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108 Engaging Creative Writing Prompts for 3rd Grade

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Creative writing is the perfect way to get kids interested in writing. Students’ imaginations are bursting with ideas and they’re usually still willing to share them at this age. The more we can get them writing poems, songs, stories, and paragraphs now, the more they’ll start to see themselves as writers with valuable original thoughts worth expressing. For those times when imaginations are running dry and kids need a little inspiration, or when you want them to practice a specific writing skill, these 108 creative writing prompts for 3rd grade are here to spark creativity. Enjoy!

108 Creative Writing prompts for 3rd Grade

Story Starters and Other Narrative Writing Prompts

Writing stories—fictional or real—gives children a chance to develop several creative writing skills. They practice writing dialogue, developing characters, and fashioning situations that ignite their creativity and send them gallivanting down rabbit trails. 

Although 3rd-grade students are still relatively new writers and most won’t produce complete narratives yet, practicing story writing is the best way to introduce concepts like plot, character, conflict, and setting. 

Choose one of these concepts to focus on for several lessons and select third-grade writing prompts that lend themselves well to highlighting these aspects of writing. For example, you might ask students to spend a day or two focusing on their descriptions of the characters in their stories and another few days trying out different types of conflict. 

Later, they might choose to take the parts they like best from these various assignments and put them together to form a larger narrative. 

These story starters are fun writing prompts designed to push kids out of their comfort zones and put their imaginations to work. 

Instructions for students

  • These storytelling prompts are written in a few different styles. Some of them offer you the first line of a story. For these prompts, copy the first line onto your page and continue writing from there. 
  • Other prompts give you a specific situation and then ask you to think about what you might do or say in that situation. They could also ask you to take the idea as a starting point and expand it to make it more your own. Don’t feel like you need to answer the questions directly. They are there to give you more ideas to think about as you develop your story idea. You can write your story as answers to the questions if you like, but you can also just use them as inspiration. 
  • When you see an ellipsis (three dots) at the end of a writing prompt, that means the sentence is incomplete and your version of the sentence should replace the three dots with your own words. 

24 Story Starters and Creative Writing Prompts for Third Graders

  1. Imagine you have the ability to become characters in video games. Write a short story that shows how you would use this power.
  2. Do you have a best friend? If so, write the story of how you met and became friends. (You can write what really happened or make up your own version of events to show how two people might become best friends).
  3. Write a story about a group of friends who build or discover a time machine. What time period do they travel to? Describe what they see, hear, smell, and eat.
  4. You and your friends are kayaking on a lake when you discover a hidden island. Describe what it looks like, how you explore it, and what you find there. 
  5. It’s the hottest day of the year. You turn on your air conditioner and, instead of giving you an icy blast, it transports you to a snow-covered tundra. You see a small cottage with lights on and knock on the door. Who greets you and how do they help you get back home?
  6. Your doorbell rings. You answer the door, but there’s nobody there. Then you look down and see two lizards talking on cell phones. “We need to talk,” the smaller one says to you. What do they tell you? How do you respond?
  7. You just learned that your good friend has special powers she’s kept secret forever. All she needs is a cup of sand, three fish scales, and a splash of mud and she can make the most incredible thing happen. Write about what happens when she shows you her secret talent. 
  8. There’s a big windstorm one night. The lights flicker and the power goes out. A few minutes later, it comes back on and your favorite character from the last book you read is sitting at your table. Who is it, what are they doing, and how do you make them feel welcome?
  9. Think about a fairy tale you know well, such as The Three Little Pigs or Little Red Riding Hood. Write your own version of the story with a few key details changed. For example, instead of The Three Little Pigs, you could write about The Three Shy Turtles or The Three Little Pigs and Their Big Sister. 
  10. You go to watch a play at a theater, but when the curtains open, something unexpected happens. What is it and how do you respond?
  11. Write about a day in which time moves backward from night to morning. 
  12. Write a story about two characters who don’t seem like they should be friends but somehow are. For example, you could write about a cat and a mouse, or an old woman and a little boy. What brought them together and in what ways does their friendship help them?
  13. You’re playing hide-and-seek with a friend and you hide in the attic. It takes her a while to find you and, while you are waiting, you start looking through some old boxes up there. You find letters written to a family member a long time ago. Who are they from? What do they say? Imagine you learn about a family secret while reading them. What could it be? 
  14. Write a story that happens completely in one small space like a closet or a car. Include at least two characters. 
  15. A young cat finds itself alone in the forest. How did it get there? What does it do? Who does it meet? Does it find its way home or stay there? Tell its story using lots of descriptive words. 
  16. “It’s not all your fault,” my mom said. “There’s something you don’t know.” 
  17. One day, everybody brings their favorite stuffie to class. A mix up happens and all the stuffies go home with the wrong kids to the wrong houses. What happens that night? Try to write from more than one perspective. For example, you could write a paragraph or two from the perspective of one of the students and then a paragraph or two from the point of view of a stuffie. You could also have a paragraph that quickly highlights the action at several houses. (“Kimmy’s little sister cried all night. Panda freaked out when he missed his dinner and tried to eat the toilet paper. Leah wanted to call the police but her mom wouldn’t give her the phone.”
  18. Your aunt shows up at your house with a box of glazed donuts and a canoe strapped to the roof of her car. “Time for a little trip,” she says. 
  19. Write a story that’s told entirely in letters between two friends. They might write about the last time they saw each other, the upcoming summer break, or some of their favorite book characters. Tell us as much as you can about the characters and their friendship without writing about them. Let everything come out through the letters they send. 
  20. What if you could invent a new planet? What sounds, sights, and smells would it have? Would people live there or some other kind of creatures? After you write down the details of your planet, write a short story that takes place there. You might write about how it was discovered or you could write a scene that shows what life is like there. 
  21. You’re walking through the park with your family. You come around a curve in the path and spot a fox sitting under a tree writing in a notebook. What do you do? Do you talk to it? Does it speak? What is it writing?
  22. You’re sitting on the sofa watching a TV show when your sister, who is an artist, comes into the room. She has taken all your favorite toys and used them in her art project. Describe what you see, the conversation you have with her, and the lengths you’ll go to to recover your treasured toys. 
  23. “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” said Alex. “If the owl hadn’t climbed the treehouse and eaten the fish…”
  24. The school year ended. You were supposed to be on holidays. Then your parents signed you up for summer school without telling you. It might have been okay if it weren’t for… 

For another take on third-grade writing prompts, check out 70 Picture Prompts for Creative Writing

Poetry Writing Prompts for Third-Grade Students

Another great way to introduce 3rd graders to creative writing is to get them writing free verse poetry. …

Students should be encouraged to brainstorm their own topics, as the ones they come up with will likely be the most inspiring for them. However, if they’re stuck for ideas or you want to give them a list of things to write about, have them pick one of the topics below. They may also find it helpful to use a brainstorming sheet to flesh out their ideas. 

  1. Make a list of three things that happened to you this week. Choose one of them and draft a poem that tells what happened and how you felt about it.
  2. Write a poem about a special tradition from your favorite holiday. 
  3. Write an ode that celebrates your favorite subject in school. For example, “The Joys of Math” or “Ode to Art Class.”
  4. Write a poem describing the best pet you can imagine.
  5. Write a poem from the perspective of an animal.
  6. Write a poem that tells about an imaginary being. Try to convey details about its size, appearance, feelings, problems, abilities, and lifestyle. 
  7. Write a haiku about your favorite summer activity.
  8. Write a poem detailing the first time you tried your favorite food. If you don’t remember that experience, feel free to make it up. How do you imagine it would be tasting that amazing dish for the first time?
  9. Write about a poem that describes a time when you lost something important. 
  10. Write a poem about your favorite place without naming the place. Use lots of details that help the reader see this place in their minds. 
  11. Write a poem about a recent dream you had. Try not to mention that it was a dream. 
  12. Choose one of the four seasons and write a poem describing what makes it special. 
  13. Write a poem about something that’s really special to you but that seems ordinary to everyone else such as an old t-shirt or a craft you made out of recycled materials. Try to help your reader understand why it’s so important to you. 
  14. Write a poem describing a day when everything goes wrong. 
  15. Write a poem about your favorite person. Include details about why they’re so important to you. Consider giving your poem to them as a gift. 
  16. Write a poem about a secret place (real or imagined) that only you know about. 
  17. Write a poem about all the things you love to do outside. 
  18. Write a poem that introduces your city or town to a visitor who has never been there. 
  19. Write a poem about a game you love playing such as Hide and Seek, Pictionary, or Charades. 
  20. Write a poem that includes dialogue. You could write the whole poem as a conversation or sprinkle dialogue throughout. 
  21. Write a funny poem listing everything you think about when you can’t fall asleep at night. 
  22. Write a poem that imagines something about your future. It could be a single event such as “When I Finally Go to Disneyland” or it could be a more general description of what you’d like your future life to be like such as “What I’ll Eat When I Grow Up.”
  23. Write a poem that explains how to do a simple task such as one of your favorite (or least favorite) household chores.
  24. Write a poem that uses as many sound words as possible such as bang, splash, chirp, and buzz. 

For more poetic inspiration, check out 100 Inspiring Poetry Writing Prompts for Kids

Journal Writing Prompts

Kids can also stretch their creative muscles through journal writing. Journaling is a precursor to memoir writing and storytelling is the heart of memoir. While journal entries can sometimes gravitate toward a mundane recitation of chronological events, they’re also an opportunity to challenge kids to become better writers. 

A nice thing about journalling is that you don’t have to invent completely original material from scratch. You are taking events from your life and making an interesting story out of them, playing with language and sentence structure, and experimenting with what to include and exclude until you end up with something enjoyable to read. 

Challenge kids to keep a running list of things that have happened to them in their writing journals so they always have a creative writing topic ready. Remind them that writing topics don’t have to be sensational (the birth of a new sibling, say). Simple events that might otherwise be overlooked—the sighting of the first blue jay to return in the spring, for example—can form the basis of strong pieces of writing when we take the time to reflect on the event and make connections. 

Continuing with the blue jay example, such an experience might lead curious children to think about the changes that come with the season and, perhaps, the seasons of their own young lives thus far. Or they might ponder the bird and wonder what she’s been up to since she last visited the backyard. Maybe they’ll see two birds competing for a choice tree and reflect on an argument they had with a sibling. The more we can get them thinking about, reflecting on, and making connections between their experiences, the more we’ll see these themes emerge in their writing. 

Here are some ideas to get them thinking about what to write in their journals:

  1. A trip you’ve taken
  2. Your feelings about a situation (losing an important toy, having to share a bedroom, or passing a swimming test, for example)
  3. How you spent a recent birthday or holiday
  4. A new skill you’ve just mastered
  5. A skill you wish you had but haven’t learned yet
  6. A food you tried but didn’t like
  7. A walk you’ve taken in nature
  8. A change in one of your friendships
  9. Something that scared you until you worked up the courage to try and then enjoyed doing
  10. A time when you really wanted something and finally got it
  11. A time when you really wanted something and didn’t get it
  12. A time when someone made you feel good
  13. Something you saw that turned out not to be what you expected it to be
  14. A time when you did something that scared you
  15. The way your favorite song makes you feel
  16. Something you’ve learned about recently that you wish you’d known sooner
  17. Describe your perfect day
  18. The toy or special thing you treasure the most and why it’s so special to you
  19. Your earliest memory
  20. A gift you received that meant a lot to you
  21. A time when you laughed until your belly hurt
  22. A teacher you’ve enjoyed learning from
  23. A book you’ve read over and over again
  24. Three things you love about your family

Need journal prompts for older kids? Check out these 60 Creative Journal Prompts for Teens

Songwriting Prompts

Writing songs is another fun way for kids to practice their creative thinking skills while also processing their emotions and experiences. Coming up with the lyrics to a song can provide stress relief for kids and give them an opportunity to express their emotions safely. 

For some kids, coming up with lyrics and a melody to a song may be too challenging. Encourage them to choose a song, jingle, or nursery rhyme they already know and write new lyrics to the same tune. Examples of simple songs they might start with include: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Baa-Baa Black Sheep, London Bridge is Falling Down, Rock-A-Bye Baby, and Waltzing Matilda. You can find more kid-friendly songs in this playlist for kids

As an extra challenge, kids may want to initially write their lyrics to fit an existing tune and then come up with a new tune once they have their lyrics down. This would be a good extension activity for kids who finish their lyric writing early. 

  1. Write a song about your favorite animal.
  2. Think about three or four possessions (things you own) that are important to you. Write a song that celebrates the special role these items play in your life. 
  3. Think about the last time you got angry. What made you angry? How did you feel? What did you want to do about it? What did you actually do? Write a song that helps someone else understand how you felt and why. 
  4. What is your favorite show or movie? Choose a main character from that story and write a song inspired by them. It could be about them or it might be from their point of view. Think about what’s important to them and what they might want people to know. 
  5. Write a song that describes your dream day. What would you do if you could do anything you wanted? Who would be with you? Make the details as specific as possible. 
  6. Think about someone in your family who has an annoying habit. For example, your little brother who tells your parents everything you do wrong. Write a song that reimagines that annoying habit as a good thing. (“He must love me to pay so much attention to me…”)
  7. Write a song that is meant to be sung by a whole class of students. 
  8. Write a song about someone you look up to. 
  9. Write a song about something that most people seem to like but that you hate. Try to convince them they’re wrong about the thing and that it’s truly awful. 
  10. Write a song about someone you don’t see anymore such as an old neighbor or a friend who moved away. What do you miss about the times you had with that person?
  11. Think about something you loved doing when you were younger but haven’t done in a while. Write a song that shares your memories of that activity. 
  12. Write a song about something you hope for or would like to see happen. 

Descriptive Writing Prompts

Descriptive writing adds color and texture to many forms of writing including travel writing, poetry, fiction, and memoirs. One of our challenges as teachers is ensuring kids know how to write effective descriptions while also helping them learn how to balance descriptive prose with other written elements such as dialogue and action. A written work too heavy in descriptive writing might help the reader create vivid pictures in their minds without ever telling them anything. 

In third grade, these young writers are generally too young to discern this delicate balance between showing and telling, but it’s still a great time to develop their use of descriptive words. 

Before giving them these writing prompts, introduce them to the importance of using specific nouns and vivid verbs and adjectives in their writing. This is a wonderful time to instill thesaurus skills and show them how to choose the most appropriate words for each situation. 

When assigning prompts from this section, tell students their goal is to paint a picture with their words. If they read their work to a classmate who closes their eyes, can the classmate picture the scene clearly? If not, where do they need to add or change details?

  1. Write about the most memorable dream you’ve ever had. Describe it in as much detail as possible. Where did it take place? What did you see, hear, and smell? Who was there? What did they look like? What did they do?
  2. Choose a room in your house and describe its most important features.
  3. Go outside and find a tree, flower, or other plant that intrigues you. Describe it in detail: what does it look like? How big is it? What does it feel like? If one of your friends took your description and went to the same outdoor area, could they find your plant based on your description?
  4. If you could decorate your bedroom any way you wanted with no limits, what would it look like?
  5. Imagine the coziest outfit you can. Describe how it looks and feels. How do you feel when you put it on?
  6. Describe your mom or another woman you know well. What does she look like? What does her voice sound like? Does she have wear a certain perfume? How do you feel when she gives you a hug or puts her arm around you?
  7. Describe a regular tradition you have with your family, such as having a large pancake breakfast on Saturdays. Help your reader feel like they’re living the memory with you by painting a detailed picture of the scene. 
  8. Write about the inside of your family’s car. What does it smell like? How many seats are there? What would you find if you looked between or underneath the seats? Describe the music you listen to in the car and the kinds of conversations you have there. 
  9. Describe a store you go to frequently. If possible, try to visit the store before you write about it and make notes about the things you notice there using your five senses. Tell about what you see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. 
  10. Describe your writing process, that is, what you do when you write. Do you sharpen pencils and put an eraser nearby? Do you start writing right away or do you make an outline or brainstorm ideas first? Do you write single-spaced or double-spaced? Is your writing neat or messy? How do you feel when you write?
  11. What is the best thing about being you? Maybe it’s your sense of humor, your Lego-building skills, or the way you ride your bike fearlessly down hills. Maybe you live in a really cool city with lots of fun things to do. Whatever makes your life special, write about that and describe why you love it.
  12. What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday morning? Describe what you do, who does it with you, and how you do it.  

Other Creative Writing Prompts for 3rd-Grade Students

  1. Write a scene where a famous person from another time period shows up in your classroom. 
  2. Write a diary entry from the perspective of a Disney character or a character from a book you’ve read. 
  3. Think about a scene you didn’t love in your favorite movie. Rewrite the scene to make it more enjoyable. 
  4. Write a letter to your favorite author and tell them what you love about their book(s).
  5. Invent a new country with its own language, customs, and history. Write about how your country came to be and what makes it special. If you want, you can draw a map to go with your writing.
  6. Write a scene from the point of view of an object in your house such as a toaster, the dining table, or a video game console. 
  7. Write a story or poem in which each sentence starts with the next letter in the alphabet. In other words, the first sentence or line starts with A, the second with B, the third with C, and so on. 
  8. Write about a lost object that was found after many years. 
  9. Pick a city you’ve visited and make a travel brochure about it. Include a section in which you describe the city and another in which you talk about your experience there.
  10. Write a comic book* based on your favorite book or story. Try to include both dialogue (in speech bubbles) and descriptions of what’s happening. 
  11. On a big piece of paper, draw a picture of the inside of a really cool house with loads of interesting rooms. Then write a short story about the people who live there and what life is like inside their amazing house.
  12. Write an imaginary interview with a character from a book or movie. Pretend you’re asking them questions to publish in a magazine or newspaper and invent their answers.  

Comic book templates are available in our post, 10 Fun Writing Activities for Kids

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