By the time your child has gotten to fifth grade, they should have a lot of practice and fluency with writing prompts. They will have to give even more detail and tackle more complex ideas, and they will get more challenging as they get older. Further, fifth graders need to support their claims and ideas with factual information, conveying information clearly, and writing narratives in a logical order.
There are four basic types of prompts for fifth grade students: narrative, persuasive, expository, and creative writing.
A narrative essay requires them to tell a story, real or imagined, using descriptive writing to reflect on their experiences, explain them logically, and draw conclusions from them. The writing prompt will be something like this: Think about a time you did something that made you feel guilty. Describe what happened.
To answer this, your child will have to tell the story of a time they did something wrong and what the consequences were. They will likely make use of the “five senses” and discuss how they felt moment-to-moment as they describe the events. Dialogue is an important part of this, too; they may describe the conversation they had with their teacher or with you, confessing what they did and apologizing.
A persuasive essay is written to convince another person to agree with the writer or take action. The prompt will look something like this: What is your least-favorite food at the school cafeteria? Give three compelling reasons why your school should quit serving it. To answer this, your child needs to make sure to have three logical and persuasive reasons for why whatever food they choose is bad.
For example, they may hate the green beans they are given. The reasons they give don’t have to be particularly nuanced, but should still be realistic and logical. Their reasons may be that they are canned and therefore aren’t as nutritious as fresh, they are overcooked, and they make everyone’s breath smell bad. Their essay should also make a case for a replacement or better idea, such as serving fresh green beans or different vegetable options.
An expository essay requires your child to explain something, like a how-to guide or providing facts about a topic. This essay prompt will look something like this: Your favorite book was made into a movie. Compare and contrast the film and book versions. To answer this, your child will need to point out the differences and similarities between the two works.
For example, the movie may have cut out a lot of scenes from the book or added new ones. Characters may dress differently or say different dialogue in the movie, or they may be perfect representations of how they look in the book. There shouldn’t be a list of similarities and differences; instead, your child should organize these comparisons in paragraphs that have a logical flow. For example, they may start by going through differences in the events of the two works and how the movie improves on certain plots, then discuss character differences and how they are better in the book, and finish with their ideas about which version tells the story better.
Creative writing has your child use their story-telling skills while also practicing vital writing skills such as sequence and description. A creative writing prompt can look something like this: Write a story from your pet’s point of view. A creative writing prompt requires your child to consider things from a different perspective, and they may even write a poem or song instead of an essay, depending on their assignment.
To answer this prompt, they will need to consider what the world looks, sounds, and feels like from a very different view. It doesn’t have to be a perfect narrative, it can be the pet’s ideas and feelings about their life and how they feel about your child. Creative writing prompts are an opportunity for your child to stretch their imagination and try out different things in their writing.
If your child is having a hard time with these prompts, a way to help is to enroll them in Reading Genie. The program is designed to give your child practice writing while engaging them in fun topics and ideas. The teachers at Reading Genie give helpful and kind advice, and your child will have opportunities to get feedback from their peers to build their confidence.
You can also practice writing prompts with your child at home; they can be a lot of fun! Even if you don’t end up writing anything, discussing ideas with your child and how to approach certain prompts and questions can help get their minds active.
Genie Academy offers a range of after-school programs focused on enhancing skills in mathematics, literacy, composition, and coding. These educational services are available at various sites across New Jersey, such as Plainsboro, and are designed to cater to the learning needs of children from Pre-Kindergarten to 8th grade.