Expository Writing Prompts for First, Second and Third Graders
Learning how to write an expository paper is one of the most important skills that young students can develop from an early age. Expository writing is a method of writing in which the author describes, informs, or explains a topic to the reader. It is a lifelong skill that will serve students not only throughout the rest of their school years, but also throughout their entire lives.
These all new expository writing prompts for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-grade students are full of interesting topics and ideas that kids will be excited to describe. Some prompts ask students to explain a concept (such as why it’s so important to eat healthy foods), while others allow them to practice their expository writing skills by explaining why they hold a particular viewpoint or belief (such as why a person they find heroic should be admired by others). As students go through these prompts, they’ll improve their descriptive writing skills and will gain a better understanding of what it means to explain or teach something to another person.
Use these 33 new prompts in your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade classrooms to help students learn the valuable skill of expository writing!
33 Expository Writing Prompts for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Grade Students
- Think of your most valued possession. Explain why it is so important to you.
- Explain why it is so important for kids to attend school.
- Think about a time when you did something that you didn’t want to do. Explain why you did it anyway.
- Think of a person whom you consider to be a hero. Explain why other people should admire this person.
- Explain three ways that people can do nice things for one another.
- Explain what you would do if a friend got mad at you for something that you didn’t do.
- Think about a famous person whom you would like to meet and explain why you would want to meet him or her.
- Choose an important tool that can be found in our classroom. Explain how it has made an impact on teachers and students.
- Think about a time when you couldn’t stop laughing and explain what happened.
- Explain why it is important to eat healthy foods.
- Explain why you shouldn’t have too many sweets or snacks.
- Think of something your parents always tell you and explain why it is or isn’t true.
- Are you the oldest, middle, or youngest child in your family? Explain what you like or dislike about your position.
- Think about what you want to be when you grow up and explain why you think that would be the best job.
- Explain what your favorite thing to do after school is.
- Choose your favorite holiday and explain why people celebrate it.
- Think about one of your best friends and explain why you like him or her.
- Explain what it means to be a good person.
- Explain what you would do if you were at a store and couldn’t find your mom or dad.
- Choose a type of transportation (car, bike, plane, etc.) and explain why it is beneficial for people who use it.
- Explain what you like most about living in our city.
- Think of one of your family’s traditions. Explain why it matters to your family and how you perform the tradition.
- Explain why it is important for students to learn how to do math.
- Think of something that you know how to do well and explain how to do it as if you were teaching someone who didn’t know.
- Explain why it is important for students to follow our classroom rules.
- Explain what you would do if you saw someone being bullied.
- Choose a food that you love and explain what you like about it.
- Think of your favorite TV show and explain why you like it better than other programs.
- Explain what you like most about summer vacation.
- Choose your favorite book and explain what elements made it a good book.
- Think about how you feel when someone notices something you’ve done well. Explain what kinds of feelings you get.
- Choose one of your favorite activities and explain what you like most about it.
- Explain why it is important to help people who are less fortunate than us.
Until next time, write on…
Discover Even More Great Articles on JournalBuddies.com
When you want your students to practice explanatory writing, present them with one or more of the following prompts, grouped by difficulty. You can also introduce students to the PAST strategy to help them understand what each explanatory prompt is asking them to do.
Beginning Explanatory Prompts (Grades 4–5)
The following explanatory prompts are meant for students who are moving from paragraph writing to essay writing.
1. Defining Friendship
Everyone needs friends. What qualities make someone a good friend? How can you be a friend for someone who needs one? Write an essay that explains ways to be a good friend.
2. A Job for Me
People do all kinds of jobs. Some people build. Others serve. Some teach. Others sell. Some people work on ships at sea, and others in skyscrapers in cities. What kind of job would you like to do? As a future worker, write an essay that names a job you would like, describes the work, and tells why you would like it.
3. An Admirable Person
We all have people we admire. They might be family members or friends. They might be singers, dancers, or actors. They might even be fictional characters. Whom do you admire most? Write an essay that names a person you admire and describes the qualities that make you like the person.
4. Sweet or Spicy?
Most people have a favorite food. What is yours? Is the food a common one that most other kids would know about, or a really special type? Is it sweet or spicy? In an essay, name your favorite food and describe to your classmates how it looks, smells, and tastes. Tell why you like it so much.
5. My Ideal Home
Most people can imagine a dream home. What would yours be? Big or small? In the country or in the city? How many floors? Would it be underground or up in a tree? As a young person, write an essay describing your dream home to a parent or guardian.
Intermediate Explanatory Prompts (Grades 6–8)
The following explanatory prompts are meant for students who do regular multi-paragraph writing.
6. Connectivity Culture
Smartphones, tablet PCs, social media, and constant connectivity are changing the ways that people live, think, work, and connect. How do these technologies shape your life? Are you plugged in or tuned out? Why? Write an essay that explains to your fellow students the ways that you connect digitally and predicts how people will connect in the future.
7. Pets vs. People
Pets are not people. After all, dogs don’t go to school and cats don’t hold down jobs. But pet owners often consider their dogs and cats to be members of their families. In what ways are pets like people and in what ways are they not? Write a comparison-contrast essay explaining the similarities and differences between pets and people.
8. Defining Responsibility
A parent is responsible for taking care of children. A criminal is responsible for committing a crime. And teens are encouraged to make responsible choices. Just what does it mean to be “responsible”? Does it mean something different for young people than for adults? As a young person who is taking on more and more responsibilities, write an essay that defines what responsibility means to you, and explain the idea to those older than you.
9. Unique Celebrations
The Chinese celebrate New Year with a dragon dance. How do you celebrate New Year? What other special days do you observe? In an essay, explain a celebration or ritual that you know about. Tell what is usually done and why. Explain it to a reader who is new to the event.
10. Here's How It's Done
What are you really good at? Perhaps you can sink a free throw every time. Maybe you can identify birds by their songs, or make a very delicious homemade pizza. Think of a particular skill you have and could teach others. Then write an essay describing the process you use to accomplish this special feat. Provide enough detail so your reader can learn how to do the same thing.
Advanced Explanatory Prompts (Grades 9–12)
The following prompts are meant for high-school level writers. Students may need to research the topics in order to respond with sufficient depth and complexity.
11. Addressing Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying involves using technology to harm, intimidate, and embarrass others. One form of cyberbullying called “trolling” occurs when anonymous Internet users intentionally post inflammatory content in an attempt to provoke and upset other users. While much effort has been made to counteract bullying in schools, the online and anonymous nature of cyberbullying makes it difficult to regulate. Write an essay that explains to your fellow students ways to counteract cyberbullying.
12. Moral Dilemmas
Consider a moral dilemma that a character in a novel or other piece of literature must face. It could be an issue you yourself have faced or one that is new to you. Explain what you would do if you were caught in the same situation. Then explain why you would handle it that way.
13. Talking About My Generation
Today’s youth are sometimes perceived as tech savvy, optimistic, and accepting. Other times, they are perceived as spoiled, coddled, and lazy, more interested in checking Instagram than in bearing down and working hard. In an essay, define the general characteristics of your generation. Provide evidence and reasons to support your definition.
14. Fashionable Expressions
Author Sarah MacLean believes “The most confident of women are those who believe in every scrap of fabric they wear.” Indeed, clothing is a form of self-expression for many people. Evaluate the clothing choices that you or someone else (famous or not) makes and explain what these fashion choices express about the person.
15. Comparing Future Career Paths
What do you want to do after you graduate from high school? Attend college? Hone your skills at a trade school? Or go straight into the professional world? Choose two options (college, trade school, job) and write an essay in which you analyze similarities and differences between the two options.