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3 Strategies for Helping Students Come Up with Writing Ideas

Creative block is the number one enemy of writers. It’s especially frustrating for younger students as it plants a seed of self-pity, sometimes self-loathing, at not knowing what to write about. As early as now, your students should know that writing is a process and that it doesn’t just happen. Part of the writing process is idea generation. While you can always feed students writing prompts to address the ‘I have nothing to write’ frustration, if you really want to train them to be good writers, you have to help them come up with ideas on their own, young as they are. At that, here are the pre-writing strategies you can teach pupils:


This is the most popular writing warm-up routine. The goal of brainstorming is to link one idea after another. There are two ways to do this: individually or by group. In the case of the former, encourage your students to scribble freely on a piece of paper—make sure to attach that rough draft with their final write-up later. Brainstorming drafts help children see their flow of thought and appreciate better the writing process as they’re able to compare the initial, rough plan and the output. At the same time, the drafts are troves of many more ideas for the next writing sessions. If you’re doing the brainstorming as a group, though, make sure that every kid in the team contributes. Introverts may find it uneasy to participate in such settings, so you will have to have some sort of icebreakers to make children more comfortable.


Young girl drawing

Idea generation doesn’t have to involve words always. Your young visual learners can come up with writing ideas with pictures or doodles. Hence, let them draw whatever pops into their head. To align with the writing session you’ll have later, tell the children the topic that they will have to write about. From there, they can materialize their ideas through drawings. For instance, your writing lesson is fairy tales. Let them do sketches of what they think about princesses and unicorns. This exercise will help stretch their creativity and hopefully make it easier for them to think of imaginative plots later. Moreover, you can let them use their illustrations when they write their stories. This will do wonders for their self-confidence. You can use writing tools from excellent websites, such as Studentreasures Publishing, which can also help you introduce publishing books for kids to your students.


People are natural storytellers. Children love to share narratives, whether that be how they got into the wrong school bus or where they spent their weekend. It’s a skill to organize thoughts and bring a logical sequence to stories, which is a very crucial strength writers need to develop. Therefore, it would be a very good writer training for students to talk. Divide them into groups and pose a thought-provoking question that will make them tell a story. Some fun examples are:

  • What would you do if you find a treasure chest in the middle of a forest?
  • How would you use the three genie-given wishes?
  • When was the last time you felt happy?

Young as they are, students will have to learn how to come up with their own ideas for writing. Teach them the strategies mentioned above and hopefully, you will never have to hear a single “I don’t know what to write, Teacher!”

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