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5th Grade Expository Writing Prompts

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Fifth graders can be very independent writers, but sometimes they need a little help getting started. The prompts in this lesson are designed to get your fifth grade students writing expository texts.

What Is Expository Writing?

Many fifth graders are very independent writers, but they may struggle in particular with expository writing, or writing whose purpose is to teach the reader something that the writer already knows about. It can be difficult for some fifth graders to get themselves started, because expository writing involves both acknowledging and probing their own areas of expertise. A great way to get these students started is via the use of prompts, questions or sentence starters that get the writer going. The prompts in this lesson are useful as fifth graders learn how to organize, embellish, and polish their expository writing.

Prompts About Family

Many fifth graders are hesitant to acknowledge that they are experts, but they cannot deny being experts on their own families and daily life. These prompts will get your students writing about themselves in ways they may not have thought about before.

  • Imagine that someone new is coming to dinner at your house. S/he does not know anyone in your family or the way a meal tends to go in your house. Write an essay that introduces this person to the key characters in your home and what s/he might expect to encounter at a meal, including how s/he should behave and why.
  • Describe a day you spent with your family that stands out in your memory as really fun. In addition to describing where you were and what you did, make sure you describe why it was fun, who was there, and what particular events made this day so memorable.
  • Imagine that you could invent the perfect sibling. What would this dream sibling be like, and why? Describe him/her in as much detail as possible.
  • Write about how your family deals with difficult events or emotions. Use an example or several examples to illustrate your point. You can express your opinion about these strategies, as well.

Prompts About Topics of Interest

Some fifth graders might have topics they are particularly interested in. These prompts will get them going with writing that introduces you to their hobbies and specialties.

  • Describe something you know how to do really well. Write about how you learned this activity and how you might teach it to someone else.
  • Imagine that you have the opportunity to teach a class of second graders about any topic you want. What would you teach them about, and why? Describe what your lesson or series of lessons would look like.
  • Describe your favorite animal. In addition to providing a physical description, write about why you like this animal and describe how you came to be interested in it. Provide as much information as you can about the animal you have chosen.
  • Describe a book you recently read and loved. Write about what led you to choose this book, what it was about, and why you liked it so much.

Prompts About Big Issues

Fifth graders are not too young to talk about controversial issues. These prompts will get them writing about things that they really care about.

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