Teachers at all grade levels have found that regular journal writing helps students become better writers, improves confidence, and encourages creativity and self-expression. Whether your students are just starting out with journaling or whether they’ve been practicing daily writing for several years, it’s important for you to choose good writing prompts that will inspire new ideas and promote creative thought.
There are thousands of journal prompts available online, but they aren’t all created equal. With that in mind, we’ve put together a brief guide to help you select good writing prompts that will make your students excited to write.
1. Look for Writing Prompts That Match Your Students’ Grade Level
Before you spend too much time evaluating journal prompts, the first thing you need to consider is your class’s grade level—in terms of the actual grade, of course, but more importantly, in terms of their maturity level and writing experience.
These factors can vary wildly from class to class and even from student to student. Beginning writers may do better with simpler prompts that draw heavily on their own experiences and lives, while students who have been journaling for awhile will be prepared to tackle more exploratory topics and creative thought exercises.
2. Choose Prompts That Ask Your Kids to Describe and Reflect
Some of the best writing prompts are those that ask students to describe something and to then reflect on it, as these types of questions promote both descriptive, detailed writing and creative thought. Common prompts in this vein are usually open-ended, as simple questions that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no” will shut down many students’ creativity. These prompts will instead frequently ask kids what they think and why they think it.
This encourages students to express their own ideas, and to also do the important work of thinking critically about where those ideas come from—which is a skill that will serve them very well in adolescence and adulthood.
3. Look for a Mixture of Creativity and Self-Reflection in a Set of Good Writing Prompts
Kids will get bored quickly when they’re asked to write the same things every day, so it’s also important to find good writing prompts that mix things up a bit!
We love sets of writing prompts that include a variety of creative and reflective questions. This diversity gives your students the opportunity to spend one day imagining an exciting dream world where the clouds are made of cotton candy, and the next day grounded in the reality of how their actions affect the lives of the people around them. Best of all, in addition to stimulating different ideas in your students, these diverse questions also encourage your kids to practice different types of writing.
4. Create Your Own “Classroom Rules” for Writing
Finally, a set of good writing prompts should also allow you to get creative and design your own “classroom rules” to make journaling even more fun! We love prompts that you can make your own by:
- having students work on a series of similar questions throughout the week,
- asking students to share their completed journals with classmates,
- or encouraging students to go outside or complete activities at home before writing about their experiences.
Journaling is an incredible educational tool, but it should also always be a fun and engaging practice for your students—and finding a set of good writing prompts is the best way to achieve this goal!