Middle School Writing Prompts: 26 Fun Ideas

Unstick your child’s creativity, stretch their thinking, and improve their writing skills with topics that tap into their passions.

Prisma Staff
March 21, 2023

Prisma is the world’s most engaging virtual school that combines a fun, real-world curriculum with powerful mentorship from experienced coaches and a supportive peer community

Unstick your child’s creativity, stretch their thinking, and improve their writing skills with topics that tap into their passions.

A blank page: endless possibilities or bottomless pit?

For many kids from elementary school through high school, writing assignments can seem like a daunting task. With the five-paragraph essay taking center stage in so many classrooms, it’s no wonder that kids feel disconnected from the practice of writing: No one ever reads five-paragraph essays, except on standardized tests.

Yet there is something to be said for giving new writers structure: something looser than connect-the-dots but more instructive than “ready, set, write!” That’s why writing prompts are a popular tool for all grade levels. (Even professional writers, at times, take advantage of this creativity catalyst.)

At Prisma, we use writing prompts to give our learners freedom within structure, providing topics that allow them to draw on — and deepen their connection to — their real life interests, all while strengthening their communication skills.

Here are some tips for creating prompts that your middle school student will want to engage with.

Incorporate their interests

Writing activities can be a great way to teach kids the fun of incorporating their interests into school — especially things that don’t seem “academic.” We’ve seen the phenomenon at Prisma: kids who never thought of themselves as a writer fall in love with writing when they are able to use their skills to talk about the things they love, video games included.

Here are some ideas to get started; feel free to let your child shape their own:

  1. Pick a character from your favorite tv show, and write a diary entry from their point of view.
  2. Rewrite the ending of your favorite movie.
  3. Add yourself into the plot of your favorite book.
  4. Write new lyrics to your favorite song.

Low-stakes, high fun

If your child has perfectionist tendencies, try short bursts of low-stakes writing that get them in touch with their silly side. Take the pressure off, keep the sessions down to a few minutes, and consider participating with them so they feel a sense of collective engagement in the task.

Fun writing prompts include:

  1. Design a desert island with its own ecosystem.
  2. Plan a birthday party for a famous person.
  3. Imagine your best friend woke up with a superpower that would only last 24 hours.
  4. Describe where you would travel with a time machine or a teleportation device.
  5. Imagine a conversation between you and your favorite food or your favorite animal.
  6. Narrate a game of your favorite sport, played on the moon or underwater.

What's Prisma?

  • Prisma is an accredited, project-based, online program for kids in grades 4-12.
  • We exist to ignite a lifelong love of learning and prepare kids to thrive in the future.
  • Our middle school, high school, and parent-coach programs provide personalized curriculum, 1:1 support from educators, and cohorts where kids build community.

Get story ideas from real life

The best story starters are all around us. Tap into your environment to help your child see connections to those around them, explore their emotional landscape, and work through areas of growth. (To make sure you never run out of ideas when you need them, create a “journal prompt” jar, and ask every family member contribute writing ideas for a rainy day.)

Real life ideas include:

  1. Think about the last time you...laughed ‘til you cried, made a mistake that turned into a great experience, surprised yourself...
  2. Describe the worst thing you ever ate.
  3. Write a step-by-step guide to mastering your favorite thing.
  4. Describe your favorite season to an alien visiting earth for the first time.

Play with genres

In the abstract, the topic of genre can seem alien to a middle schooler, but put the tools in their hands and they’ll see the power of perspective, form and word choice. Genre exercises can be especially fruitful to teach kids one of the main principles of creativity that we foreground in our “Remix” theme: There’s no obligation to create something from scratch; remixing is one of the tools of the world’s greatest artists.

Start with a piece of writing they’ve already produced (or something by their favorite author), then challenge them to rewrite it in a completely different form.

Genre transformations can include:

  1. Turn a short story into a haiku, acrostic poem, or limerick.
  2. Turn a chapter book into a graphic novel or vice-versa.
  3. Write a podcast script based on a news story.

Enter a competition

Sometimes a real life competition is just the thing to light a fire in a child’s belly. There are enough competitions out there to fill a whole school year. (Here’s just one source of writing competitions for middle school kids.)

The structure and motivation of a competition can help cement a child’s writing practice and, as an added bonus, it can be a great way to build a growth mindset (after all, no one wins every contest, every time).

Middle school writing prompts from Prisma

In addition to using writing prompts for a quick activity to get your child’s creative juices flowing, you can create more elaborate topics that become the anchor of an in-depth research project. The following examples are writing assignments from recent middle school themes that learners spent several weeks developing, with guidance from their coach and feedback from peers.

  1. Argumentative writing from “Cities of the Future” theme: Pretend to be the mayor of a city or another kind of lawmaker. Write a speech that convinces the people of your lands to approve a new law. What is the law you are proposing and how would it change people's lives for the better? What are some counterarguments against this law and how do you rebut them?
  2. Narrative writing from “Hidden Histories” theme: Research a historical era or event. Then, identify a voice or perspective that is lesser known or under-studied from that event. Write a piece of historical fiction, or a play, that shines a light on that perspective.
  3. Persuasive writing from “Wild Inventions” theme: Invent a new product. Then, write a persuasive pitch for investors or advertisement for customers that lets them know the features of your product, the value behind the cost, and why it will improve their lives. Include a catchy hook, convincing language, and sales techniques.
  4. Critical writing from “Games for Change” theme: Write a review of a video game in the style of a real game reviewer. Read existing game reviews for a sense of the style. Take notes as you play through, then write a review about the strong points, weak points, and if you would recommend the game. (Here’s a printable worksheet to organize your game notes.)
  5. Fan fiction project from “Remix” theme: Write a new story inspired by the work of an existing author. You could write a sequel, prequel, or retelling of a story from a new character's perspective.
  6. Investigative journalism from “Unsolved Mysteries” theme: Write an article that lays out the who, what, where, when, why, and how of an unsolved mystery, such as the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, D.B. Cooper, or the identity of the inventor of Bitcoin. Evaluate the possible theories and the evidence that supports each. At the end of the article, state your opinion on which theory is the most plausible.
  7. Nature poetry from “World of Wonder“ theme: Tons of the best poetry is inspired by nature. Observe the natural setting where you live, such as a backyard or park, and write down what you see without trying to make it sound good. Then, pull out the most interesting or impactful moments/images, and turn it into a poem.
  8. “What If?” theme Project: Research a historical event, then imagine "What If?" it had gone differently. Write an alternate history story inspired by what would have happened if the historical figures involved had made a different choice. Or, write a story that takes place far in the future, but the whole world is different because of one thing that went differently back then.

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