Personal Narrative Writing is a skill that students begin working on as soon as they start school. Even as kindergarten students are learning to read books and write their letters, their teachers are giving them the building blocks they will need to become great writers. Students use this foundation in order to build on their writing skills throughout their entire educational journey, culminating in high school where they will perfect the skills they learned before starting their next chapter.
Personal narrative writing is one of the most powerful forms of writing for students because it allows them to write about a topic they know well — themselves. Narrative writing gives students an opportunity to express themselves and to tell their own stories all while developing the critical writing skills that they need.
Teachers can use personal narrative prompts in their classroom, no matter what grade level they teach. These prompts can guide students and inspire them to tell their own stories. As they begin to explore the concept of a personal narrative, they learn to become storytellers in their own right. Personal narrative writing is the first step toward creating fiction.
Not only does personal narrative writing help students develop their writing skills and learn more about the building blocks of a story, but it also allows them to learn to love writing. Students often find it enjoyable to write about themselves, which makes writing feel more like fun and less like a chore. Use these personal narrative prompts in your classroom to get your students writing!
Personal Narrative Writing Prompts by Grade
(+ Bonus Ideas for Adults)
1st Grade Personal Narrative Prompts
- Think about what you do each morning before school. This is called your morning routine. What is your morning routine like?
- Do you have a pet? If so, describe what your pet is like. If you do not have a pet, write about the type of pet you would like to have.
- Write about a time when something changed, such as when you moved to a new house or went to a different school. What was it like?
- Where is someplace you have traveled to? Who did you go with? What did you do while you were there?
- How do you like to spend your weekends? Use details to describe what you like to do.
2nd Grade Personal Narrative Prompts
- If you could plan dinner for your family, what would you serve? Why would you choose that meal?
- Have you ever gone on a field trip with your class? Where did you go? What was it like? What did you learn while you were there?
- Imagine that you are taking a visit to the library. What types of books would you want to check out? Why?
- Write about your favorite memory from preschool or kindergarten. How has school changed for you since then?
- Write about a time that one of your classmates made you laugh. What did they do that was funny? How did it make you feel?
3rd Grade Personal Narrative Prompts
- Imagine that you could go back in time. Which time period would you travel to? Why?
- Write about a time when you felt sad. Why did you feel sad? How did you make yourself feel better?
- Have you ever been a leader? When you were leading the group, what did you do? Did you enjoy being in a leadership position?
- What do you want to be when you grow up? Write about what it would be like to spend one day doing that job.
- Write about what it would be like to live on another planet. How would you get food? What type of activities would you enjoy? Would you rather live on this planet, or our planet Earth?
4th Grade Personal Narrative Prompts
- Have you ever been surprised by your friends or family members? What did they do to surprise you? Did you like the feeling of being surprised?
- Imagine that you are now the fourth grade teacher for the day. What types of rules would you set for your classroom? What assignments would you give your students?
- Write about a small moment from your last family vacation. Describe this small moment in detail.
- Write about a time that you got hurt. What happened? How did you feel? Describe how you were able to feel better.
- Write about a time that a teacher or coach helped you. How did it feel to have them guiding you through a tough moment?
5th Grade Personal Narrative Prompts
- Imagine that you put a message in a bottle, and threw it into the ocean. Write a descriptive story about the journey that the bottle takes, and don’t forget to add where it ends up.
- Write about your first day of kindergarten. How did you feel in your new school? How did your first day of kindergarten compare to your first day of fifth grade?
- Have you ever done something that you regretted? How did you feel after? How did you solve the situation?
- Imagine that you are planning a sleepover with your friends. What snacks will you serve? Will you play games or watch a movie? Describe how you would like the night to go.
- Write about your best friend. How long have you known this friend? Why do you consider this person to be your best friend?
6th Grade Personal Narrative Prompts
- What was your most memorable moment during elementary school? Why was this moment so memorable?
- Write about your goals for middle school. How do you want your middle school experience to be different from elementary school?
- Imagine that you are the President of the United States. How would you want to lead the country?
- Imagine that you have been locked in the school for the weekend. Describe your weekend in detail.
- Write about a time that you were in an argument with a close friend. What was the argument about? How did the two of you work together to resolve it?
7th Grade Personal Narrative Prompts
- Your teacher announced that you may be able to take a field trip to Mars. Would you want to go? Why or why not?
- What would be the hardest thing for you to sacrifice right now? Would you sacrifice it if you needed to?
- Would you want to have a super power? What type of super power would you want to have? What would you do with it?
- Write about a challenge that you have faced this school year. How did you overcome it?
- Imagine that you are one of the characters in your favorite book. What would it be like to spend a day in that story?
8th Grade Personal Narrative Prompts
- Who is your role model? Why?
- Write about your favorite memory from middle school. Describe the memory in detail, and write about the impact that this moment had on your middle school experience.
- Imagine that you are an inventor. What is your latest invention? Why did you invent this creation?
- What are you most passionate about? How did you discover your passion?
- You have the opportunity to visit another country that you have never been to before. Which country will you choose? Why?
Personal Narrative Prompts for High School Students
- Write about three goals that you have for high school. How will you accomplish these goals?
- Write about a time that you were truly frightened. What happened? How did you feel?
- Describe your most successful moment so far. What did it take to get there? How did it feel to be successful?
- Is there anyone in your life who has overcome significant challenges? How did they address those challenges? What can you learn from that person?
- What is the most important lesson that you learned in high school? What did you learn from it?
Personal Narrative Writing and Why It’s Valuable for Young Writers
The key to writing a successful personal narrative piece at any grade level is the details. Personal narratives are a wonderful opportunity for students to begin using clear, concise details in their writing, which is something that will be necessary in nearly every type of writing assignment in the future.
Teachers can help students create effective personal narratives by encouraging them to follow a writing process. A personal narrative outline is one of the best ways to start brainstorming ideas for the final piece. After the students have created an outline, they can write the first draft of their personal narrative. At that point, the teacher can review the draft, or the students can participate in a peer review process. After the reviews are complete and the edits have been made, students will be able to write a final draft for their personal narrative.
These are just a few of the reasons why personal narrative writing is valuable for developing writers:
- Personal narratives help children learn how to share their own stories and express their feelings.
- Personal narrative writing allows children to develop a love of writing.
- Narrative writing can teach children how to organize their thoughts while writing.
- Personal narrative writing teaches children how to write from a different perspective.
Personal narrative writing is one of the best ways for students of all ages to build upon their foundation of writing skills and develop new skills that will take them to the next level.
Teaching Kids to Rewrite Challenging Personal Narratives
In some cases, children are asked to write a personal narrative about a challenging time. This can be difficult, because it can reopen old wounds or force the child to replay a traumatic event in their mind.
These are a few ways that students can learn to rewrite those challenging narratives in a positive way:
- Encourage students to write about how the tough time was a temporary experience. Ask them to write about how the situation was resolved.
- Invite students to write about how they felt during that time. Offer additional support if it’s needed.
- When writing about a challenging personal experience, ask the student write about what made them feel better during that time. This can help them identify coping mechanisms.
Personal narrative writing is something that children will work on throughout their educational journey. As they develop their writing skills and learn more about who they are as a person, they will be able to create powerful personal narratives. Personal narrative writing can boost their confidence and help them learn how to share their own stories.
Bonus: Check Out These Personal Narrative Ideas for Adults
Even adults should take time to hone their writing skills, and personal narrative writing is a therapeutic way to do that. These personal narrative prompts for adults will help people of all ages to tell their stories:
- What was the most defining moment of your childhood or adolescence? Describe that moment in detail and write about how it impacted your life today.
- Write a detailed description of a day in your life.
- When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? How does your actual career compare to your childhood career aspirations?
- What is the most significant challenge that you have faced in your life? What did you learn from that experience?
- What animal do you feel you are most like? Why?
- Think about what life has been like during the past week. What is one small moment that stands out to you? Describe that moment in detail.
- Who do you consider to be the most important members of your family? What role do they play in your life?
- Do you know the story of how you got your name? Do you feel that your name suits you? Why or why not?
- Describe your hometown. Did you move away from your home town, or did you decide to live there in adulthood? Write about your decision to leave or stay.
- What is your favorite song right now? Why?
Personal narrative prompts are the perfect tool to get your students started. No matter what their own story is, they should know that they should always keep on writing!
More Narrative Writing Prompts
- Narrative Writing Topics for All Writers
- 12 Narrative Essay Prompts for Students
- Writing a Personal Narrative
Until next time, write on…
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