Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Breaking Writer's Block (Junior Version!)

Hello, Teaching Friends!

We've all had those students in our classes - children who day after day say that they have nothing to write about. You know how the conversation goes...

You say, "How about writing about that book we just read?". She says, "I don't remember."

You say, "You could write about recess. What did you do on the playground today?" She says, "Nothing."

So you say, "You were telling us this morning that you're going to get a new pet soon, right?". And of course she says...

You know what she says. We've all been there.

I really like the idea of expecting students to come up with their own writing topics right from the beginning. It builds their independence, forces them to be reflective and plan ahead, builds their confidence (they really can come up with their own ideas, you know), and ... it eliminates a lot of time wasted on conversations like the one above! :)

All of that being said, there are good reasons to offer your students a topic once in a while, whether it's content area writing, teaching a genre or writing trait, even just preparing for the dreaded state tests. Kids really do need to learn how to respond to a writing prompt.

If you're in the last days of your school year or maybe getting started with summer school, it just might be that you're meeting with a bit more reluctance to write than usual. Here are a few
FREEBIES for your arsenal of ideas to break down the walls of writer's block!

The first weapon of attack is picture prompts. Give your students something very specific to write about, but keep the theme well within their current interests and give lots of support. This picture prompt page provides a word bank and a few questions to get your writers started... and the note at the bottom of the page cuts off excuses before they can even be spoken!

"Take Me Out to the Ballgame!" is one of three prompts in this set. They're suitable for displaying on your interactive board, or you might choose to print them for use in your writing center. Click on the image to collect your set at my blog.

Second on the list of block breakers is fancy paper. Pretty sophisticated name for it, huh? But, it often works, because everyone, right down to the youngest writer, appreciates variety. Your students will add to a picture to complete an illustration of their choice (ice cream truck, fishing, roasting marshmallows, beach scene, lemonade stand, etc.) and then write about it. You can get this set of 14 templates directly at Google Drive by clicking the image.

The last item in the bag of tricks often works because it offers choices to student writers. "Summer Character and Setting Cards" is another free set that you can pick up at Google Drive. It consists of eight character cards and eight setting cards, so your students will mix and match lot of crazy combos for their writing, like a crocodile on a roller coaster or a penguin chick at the ice cream store. Just silly enough to get your reluctant writers giggling... and thinking... and writing!

I sure do hope that these free resources will keep your students actively writing, and enjoying it, too!
Thanks for spending time here at Teaching Blog Roundup today! Please stop by my Primary Inspiration blog for lots more ideas and freebies for your primary grade classroom.



  1. Hi Linda!

    I love your suggestion of using picture prompts--especially ones that are related to the child's interests!! I've had one too many conversations like you've described. :) Thank you for sharing!

    Little Miss Primary

  2. You're very welcome, Erin! Conversations like that become kind of a game, I think, with the child coming out the winner nearly every time. But with a distraction like a cool high-interest prompt, sometimes you can draw students into a pre-writing conversation without them even realizing it!

    Thanks so much for commenting!

  3. Thanks for sharing your great FREEBIE. I love using picture prompts with my students, I have not done so for a long time though. Your post has inspired me to dig out some of my old faves and use them, as I still have 20 days of school to go! Hope you have wonderful weekend!

    1. You're welcome, Mrs. M! I have a few other seasonal sets at my TPT store and at Primary Inspiration. There are a few free ones there, too. Enjoy!
      Good luck in your last weeks of school. You're not alone, by the way... most of the schools around here in NJ still have two or three more weeks, too.

  4. Great ideas and materials. Thank you so much for sharing!!
    Pirate Girl's Education Invasion

    1. You're welcome, Merinda! Thanks for stopping by Teaching Blog Roundup!


  5. Awesome ideas!! This is just wow! Great ways to get a child start writing. Looking forward to more ideas in the private junior school level.