The University of Iowa

Supporting Your Children's and Teens' Home Learning: Weekly Writing Prompts for Children

Girl and mother working on laptop

On our writing prompts form, children read a short passage and then are prompted to write an opinion essay, fictional narrative, or informational passage related to what they just read.

By:  

Sean Thompson

Communications Specialist, Iowa Reading Research Center

Posted on: March 25, 2020

Editor’s note: Even when classes are suspended, children can continue to make progress toward grade-level reading and writing standards at home. This post is part of an ongoing series designed to help caregivers support children’s and teens’ literacy learning while schools are closed in response to the spread of COVID-19.

The availability of the Iowa Reading Research Center Writing Prompts for home learning use during school closures has concluded. For other sources of writing prompts and other home learning web resources, browse our Supporting Your Children's and Teens' Home Learning Guide.

In order to help elementary school students in Grades 1-6 continue practicing their writing skills, today we launched our Iowa Reading Research Center Writing Prompts for Children.

Iowa Reading Research Center Writing Prompts for Children Details

Each Wednesday at 3:05 p.m. for the next 6 weeks (ending on April 29), we will be posting on the Iowa Reading Research Center Writing Prompts for Children group on Facebook and emailing subscribers weekly writing prompts in both English and Spanish.

  1. Caregivers can follow a link to the prompt form for each child’s grade and language. Children can either work alone at the computer, or caregivers can provide support to their children by reading the directions and passage to them.
  2. After entering some information that will allow us to find children’s responses should they be requested by caregivers later, there are written directions to prepare children for using the prompt and composing their responses.
  3. Next, children (or their caregivers) will read one or two short passages. The topics and the level of text difficulty are geared specifically for children of that age. Though students will get a minimal amount of reading practice by reading the passage, it mostly serves to provide children some background knowledge on the topic and a source of textual evidence that they can use in their written responses.
  4. Finally, the prompt appears below the passage. It is a short paragraph briefly restating the topic and asking children to write a short response of the appropriate genre.

There are three different genres of prompts (a prompt for one of the three genres will be given each week): narrative, informational, and opinion:

  • Narrative: Children are prompted to continue a particular aspect of the story they read.
  • Informational: Children are prompted to answer a question or questions about what they just read, using facts from the passage.
  • Opinion: Children are prompted to express their opinions about the topic in the passage and support those opinions with evidence from the text.

Because the weekly prompts will remain on our Facebook group page, participants can go back to previous prompts at any time if they missed a week or are joining in late. We want these writing prompts to be accessible, fun, and educational. If a child misses a week entirely and wants to jump back in the next week, that’s okay, too. Occasionally we will feature exemplary responses to highlight grade-level writing skills. At the end of the 6 weeks, caregivers can request a PDF of their children’s responses to review or to share with a teacher.

We hope parents find the prompts useful for keeping children engaged and motivated to continue practicing the important skills of responding to a prompt, planning the writing, composing a paragraph, and using textual evidence to support ideas.  And we hope you and your young scribes are looking forward to writing each week. We are excited to read their writing!


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