Back to School Writing Ideas and Activities for 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade Classrooms

Back to School Writing Ideas and Activities

Back to School Writing Ideas and Activities for 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade Classrooms
Looking for some engaging upper elementary writing ideas for those first few days and weeks of school? These back to school writing activities and prompts are great for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students.

1. Back to School Opinion Writing Prompts

Your upper elementary students will need plenty of practice with opinion writing this year, so why not start practicing the first week of school and get a writing sample? There are a lot of fun back to school opinion writing prompts you can use that students will love. 

2. Procedures and Routines Rewrite

Those first few weeks of school, students need a LOT of practice with procedures. Why not review your classroom procedures and expectations with a fun reading & writing activity?

Provide students with a short story that describes a student who is CLEARLY not following classroom procedures, and then have your students rewrite the story so that the student behaves appropriately.

Don't want to take the time to write out a story? Use these no prep stories that will have your students think about classroom procedures for:

  • asking to use the bathroom
  • what to do when finished with work
  • sharpening pencils
  • walking in the hallway
  • ...and more!
Back to School Classroom Procedures Activity

3. All About Me Poem

All About Me activities are great for back to school - and a structured All About Me Poem is a great way to ease your students into poetry and writing.

You can use this no prep template with a student example or create your own worksheet using this format:

Line 1: First Name
Line 2: 3 Adjectives to Describe the Person
Line 3: Daughter/Son Of:
Line 4: Who Loves…
Line 5: Who Feels…
Line 6: Who Needs…
Line 7: Who Gives…
Line 8: Who Fears…
Line 9: Who would like to…
Line 10: Resident of…
Line 11: Last Name

4. Compare and Contrast With A Friend

Combine writing with a get-to-know-you activity! Have students interview each other in hopes of finding out similarities and differences. Then, they can write a short paragraph explaining the biggest similarities and differences. Since it is the beginning of the school year, provide them with a compare and contrast paragraph frame to help scaffold their writing. 

These tips and possible interview questions will help you structure student interviews.

5. Do a Think-Write-Pass Activity

This is a fun writing activity for all year, but it is also a good team builder for back to school.

Have students work in groups of 3 - 4. Each student in the group starts with their own sheet of paper. Give students about 3 minutes to start a story, and then everybody hands their paper off to someone else in the group. Students read what has already been written on their new paper and then add to the story. Repeat this until everyone in the group has written on every page in the group.

The biggest challenge with this activity will be students trying to read each other's handwriting. Remind them to write as neatly as possible to help their peers out!

6. Back to School Quick Writes

For some shorter writing activities, give students a back to school writing prompt and have them respond with a paragraph or two.

Some example back to school writing prompts are:

  • What was your favorite thing about your teacher last year?  Why?

  • Think about the beginning of last school year.  How have you changed since then?

If you want to do this as a daily activity, then these questions and writing prompts will come in handy!

Daily Writing Prompts / Ice Breaker Questions for 3rd, 4th, 4th Grade

7. 2 Truths and a Lie

For a quick first day of school writing activity that is also a great ice breaker, have students write 2 true statements and 1 lie about themselves. Then, students share their statements with a partner or the class, seeing if they can figure out which statement is a lie!

This simple activity can be adapted in so many ways, and students always get a kick out of it. Find more ideas for using 2 truths and a lie in the classroom here. 

8. I Wish My Teacher Knew

This open-ended writing prompt allows students to share anything they want with you. Give your students a sheet of paper and give them the prompt: I Wish My Teacher Knew / What I Want My Teacher to Know.

Some students might struggle with the open-endedness of this. Providing a little more structure might be helpful for the students while providing you with more information - like in this "I Wish My Teacher Knew" Resource. 

9. Use a Back to School Book as Inspiration

The best back to school books provide students with inspiration for their own writing.

For example, after reading How I Spent My Summer Vacation, students will be more motivated to write about their own summer break.

After reading Thank You, Mr. Falker, students will probably be more inclined to write a thank you letter to a teacher that has helped them.

Back to school books like these lend themselves well to all sorts of back to school writing prompts!

10. Create a Back to School Squiggle Drawing and Story

If you haven't ever tried squiggle stories with your 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade students, the beginning of the school year is the perfect time.

To write a squiggle story, give students a sheet of paper with a random squiggle on it. They create a back to school drawing that incorporates that squiggle. Then, they write a short story based on their drawing.

This no prep resource includes plenty of squiggles and "prompts" to help direct students writing. And best of all, it can be used all year, not just the first weeks of school.

11. What Makes A Good Teacher

Let students tell you what they think a good teacher does and says. This writing prompt encourages students to think deeply about what your role in their life is, and their answers might be illuminating.

Best of all, you can model this assignment to students by writing about "What Makes A Good Student!"

Never Stress Over Sub Plans Again!


Make copies, find a fiction book, and you'll be ready for any emergency that comes your way!

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