Writing Prompts for Kids

Contributor: Karen Frazier
Karen Frazier Karen Frazier

Karen is a former volunteer guardian ad litem and Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused and neglected children.

Kids writing in class

Getting kids to write more than a few sentences can be a challenge. However, fun and exciting writing prompts can activate a child's imagination and inspire that child to write something amazing.

Creative Writing Prompts for Kids

Kids like to read and write stories that relate to their actual life experiences, but they're not always open to sharing such personal information. Use creative means and wacky prompts to help kids express these emotions and experiences through creative writing.

Who Would Win? Questions

Choose two obscure people, creatures, or inanimate objects and ask kids to choose which would win in a fight, competition, or another silly scenario. Who would win:

  • A spelling bee, alphabet soup or letter cookie cutters?
  • A boxing match, a piece of bread or a tortilla?
  • A game of tag, a snail or a turtle?
  • An eating contest, your Mom or your little brother?
  • A science fair, Curious George or Clifford the Big Red Dog?

Would You Rather? Questions

Make up two totally unrealistic circumstances or highly undesirable activities for the age group you're working with and make them choose one they'd rather do. Would You Rather:

  • Only learn math or only learn reading in school?
  • Create a video game or be a character in a video game?
  • Eat breakfast for dinner or dinner for breakfast?
  • Make a crying sound every time you laugh or make a laughing sound every time you cry?
  • Wear only clothing from the Victorian Era or only from your grandpa's closet?

Who Wore it Better? Questions

Pick two characters from TV, movies, or books who wore similar outfits or look similar in some way and ask kids "Who wore it better:"

  • Mickey Mouse or Sponge Bob with the shirtless look?
  • Pikachu or Big Bird with the all yellow look?
  • Winnie the Pooh or Donald Duck who wear only a shirt and no pants?
  • Mario and Luigi or the Minions wearing denim overalls?
  • Paddington Bear or Peter Rabbit in a blue coat?

Which Came First? Questions

Like the classic debate of whether the chicken or the egg came first, challenge kids' logical thinking skills with quirky conundrums. Which came first:

  • Aliens or humans?
  • Narwhal or unicorn?
  • Dragons or fire?
  • The sun or the moon?
  • Seeds or fruit?

Where Would You Go? Questions

Describe a highly unlikely scenario and ask kids to explain where they'd hide or how they'd survive. Where would you go?

  • During a zombie apocalypse?
  • If all the land turned to water?
  • If Earth was destroyed?
  • If houses were never invented?
  • During the world's largest earthquake?

Wacky Educational Writing Prompts

Enhance lessons in any subject area with writing prompts about the history of specific subjects, topics, and important figures.

  • What would happen if an ancient Roman army got stuck in 2019?
  • How would we light our world if Thomas Edison never invented the light bulb?
  • Imagine your life if paper was never invented.
  • Describe America if it was never "discovered" by people from other continents.
  • What things would be useless if there were no seasons?

Creative Holiday Writing Prompts

Make your holiday lesson plans more fun with writing prompts that turn classic holiday traditions upside-down.

  • Every New Year's Day you get to become a new person; who will you become this year?
  • Valentine's Day is no longer celebrated because it made people feel left out. Invent a new holiday that is inclusive of everyone to celebrate in February.
  • St. Patrick's Day enthusiasts captured all the leprechauns but didn't find any pots of gold. Where is all the gold?
  • The world ran out of eggs, what will the Easter Bunny decorate for kids?
  • Most people celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day, but what about all the other family members? Make up a holiday to celebrate each important member of your family.
  • People are bored with standard fireworks displays on the 4th of July. What show will you put on to wow them?
  • Individual Halloween costumes are no longer allowed, you can only dress in costume as part of a matching group. What will you be?
  • The Native Americans did not invite the Pilgrims to dinner, so what are they celebrating at the first Thanksgiving?
  • It's the first Christmas after elves became extinct, who will help Santa get all those toys made?
Kid writing in a whiteboard dressed as superman

Basic Writing Prompts for Kids

Writing prompts help kids gain writing skills and work on organizing thoughts to convey a point. Basic writing prompts help kids get started on school projects, journaling, and creative writing essays.

What Do You See?

Using visual stimuli is a great way to encourage children to write. Choose a photograph, painting, illustration, or funny viral video.

  • Talk about the people in this image.
  • Write about the sequence of events that led up to the picture you see.
  • Use this image as the starting point of a story. What happens next?
  • Write about how this picture makes you feel.
  • Write a news story about this picture.

What Happens Next?

These types of prompts help children develop creative stories by projecting what happens next in a sequence of events. Read a story, show a video, or describe a scenario and either stop mid-way through or at the end and ask "What happens next?"

  • What happens to the main character after the story ends?
  • You are walking down the hallway of a creepy, old house. Suddenly, a door appears in front of you.
  • You find a genie in a bottle, but he only gives you one wish.
  • You graduated high school at age 11.
  • You find out your dad is a vampire.

What If? Scenarios

"What if?" is a question that opens the imagination. These prompts allow kids the chance to explore who they are through writing.

  • What if you suddenly found out you had a twin?
  • What if you found a flying carpet?
  • What if your pet could talk?
  • What if you won the lottery?
  • What if it never stopped raining?
  • What if you woke up one morning and nobody spoke the same language as you?

I Wish Scenarios

"I wish" writing prompts allow children to explore how the world would be if a wish was granted.

  • Write about a place you wish you could live. Describe what it would be like living there.
  • Write about a superpower you wish you could have. What would you do with it?
  • If you could be friends with anyone in the world, who would you choose? Why?
  • If your birthday wish came true this year, what would happen?
  • Name one thing you wish was different about you. How would it make your life better?
Kids having fun in class with pens and puppets

Persuasive Writing Prompts

Children can begin using persuasive writing from a very early age to learn how to state their ideas and opinions clearly. Children learning persuasive writing use logic and facts to build to a strong conclusion.

  • Write a letter to your parents convincing them to give you a privilege you want.
  • What rule would you like to see changed? Write a letter persuading someone to change the rule.
  • Your school principal is trying to decide whether to require all students to wear uniforms. Write a letter to the principal sharing your thoughts about uniforms in school.
  • Convince others to join your favorite club or sports team.

Narrative Writing Prompts

This type of writing helps kids share personal stories in a way that captures the reader's attention.

  • Share a story of the best day you ever had.
  • When were you the most scared you've ever been?
  • Have you ever done something really exciting?
  • Tell the story of a goal you achieved.

Poetry Writing Prompts

Writing poetry allows children to express themselves using descriptive language. Poetry also allows children to play with language and meter.

  • Write a serious poem about your favorite food.
  • Write a silly poem about someone you love.
  • Write a short poem about your favorite season.
  • Write a long poem about a video game you love.

Tips for Getting Kids Excited About Writing

Some kids love writing activities while others loathe them. Choosing the right writing prompts for each child can help get everyone excited about writing assignments.

Consider Age

Kids at different ages and skill levels will enjoy different types of writing prompts. Use your child's age and developmental level to select the appropriate types of prompts.

  • The youngest writers like to fantasize and use their vivid imagination. Offer pretend-filled writing prompts like "What would happen if the toys in the room could talk?"
  • As kids get older, they like to imagine their real future. Ask things like "What will your life look like in 10, 20, or 50 years?"
  • Encourage older kids to explore issues they hear about at home, school, or on the news so they feel like they are being heard and treated with respect.

Keep Guidelines to a Minimum

If you really want to help kids open their minds, offer only a few guidelines for the writing activity. The more "rules" a child has to follow during the writing process, the more it will feel like work instead of fun.

  • Set the structure, like an essay, but don't require specific paragraph, page, or word counts.
  • Allow any structure as long as it meets a minimum page length.
  • Start with a first draft where kids don't have to follow any rules then use that to write a more structured piece.

Use Creative Means of Writing

Sitting at a desk or table writing is boring for many kids. Use creative means of writing to keep kids engaged in the process.

  • Write using a dry erase marker on your sliding glass door.
  • Use words cut out of magazines and glued to a paper to write the whole story.
  • Substitute a standard pencil or pen for colored pencils, fine tip markers, or even a skinny paintbrush and paints.

The Write Stuff

Writing from prompts can help children get comfortable with the written word. By providing interesting and interactive prompts, you can engage kids' imagination in a way that encourages them to become lifelong writers.

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Writing Prompts for Kids