Writing Prompts for Upper Elementary

Ideas to Help Motivate Students to Write

Are you looking for some writing prompts for upper elementary students? Motivating students to write daily can be a real challenge. Changing up prompts may be one solution to keep students excited about putting a pencil on paper. Check out these ideas. 

#1 – Inspirational Quotes

Mistakes are proof that you are trying. - quote
Quotes are great for not only inspiring students to work harder but to also think at a deeper level. Quotes make great discussion starters for students to think critically. Remind students that quotes may have different meanings for different people depending on life experiences. There are no wrong or right answers to what a quote means. Writing a paragraph about what a quote means is a great journal activity. If you need inspiration about where to begin, check out 50 of Our All-Time Favorite Classroom Quotes from We are Teachers.

#2 – Writing a Letter to My Future Self

Have students write letters to their future selves. At futureme.org students type letters. They select when they will be delivered: 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, or a specific date. Students can select their letters to be private or public. Be aware. Some of the public letters contain inappropriate material for students. 

# 3 – Would You Rather

Would you rather questions are a fun and interesting way to jump-start the thinking process. Students are asked questions that can be silly, require deep thinking, or just fun to answer.

Check these examples out to see if ‘Would You Rather’ questions would be a fun writing idea to add to students’ writing journals.

  • Would you rather eat only your favorite food for the rest of your life or never eat your favorite food again?
  • Would you rather live homeless on the streets of a city or in the wilderness alone?

Rachel Lynette writes great ‘Would You Rather Questions‘ for students. She also writes great seasonal questions as well:

# 4 – Photographs

Wiki Common is a fantastic site for finding photographs to use as writing prompts. Check out the “Picture of the Year” sections for great quality photographs.

# 5- Traditional Writing Prompts

Many websites contain exhaustive lists of writing prompts.

Check out “100 Not-Boring Writing Prompts for Middle and High Schoolers.”

Unique Teaching Resources has a large list of writing topics for a journal or creative writing. Search by categories such as favorite things, friendship, or memories. You can also find topics that pertain to each month’s holidays and events. 

# 6 – Mini- Books 

Mini-books are great for a number of small connected writing tasks. 


In these printables, students describe the main characters in the novels Stone Fox and  HolesStudents write the meanings of symbols in The Giver in this printable.

# 7 – Compare and Contrast Activities

Students write a compare and contrast paper describing how Roz helped the animals on the island compared to how the animals helped Roz in The Wild Robot. While reading Ella Enchanted, students compare different Cinderella stories. When reading The Witches, students to compare different witches from children’s literature.

# 8 – Craftivities 

Ideas for Motivating Upper Elementary Students to Write


Students love creating crafts. Turn writing activities into crafts. Try this one from the novel Wishtree. Students write a paragraph about their wishes.

# 9 – Other Novel Ideas 

Among the Hidden

Five writing prompts are included based on the controversial themes of outlawing third children.

Crash by Jerry Spinelli

This idea can be adapted to any novel that contains a cast of diverse characters. Students describe characters based on the types of shoes they wear in this creative writing project.

For example —

Crash would most likely wear cleats. He is extremely athletic. Because he excels in sports, he gets attention from the other students in his school. He is especially proud when he can beat the older (8th graders) students. Crash is obsessive about winning during football games. Crash doesn’t just want to win the game, but destroy the other team. He is ruthless, running right over the top of the other players in an attempt to reach the goal line. Crash’s attitude about football spills into the way he lives his life. In life, he is also ruthless and doesn’t treat others as he should. Cleats represent Crash both on and off the field as he “walks” on and hurts others.

The Hundred Dresses 

Students design a dress. They then write detailed descriptions of dresses. Students exchange their descriptions. Each student must then draw the dress based on the information provided in the description. Finally, students compare their drawings to the writers’ originals to determine if the descriptions were clear and accurate.

Number the Stars 

Students intertwine two parallel stories into one using the format Lois Lowry did in her novel.

# 10 – Other Writing Project Blog Posts @ Book Units Teacher

April Fool’s Day – Students read about a number of hoaxes from history. After reading about other pranks, they plan their own and write them out. A printable is provided to help students plan.

RAFT [Role of the Writer, Audience, Format, Topic] is a writing strategy to help students focus on four areas of communication. This post contains four printable RAFT projects. Projects vary from writing a jingle to advertising a product to writing campaign slogans.

Animated Shorts – This is one of my most popular series. Try teaching students to write a problems and solutions paragraph using the animated short “Taking the Plunge.” Be sure to check out the bottom of the post for additional links to free samples from the series.  

Inverted Pyramid Story – Students learn to write like news reporters placing important information in the first few lines of the story. 

Ideas for Motivating Upper Elementary Students to Write

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