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Our 2020-21 Writing Curriculum for Middle and High School
A flexible, seven-unit program based on the real-world writing found in newspapers, from editorials and reviews to personal narratives and informational essays.
Update, Aug. 3, 2023: Find our 2023-24 writing curriculum here.
Our 2019-20 Writing Curriculum is one of the most popular new features we’ve ever run on this site, so, of course, we’re back with a 2020-21 version — one we hope is useful whether you’re teaching in person , online , indoors , outdoors , in a pod , as a homeschool , or in some hybrid of a few of these.
The curriculum detailed below is both a road map for teachers and an invitation to students. For teachers, it includes our writing prompts, mentor texts, contests and lesson plans, and organizes them all into seven distinct units. Each focuses on a different genre of writing that you can find not just in The Times but also in all kinds of real-world sources both in print and online.
But for students, our main goal is to show young people they have something valuable to say, and to give those voices a global audience. That’s always been a pillar of our site, but this year it is even more critical. The events of 2020 will define this generation, and many are living through them isolated from their ordinary communities, rituals and supports. Though a writing curriculum can hardly make up for that, we hope that it can at least offer teenagers a creative outlet for making sense of their experiences, and an enthusiastic audience for the results. Through the opportunities for publication woven throughout each unit, we want to encourage students to go beyond simply being media consumers to become creators and contributors themselves.
So have a look, and see if you can find a way to include any of these opportunities in your curriculum this year, whether to help students document their lives, tell stories, express opinions, investigate ideas, or analyze culture. We can’t wait to hear what your students have to say!
Each unit includes:
Writing prompts to help students try out related skills in a “low stakes” way.
We publish two writing prompts every school day, and we also have thematic collections of more than 1,000 prompts published in the past. Your students might consider responding to these prompts on our site and using our public forums as a kind of “rehearsal space” for practicing voice and technique.
Daily opportunities to practice writing for an authentic audience.
If a student submits a comment on our site, it will be read by Times editors, who approve each one before it gets published. Submitting a comment also gives students an audience of fellow teenagers from around the world who might read and respond to their work. Each week, we call out our favorite comments and honor dozens of students by name in our Thursday “ Current Events Conversation ” feature.
Guided practice with mentor texts .
Each unit we publish features guided practice lessons, written directly to students, that help them observe, understand and practice the kinds of “craft moves” that make different genres of writing sing. From how to “show not tell” in narratives to how to express critical opinions , quote or paraphrase experts or craft scripts for podcasts , we have used the work of both Times journalists and the teenage winners of our contests to show students techniques they can emulate.
“Annotated by the Author” commentaries from Times writers — and teenagers.
As part of our Mentor Texts series , we’ve been asking Times journalists from desks across the newsroom to annotate their articles to let students in on their writing, research and editing processes, and we’ll be adding more for each unit this year. Whether it’s Science writer Nicholas St. Fleur on tiny tyrannosaurs , Opinion writer Aisha Harris on the cultural canon , or The Times’s comics-industry reporter, George Gene Gustines, on comic books that celebrate pride , the idea is to demystify journalism for teenagers. This year, we’ll be inviting student winners of our contests to annotate their work as well.
A contest that can act as a culminating project .
Over the years we’ve heard from many teachers that our contests serve as final projects in their classes, and this curriculum came about in large part because we want to help teachers “plan backwards” to support those projects.
All contest entries are considered by experts, whether Times journalists, outside educators from partner organizations, or professional practitioners in a related field. Winning means being published on our site, and, perhaps, in the print edition of The New York Times.
Webinars and our new professional learning community (P.L.C.).
For each of the seven units in this curriculum, we host a webinar featuring Learning Network editors as well as teachers who use The Times in their classrooms. Our webinars introduce participants to our many resources and provide practical how-to’s on how to use our prompts, mentor texts and contests in the classroom.
New for this school year, we also invite teachers to join our P.L.C. on teaching writing with The Times , where educators can share resources, strategies and inspiration about teaching with these units.
Below are the seven units we will offer in the 2020-21 school year.
Unit 1: Documenting Teenage Lives in Extraordinary Times
This special unit acknowledges both the tumultuous events of 2020 and their outsized impact on young people — and invites teenagers to respond creatively. How can they add their voices to our understanding of what this historic year will mean for their generation?
Culminating in our Coming of Age in 2020 contest, the unit helps teenagers document and respond to what it’s been like to live through what one Times article describes as “a year of tragedy, of catastrophe, of upheaval, a year that has inflicted one blow after another, a year that has filled the morgues, emptied the schools, shuttered the workplaces, swelled the unemployment lines and polarized the electorate.”
A series of writing prompts, mentor texts and a step-by-step guide will help them think deeply and analytically about who they are, how this year has impacted them, what they’d like to express as a result, and how they’d like to express it. How might they tell their unique stories in ways that feel meaningful and authentic, whether those stories are serious or funny, big or small, raw or polished?
Though the contest accepts work across genres — via words and images, video and audio — all students will also craft written artist’s statements for each piece they submit. In addition, no matter what genre of work students send in, the unit will use writing as a tool throughout to help students brainstorm, compose and edit. And, of course, this work, whether students send it to us or not, is valuable far beyond the classroom: Historians, archivists and museums recommend that we all document our experiences this year, if only for ourselves.
Unit 2: The Personal Narrative
While The Times is known for its award-winning journalism, the paper also has a robust tradition of publishing personal essays on topics like love , family , life on campus and navigating anxiety . And on our site, our daily writing prompts have long invited students to tell us their stories, too. Our 2019 collection of 550 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing is a good place to start, though we add more every week during the school year.
In this unit we draw on many of these resources, plus some of the 1,000-plus personal essays from the Magazine’s long-running Lives column , to help students find their own “short, memorable stories ” and tell them well. Our related mentor-text lessons can help them practice skills like writing with voice , using details to show rather than tell , structuring a narrative arc , dropping the reader into a scene and more. This year, we’ll also be including mentor text guided lessons that use the work of the 2019 student winners.
As a final project, we invite students to send finished stories to our Second Annual Personal Narrative Writing Contest .
Unit 3: The Review
Book reports and literary essays have long been staples of language arts classrooms, but this unit encourages students to learn how to critique art in other genres as well. As we point out, a cultural review is, of course, a form of argumentative essay. Your class might be writing about Lizzo or “ Looking for Alaska ,” but they still have to make claims and support them with evidence. And, just as they must in a literature essay, they have to read (or watch, or listen to) a work closely; analyze it and understand its context; and explain what is meaningful and interesting about it.
In our Mentor Texts series , we feature the work of Times movie , restaurant , book and music critics to help students understand the elements of a successful review. In each one of these guided lessons, we also spotlight the work of teenage contest winners from previous years.
As a culminating project, we invite students to send us their own reviews of a book, movie, restaurant, album, theatrical production, video game, dance performance, TV show, art exhibition or any other kind of work The Times critiques.
Unit 4: Informational Writing
Informational writing is the style of writing that dominates The New York Times as well as any other traditional newspaper you might read, and in this unit we hope to show students that it can be every bit as engaging and compelling to read and to write as other genres. Via thousands of articles a month — from front-page reporting on politics to news about athletes in Sports, deep data dives in The Upshot, recipes in Cooking, advice columns in Style and long-form investigative pieces in the magazine — Times journalists find ways to experiment with the genre to intrigue and inform their audiences.
This unit invites students to take any STEM-related discovery, process or idea that interests them and write about it in a way that makes it understandable and engaging for a general audience — but all the skills we teach along the way can work for any kind of informational writing. Via our Mentor Texts series, we show them how to hook the reader from the start , use quotes and research , explain why a topic matters and more. This year we’ll be using the work of the 2020 student winners for additional mentor text lessons.
At the end of the unit, we invite teenagers to submit their own writing to our Second Annual STEM writing contest to show us what they’ve learned.
Unit 5: Argumentative Writing
The demand for evidence-based argumentative writing is now woven into school assignments across the curriculum and grade levels, and you couldn’t ask for better real-world examples than what you can find in The Times Opinion section .
This unit will, like our others, be supported with writing prompts, mentor-text lesson plans, webinars and more. We’ll also focus on the winning teenage writing we’ve received over the six years we’ve run our related contest.
At a time when media literacy is more important than ever, we also hope that our annual Student Editorial Contest can serve as a final project that encourages students to broaden their information diets with a range of reliable sources, and learn from a variety of perspectives on their chosen issue.
To help students working from home, we also have an Argumentative Unit for Students Doing Remote Learning .
Unit 6: Writing for Podcasts
Most of our writing units so far have all asked for essays of one kind or another, but this spring contest invites students to do what journalists at The Times do every day: make multimedia to tell a story, investigate an issue or communicate a concept.
Our annual podcast contest gives students the freedom to talk about anything they want in any form they like. In the past we’ve had winners who’ve done personal narratives, local travelogues, opinion pieces, interviews with community members, local investigative journalism and descriptions of scientific discoveries.
As with all our other units, we have supported this contest with great examples from The Times and around the web, as well as with mentor texts by teenagers that offer guided practice in understanding elements and techniques.
Unit 7: Independent Reading and Writing
At a time when teachers are looking for ways to offer students more “voice and choice,” this unit, based on our annual summer contest, offers both.
Every year since 2010 we have invited teenagers around the world to add The New York Times to their summer reading lists and, so far, 70,000 have. Every week for 10 weeks, we ask participants to choose something in The Times that has sparked their interest, then tell us why. At the end of the week, judges from the Times newsroom pick favorite responses, and we publish them on our site.
And we’ve used our Mentor Text feature to spotlight the work of past winners , explain why newsroom judges admired their thinking, and provide four steps to helping any student write better reader-responses.
Because this is our most open-ended contest — students can choose whatever they like, and react however they like — it has proved over the years to be a useful place for young writers to hone their voices, practice skills and take risks . Join us!
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20 Creative Writing Activities for Middle School
June 10, 2022 // by Stephanie Ledford
Some students are prolific writers, needing no help putting pen to paper and telling their stories. However, there are other students who need a little more direction in order to get their stories out. Whatever the case may be, these 20 creative writing activities for middle school will have all of your students showing their creative prowess.
1. I Am From
After reading the poem "Where I'm From" by George Ella Lyon, have students write their own "I Am From" poems. Using a template, all students will be able to create wonderful poems illustrating their own unique backgrounds.
Learn more: Regents of the University of Minnesota
2. Found Poems
Using the words of others, students create their own "found poems." By taking a snippet here and a line there, they can arrange them in their own creative ways to create new, interesting poems. Reading a book as a class? Have them use the book to create a found poem!
Learn more: Read, Write, Think
After reading "My Name" by Sandra Cisneros , have students create their own name poems. This assignment asks students to connect themselves to something bigger--their families, their cultural, and their historical background. All students will feel like poets after this assignment.
Learn more: Ojanpa
4. Chain Stories
This assignment has each student start with a blank piece of paper. After giving them a writing prompt , every student begins writing a story. After your chosen time limit is up, they stop writing and pass their story to the next person in their group who then has to continue telling the story. When each story returns to its original author, the activity is complete.
Learn more: Creativities ESL
5. Visual Character Sketch
Being able to add depth to a character can be difficult for many students. By allowing a student to create a visual sketch, you are allowing them a different approach to writing a character description.
Learn more: Adobe Education Exchange
6. What If...
"What if" writing prompts are a great way to get students' creative juices flowing. By posing a question, students are given a starting point, and it is up to them what twists and turns their stories will take. Will they write a sad, action-packed, or scary story? The possibilities are endless.
Learn more: The Wolfe's Writing Den
7. Descriptive Writing Prompts
Descriptive writing activities are another way for middle school students to practice their creative writing skills. They can give their descriptions their own unique twists by using their different writing styles to describe common objects. And hey, they might have a different appreciation for the things in their everyday worlds after this assignment!
Learn more: Academic Writing Success
8. Scary Stories
Go through the entire writing process and teach your students how to write scary stories! Before you begin writing, though, read them some (age-appropriate) scary stories to give them the chills and an idea of what is expected in a scary story.
Learn more: Keep 'em Thinking
9. Daily Journal Writing
There is no better way to improve students' writing abilities than to do daily writing. Each day, give students a different prompt and allow them to write for fifteen minutes. After, allow them the opportunity to share their story with their peers or the class.
Learn more: Daily Teaching Tools
10. So Much Depends Upon...
" The Red Wheel Barrow "--such a simple yet eloquent poem. Following this lesson plan, your students will be able to write their own simple yet eloquent poems and feel like accomplished writers.
Learn more: NYLearns
11. An Ode to...
Reluctant writers are often intimidated by complicated writing ideas. By using a template like the one pictured above, your students will all be able to feel like poets as they create their own odes about a person, place, or thing.
Learn more: Crafting Connections
12. Story Starters
Story starters are a great way to help students begin their stories. If you have a digital classroom, the Scholastic story starter page is great because it can formulate much different writing prompts, helping engage all students.
Learn more: Scholastic
13. My Time Machine Trip
What is everyday life like in 1902? How about in 2122? Have students write stories about their experiences traveling through time using the attached worksheet. For those that need a little extra help, allow them to research time periods so they have an idea of what life was like then.
Learn more: K12 Reader
14. Writing and Math
This is a great assignment for a math class! Using the provided instructions, students are to write a story that explains to their boss the math they used while delivering packages. Since this assignment asks them to cover specific math concepts, make sure you cover them in class first (or hand this assignment to a math teacher and let them have at it!).
Learn more: Dr. Hamblin
15. How to Bake Cookies for Santa
Seasonal writing activities are a great way to get kids excited around the holidays! One way to get descriptive paragraphs out of your students is through these instructions on how to bake cookies for Santa. The great thing about this assignment is all levels of writers can participate. Those that are more advanced can provide more details and struggling writers can still feel accomplished by explaining the cookie-making process!
Learn more: Teachers Pay Teachers
16. Diary Entry of a Literary Character
Another favorite among creative writing ideas is having students write diary entries in the voice of a character from literature. This can be a character from a book you read as a class or from a book they read on their own. Either way, it will showcase their creative writing skills and their knowledge of the character!
Learn more: Banana Magic
17. Write a Rant
Writing a rant is a good assignment to use when you are trying to teach about the different voices we use when writing. When writing a rant, you are going to use an angrier, more aggressive voice than if you were writing a children's story. This is a great warm-up to get students ready to write persuasive essays.
Learn more: Teachers and Writers Magazine
18. Write a Newspaper Story
After reading through some newspapers to get ideas on how newspaper articles are formatted, have each of your students write their own article. When they are all done, you can compile a classroom newspaper!
Learn more: Nie Online
19. Coat of Arms
Studying Shakespeare? Maybe European countries where it was common to have a Coat of Arms? If so, this assignment is perfect for your class. Have students create a coat of arms and then write a few paragraphs explaining their choices.
20. A Letter to Yourself
Have students write letters to their future selves. Give them specific questions to answer like "where do you see yourself in five years? Are you happy with your life? Is there anything you would change?" And then in five years, mail the letters to their parents!
Learn more: Ms. Carota
Five Creative Writing Lesson Plans for Middle & High School Students
A Poem About Joy:
In this lesson plan, inspired by Ross Gay's "Sorrow Is Not My Name," Teré Fowler-Chapman asks young poets to come up with a list of things that bring them joy and then write a poem inspired by one of the items on that list. The writing exercise, which is a fantastic way to bring social-emotional learning into the classroom, is preceded by a conversation on Gay's poetics and on how joy can exist even in times of sorrow.
Saraiya Kanning, inspired by Wang Ping's "Things We Carry on the Sea," asks young writers to, "contemplate how migration has played out in their own lives, including the lives of their families." This multi-part lesson plan includes a word association game, a discussion of Ping's poem, and a group poem in which students answer the question, "What sort of things have been carried across land, sea, or even across time?" collaboratively. After this, they write their own individual poems, using a series of questions to jump start their creativity, and then craft art pieces using popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners and/or puff paint to trace paths across the surface of their chosen canvas (Kanning used cake board!). This lesson can be shortened or spread out over class periods as part of a unit on immigration and migration.
Rare Bird Erasure:
"Erasure poems use words from another source to create a new poem," Saraiya Kanning writes in this lesson plan, which uses the field guide Rare and Elusive Birds of North America as a source text from which young writers create their own pieces (although you're welcome to use any book you'd like!). Each student receives a photocopied page from the book and goes on a "treasure hunt," selecting 5-10 words that in some way connect to one another. After creating their erasure poem, students can decorate the page with art materials to "create images, patterns, or designs around the words." This lesson plan includes a note on modifications for student with visual impairments.
Titles: Art on their Own:
So often in creative writing, the titling process is overlooked but important: as Sophie Daws says, "Writing a title can feel like putting the cherry on top of your great poem or it can feel like walking on eggshells, where the wrong title could ruin the whole poem and you just can’t come up with the right one!" This lesson plan, drawn from her high school zine residency, uses six prompts to offer a guided approach to coming up with a title for a finished project, from one that asks students to write down their favorite line to another that encourages them to think of how a title can add another tone or angle to their work.
Found Art Handmade Books:
Taylor Johnson bridges creative writing and visual art in this lesson plan, which focuses on crafting handmade books from recycled materials. Johnson suggests using everything from old postcards to yarn to insect wings to create a publication that's truly one of a kind. As far as words go, students can either add something they've previously written to their books whole cloth or cut up bits of their old writing and "remix" it. After the books are done, Johnson suggests creating a classroom library or exhibit for students to browse one another's books.
Image from the Boston Public Library.
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15 Classified Ads We Hope Had Happy Endings Writing prompt: choose one of these historical ads and construct a narrative that supports it. Include characters, location, and other necessary details. (Teachers may wish to check the ads for appropriateness.)
20 Mystical Bridges That Will Take You To Another World Creative writing prompt: "I walked across the bridge and ..." The photographs of real bridges on this page are astonishingly beautiful. However, the page also carries ads that may not be appropriate for the classroom. Consider copying the photographs into a new file for classroom use.
27 Magical Paths Begging To Be Walked Photographs of beautiful paths all over the world, showing a variety of seasons and geography, just waiting to inspire a poem or serve as the setting for a short story. Note: this page carries ads that may not be appropriate for the classroom. Consider copying the photographs into a new file for classroom use.
The 100-Word Challenge In this activity students respond to a prompt using not more than 100 words. Writing is posted on a class blog, where responses are invited. The activity encourages regular writing for an authentic audience. It's designed for students 16 and under.
Adding Emotions to your Story A good lesson on adding detail, "exploding" an incident, and "show, don't tell." It includes handouts and is designed for grades 3-5.
After the First Draft: 30 Fast, Easy Writing Tips for the Second Draft This 37-page document is designed for writers of novels, but many of the tips apply equally to writers of short stories. Clear, simple, and easy to read, appropriate for 5th or 6th grade (in places) and up. Adobe Reader required for access.
All Together Now: Collaborations in Poetry Writing Students write a line of poetry in response to something the teacher reads. Their lines, together, form a poem. This unit is designed for grades K-2.
Bernadette Mayer's List of Journal Ideas A list of journal topics that will work on multiple grade levels. Scroll down for a list of "Writing Experiments" that will work well in a creative writing unit.
The Book of Butterflies by Michael Leunig (Scroll down on the page.) This short (1:06) video explores the question "What happens when a book comes to life?" It will work well on almost any grade level.
By the Old Mill Stream A creative writing prompt, differentiated for elementary and middle and high school students. Students begin writing a narrative. In the second part of the prompt, they write a description.
Calling on the Muse: Exercises to Unlock the Poet Within From Education World.
Can You Haiku? from EdSitement Complete lesson plans for writing haiku, links to additional material.
Character Name Generator Choose ethnicity, decade of birth, and gender, and this site will generate an appropriate name and a possible character description.
Characterization in Literature and Theater Students explore various methods authors use to create effective characters. Students will consider what makes a character believable and create their own characterizations. They will also write a short script using the characters they created and act out the script.
The Clues to a Great Story One-page handout with 5 essential elements for good storytelling. Uses "The Ugly Duckling" and more contemporary stories for examples.
The Color of Love In this lesson students will be invited to reflect on a variety of colors and the pleasurable things that those colors invoke. They then will write a poem about someone they love following Barbara Joosse's style in I Love You the Purplest .
Creating Characters Students examine character as a significant element of fiction. They learn several methods of characterization, identify and critique these methods in well-known works of fiction, and use the methods in works of their own. Students also identify, examine, evaluate, and use the elements dialogue and point of view as methods of characterization.
Creative State of Mind: Focusing on the Writing Process In this lesson, students examine the lyrics of rap artist Jay-Z for literary elements including rhyme, metaphor, puns and allusions, then consider what he says about his own writing process. Finally, they analyze additional lyrics and apply lessons from Jay-Z's process to their own reading and writing.
The Cutting Edge: Exploring How Editing Affects an Author's Work Students examine the writing of short-story author Raymond Carver as well as their own writing to explore how editing can affect the text, content and context of an author's work.
Save 10% today on your lessons using the code GIVEME10
Why Teach Middle School Creative Writing?
Middle school creative writing sometimes gets a bad rap. It is often seen as less serious and less important than many other types of writing. This is too bad because frequent and directed creative writing can offer significant benefits to your students and curriculum.
Let’s talk about a few of the benefits of teaching middle school creative writing.
Benefit One: It Gets Pencil to Paper (or Fingers on the Keyboard)
One of the biggest challenges for many students when beginning to write is just getting started. Blank pages and structured essays can be intimidating! By frequently writing in forms that don’t overwhelm our students right off the bat, we make writing a habit – one that can then be transferred to other forms and types of writing.
Benefit Two: It’s Fun
Middle school creative writing is seen by many students as something that is (relatively) enjoyable and exciting to do. They can tell stories of their own choosing and from their own imaginations in their own ways and own words.
Encouraging students to think of ELA class and writing specifically as enjoyable makes students more excited (or at least less reluctant) about doing forms of writing that they consider less enjoyable.
Benefit Three: Insight
Students will often reveal things in their writing that they won’t reveal in other ways allowing you to gain valuable insight into your students that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
This can be anything from their favourite books and movies to their dreams about the future. Writing allows the internal thoughts and ideas of that kid who never says a word in class to show through. Depending on what types of assignments you give, it allows students of all types to explore diverse ideas, thoughts, situations, and adventures right in your classroom.
Benefit Four: It’s an Art Form
Lastly, middle school creative writing is an art form. And while sometimes this consideration gets tossed by the wayside in the same way that music, theatre, and art education do, art is an important component of culture. Without it, society loses something integral to the way we think and exist. You never know what future author you might have in your class. And even if you are not teaching a future author, art is something that benefits us all.
Premade Middle School Creative Writing Lessons
Like all worthwhile endeavours, teaching creative writing is not usually as simple as telling your students to “Go, write me a story.” Luckily, there are many great resources out there to help you. I have created a few creative writing resources that will help you spark writing excitement in your students.
Start with this Pet Memes Narrative Writing Assignment. It is a wonderful way to teach narrative writing and encourage your students’ creative side. In it, students will first create pet memes by captioning photos of pets with speech bubbles. Then they will take one of their favourite pet photos and write a day-in-the-life narrative piece about that pet. Learn more about this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD .
Creative Writing Prompts and Activities
These no-prep Creative Writing Prompts and Activities will get your students excited about writing. These prompts are a fantastic way to incorporate student voice and choice into your lessons and can be used as stand-alone assignments, sub plans, enrichment tasks, as part of a writer’s workshop, or integrated with your ELA writing lessons. Learn more about this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD .
Creative Writing Full Year Bundle
If you are looking for something a bit more comprehensive, this Creative Writing Full Year Bundle might be just the thing for you. This collection of prompts and activities includes holiday and seasonal prompts as well as multiple creative writing assignments and optional grading rubrics for you to use. I like to double-sided photocopy the seasonal prompt on one side and the holiday prompt on the other. This gives students lots of choices and students who want to celebrate a holiday can – otherwise, they can use a seasonal prompt. Learn more about this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD .
Hopefully, you have been inspired to teach creative writing in middle school with your students.
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Creative Writing Prompts For Middle School Students
Creative Writing Prompts for middle school students is a fun list to help unmotivated and uninspired students use their imagination. Do you know one of the major reasons why students struggle with their writing growth is a lack of inspiration and guidance? This can result in low creative thinking leading to lower-quality work and poor confidence.
With these creative writing prompts specifically tailored to middle school students, you’ll have a starting point for your writing. There’s nothing like a spark of inspiration to get you going! Do you need more structured guidance from Oxbridge tutors to give you a massive boost in your creative writing skills? Check out our most in-demand creative writing summer school !
Are you ready to dive in and feel inspired by exciting writing prompt ideas? Read on!
The Best Writing Prompts for Middle School
Before getting started, you may want to delve deeper into some creative writing examples to get into the swing of things. If you’ve done that, then here are a few of the best writing prompts for middle school students that help spark creativity:
- Who’s your favourite character in a book? Try journaling from the character’s perspective.
- What topic are you passionate about? Write a persuasive essay on the topic.
- Think about your favourite place on Planet Earth. Write a descriptive essay about it.
- Write a story that begins with the sentence, “It was a dark and stormy night.”
- If you had a time machine, where you would go and what you would do.
- Recall a memorable emotion or experience. Write a poem about it.
- Think about a current event you find interesting. Write a news article about it.
- Who would you approach if you could ask for advice from anyone, living or dead? Write them a letter.
- Imagine you’re an astronaut travelling through space. Write a journal entry about your experience.
- What’s one of the most memorable moments in your life? Write a personal narrative about it.
- Write a short story about a character who overcomes a challenge or obstacle.
- What topic did you learn about recently? Write an informative essay about it.
- Write a fictional diary entry from the point of view of a historical figure.
- What specific animal do you find beautiful? Write a descriptive poem about it.
- Describe your hopes and dreams for the next five years via a letter to your future self.
- Imagine that you are stranded on a deserted island. Write a story about your experience.
- Write a scene in a play in an unusual setting.
- What place would you like to visit? Write a descriptive paragraph about it.
- Write a personal reflection about a significant event or experience and what you have learned from it.
- What’s your favourite animal? Write a fictional story from your fave animal’s perspective.
Creative Story Ideas: 34 Story Starters and Prompts for Middle Schoolers
- A magical pen that brings drawings to life
- A group of friends find a hidden treasure map.
- A world where animals can talk
- A robot who develops human emotions
- A strange creature is discovered in the depths of the ocean.
- A character who can see into the future
- A young detective solves a series of mysterious crimes.
- Teenage superhero navigates the challenges of middle school while saving the world.
- A group of middle school students stumble upon a secret government experiment.
- The magical kingdom is hidden in a scary forest.
- A vengeful ghost haunts the basketball court at a small school.
- Time-travel adventure to the Wild West 100 years ago.
- Friends have to save their town from a massive alien invasion.
- A character who learns to communicate with animals to save them from illegal hunters.
- A future world where AI technology controls everything.
- A distraught character who can control time and tries to change their past.
- Four teenagers go on a survival camping trip that turns into a nightmare.
- The magical creature must find a way back home against the efforts of evil humans who want to use its powers for their own purposes.
- A young girl discovers she was born 500 years ago.
- An orphan wakes up with no memory of who they are until they accidentally stumble upon an oddly familiar house.
- Students accidentally open a portal to another dimension and try to find their way back home fast because their final exam is a week away.
- A terrifying monster lives beneath the city streets. So why did it start terrorising the city all of a sudden?
- A gamer gets stuck in a video game. How can said gamer get out? Do they even want to?
- A middle school student starts having foreboding dreams that come true. What is the universe trying to warn them?
- Students attend a school for monster-slaying magic. So what monsters are they fighting against?
- A group of kids discover a secret underground society they must fight to save modern civilisation.
- An old man saves his town from a natural disaster in 13 minutes.
- The dragon wakes up from a century-long slumber. Only to discover it’s the only one left.
- The robot becomes self-aware and must navigate human emotions.
- A young inventor creates a machine that can read minds for a sinister purpose.
- A magical place where everyone has a special ability gets tangled up in a civil war.
- Supernatural mystery in an old, abandoned mansion that can save the world from a looming threat.
- A haunted amusement park contains secrets that can solve a criminal case.
- A young scientist creates a potion that can make people fly.
- An evil character can control the elements. How will the average human hero stop them?
Writing Prompts for Stories That Start with Dialogue for Middle Schoolers
- “I can’t believe you did that,” John says to his best friend. Write a story about what John’s best friend did.
- “I wish I could go back in time and change everything,” laments Jane. Write a story about Jane’s regrets. What would she do differently if given a chance?
- “I found something bizarre in the backyard,” said Tom to his sister. Write a story about what Tom found. How did the discovery change their lives?
- “I can’t do this anymore!” screamed Sarah to her parents. What is Sarah complaining about? How did her parents react?
- “I’m going to run away,” whispers Michael to his classmates. Why does Michael plan on running away? What happens when he does?
- “I knew you were hiding something,” said Jack to his friend. Write a story about Jack’s discovery and how it affects their friendship.
- Blake cries to her family, “I’m not who you think I am!”
- Write a story about how Alex stands up for himself against a bully. Starting with this line: “I’m not going to take it anymore,”
- “I think we might be lost,” whimpers Lucy to her friends. Where are Lucy and her friends? Why did they get lost in the first place?
- Ryan is grappling with a massive decision. Begin the story with “I think this is a sign.”
- The principal walks through the hallway, saying to Teacher Clare, “Help your students cope with the recent tragedy that plagued our halls.” What happened?
General Creative Writing Ideas for Middle School Students
Here is a list of prompts to get those creative juices flowing:
- Talk about a time you were so happy you wish the moment would last forever.
- You went to art class with a blind friend. How would you describe the painting to them? Use descriptive words.
- If you could go on your dream vacation today, what would it be like?
- Make a list of the most thought-provoking questions you can come up with.
- You’re about to meet your favourite celebrity. What interview questions would you ask them?
- If you could choose what happens next in your life until death, what will your story look like?
- Imagine how your favourite pet was created and use procedural writing to describe the process.
- If you were to insert yourself in a book you read, how would you change the story?
Want more fun writing prompts ? Check these out! Write a/an:
- Short story about reluctant writers whose writing changes the world.
- Acrostic poem about friendship or love.
- Science fiction story about a futuristic world where your favourite toy is a legendary weapon with fearsome power.
- Letter that will help inspire your past self when you were in a difficult part in your life.
- Personal narrative about a memorable event from your childhood.
- Descriptive paragraph about a person you admire.
- Write a horror science fiction story about a world where technology is advanced beyond our current understanding.
- Background story for your least favourite side character.
- List of the benefits of writing. Use persuasive writing
- Instructional essay on how to make a magical portal.
- Mystery story where the main character finds the missing heirloom of an ancient noble family.
- Story about a boy who became a millionaire because of a video game idea.
- Personal letter to a historical figure, asking questions or seeking advice.
- Descriptive poem about a specific season or weather.
- Story about time travel and the consequences of changing the past.
- Fun story about a cross-country road trip you would like to take.
- Story about a character who is an outsider and how they find a sense of belonging.
- Terrifying story about a person haunted by a past event and how they come to terms with it.
- Heroic story about a character who journeys to discover their true identity.
- Persuasive letter to a public figure expressing your thoughts on a current issue
Journaling Prompts for Middle School Writing
Here are journal prompts for middle school kids:
- Describe your hometown.
- What’s your favourite season, and why?
- What are your greatest fears? Do you want to overcome them? Why or why not?
- Where would you go if you could go anywhere?
- Write a descriptive paragraph about your favourite food and why you like it.
- What’s the meaning of your life? Use reflective writing.
- What’s your favourite food and what does it remind you of?
- If you won the lottery today, what would you buy?
- Do you have a pet dog? How do you feel about your furry friend?
- Choose one event in your life you wish didn’t happen. Why?
- What’s your dream dinner party?
- Would you rather become a normal person or a superhero? Why?
- Who would you call first when you’re in a dangerous situation?
- When was the time you felt most peaceful? Describe what was happening.
- Do you enjoy story writing? Why or why not?
- What are your top 3 greatest accomplishments so far?
- If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
- What’s the most embarrassing experience you’ve had?
- If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? Why?
- What’s your dream job? Why?
- Describe your ideal friend.
- Imagine you are stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want to have with you?
- Write about a time you tried something new and what you learned from the experience.
- What’s the most beautiful movie science you’ve seen? Describe it.
- If you could invent any item, what features would it have? And what is its purpose?
If you feel like challenging yourself then check out our high school creative writing prompts .
There you have it – a fun list of favourite writing prompts for middle schoolers to enjoy. What are your favourite ideas to write so far? And,
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