Engage Students with These Pre-Made Elementary Writing Prompts

Elementary student enjoying a NoRedInk writing prompt

From high-interest bell-ringers to writing prompts for elementary test prep, NoRedInk provides teachers in Grades 3–5 with a range of flexible writing activities.

Being a strong writer unlocks countless opportunities. From the university to the workplace to even the home, people who can wield the written word to communicate effectively are more likely to be able to express themselves clearly, advocate for their perspectives, demonstrate their knowledge and critical thinking, and more.

While these lofty aims may seem miles removed from the elementary school classroom, the reality is that they’re grounded in the creativity, voice, and mechanics that students start developing at a young age.

However, for many elementary students, writing for a sustained period of time on a regular basis can be quite overwhelming. Direct instruction that touches on each step of the writing cycle is key to making writing seem approachable for kids, but so are engaging, well-constructed elementary writing prompts. Below, you’ll find an overview of the various types of writing activities NoRedInk offers for learners in Grades 3–5.

1. Bell-ringers and exit tickets

Writing frequently—even if only for a few minutes at a time—goes a long way toward building writing stamina, particularly at the elementary level. Instead of spending valuable time and energy coming up with daily writing prompts suitable for kids, many upper elementary teachers use NoRedInk Bell-Ringers and Exit Tickets to kick off or end their ELA blocks.

These short, high-interest activities are designed to boost students’ writing confidence, get their creative gears turning, and help them reflect on their own learning through questions like, “On a scale from 1–5, how difficult was your homework? 1 means really easy, 5 means very difficult. Explain the number you chose.”

2. Skill-building writing activities

The most effective approaches to teaching grammar, conventions, and writing mechanics contextualize the rules and skills being covered. NoRedInk Skill-Building Quick Writes, a type of writing prompt for elementary students that facilitates the application of the skills students are learning to their own writing, help you illustrate the “why” behind what might otherwise seem like dry, irrelevant rules.

Skill-Building Quick Writes provide students with opportunities to actively practice skills like using strong word choice, producing compound sentences, and supporting an opinion with reasons. As they write, students begin to see these foundational skills as tools they can use to express themselves in clearer, more interesting ways instead of as a set of rules their teacher made them memorize.

3. Fun, fluency-building activities

As your students become increasingly comfortable with writing, you can start to work in elementary writing prompts that target specific styles of responses. For instance, NoRedInk Fluency and Fun Quick Writes are organized into five categories—Argue, Describe, Reflect, Tell a Story, and What If?—all of which prompt students to flex discrete writing muscles. Experimenting with these Quick Writes is a great way to introduce the concept of genre to the budding writers in your classroom.

Because these writing activities ask students to craft a narrative or put together an argument, they tend to take a bit longer than Bell-Ringers and Exit Tickets (10–15 minutes instead of 5–10 minutes), so be sure to plan accordingly.

4. Authentic test prep activities

A growing number of states are incorporating constructed response sections into their assessments of elementary students’ learning. NoRedInk’s writing prompts for elementary test prep feature released questions and real rubrics from state and national assessments, making it easy to create authentic practice assignments for your students.

Many state test questions involve responding to a text or comparing multiple texts, so even if you’re not in test prep mode, NoRedInk Test Prep Quick Writes can be a powerful tool for bringing together your reading and writing instruction.

5. Text-based writing activities

In addition to text-based Test Prep Quick Writes, NoRedInk provides a range of writing activities that promote engagement with novels, short stories, and other forms of literature. (Generally speaking, these text-based activities are best suited to students in Grades 5 and up, though many third- and fourth-grade teachers use them with their more advanced students.)

For instance, NoRedInk’s chapter-based Quick Writes cover popular works like HatchetHoles, and A Long Walk to Water, and are an efficient way to check student comprehension after each night’s assigned reading. These activities also promote critical thinking by asking students to analyze the key ideas in a chapter and draw personal connections to what they’re reading.

Access elementary school writing prompts, skills exercises, and more

Getting young learners writing early and often is essential to building their writing stamina and fluency. NoRedInk’s comprehensive writing offering for Grades 3–5 gives teachers access to a massive library of writing prompts for kids, as well as standards-aligned instructional resources, adaptive skills exercises, and robust assessment and reporting features.

If you’re looking to make writing a prominent part of your elementary classroom, sign up for NoRedInk for free today!

Thomas collaborates with colleagues from across NoRedInk to craft stories that illustrate how NoRedInk ​​builds stronger writers. He holds a BA in Religious Studies from Occidental College.