Kids can find their own writing topics! Here’s how.
In my last post in this writing series, I wrote about why kids don’t need writing prompts.
But we can’t just remove the prompts and tell the kids that they have to find their own writing ideas. They need support as they make the transition to independence.
Here are some ways to help kids find their own writing topics. As always, model first before you ask your students to try a new strategy. Then practice the new strategy together before you ask them to do it on their own!
- Have each student create an expert list. Show them how to make a list of things that they know a lot about and could write something about. They could write about family members, places they’ve been, interests, etc.
- Instead of brainstorming major topics, ask your students to brainstorm about times that they felt certain emotions – happy, excited, surprised, etc.
- Teach your students how to use a writer’s notebook as a place to record writing ideas even when they are not at school.
- Draw a large heart on a piece of paper and make a heart map. Invite them to divide it into sections, writing about things that are important to them on each piece of the heart.
- Students sometimes think that once they’ve written about a topic, it’s “used up.” Show them how to write about an old topic in a new way. A story could become a poem, an information book, etc.
- Teach your students to look through old pieces of writing to get inspiration for new writing ideas.
- Invite your students to write a list of the “ten best things” that have ever happened to them (or “ten really good things”). Next, have them star the items they could write more about.
- Start with storytelling. Tell true stories from your own life (preferably when you were the same age as your students). Put your students in partners or small groups to tell their own stories. Show them how these oral stories can become written ones.
- Make a class chart of “things we can write about” and add to it regularly. Refer students to the chart when they are stuck.
- Teach students a variety of ways to use a writer’s notebook: writing memories, observations, descriptions, opinions, questions, and more.
Grab a free pack of printables that will help your students find their own writing ideas.