Writing Bingo— The following is a writing bingo game created by one of my reader’s 16-year-old daughter. Her fabulous instructions on how to play the game are outlined below. A free downloadable PDF of the Writing Prompt Bingo game boards is available right here: Writing Prompt Bingo Book. Enjoy!
These writing prompt bingo games for kids are great for use in a classroom setting, but they can easily be used for small groups of friends, individual, and online play as well.
The basics of how to play “Writing Prompt Bingo” are outlined below, but there are many other ways to use the bingo boards. Please feel free to invent your own rules and/or ways to use them.
Writing Bingo Supplies List:
- The bingo board(s) you want to use
- Your Favorite Writing Prompts
- Timer (optional for solo play, but may be needed in a classroom setting)
- Self-Adhesive Laminating Sheets (optional)
- Folder (optional)
- Card Stock (optional)
Ways to Play Writing Prompt Bingo
4-Square, 9-Square, 16-Square, and 25-Square:
Simply put, these boards use 2×2, 3×3, 4×4, or 5×5 squares in a grid. A teacher writes prompts in each square. Let players have time to read through all of the prompts. Set a timer for 10 to 45 minutes per square. Students (or you and your friends) have that much time to complete a “line”. That is, two written pieces, connected to each other. 2 across, down or diagonally for the 4-Square version….3 across, down, or diagonally for the 9-Square version and so on. These can easily be played individually (each person or student writing 2, 3, 4, or 5 stories each), or divided into groups of 2 to 5 students/friends who each write a specific prompt to complete a line.
The 4-Square version is great for grade schoolers, progressively moving up to the 25-Square version for high school students or adults. Also, in a classroom setting, the writing does not necessarily have to be a complete story or chapter (poems, letters, and other “short” prompts must be though). Score based on spelling, grammar, and proper punctuation.
6-Square, 8-Square, and 10-Square:
Played much like above, only that the squares are laid out differently. With these boards, younger children can do two prompts (but they must be across from each other) while middle schoolers through adults can play “down” and have 3, 4, or 5 writings per board. Again, get out a timer for school settings and grade the writings based on spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
These are my personal favorites. Simply write in what needs to be done in the 4 main squares. In the middle square, write a single word or short phrase as the topic. In the classroom, do one “square” per day, Monday through Thursday, and on Friday, let the kids switch papers to read what their classmates have written or collect them and grade the papers. As stated, in a classroom setting, a timer may be used, but if introduced to and the rules gone through on the first Friday before playing, students can take the entire class period on Monday through Thursday to work on one of the squares, or it can be used as their homework assignment. Either way, each student will have used all 4 prompts by the end of the week.
NOTE: A couple of examples have been given in the free PDF for a better understanding and to help you get started with your own ideas.
This version of play works with all boards except the 4-Square Fill In board. Copy the board you want to use, then fill it in with random prompts. The bingo boards have been numbered for ease of use for this version. Simply write the number of squares on slips of paper and fold them up. For the 2×2 grid, you need 4 slips of paper….for the 3×3 grid, 9 slips, etc. Have every student pick a number. Whatever number is drawn is the square they use. For this version, you can hang the sheet in a central location in the classroom and the students can check out “their” prompt before or after class that week.
This is just like regular Bingo. Squares 1 through 10 will have prompts, and squares 12 through 25 will have prompts. The “Free” space is just that. Going down the middle, across the middle, or diagonally, the free space allows for a little bit more creativity. The players can write whatever they wish, in whatever form they want. You may get a story about a monster…a poem about space…let creativity reign!
Social Media Writing Prompt Bingo:
If you’re involved in a writing group of some sort on Facebook or another social media site, copy one of the boards. You can find interesting prompts to use in the squares by going online and searching “writing prompts” (or “poetry prompts” or “journal prompts”, etc.) and write prompts you think that your group would find interesting. Snap a picture of the board (make sure others can read it) and post it in your group and give a summary of these rules. Give a 24-hour time limit.
People post their short stories, poems, or other writings under the picture. Be sure to call “time” at that 24-hour mark. Any writings submitted after that are not counted. Let others vote with the “Like” or “Love” buttons. (NO other buttons are counted). Love = 2 points, Like = 1 point.
Whoever has the most points wins that round. If it’s a small group, and everyone is willing, you may even start a GoFundMe, PayPal or other account to collect funds from members who wish to participate. Get the winners of each game (that is, each post) a small trinket such as a “good” pen, a set of pens in the winner’s favorite color of ink, a good moleskin notebook, a notebook with their favorite animal, character or other image on it, a feathered fountain pen, a composition book (plain or colored), maybe even just a memo pad they can keep in their pocket or purse for when ideas hit them out of the blue, but they don’t have access to their journal (or computer or whatever they normally write in), etc. to send the winner.
You could also go silly. Oriental Trading has sets of writing-related items you can buy (little erasers, pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, notepads, journals – many “design your own” items – and more, from quirky to serious) as a cheaper alternative. The admin can get a big “treasure chest” started with these items to have on hand. If your group does decide to do prizes, only do the contest once or twice a month. You don’t want to “break the bank”, and you don’t want to get things that are too expensive doing weekly contests either. Make the prizes fun, make them quirky, make them serious or thoughtful…whatever your writing group prefers and can afford.
Alternately in the classroom: Use one of the larger boards and hang a sheet – pre-written or laminated first and used with a dry erase marker – as a weekly incentive.
Every Monday, children draw a number (when using the 25-Square board, don’t forget to write “Free” on one of the slips of paper). That number corresponds to a square. It is their choice to write or not to write. Have a tray for collecting the writings, but all stories, poems, etc. MUST be turned in by Friday before school lets out for the weekend.
Giving students a whole week to work can sometimes help. The “winner” could be whoever turned theirs in first…the one with the most creative story….the student who wrote the longest story…the student who gave the most detail in their story….whatever you – as their teacher – decides, but do let the students know “how” you’re going to grade them.
Pick a different way each time (older students) or only use one way so they know what to expect throughout the year (younger students). However you do it, give the winner a prize. It could be a day “off” in the classroom (a 100% or “A” is given for that day, but the student can sit and listen to music – with headphones at a reasonable volume – or play games on their device, etc.), it could be a few small penny candies (be sure you know which students have allergies and buy appropriate items!), or it could be a free “homework pass”, maybe even just extra “bonus points” on their next quiz or test. Everyone should write daily, but, unfortunately, most kids won’t without some incentive, no matter how small that incentive may be.
A Few Final Notes On Writing Prompt Bingo Games:
Print the pages on heavy card stock to keep them longer, but remember the self-adhesive laminating sheets I listed as optional in the “Items Needed” section? If you happen to hit upon a board you, your friends, or your students really like, simply laminate that board for future use with other classes. Depending on the prompts, variations can be used to play the same board with a twist (“Write about your favorite childhood toy” on the original could be twisted to “Write about your favorite childhood toy…and the day it started talking”……“Write about your favorite childhood toy…and where you think it is today”……or even “Write about your favorite childhood toy…and the life it’s lived since you lost it or got rid of it.”
For older children who switch classes during the day, the same sheet could be used to play the game during every period….or even used year after year. Use the optional folder to put those laminated boards in. The pages will last a little longer if just card stock is used, but, of course, laminating will help them hold up over a much longer period of time.
Alternately, laminate the printed sheets first and use a dry erase marker to write on the pages so the same sheet can be used over and over with whatever prompts come to mind.
TYPES OF BINGO BOARDS INCLUDED in the
- 4-Square Fill-Ins
Related Links and Resources
Until next time, keep on writing…
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