an easy lesson. Your students should be able to complete the prompt pretty independently. All the substitute has to do is monitor their work. They might even get a chance to look ahead at the plans for the next lesson.

 

I always keep a few non-seasonal prompts in my emergency plans folder too, because you just never know.


Bellwork


Bellwork is a great way to help students transition from home to school and keep them occupied at the beginning of the day. In many classrooms, students wander in throughout the morning. Morning work provides a meaningful way for students to stay busy while others are arriving and unpacking. And it gives you time to take care of attendance and other paperwork.  

 

If you’re looking for something simple to add to your morning routine, writing prompts are a great solution. I like to focus on a different activity each day of the week. Try rotating writing prompts into your morning work activities every Friday. With five prompts for each month, you’ll have more than enough to choose from. Students can complete these activities on their own and relatively quickly. Just make sure you don’t let bell work drag on and take time away from reading, writing, or math.

 

Fast Finishers


One student always finishes first and asks, “what do I do now?” You know the one I mean. A fast finisher basket is the answer to keeping her occupied. But the key to making this work is to keep the options in the basket super simple. Your students should know exactly what to do and be able to do it on their own. 

 

Writing prompts make a great addition to a fast finisher basket. Kids often choose to write in their free time, and they enjoy the freedom to write about something different than what they are working on in writing workshop. Prompts make it easy for them to choose a different topic. Try rotating four or five prompts each month. You don’t have to grade these pieces, but students still get extra practice writing. 


60 FREE Writing Prompts


To make your life easier, I created an entire year’s worth of writing prompts for you to use in your classroom. Click here to download your 60 FREE Writing Prompts. You’ll receive them in two formats: Google Slides and a printable PDF. This will make it even easier to use in your classroom! You can display them on your whiteboard, assign them in Google Classroom, or print and copy them. Easy! I even included an editable template for you to create your own. I hope you enjoy them!

 

Have a Not So Wimpy day,

 

Jamie Sears


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Springtime in the Classroom

Is there anything better than a warm spring day after a long, cold winter? I want to share some of my favorite springtime activities to use with your students! 
By the spring, most 3rd graders have worked hard to learn and master their multiplication facts! One of my favorite activities are these multiply & color pages (also has some division pages). They were always a hit with my students. They can make a fun hallway display, or they work perfectly for a sub folder! You can find these pages HERE in my TPT store! 

Another fun idea is to host a multiplication egg hunt. Buy a few packs of plastic eggs and mix/match the colors. Use a sharpie to write multiplication problems on one side and answers on the other. Then take your kids outside to the playground or a grassy area. Separate the egg halves and toss them around. Then, let students hunt around searching for the answer to each problem. They love it! Plus it's a great opportunity to go outside. 
We always learned about weather during the springtime! One of my favorite activities is creating water cycle bags. All you need are ziplocks, sharpies, water, blue food dye, and box tape. After we learn the steps of the water cycle, I give students a sharpie and ziplock. They draw the water cycle on their baggie. Next, put a few drops of blue food dye in the bag and add some water. I use box tape to hang them in our classroom windows (box tape holds up well so the bags won't fall!). Then watch the water cycle in action! The kids were obsessed with checking them daily! 

With our weather unit we also learned about different kinds of severe weather and how to prepare for each. I let students choose a type of weather-- and they did research using books from our library and online books (Myon or Epic). Then each student filled out a severe weather brochure. You can find these FREE brochures in my Free Resource Library
Our last unit in social studies usually involved maps! For one project we mixed up large batches of salt dough-- then I gave each student a paper copy of the state of Missouri. They shaped their lump of dough on the paper to fit the map. Once the salt dough dried (took a day or so)-- we used different colored paints to show the regions of Missouri (which also tied into our 3rd grade state standards). The kids LOVED this activity! 

Lastly, we learned about map keys and used the first letter of our names to create "Me Islands". The kids had to think of things they loved and turn it into symbols for a map. They also had to fill in the compass rose. Find this project for FREE in my resource library

If you want to save these ideas use the image below to save it on Pinterest! I hope you have a great spring full of lots of fun with your students!
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Celebrating Valentine's Day in the Classroom

I LOVE celebrating Valentine's Day with my students! It's such a fun time for them-- plus, all those adorable tiny cards full of puns! Unfortunately some teachers dread this day, so I'm here to offer some fun ideas to keep your kids engaged and excited! 

KINDNESS BULLETIN BOARD
I use this bulletin board as a study in adjectives AND kindness! Each student randomly draws a name and has to list adjectives to describe that person. I have my kids keep their person a secret-- and I usually display a page of adjectives (we discuss any unknown words) to help them get started! The entire process is easy-- makes a FABULOUS bulletin board display-- and it is FREE. Click here to read more in-depth directions and get the free printables to help you get started! 

VIRTUAL LEARNING
If you find yourself teaching virtually on Valentine's Day, I have some bright and colorful Google slides to help you out! This product also comes with editable PowerPoint slides (in case you want to create your own slides or use them in person). I have a growing holiday/season bundle -- so you can save money by purchasing that-- or you can buy the Valentine slides separately! Click HERE or on the pic above to see more! 

VALENTINE MATH IDEAS
I LOVE using these math centers with my 3rd graders. Such a fun way to sneak in math practice while letting them play games and complete various tasks! Plus, once you get everything prepped you will have it ready for every Valentine's Day. This download comes with 8 different centers that cover:
  • 3 Digit Addition & Subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • 2 Step Word Problems
  • Time to the minute/Elapsed Time
  • Area
  • Perimeter
  • Graphing (bar graphs)
  • Fractions

Another activity my students love are these multiply and color pages! Also helpful to keep in a sub folder (just in case you need emergency plans)!


VALENTINE BAG CRAFT

One thing I have my students do every year is create a Valentine bag to hold all their treats and cards. We usually do this at the beginning of the day (or even the day before) so that we can get started on passing out cards early! A few days ahead of time, I let students choose which animal they want to create-- that way I can have the correct number of copies! 

Click HERE to see the bags I purchase off of Amazon (please note this is an affiliate link)-- they are super sturdy and can hold a lot! 

VALENTINE BEHAVIOR NOTE FREEBIE
One last way I like to celebrate with my kids is by celebrating their amazing behavior all month long! I print off a set of these notes-- and every day I pick a student who I felt did an incredible job the day before. I write a little note on the back and leave it on their desk with a small prize (candy, play-doh, pencil, eraser, etc.) I use a tiny mailbox from Target to keep it in. The student returns the mailbox, but keeps what's inside. They were always so excited to come in and see who had the mailbox on their desk! 
Find those FREE printable notes HERE in my TPT store!

However you choose to celebrate in your classroom-- I hope this post was able to give you some fun, new ideas! Have a great day! 
PIN THIS TO SAVE THESE IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE:
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