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16 Meaningful Writing Activities that Engage Students

Looking for writing assignments middle and high school students actually enjoy? Yes! You’re in the right place for exploring relevant, integrated, and visually engaging writing activities.

Engaging Writing Activities for Middle School and High School

When most teachers announce a new writing activity, students typically reply with moans, groans, or a sudden onset of stomach flu that requires a pass to the nurse's office  right now . Which is your favorite response when you announce your middle or high school students will have the privilege to do some writing in your class? No teacher wants to bore or overwhelm students. Of course, we want to engage them, but writing is….well…an essential skill.

“Maybe essays are an antiquated practice,” someone recently commented in an online community. As I continued to read, I felt my brows furrow, my heart squeeze.

Effective communication in formal settings is extremely important. Students need to be prepared to identify their opinions, support them with solid evidence, identify counterclaims, synthesize ideas, and do it all in both formal and informal contexts.

While it would certainly be the easy thing to do, we can’t just throw essays out like bell bottom pants. Sometimes, students need to develop some grit. Essays? They help them to develop confidence, to think deeply, to take charge of their learning.

Literary analysis responses and argumentative essays are pillars of the secondary ELA curriculum.

Yet, part of the trick to helping students learn to enjoy writing is to build their confidence and stamina with smaller writing assignments that allow for more flexibility. After all, writing should also be a creative buzz that tugs at students’ emotions and provides them with an authentic audience.

Teachers should never feel like they have to sacrifice helping to cultivate a love for writing because of the demanding nature of more formal, academic writing. We really can live in the best of both worlds.

So, what types of writing activities do most middle and high school students actually enjoy? I’ll share my top 5 categories ( and 16 specific activities! ) of writing lessons that make students smile.

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Make writing relevant by connecting it to the real world.


Totally over rude, unaddressed student emails? I used to be offended, and then it dawned on me: They just don’t know. Students generally aren’t aware of their tone, let alone how to fix it.

So, I made a fun email etiquette unit to help give students a taste of real-world writing. Here’s what Sarah had to say about this lesson:

“Engaging, but more importantly: this resulted in much better emails from my students.”

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Picture this. Energetic lyrics fill the air as students listen, think critically, and analyze them. Or, students snap a photo of a page from an independent reading book, grinning as they annotate it with gifs, text, emojis, and more.

Spotify and Snapchat are extremely popular apps for students. So, let them channel those passions by creating booksnaps to make connections with a text or or playlists to capture the overarching theme of their year .

Moncada validates the power of tapping into social media for engagement with her review:

“Just what I was looking for to get my students fully engaged. In this era of instagram and snapchat, this tool is going to be a great addition to my lessons! Thanks!”

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Students: When are we ever going to use this?!

You: Now, we are going to use this now. Because…grammar transfers to writing. That’s why we study it!

Grammar is most meaningful when students can both see and apply grammar lessons in their daily writing. A few of my favorite grammar lessons to teach (because they are interactive and provide multiple, scaffolded learning angles) are commas , prepositional phrases , and sentence types .

And, if you want students to go back and apply grammar to writing they’ve already completed, this free grammar in writing game is perfect for revision sessions!

There’s just something rewarding about working your patootie off, knowing you have learned a challenging skill, and then observing the growth as you apply the skill to something that matters.

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4. POETRY Visuals

Reading poetry with students allows us to address several standards. For example, we can analyze complex texts, determine theme, evaluate mood and tone, and assess figurative language.

Unfortunately, the fact that we can address standards doesn’t impress students. So, what can we do to help them enjoy writing poetry or writing in response to it?

One way we can lure them in is by incorporating music and color. Think about tone and mood as being symbolic. What if we put them through a musical equalizer? I use a graphic organizer to help them visualize the mood and tone at different points throughout the text. Because of the color and the visual nature of the organizer, students can see how mood and tone change. Next? They write in response. What causes these fluctuations? How do the literary elements work together and influence one another?

Students DO enjoy poetry-related writing assignments. Try texting couplets (great for practicing rhythm and rhyme!), picture-inspired poetry (visuals are the best), and nonfiction-inspired poetry (because bringing a little creativity to informational texts changes everything).

Vocabulary in Writing.jpeg


The source said the health effects are good. [Sigh]

Tired of reading trite sentences? Helping students to bring life to their word choice in writing is inspiring for all. When I teach word choice lessons using class vocabulary, students experience one of the main reasons we study language. Plus, developing an appreciation for words results in a more curious life that connects to reading and writing.

One of my favorite word choice mini lessons involves bell ringers, word walls, and replacing cliches and colloquialisms with more formal, academic vocabulary.

Plus, you can have students use their vocabulary words in a variety of short creative and informative writing assignments that are not overwhelming for students or teachers but that allow for integration of vocabulary study with writing.

I can 100% relate to what this teacher shared after using these vocabulary in writing activities:

“I love how these activities get the students writing, and isn't that the whole purpose of teaching vocabulary…to ultimately get the students to use the words in their writing? Great activities and my students are enjoying using them.”

Out with the moans, groans, frustration, and suddenly urgent trips to the moon or anywhere outside of the classroom. Meaningful and engaging writing assignments include a dash of real-world, relevant writing opportunities, a pinch of skill transfer, and a sprinkling of creative freedom.

Let’s elevate students’ writing experiences while meeting standards. But, don’t forget to balance tough, academic-style writing with some more flexible options that will engage students and keep them thinking outside the box.


20 ways to engage middle and high school students, 3 high-interest writing assignments, 9 writing activities to use with any shakespeare play , spotlight resource:.

Teach students how to integrate all four sentence structures purposefully in writing with these engaging grammar and writing lessons . Perfect for scaffolding!

Engaging Sentence Types Grammar and Writing Unit


Melissa is the author of Reading and Writing Haven  and a collaborative blogger on . 

A middle and high school English teacher for over a decade now turned instructional coach, Melissa is an avid reader and writer, and she loves sharing ideas and collaborating with fellow educators. Melissa use her degrees in English, Curriculum & Instruction, and Reading as well as her Reading Specialist certification to ponder today’s educational issues while developing resources to help teachers, students, and parents make learning more relevant, meaningful, and engaging.

Visit Melissa on Instagram ,  Facebook , or Twitter  for English teacher camaraderie and practical, engaging teaching ideas.

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4 Engaging Writing Tasks for High School Students

Short, authentic writing tasks can encourage high school students to compose richer long pieces.

writing activities high school

It’s quite likely that many of your students dislike writing. After all, they’re often expected to compose lengthy pieces that typically require lots of brainstorming, researching, planning, outlining, drafting, revising, and editing—and that can be exhausting. My class of high school boys had the same attitude, and their short, underdeveloped, and passionless pieces were most telling. I had to overhaul my approach.

During my quest for an alternative practice, I quickly learned that by building students’ knowledge about the topic on which they are expected to compose, and by initially assigning them shorter and more authentic writing tasks, we can successfully motivate them to write longer, richer, and more compelling multiparagraph pieces. Yes, baby steps—from a creep to a stable walk—can work wonders.

Incorporate Knowledge-Building Activities

Judith Hochman and Natalie Wexler said it best in  The Writing Revolution: A Guide to Advancing Thinking Through Writing in All Subjects and Grades : “Writing and content knowledge are intimately related. You can’t write well about something you don’t know well. The more students know about a topic before they begin to write, the better they will be able to write about it.”

Documentaries, podcasts, TED Talks, and other authentic and engaging audiovisuals can facilitate this knowledge building. Field trips, as well as interviews with relevant community-based experts, can also offer students significant fodder for their writing.

Moreover, when students have interesting discoveries to share, they’ll be excited about the writing tasks, and their compositions are likely to be longer, more detailed, more affecting, and more compelling. Because they have a rich knowledge bank, they’re less likely to get stuck and frustrated as they write. Knowledge stimulates ideas.

But information gathering is not all. It’s also important to show students how to use the newly learned content. We don’t want them to plagiarize information or inadvertently silence their own voices by over-quoting others. Their research should enhance what they write, not substitute for their initial thoughts or suppress their creativity.

What can you do then?

Go beyond lessons in citation format. Model, through write-aloud, how to make decisions about the content included in written work, how to paraphrase and summarize from the original source, and how to ensure that the added content actually strengthens what you already have.

Offer Authentically Rooted Writing Assignments

Finally, make sure that the writing assignments are authentic—with realistic, real-world communicative goals and true-to-life audiences (not just the classroom teacher). Here are some suggestions that you can implement in your teaching practice:

Travel blogs:  Take students on virtual field trips. Nearpod , Google Earth, and YouTube are excellent for this. Following this activity, have students write a blog post to describe the place they visited. If your students have visited resorts or attraction sites locally, they could write about that experience, recommend activities for prospective visitors, and simultaneously persuade them to visit when it is safe to do so.

Their insights might even persuade others to travel to this site. Students could use pictures to supplement their writing. They could also convert their written piece into a mini-video production for a real or imagined YouTube channel that promotes exotic getaways. Their composition would become the audio narration, and, with some background reggae, R & B, or any other culturally popular music, their piece would be beautifully transformed into a riveting marketing pitch.

Movie reviews:  Due to the pandemic, we know that many of our students may be watching far more movies than ever before. Therefore, let’s repurpose this social activity and use what they love or do for pleasure to help them refine a key academic skill. Have students write a review of their most recently watched or favorite film.

Prompt them to provide a summary of the movie, share their impressions of major characters and the plot’s unfolding, and examine the techniques used to create suspense and mounting tension. Later, when they’re writing their own narratives or putting on drama productions, they can adopt and adapt some of these techniques.

Song or music video reviews: Some students enjoy listening to music, so a song or music video review could also motivate them and facilitate interest-based differentiation. State where the review may be published—a local tabloid, a social media page, etc. Have students keep that in mind as they write so that their finished pieces are authentic and fitting for the context and audience intended.

Social media:  Based on your content area, you could have students make discipline-specific posts and write related captions. For instance, if you are looking at rocks in geography or soil types in science, have students photograph different types and post related descriptive or explanatory captions. They’ll be learning and teaching concurrently.

Provide Mentor Texts

These activities are exciting, but before you scuttle off to assign them, find or create models of the kinds of writing that you want your students to produce. Discuss the sample by prompting students to keenly attend to the content and the writer’s craft (style and techniques) throughout the piece.

Finally, make arrangements to have your students publish their pieces—through a safe online space or through an in-school magazine or newsletter—for authenticity at its finest.

Ideas, Inspiration, and Giveaways for Teachers

We Are Teachers

10 Fresh Writing Prompts for High School English

They won’t be able to put their pens down.

Betsy Potash

By the time students walk in the door of our secondary ELA classrooms, they’re not exactly new to writing assignments. They’ve done autobiographies. Short stories. Love stories. Scary stories. They’ve journaled and summarized and analyzed. So how do we bring the spark back into writing for them? What can we secondary teachers offer in terms of fresh and exciting writing prompts and assignments? Here are 10 writing prompts for high school students to get them excited about writing in the new year.

1. The TED Talk

There are a lot of amazing TED Talks out there that students love. Launch a TED Talk unit by showing this one, from Tim Urban, called “ Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator .” Talk about what makes it powerful. Have students create TED Talks of their own, sharing a startling story, a piece of wisdom, or an idea from their own lives. Wrap it all up with a mock TED conference at your school, inviting parents, other classes, and administrators, if you wish.

2. Video Writing Prompts

If you’re looking for some unusual, short and sweet writing options, check out John Spencer’s  Creative Writing Prompts for Students playlist.  It features short videos meant to inspire students to think in creative ways. With clips like “What Are Five Things You Want Your Teacher to Know About You?” and “Invent a New Class,” these short pieces can also help you learn more about your writers.

3. Love Poems

What teenager doesn’t harbor some (not so) secret crush? Creating a unit around great love poems, both canonical and modern (e.g. spoken word poetry like this ), will help students get excited about writing their own love poems. Explore various forms, from haiku to sonnet to totally free expression, then create a class anthology of love poems, including both the greats and selections from your own writers.

4. Graduation Speeches

We’ve all sat in the audience of a graduation and wondered what we would talk about if we were on stage speaking. Give students the chance to find out. As the year comes to a close, invite them to write their own charge to the graduating class. What would they say to inspire the seniors? Something to make them laugh? Something to make them cry? Consider having your class vote on the top three pieces and printing them to give to the graduates.

5. Choice Blogging

Students always perk up for an authentic audience and a connection to the real world. Introduce them to one of the many free blogging platforms and let them blog about a topic that truly interests them. Choice blogging makes a great genius-hour option. You can devote one day a week (or every other week) to letting students write about their passions on their own blogs, simply by assigning a different topic each week. Start with list posts, review posts, news posts, video posts, and top-ten posts. Eventually, you can let them choose their own format, as long as they produce a post each week. You can find a full walk-through for setting up this type of project in my own blog post, “ A Beginner’s Guide to Student Blogging .”

6. Fold and Pass

When you try the fold and pass, you’re guaranteed to end up with some very surprising stories. Ask each student to begin a story on a blank piece of paper, introducing a main character. After a while, have them stop and fold their paper then trade with another student. You want the next person to only be able to see the last couple of lines of the beginning. In this next round, everyone will write the middle of the story, taking the character into some kind of conflict before moving the story toward resolution. Finally, have those students fold their papers so only a few lines are visible and trade with another student. When the next writers begin, let them know that they should bring the stories to an end. Then they should return the story to the original writer. The results will no doubt make everyone laugh. This is a great activity for when students need a bit of a break but you still want to keep them writing and building community in your classroom.


This writing assignment is not for the faint of heart! The NANOWRIMO challenge invites anyone interested in writing a novel to do so in one month (November). If you’re interested in exploring this ambitious mission with your students, their  site  is full of helpful information. You could also do a spin-off, asking students to write a novella in a month or perhaps a short story a day for seven days. Take the idea of a big and exciting challenge and make it work for your classroom.

8. “This I Believe” Essays

If you’ve never heard NPR’s old radio series “This I Believe,” it’s a great listen. People from around the country sent in short essays expressing a core belief, which could be as funny and simple as: I believe in the pizza delivery guy. Along with sharing a belief, writers gave specific, vibrant examples of why they held that belief and how they came to have it. It’s an easy format that helps students develop their ability to support claims and write with specific and powerful descriptions. NPR has already created a complete curriculum that is ready and waiting for you to use.

9. Letters to Students Far, Far Away

Several years ago, I taught in Bulgaria, and I loved connecting my students there to students in the United States. We did several projects involving writing back and forth about our views and ourselves.

Finding a collaborative classroom partner gives your students a real reason to write, new friends, and the chance to break down some boundaries. Try connecting your classroom to one in another country or even just in another part of the US. Join a Facebook group for teachers (like one of these ) and make a post to find a partner.

Seriously. I’m not kidding. During their lives, your students will probably write a gazillion emails. Why not teach them how to write a good one? Take back electronic communication from the clutches of sentence fragments, emoticons, and confusing demands. I love  this post from,  which features ideas for how to get started with an email etiquette unit.

What are your favorite writing prompts for high school? Share them in the comments below!

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I love to help high school English teachers innovate. Check out The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast on iTunes for creative teaching strategies delivered on the go, or get my popular pack of free one-pager templates with complete instructions at

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writing activities high school

Literacy Ideas

7 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer

writing activities high school


Visual Writing Prompts

No doubt about it – writing isn’t easy. It is no wonder that many of our students could be described as ‘reluctant writers’ at best. It has been estimated by the National Association of Educational Progress that only about 27% of 8th and 12th Grade students can write proficiently.

As educators, we know that regular practice would go a long way to helping our students correct this underachievement, and sometimes, writing prompts just aren’t enough to light the fire.

But how do we get students, who have long since been turned off writing, to put pen to paper and log in the requisite time to develop their writing chops?

The answer is to make writing fun! In this article, we will look at some creative writing activities where we can inject a little enjoyment into the writing game.

1. Poetry Scavenger Hunt


The Purpose: This activity encourages students to see the poetry in the everyday language around them while helpfully reinforcing their understanding of some of the conventions of the genre.

The Process: Encourage students to ‘scavenge’ their school, home, and outside the community for snippets of language they can compile into a piece of poetry or a poetic collage. They may copy down or photograph words, phrases, and sentences from signs, magazines, leaflets or even snippets of conversations they overhear while out and about.

Examples of language they collect may range from the Keep Out sign on private property to the destination on the front of a local bus.

Once students have gathered their language together, they can work to build a poem out of the scraps, usually choosing a central theme to give the piece cohesion. They can even include corresponding artwork to enhance the visual appeal of their work, too, if they wish.

The Prize: If poetry serves one purpose, it is to encourage us to look at the world anew with the fresh eyes of a young child. This activity challenges our students to read new meanings into familiar things and to put their own spin on the language they encounter in the world around them, all while reinforcing the student’s grasp on poetic conventions.

2. Story Chains  

The Purpose: Writing is often thought of as a solitary pursuit, and for this reason alone, it can be seen as a particularly unattractive activity by many of our more gregarious students. This fun activity exercises students’ understanding of writing structures and engages them in some fun, creative collaboration.

The Process: Each student starts with a blank piece of paper and pen. The teacher writes a story prompt on the whiteboard. You’ll find some excellent narrative writing prompts here . For example, each student spends two minutes using the writing prompt to kick start their writing.  

When they have completed this part of the task, they will then pass their piece of paper to the student next to them. Students then continue the story from where the previous student left off for a given number of words, paragraphs, or length of time.

If organized correctly, you can ensure students receive their own initial story back at the end for the writing of the story’s conclusion .

The Prize: This fun writing activity can be used effectively to reinforce student understanding of narrative writing structures, but it can also be fun to try with other writing genres too.

Working collaboratively can really motivate students to engage with the task as no one wants to be the ‘weak link’ in the finished piece. But, more than that, this activity encourages students to see writing as a communicative and creative task where there needn’t be a ‘right’ answer. This encourages students to be more willing to take on creative risks in their work.


Fun Writing Tasks

25 FUN and ENGAGING writing tasks your students can complete INDEPENDENTLY with NO PREP REQUIRED that they will absolutely love.

Fully EDITABLE and works as with all DIGITAL PLATFORMS such as Google Classroom, or you can PRINT them for traditional writing tasks.

3. Acrostic Associations

Writing Activities,fun writing | acrostic poems for teachers and students | 7 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: This is another great way to get students to try writing poetry – a genre that many students find the most daunting.

The Process: Acrostics are simple poems whereby each letter of a word or phrase begins a new line in the poem. Younger students can start off with something very simple, like their own name or their favorite pet and write this vertically down the page.

Older students can take a word or phrase related to a topic they have been working on or that they have a particular interest in and write this down on the page before beginning to write.

The Prize: This activity has much in common with the old psychiatrist’s word association technique. Students should be encouraged to riff on ideas and themes generated by the focus word or phrase. They needn’t worry about rhyme and meter and such here, but the preset letter for each line will give them some structure to their meanderings and require them to impose some discipline on their wordsmithery, albeit in a fun and loose manner.

4. The What If Challenge

Writing Activities,fun writing | fun writing tasks 1 | 7 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: This challenge helps encourage students to see the link between posing interesting hypothetical questions and creating an entertaining piece of writing.

The Process: To begin this exercise, have the students come up with a single What If question, which they can then write down on a piece of paper. The more off-the-wall, the better!

For example, ‘What if everyone in the world knew what you were thinking?’ or ‘What if your pet dog could talk?’ Students fold up their questions and drop them into a hat. Each student picks one out of the hat before writing on that question for a suitable set amount of time.

The Prize: Students are most likely to face the terror of the dreaded Writer’s Block when they are faced with open-ended creative writing tasks.

This activity encourages the students to see the usefulness of posing hypothetical What If questions, even random off-the-wall ones, for kick-starting their writing motors.

Though students begin by answering the questions set for them by others, encourage them to see how they can set these questions for themselves the next time they suffer from a stalled writing engine.

5. The Most Disgusting Sandwich in the World

Writing Activities,fun writing | disgusting sandwich writing task | 7 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: Up until now, we have looked at activities encouraging our students to have fun with genres such as fiction and poetry. These genres being imaginative in nature, more easily lend themselves to being enjoyable than some of the nonfiction genres.

But what about descriptive writing activities? In this activity, we endeavor to bring that same level of enjoyment to instruction writing while also cleverly reinforcing the criteria of this genre.

The Process: Undoubtedly, when teaching instruction writing, you will at some point cover the specific criteria of the genre with your students.

These will include things like the use of a title, numbered or bulleted points, time connectives, imperatives, diagrams with captions etc. You will then want the students to produce their own piece of instruction writing or procedural text to display their understanding of how the genre works.

 But, why not try a fun topic such as How to Make the Most Disgusting Sandwich in the World rather than more obvious (and drier!) topics such as How to Tie Your Shoelaces or How to Make a Paper Airplane when choosing a topic for your students to practice their instruction writing chops?

The Prize: As mentioned, with nonfiction genres, in particular, we tend to suggest more banal topics for our students to work on while internalizing the genre’s criteria. Enjoyment and acquiring practical writing skills need not be mutually exclusive.

Our students can just as quickly, if not more easily, absorb and internalize the necessary writing conventions while engaged in writing about whimsical and even nonsensical topics.

if your sandwich is entering the realm of horror, be sure to check our complete guide to writing a scary story here as well.


Writing Activities,fun writing | Fun writing tasks | 7 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

Our FUN TEN-MINUTE DAILY WRITING TASKS will teach your students the fundamentals of creative writing across all text types. 52 INDEPENDENT TASKS are perfect for DISTANCE LEARNING.

These EDITABLE Journals are purpose-built for DIGITAL DEVICES on platforms such as Google Classroom, SeeSaw and Office 365. Alternatively, you can print them out and use them as a traditional writing activity.

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6. Diary Entry of a Future Self

Writing Activities,fun writing | future self writing task | 7 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: This activity allows students to practice personal writing within the conventions of diary/journal writing. It also challenges them to consider what their world will be like in the future, perhaps stepping a foot into the realm of science fiction.

The Process: Straightforwardly, after working through some examples of diary or journal writing, and reviewing the various criteria of the genre, challenge the students to write an entry at a given milestone in the future.

This may be when they leave school, begin work, go to university, get married, have kids, retire etc. You may even wish to get the students to write an entry for a series of future milestones as part of a more extended project.

The Prize: Students will get a chance here to exercise their understanding of this type of writing , but, more than that, they will also get an opportunity to exercise their imaginative muscles too. They will get to consider what shape their future world will take in this engaging thought experiment that will afford opportunities for them to improve their writing too.

7. Comic Strip Script


The Purpose: Give your students the chance to improve their dialogue writing skills and to work on their understanding of character development in this fun activity which combines writing with the use of a series of visual elements.

The Process: There are two ways to do this activity. The first requires you to source, or create, a comic strip minus the dialogue the characters are speaking. This may be as straightforward as using whiteout to erase the words in speech bubbles and making copies for your students to complete.

Alternatively, provide the students with photographs/pictures and strips of cards for them to form their own action sequences . When students have their ‘mute’ strips, they can begin to write the dialogue/script to link the panels together.

The Prize: When it comes to writing, comic strips are probably one of the easier sells to reluctant students! This activity also allows students to write for speech. This will stand to them later when they come to produce sections of dialogue in their narrative writing or when producing play or film scripts.

They will also develop their visual literacy skills as they scan the pictures for clues of tone and context before they begin their writing.

Keep It Fun

Just as we should encourage our students to read for fun and wider educational benefits, we should also work to instil similar attitudes towards writing. To do this means we must work to avoid always framing writing in the context of a chore, that bitter pill that must be swallowed for the good of our health.

There is no getting away from the fact that writing can, at times, be laborious. It is time-consuming and, for most of us, difficult at the best of times. There is a certain, inescapable amount of work involved in becoming a competent writer.

That said, as we have seen in the activities above, with a bit of creative thought, we can inject fun into even the most practical of writing activities . All that is required is a dash of imagination and a sprinkling of effort.


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7 Fun Writing Sub Plans for Substitute Teachers

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Short Story Writing for Students and Teachers

The content for this page has been written by Shane Mac Donnchaidh.  A former principal of an international school and English university lecturer with 15 years of teaching and administration experience. Shane’s latest Book, The Complete Guide to Nonfiction Writing , can be found here.  Editing and support for this article have been provided by the literacyideas team.

AN ENTIRE YEAR of engaging writing tasks awaits you.

From our blog

22 Writing Activities To Help Kids Hone Their Writing Skills

writing activities high school

Prodigy English is here! Get your students playing — and learning — today.

Fun writing activities

Creative writing activities, academic writing activities, at-home writing activities, daily writing activities, simple writing prompts for kids.

Try some other educational activities

When kids start writing, they’re unlocking a whole new world of imagination to explore. It’s a great way for them to be creative, express themselves and practice key reading and writing skills. 

But as most kids — and adults — will tell you, writing is hard! It can be intimidating to put pen to paper for the first time, and sometimes the challenge of a blank page seems like too much to overcome. 

Writing shouldn’t be scary for kids. These 22 fun writing activities can help them:

Use them in your classroom or at home to get kids excited about writing!

Three students complete fun writing activities at school.

Writing is supposed to be fun! Use these activities to help kids stretch their imagination and record their thoughts on paper in a fun, low-stress environment.

1. Try online ELA games like Prodigy English

Great for: Grades 1 to 6

Online games are a great way to engage students in the learning process — and Prodigy English is bringing the power of game-based learning to language and reading skill practice!

As students build and create, they’re always practicing key reading and language skills that help them write clearly and effectively. Every correct answer gives players more energy to gather resources, complete daily tasks and earn Wishcoins.

Plus, you can send questions about the topics you want them to practice and collect insights about their learning.

2. Poetry scavenger hunt

Great for: Middle and high school students

Words are all around us, so encourage your students to take inspiration from the real-life writing they see every day. Have students collect printed words and phrases from the world around them, including:

Students can collect and arrange their words on a piece of paper to make a unique piece of poetry. Encourage them to find a key idea and expand on it in creative ways, then have students share their work with the class. 

3. Create your own comic strip

Great for: Grades 4 to 10

Students learn in all sorts of ways. For visual learners, creating a comic strip to accompany their story can help them express themselves in a visual medium. 

Give students a set number of panels and challenge them to come up with a quick story — just a few sentences. Then, they can illustrate their scene in the style of comic books. 

Remind students the point isn’t to be the best artist — it’s to write a story that’s short and exciting. 

4. Create your own Madlib

Great for: Elementary and middle school students

Give students vocabulary practice and help them write a silly story at the same time!

Fill a sheet with the outline of the story, then remove key words like:

For younger students, add a word bank to get them started. As students fill in words, they’ll craft a unique story filled with unexpected twists and turns.

Young student sits at a table with pencil and paper during creative writing activities.

Once students start getting in the habit of writing, these creative writing activities can pull new ideas out of their heads and encourage them to experiment with different genres. 

5. Acrostics

Great for: Grades 3 to 8

Acrostic poems are a great way to introduce your students to poetry! Start with a meaningful word or name and use it as a theme for the poem. 

Writing the word vertically, students can go down the letters and write a short word or phrase that starts with each letter. Acrostic poems help students write within a structure and theme, so it’s easier for them to get started. 

6. A letter to your future self

Great for: Middle school and high school

Where do your students see themselves in a year? Five years? Ten years?

A letter to their future selves is a great way for students to explore their own story, and brainstorm what they want to achieve. Not only can students practice their letter-writing skills, they can use their imaginations to develop a growth mindset . 

For extra nostalgia, store the letters for students and mail them out once the right amount of time has passed. 

7. Write a “Choose your own adventure” story

Great for: Grades 5 and up

Whether it’s a fairy tale, detective story or drama, chances are you’ve had a student tell you they don’t know how their story is supposed to end. 

A “Choose-your-own-adventure” story lets students brainstorm different storylines and endings. Once they’re done, encourage them to share their stories with the class so their peers can go on the adventure too.

8. Write a fake advertisement

Great for: Grades 6 and up

Good writing doesn’t just happen in books — it’s all around us!

Whether students are writing advertisements on their own or as part of a project-based learning assignment , this activity helps them build key media literacy skills and practice their snappy storytelling. 

Have students make up a new product and advertisement, or encourage them to re-imagine an ad for something they love. It’s also a great way to bring media literacy and interdisciplinary learning to your classroom. 

9. Make a story map

Great for: Grades 2 to 8

Not every student is going to be comfortable putting pen to paper right away. Story maps can help students brainstorm details like plot, characters and setting in a way that makes sense for visual learners. 

Have students use charts to set out the beginning, middle and end of their stories. Mind maps can also help them plot out details about their characters or setting. 

Encourage students to present their story map as a finished product or use it to start writing!

Students works with a textbook, pencil and paper in the classroom.

Writing isn’t all fairy tales and short stories — it’s also an important part of learning in middle school, high school and college. Use these academic writing activities to help students understand proper essay structure, grammar and more. 

10. Story chains

Great for: Grades 4 to 8

Stories are better when they’re enjoyed with friends and classmates. And story chains encourage every student to get involved!

Put students in small groups of three to six. Give each student a blank piece of paper and have them write the beginning of a story. Then, pass it to the next student in the group so they can write what happens next. 

For extra educational value, have students work together to summarize a story from your lesson or an important historical event. 

11. Persuasive essays

Sometimes writing is about more than just telling a story. It’s about convincing your readers of your point of view. 

Have older students practice their debate skills with persuasive essays. Start with a prompt, then let students make their case. Some of our favorite prompts for this writing assignment include:

Most importantly, make sure students back up their opinions with solid facts and arguments that convince readers to care. 

12. Solve a real-world problem

Great for: Grade 6 and up

Climate change, litter, bullying, bad cafeteria food — no matter what students pick, there are lots of real-world problems for them to solve. 

Challenge students with a writing assignment that addresses a problem they see in their world. How would they fix it? Whether it’s a short paragraph or a longer essay, encourage them to find something they’re passionate about. After all, that’s where good writing comes from!

13. Vocabulary challenge

Great for: Elementary school students

Vocabulary challenges combine vocabulary strategies with student writing to make your next language arts lesson plan even more engaging. 

Give students a new word (or two or three). Once you’re done practicing it and they know what it means, challenge them to use it in a story as creatively as possible. 

14. Teach citations

Great for: Grades 1 to 12

Footnotes, endnotes and bibliographies are the least exciting part of writing, but they’re essential skills. As students write more complex research papers, they need to know how to give credit where credit is due. Thankfully, there are lots of online resources to help!

The Purdue Online Writing Lab offers teachers and students resources for all stages of the writing process, including citations. To practice, students can write an annotated bibliography as part of a project-based learning assignment or the first step in writing a longer research paper. 

Young girls works with her father on writing activities on their couch.

Writing isn’t just something happening in the classroom. These at-home writing ideas can help you support your child as they experiment with prose and poetry.

15. Write letters to a pen pal

Great for: Grades 3 and up

Everyone likes getting mail! Got a friend with kids in a different part of the country, or far-away family members? A pen pal can be a great way for kids to build friendships and practice their writing skills at the same time. 

16. Bring a home object to life

“It’s as big as a mountain!”

“That’s the fluffiest thing I’ve ever felt!”

The ways kids describe things can crack us up sometimes. Full of wonder and hyperbole, it’s the perfect spark for creative writing, too.

Encourage kids to practice their figurative language skills with a description of something in your home. Let them pack as much alliteration and exaggeration into the description as they can, then do a dramatic reading out loud.  

17. Write reading reactions

If you want to boost reading comprehension and writing skills at the same time, this is the perfect activity. After your child is done reading, encourage them to write a few sentences about what they just read. 

Did they like it? What do they think happens next? Which character was their favorite and why? Learning how to express opinions in writing is a valuable skill. 

18. Document family stories

Great for: Grades 4 and up

Every family has a unique story, including yours. Make memories with your child when you share stories about important family events or your childhood. 

Kids can even interview grandparents, aunts and uncles to record their memories. When you’re done, store them in a shared space so everyone can go back and reminisce.

A person sits at a desk with a notebook, paper, pen and coffee cup.

Writing is a muscle, and you have to flex it every day to get stronger. Use these daily writing activities to make writing part of your everyday routine. 

19. Journaling

Great for: Everyone

Sometimes, you’ve just gotta write it out. 

Whether you’re trying to make sense of life or just need a place to organize your thoughts, journaling is a great way to unwind, practice mindfulness and build social emotional skills . 

All kids need to get started is a notebook and a pen. Let them know you’re not going to read it, but they’re welcome to come to you if there’s something they want to talk about. 

20. Blog about your interests

Great for: High school and up

Everyone’s passionate about something. Whatever your students love, encourage them to share it with the world! Blogging is an accessible and fun way to express themselves, nerd out about the things that bring them joy and share their opinions with the world. 

Sites like WordPress and Wix offer free website builders to help students get started. This is a great way for kids to build computer skills and digital literacy .

21. Free writing

Write, write, write and don’t stop. That’s the premise behind free writing, a writing practice that can help unlock creativity, discover new ideas and take the pressure out of a blank page. 

Give students a five-minute timer and challenge them to write continuously, without worrying about formatting, spelling or grammar. They can write about whatever they want, but there’s only one rule: don’t stop. 

22. Answer daily writing prompts

Make time to exercise your brain with daily writing prompts! At the start of the day or as a quick brain break , set aside time for students to respond to a quick daily writing prompt. 

Students should have a dedicated journal or binder to make it a seamless part of your lessons. Whether or not you choose to read their writing is up to you, but it’s important to build good daily habits. 

Teacher and child sit in the classroom and work on writing activities together.

A blank page can be a scary sight for a student who doesn’t know what to write about. 

Use writing prompts to:

Some of our favorite simple writing prompts include:

For more writing prompts you can use in and out of the classroom, check out our full list of 225 writing prompts for kids .

Writing activities can bring reluctant writers out of their shells

Writing is hard and can be intimidating for a lot of students. 

But even the quietest and most reluctant students have lots of stories to tell! You just have to encourage them to get their words out. 

Writing activities help remove some of the pressure and give students:

No two stories are the same, just like your students. Every story can start in a different way, and that’s the beauty of writing prompts.

Whether it’s writing activities or math problems, there are lots of ways to get reluctant learners excited about your lessons with educational activities. 

Here are some of our favorites:

Which ones can you use in your next lesson?

Prodigy English is a brand-new game-based learning platform helping students build key math skills. As students explore and build a world of their very own, they’ll answer curriculum-aligned reading and language questions that help build essential skills and encourage a love of learning. 

Sign up for your free teacher account and get access to teacher tools that help you differentiate learning and track student progress as they play.

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In-Class Writing Exercises

If you find yourself wishing your students would write more thoughtful papers or think more deeply about the issues in your course, this handout may help you. At the Writing Center, we work one-on-one with thousands of student writers and find that giving them targeted writing tasks or exercises encourages them to problem-solve, generate, and communicate more fully on the page. You’ll find targeted exercises here and ways to adapt them for use in your course or with particular students.

Writing requires making choices. We can help students most by teaching them how to see and make choices when working with ideas. We can introduce students to a process of generating and sorting ideas by teaching them how to use exercises to build ideas. With an understanding of how to discover and arrange ideas, they will have more success in getting their ideas onto the page in clear prose.

Through critical thinking exercises, students move from a vague or felt sense about course material to a place where they can make explicit the choices about how words represent their ideas and how they might best arrange them. While some students may not recognize some of these activities as “writing,” they may see that doing this work will help them do the thinking that leads to easier, stronger papers.


In order to write a paper for a class, students need ways to move from the received knowledge of the course material to some separate, more synthesized or analyzed understanding of the course material. For some students this begins to happen internally or through what we call “thinking,” unvoiced mulling, sorting, comparing, speculating, applying, etc. that leads them to new perspectives, understanding, questions, reactions about the course material. This thinking is often furthered through class discussion and some students automatically, internally move from these initial sortings of ideas into complex, logical interpretations of material at this point. But, for more students, their thinking will remain an unorganized, vague set of ideas referring to the subject. Many will have trouble moving beyond this vague sense or simple reaction toward ideas that are more processed, complex, or what we often call “deep.” We can foster that move to a deeper understanding by providing opportunities to externalize and fix their ideas on paper so that they may both see their ideas and then begin to see the relationships between them. The following activities will help students both generate and clarify initial responses to course material:

Once students have something on the page to work with, they can begin the decision-making process crucial to developing a coherent idea or argument. At this point, students will choose which ideas most appeal to them, which ideas seem to fit together, which ideas need to be set aside, and which ideas need further exploration. The following activities will help students make decisions as they shape ideas:

As students have been working with their ideas, they have been making a series of choices about their ideas that will lead them to feel “ready” to put them in a more complete, coherent form; they will feel “ready to write” their ideas in something closer to the assignment or paper form. But for most, the tough moments of really “writing” begin at this point. They may still feel that they “have ideas” but have trouble “getting them on the page.” Some will suddenly be thrust into “writing a paper” mode and be both constrained and guided by their assumptions about what an assignment asks them to do, what academic writing is, and what prior experience has taught them about writing for teachers. These exercises may ease their entry into shaping their ideas for an assignment:

As students use language to shape ideas, they begin to feel the need to test their ideas or move beyond their own perspectives. Sometimes we have ideas that make good sense to us, but seem to lose or confuse readers as we voice them in conversation or on the page. Once students have a complete draft of a paper, they need ways to share their ideas to learn points where their ideas need further development. With feedback from an audience, students are better able to see the final decisions they still need to make in order for their ideas to reach someone. These decisions may be ones of word choice, organization, logic, evidence, and tone. Keep in mind that this juncture can be unsettling for some students. Having made lots of major decisions in getting their ideas down on the page, they may be reluctant to tackle another round of decision-making required for revising or clarifying ideas or sentences. Remind students that ideas don’t exist apart from words, but in the words themselves. They will need to be able to sell their ideas through the words and arrangement of words on the page for a specific audience.

Implementing exercises

Many of these exercises can be used in short in-class writing assignments, as part of group work, or as incremental steps in producing a paper. If you’ve assigned an end-of-semester term paper, you may want to assign one or two activities from each of the four stages-brainstorming, organizing, drafting, editing-at strategic points throughout the semester. You could also give the students the list of exercises for each stage and ask them to choose one or two activities to complete at each point as they produce a draft.

If you’d like to discuss how these exercises might work in your course, talk about other aspects of student writing, contact Kimberly Abels [email protected] at the Writing Center.

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5 Outside the Box Creative Writing Assignments for ELA

For some, the idea of creative writing assignments in ELA is exciting. You might have students in your classroom who are regularly honing their writing skills at home, on their own time. On the other hand , you may have some students who haven’t done much creative writing at all. In fact, they might look at writing as less an opportunity and more as a punishment.

Strong creative writing assignments will provide unique challenges and rewards for all of your students . It will provide the necessary framework to help reluctant creative writers and the necessary guidelines to give focus to your most exuberant. It should also not simply focus on the end product, but on the overall creative process, like planning and outlining at the outset, and editing and revision at the end.

Above all, though, a strong creative writing assignment should be interesting to you and your students. It should serve to incite creative passion in your classroom, and that’s why I’m excited to share my 5 favorite outside-the-box creative writing assignments for ELA to inspire even your most reluctant writers.

Creative Writing Video Bundle


Remember mixtapes?! If you don’t, you’re probably far younger than I am. 😉 Well, one of my favorite writing assignments is to get students to make one of their own.

First, you’ll have students choose ten songs that represent them in some way, and then you’ll have them write about their connection to each song. I like to make it really old school and have them separate their choices into Side A and Side B songs as a kind of tracklist. Warning: your students may have no clue what a B-Side song is…

I’ve always found music to be an effective way to get my students engaged in conversations around creative writing, whether they’re writing it or reading it. After all, song lyrics have so much in common with poetry. Alongside writing about each song, the Soundtrack of Your Life assignment prompts students to plan the overall structure of the mixtape as a whole and write about how the collective meaning of the songs connects to their lives.

I also love using a hand-drawn introductory video made by John Spencer to introduce the assignment to students and give them a little background information on what a mixtape is!

Soundtrack of Your Life Creative Writing Assignment for Middle and High School ELA


Teenagers always feel misunderstood, am I right?  They often get a bad rep, and this writing assignment tackles this notion perfectly.

I love getting students to write an open letter discussing the seven greatest misunderstandings that they think people have about their generation . They make a case for why they are different than how they are perceived. I like this one a lot because it provokes students to write convincingly and passionately at the outset. I mean, if someone were to have asked me to explain the ways my generation was misunderstood when I was their age, I could’ve easily written an incredibly long list.

What’s great about this assignment is that students get to learn about a seldomly discussed yet important form of writing: the open letter. Open letters are usually written in protest or as an appeal for a person or a group of people to change their opinion on a particular topic.

You might consider providing prompts to the students to help them formulate their lists. Try asking questions like,

Resource materials for Writing an Open Letter about My Generation


Another creative writing assignment idea is to have students write a personal narrative inspired by the memories of three textures . The feeling of the sand between your fingers at a certain beach you’d visit as a child, squishing Play-Doh between your fingers, or even cookie crumbs on your hands at grandma’s house. You get the idea. Students will focus on their five senses—and their tactile senses in particular.

They might simply choose textures that bring back fond memories, or they might go so far as to choose textures that are collectively symbolic of their ideals and values!

You’ll want to encourage your students to go into as much descriptive detail as possible when describing their three textures.

Can you think of three textures that have been important in your life? It takes some brainstorming, doesn’t it? That’s why I like to provide a planning sheet with questions for each texture. This makes a great starting point for your students.


We know our students learn a lot of important lessons outside of school. They learn important lessons from the sports they play, from the friends they make, from all the things they do. They are always learning. Everywhere they go.

The same was true of us, of course: much of what we learned came from inside the classroom, but some of it—a lot of it—came from outside. Another creative writing idea is to have students design their own school .

I first have students brainstorm what school would be like and what a typical day would look like, hour-by-hour, at their new school. You might consider having them get peer feedback by having them share their initial concept with a partner. Then, to take it to the next level, get students to develop a promotional advertisement to recruit other students!

Design a School Middle and High School Creative Writing Assignments


Ok, this last writing assignment is really fun! For this one, students get to write about something that they “geek out” on .

We all seem to have at least one interest in life that brings us joy every time we get to discuss it. Incorporating this joy into a creative writing assignment is a great way to engage every student. It’s also a great way to establish the mentality that creative writing should ultimately be enjoyable. We’ve heard the cliché “write about what you know.” This assignment pushes that idea further to write what you love .

Students will also get to practice writing a listicle. A listicle is a piece of writing or other content presented wholly or partly in the form of a list. It’s a common form used by bloggers and journalists. In other words, it looks something like what you’ve been reading here!

I hope you found these creative writing assignments for ELA helpful! Best of luck teaching creative writing in your class.

Want more ideas for creative writing? One of my favorite ways to get students writing is with snowball writing .

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61 Great High School Writing Prompts

Encourage high school students to stretch their writing skills using this collection of engaging high school writing prompts.

Whether you want students to express their beliefs or share what they know, these writing prompts for high school will help to serve the purpose.

That’s why these prompts make a great addition to your writing activities collection.

What’s more, these high school writing prompts activate critical thinking, boost confidence in expressing one’s thoughts, and sharpen writing skills.

So schedule into your weekly lesson plans a handful of these high-interest high school writing prompts.

Related: best bell ringers for high school

High School Writing Prompts

1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being in high school?

2. Explain step-by-step how to build a campfire.

3. Write a short autobiography about your life.

4. Tell about your favorite music and why you like it.

5. What would you like to express to adults about what it’s like to be a high school student in this time period?

6. Why do you think some people are bullies?

7. Write a letter to your future self 20 years from now.

8. What qualities make a house a home? Explain your thinking.

9. Explain step-by-step how to care for a pet.

10. What learning experiences have you had in high school that will be useful to you after high school?

11. Why do you think it’s helpful to respond to high school writing prompts?

12. Which do you think is best: online learning or in-person learning? Explain.

13. Compare and contrast your current grade level with your previous one.

14. Write about what you think the world will be like in 100 years.

15. If you were to start your own YouTube channel, what would your channel be about and why?

16. Describe a gift that can’t be wrapped.

17. If you could start a business, what kind would you start and why?

18. Write a story that takes place on Friday, the 13th.

19. Pretend you founded a new city. Describe this new place.

high school writing prompts

20. Draft a recipe for something that is not food.

21. Create a story about you as an emoji. What is a typical day like for you?

22. In the morning, once everyone leaves for the day, items in your closet start talking. Create a story about what’s going on.

23, Describe a usual day in the life of a water bottle.

24. Invent a new online game, and describe how to play it.

25. Write a story about what life would be like if your pet ran your household.

26. Imagine that your house has a mysterious history. Write a story about what happened before you lived there.

27. Write a story about trading places with your favorite celebrity for a day.

28. Draft a story about a character who has two big problems.

29. Write about a character who has the superpower of changing colors like a chameleon.

30. For a day, you are a chair. Tell about a typical day in your life.

31. Write about a character who pretends to be illiterate but is actually a well-respected author.

32. Rewrite the ending to your favorite movie fairy tale.

33. Write a story that includes these three elements: sand, mermaid, swim

34. I unwrapped the gift, and what was inside shocked the room…

35. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?

36. Imagine that you are a social media superstar. Describe a typical day in your life.

37. Should community service be a requirement in order to graduate? Explain.

38. Persuade your teacher to change one classroom rule that you feel is too strict or unfair.

39. Write a letter convincing the principal to extend art, music, p.e, and drama classes during the school day.

40. Explain to a younger student the importance of keeping his/her desk organized.

41. Persuade your foreign language teacher to start a language Club.

42. Make an argument for or against the use of standardized tests to judge students’ learning performances.

43. Write a letter persuading the cafeteria staff to make changes to the lunch menu.

44. What does your dream job look like?

45. Convince your parents to allow you to apply for an after-school job.

46. Write a speech convincing your classmates to vote for you as class president.

47. Among an adult, child, or teenager, which is the best age period and why?

48. Explain the power of music in helping one to relax.

49. Describe the funniest teacher you’ve ever had.

50. Write about a time that you laughed uncontrollably.

51. Share a story about something that happened at school that you will remember forever.

52. Rewrite a childhood classic story with a humorous twist.

53. Retell the funniest joke you’ve ever heard.

54. Write about a time that you embarrassed yourself in front of classmates.

55. Tell a story about a day when everything went wrong.

56. Describe the best April Fool’s Day joke you’ve ever experienced.

57. Write a story about an entire day where everyone at school walks backwards.

58. Explain the story behind your name.

59. Write about a time you became very angry.

60. Summarize a good book you read recently.

61. If you could teach any school subject, what would it be and why?

Final Thoughts

Now you have a varied collection of high school writing prompts that even motivate reluctant writers.

If you found these high school writing prompts helpful, you may be interested in … high school writing project ideas .


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