Thursday, March 15, 2012

Homeschool Teen Writing Prompts2

I begin each of my English 1 classes with at least one writing prompt.  As they say, if you want to learn how to write...WRITE.  So we write during each class.  I have looked and looked for decent prompts to use with this class.  If you have followed Google here, chances are you are looking for writing prompts as well. 
Finally, I simply sat down and wrote up as many of my own as I could come up with.  I am sharing them here with you.  As time goes on, as I come up with more, I will continue to update this page.
Please, if you have some good ones, share!

  • Write a quote and ask the student to explain what it means to them.  For example, I might write one of the following quotes on the dry erase board and ask each student to explain it's meaning.
You can educate yourself right out of a relationship with God.
Tammy Faye Bakker

Change is the law of life. 
And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
John F. Kennedy

Achievement brings its own anticlimax.
Maya Angelou
 It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.
Bill Gates
 Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.
J.K. Rowling

  • Remember when you were a kid and you would pretend for hours?  Go back to that time.  Imagine yourself on an adventure.  Write about it.
  • Write a dialogue between (two characters from a book we have read) 
  •  I have taken comic strips and removed the dialog and invited the students to create their own dialogue for the piece
  •  If you could give every human being on the planet one quality or characteristic, what would it be?  Why did you choose that trait?
  • Write fifty words or phrases that mean NICE.
  • Imagine your evening tonight.  Write about it.
  •  Imagine you are meeting new people at this very moment.  Describe a person that you would like to meet or get to know better.    Why do you want to meet them?  Describe a person that doesn't appeal to you at all.  Why does this person not interest you?
  • Describe a moment when you argued with yourself about how to proceed.  Give voice to that internal dialogue.
  • If you could change places with a famous person for a week, who would you choose and why?
  •  Without using the words heart, love, roses, or Valentine, describe Valentine's Day.
  •  Write a list of the dumbest things you could say on a date.
  •  Imagine you had the means to do some completely anonymous good deeds.  List as many things that you can think of that you would do if possible.
  • Describe your best Sunday afternoon if you were an "indoor" person.  How about an "outdoor" person.
  •  Imagine you are of the opposite gender.  Describe your afternoon.  Describe your room.  Write a diary entry.
  • Rewrite The Three Bears from the point of view of Goldilocks.
  • Imagine Sleeping Beauty waking up 500 years earlier than all of the others in the castle. 
  • You are a young person moving with your family out to the country.  While moving into your cozy, new home you find a secret door...
  •  You are the oldest sibling.  Your parents have put you in charge of your brothers and sisters for a week.  While they are out, you discover a secret of your parents.  What is it and what do you do about it?  Use your imagination and write surprising details!
  •  You awake one morning to discover that you now have a fairy godmother or a fairy godfather.  While they are able to make some small, cool things happen, the larger your request, the more the magic goes awry.  What happens?  Include details!
  • At some point this week, sit in public with your writing journal for about an hour.  (At the mall, at the bus stop, on your porch step, at the grocery store, at the library, at the museum.)  Observe the people around you.  Imagine you are fascinated by several of the people.  Create stories for them.  What are they like?  What are they doing?  What did they do before you saw them?  What are their plans?  What is on their mind?
  • Write a completely different ending to The Three Little Pigs.
  •  In the back of your closet you discover a secret panel!  Opening it you discover pictures, letters, and other items.  Describe the person who created the compartment.  Why was the compartment created?  How did the person decide what would go in?  What is in there?
  • Write a list of ten abilities you have.  How do you use those abilities?  Who can you improve them?
  • I would like to see the world change in these ways:
  • As I grow up, I am determined to:
  •  Describe a conflict that your family has gone through.  Use details to express who said what to whom.  How did each person respond to the conflict?  What made the conflict worse?  What resolved the conflict?
  •  Rewrite your favorite movie as if it were a poem.
  •  I will often give each student five elements to include in an essay.  Each person gets a different list.  (Before the class I would create a list such as the sample below)

  • What is your greatest strength of character?  A character trait that you can't imagine now having.  How create a character who does not have this characteristic.  Describe the problems it would create and some dilemmas he or she would have.
  • Write on this quote:  You can never step in the same river twice.
I had about fifty more prompts to this blog post and, somehow, into the ether, they were lost.
I am annoyed!  But I will post more as I think of them...when the feeling hits.

Do you know of any extra cool writing prompts?
What do you think of prompts for teens?


 Addendum, April 11, 2012

  • Write a story or paragraph including these words:        Marshmellow, tidy, Spain, bright, and awake.
  • Describe this character:  Whitey Brushman
  • Make a list of as many words or phrases that you can think of that mean “rich”.
  • Invent a small town.  Give your town a name.  Describe a few of the characters who live in this town.  Give some of it’s history.
  • Create character names for people in your small town who work at the school, post office, coffee shop, ice cream shop, church, bank, day care center, and other places of interest.
  • Write about that moment when two people first bond.
  • Write about a person who was very depressed stumbling upon a beautiful scene in nature that changes things for them.
  • Describe a beautiful singing voice by using descriptors from other senses besides hearing.  Describe a tasty dish by using descriptors from other senses besides taste.
  • List 50 things you will never do.
  • Davida Harp is listening to a lecture.  Describe the lecture.
  • Write a letter to five-year-old you.
  • Write a letter to eighty-five year old you.
  • Think of twenty things to do on your own in the woods with no electronics at all.
  • Describe the feeling of hunger.
  • Describe an illness that is very minor.  Make it sound like a catastrophe.
  • Write about a person choosing to compromise their integrity.
  • Describe a person who is terribly afraid of cats.  Why are they afraid?  How do they behave?  What do they do to avoid cats?
  • Describe your day if you are a blowing leaf.
  • Mitchell Blue is paddling quickly across the lake.  Why?
  • Write about a person experiencing regret.
  • Describe the room of a spoiled child.
  • Envision a “loner” in a coffee shop.  Tell about him/her.
  • Write for at least three minutes without stopping.  Begin with “Your mother…”
  • Describe your luncheon with Abraham Lincoln.
  • Write an acrostic poem using your name, use the letters as the LAST letter in the line.
  • I’m sorry I broke into your car but…
  • You are at a circus.  You see a bizarre-looking person enter a tent.  You follow them…
  • Benji Culpepper is sitting across from you telling you that he is in love with you…
  • Use all of these words in a poem:  carry, ignite, freedom, pretend, and shadow
  • Write a biography for Brianna Lee.
  • Sit at the front window quietly for ten minutes.  Describe everything that you saw, heard, experienced inside of the window and out.
  • Write out the lyrics of your favorite song
  • Find a piece of modern art.  Describe what it means to you.  What might the artist have been trying to convey with that piece of work.
  • You are on the beach when you find a bottle with a map inside.  Where does it lead you?
  • Describe a scene where the mailman becomes suspicious of a short man and follows him.
  • The newspaper headline says “Large Baby Sits on Cow”.  Write the story.
  • You are at a yard sale.  A very cute boy reaches out for the same item that you were about to look at…
  • Write a three sentences all using these four words:  racist, become, backwards, new.
  • Elissa Donovan needs a new bicycle.  Explain why she needs the bike and how she might go about getting it.
  • Write as many words and phrases that mean “ugly” as you can think of.  Next to “attractive”.
  • Write twenty slips of paper for the “reward box” like the one on the kitchen wall.
  • Rewrite the story “The Three Bears” from the point of view of Baby Bear.
  • Create ten movie titles about girls who wish to grow up and become a writer.
  • Tell about a day in the life of Zeus.
  • Write dialogue between a talk show host and their guest, a person who has been stranded on a desert island for six months.
  • Write about ways that you have changed the most in the past year or so.
  • Imagine you have magical powers.  Describe five things you might do with your magic.
  • Imagine you are looking through a closet at home. You find a cache of secret letters.  Who are they from?  Who are they to?  What do they contain?
  • Artie Johnson is being teased.  Who is teasing him and why are they doing it?  What is motivating the bullies?
  • Imagine you are seven years older.  What would you do from the moment you awoke to the time you went to sleep?
  • Create a story containing these elements:  a snowy evening, a newspaper, someone lost, and a cup of coffee.
  • Write a story illustrating the phrase “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”.
  • Think of an object in another room.  Describe that object as though it was sitting right in front of you.  Do not say what it is.
  • List ten colors.  Give them personalities.
  • If there really was a __________, then I would __________.
  • A teenaged girl is sitting beside a tree in a park crying.  Why?
  • Describe a famous person feeling unhappy with their fame.
  • Listen to some unfamiliar music.  Describe how you feel about the music.  What it makes you think about.  What the writer of the music might have been trying to portray through their art.
  • Describe a person who is just about to be found out as a thief.
  • Describe a cut on a hand.  What does it look like?  How did it get there?
  • How might a person with no sight describe the color red?
  • Create a list of at least twenty uses for a spoon.
  • Describe the moment a boy on a bus sees the girl of his dreams as she rides her bike past the bus.
  • You see a man through the window of a shop and he is very irritated looking.  Imagine at least ten reasons why he is irritated.
  • Write dialogue between any two people who are discussing something they have lost.
  • Describe in as many words or phrases as you can imagine the concept of relief.
  • Imagine a rainy day and sitting at the table coloring.  What are you experiencing?


  1. For kids who go to school (which is the case for most of the kids I help with writing), writing about literature is something they have to do over and over again. I've had some luck with passing out very short poems and helping them discover lots of different things that they can write about poetry and literature (rhyme schemes, rhythm, metaphor, alliteration, other figures of speech, and especially (of course) theme/meaning/symbolism).

    Three poems I've had great success with are "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost, Thomas Hardy's "Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave?" and "The Horses" by Ted Hughes.

    1. I've used "Nothing Gold Can Stay" several times...thanks so much for the other poetry suggestions!!!!

  2. I love these prompts.

    I find that tweens and teens are particularly eager to write when it advances their own interests. I tell my kids that we'll reconsider a household rule or parental decision if they give us three good reasons, in writing. We don't always change our minds but this does promote critical thinking, calm conversation, and writing.

    They also tend to be happy to write letters when it advances an interest of theirs. My son wrote to a pen company asking them to resolve a dispute he had with me---he insisted my habit of leaving a pen uncapped makes it dry out faster. They wrote back! Better yet, they agreed with him, sent him several samples of different pens to try, and for his ink-wrecking mother sent a pen that's slow to dry out. My kids have written to authors, celebrities, university professors (asking obscure questions they can't resolve on their own), and many times receive an answer. What's lovely is this has inspired a familiarity with letter-writing, which they do between each other too.

    And we started a playwright group back when they were much younger. This got everyone writing scenes, dialogue, and taking part in putting on afternoon productions written and performed by 8 to 10 year old homeschoolers.


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