To capture the attention of older students and inspire them to write longer and more in-depth pieces, 8th grade writing prompts need to be interesting and fun. These exciting prompts will help them get started writing everything from informational essays to journals, and even reluctant writers will enjoy the process.
In 8th grade, daily or weekly journal writing can help kids stay in practice as writers. It's also a great way to provide flexibility in topic and style, which can encourage young writers to think creatively. These prompts will get them writing:
- Imagine you could go back in time and give some advice to someone. What would you say? How would it change things?
- Pick an older relative, like a grandparent. What is the most important lesson you've learned from that person? Did he or she use any unconventional methods to teach you?
- What do you regret in your life so far? Why do you regret it?
- Have you ever had a friend or family member who was struggling with a physical or mental problem? What did you think about that struggle?
- Do people need a purpose in life? How do you think that purpose changes over time?
- What do you think of the concept of vulnerability? When have you felt vulnerable? Do you think there is strength in being vulnerable?
- What do you like about your physical appearance?
- Think about what you value in life and how it relates to where you want to be in five years. Write a personal vision statement for your life and explain why this matters to you.
- If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go? Why did you choose that spot?
- How do you feel about writing? Compare your feelings about writing to something else in your life.
Informational writing is a major focus in 8th grade. It's important to include topics that require some research, as well as topics that kids can complete in one sitting. Either way, the subject needs to be interesting:
- Ask your teacher for some facts about his or her life. Then, write a one-page biography based on what you learn.
- What is something you know how to do really well, such as playing a musical instrument, making something creative, or helping with a household task? Write directions for someone else to do this activity.
- Interview an older relative about life when they were a child. How were things different? How did they spend a typical day? Write about three pages to describe that person's life.
- Write a news article describing something that happened at your school this month.
- Think about some place you've been. It can be anything from a national park to a pizza shop in town. Describe the place to someone who hasn't been there before.
- There are many different family structures. How is your family structured?
- Pick a topic you already know a lot about, such as a favorite sports team, a movie star, a type of music, or something else that fascinates you. Write three pages explaining the topic to someone else.
- How has technology changed during your lifetime?
- Is there a tradition that is unique to your family? Describe that tradition and why your family engages in it.
- Describe a typical day in one of your parents' lives.
A Common Core Standard for 8th grade, narrative writing is a major focus for this age group. These fun prompts will help students work on developing story settings, offering context, perfecting dialogue, and more:
- People make small choices every day that define whether it will be a good day or a bad one. Think of a time you made a choice. Describe the choice and how it affected the rest of your day.
- Imagine a meal where no one used table manners. What would it be like?
- Have you ever had a really weird dream? What happened in it?
- Write a bedtime story for a child you know.
- A watershed event is something that happens and totally changes someone's life. Things are one way before the event, and everything is different after it happens. Describe a watershed event in your life.
- Pick a moment in history. Write a short story about someone living through that moment.
- Imagine a deathbed conversation between two people who haven't always had an easy relationship. One of the people betrayed the other years ago.
- What is one of the funniest things that has happened to you or someone in your family?
- Is there a real or fictional story one of your grandparents has told you? Write it down.
- Imagine a child is visiting a botanical garden with her family. She wanders off and gets lost in a hedge maze. What happens?
Opinion writing is another part of the language arts Common Core for this age group. Prompts should inspire students to make claims, support those claims, and logically organize their work:
- Do you think it's harder to be a boy or a girl your age? Why?
- Do you think the internet brings people together or drives them apart? What makes you think this?
- Can people really fall in love at first sight? Why or why not?
- The decisions parents make can have a huge impact on the lives of their children. Is this the most important thing parents should consider when making a decision? Why or why not?
- What does it mean to be emotionally strong? How is this different than physical strength?
- Do you think bullying is always obvious? What are some solutions to less obvious types of bullying?
- What does the world need to do differently to solve the crisis of climate change? What should students do to help?
- If you could give a piece of advice to a 5th grader, what would you say? Why is it important?
- People share things online that are false. How can people tell the difference between something that is true and something that is false when they see it?
- Think of a type of self-expression, whether it's fashion, tattoos, hair color, language, or something else. Is this type of self-expression important? Why or why not?
Part of opinion writing also involves identifying or making a counter-argument. This helps students become logical thinkers and facilitates more compelling work. The following prompts will help them formulate a counter-argument:
- Some people think students should not have access to smartphones in school because they are a distraction. Write an argument in favor of allowing phone use in school.
- There are people who believe nothing is more important than fame or popularity. Why do you disagree?
- Freedom of expression means being free to share your beliefs in public. Some people think there should be no limits to freedom of expression. Explain why freedom of expression should be limited in some situations.
- Cat people think cats make the best pets. Explain why dogs might be better.
- Paranormal investigators sometimes use photographs as "proof" ghosts exist. Explain why a photo of a ghost might not be proof.
- In some schools, kids have to wear uniforms every day to minimize bullying and keep the focus on learning. Explain why you disagree with this policy.
- Sometimes, people believe that good friends need to agree on important core values like religion and politics. Tell why this might not be so important.
- An old saying goes, "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." Explain why this might not be true.
- Some people think honesty is more important than kindness. Write about why kindness is more important sometimes.
- People sometimes say that crying is a sign of weakness. Explain why you disagree.
General expository writing prompts help 8th graders learn to organize information, create clear and compelling descriptions, and share details in a logical way. These prompts, each designed for about one page of writing, will help them practice these important skills:
- What unique qualities does your generation have? How are people your age different than your parents or grandparents?
- What is your earliest memory?
- Think of a job you'd like to do someday. Describe a typical day in that job.
- Describe the typical school lunch and the experience of eating in the lunchroom.
- Imagine your dream home. Write a description of each room.
- There's a Christmas song about going "over the river and through the woods" to get to Grandmother's house. How do you get to your grandparents' house or the home of another relative?
- Describe your last birthday, from the moment you woke up until you went to bed that night.
- What is the weirdest place you've ever been? Describe it.
- Summarize the plot of your favorite book or movie to someone who has never read or seen it. Include a spoiler alert.
- What are three ways your family could spend a weekend and have fun together?
One element of the Common Core Standards for this age group involves the use of precise language. 8th graders have larger vocabularies and more options than younger students when it comes to word choice, but they may not have much experience choosing the perfect words. These prompts can help:
- How is being wise different from being smart?
- How are race and nationality different?
- How is something "made from natural ingredients" different from something grown in your garden?
- Is a "young person" exactly the same as an 8th grader? Why or why not?
- How is a sound different than music?
- Is a president always the same as a leader?
- Are all educators teachers? Are all teachers educators? Why or why not?
- Why would you describe something as "antique" instead of calling it "old"?
- What is the difference between baked goods, cake, and brownies?
- When is it better to say an exact number instead of "a lot"?
Writing a research paper is a major goal for this age group, but research requires a kind of sustained attention students may not have practiced a lot. These prompts will inspire them to look for answers, form conclusions, and write short or long essays to describe their findings:
- Pick an invention that has changed the world. Research the person who invented it and the story of its invention. Write a paper explaining what you discover.
- Think of a colloquial phrase or idiom in your language, something people say all the time that has a different meaning. Examples might be "dead as a door nail," "raining cats and dogs," or "jump the shark." Look up the origin of this saying and explain where it came from.
- Pick a time period. Research that time to find out what a typical day was like for a person your age.
- Some people have special gifts and challenges. Do you know someone who thinks in a different way? Find out as much as you can about this way of thinking and describe it in your paper.
- Look up the sinking of the Titanic. How could it have been avoided?
- Which planets do we know that might be similar to Earth? Could humans live on them?
- Pick an author you love. Write about that author's life.
- Interview a relative about your family history. How many generations back can you go? What do you know about your ancestors?
- Are you allergic to anything? Do you know someone with allergies? Find out what doctors know about allergies.
- Think of a skill no one uses very often these days, such as navigating with a compass or repairing a sock. Find out how it was done and write instructions.
The Common Core Standards for 8th grade also call for using sensory language in writing. Whether students are writing poetry, creating personal narratives, or just exploring a theme, these prompts will help:
- Think of your favorite food. Is it sweet? Salty? Write a page describing that food to your classmates without ever naming the food.
- Close your eyes for five minutes. Then, open them and describe what you heard.
- Some writers believe smell, touch, and taste are the most powerful senses to describe because they are less likely to be shared by more than one character. Pick one of these three senses and write about an experience you had this week using details from that sense.
- Write about a character who is angry without ever saying that person is angry or mad. How does the character act that shows his or her anger?
- Describe something that really stinks.
- Think of your favorite memory. How did you experience that time using all of your senses?
- Describe a fruit by never mentioning how it tastes.
- Imagine you have lost one of your senses. Describe your day without it.
- How does it feel to laugh? How does it feel to cry?
- When have you been speechless? Use words to describe the feeling, trying to include as many senses as you can.
Eighth graders are just beginning to write for an audience, rather than simply writing to fulfill a teacher's expectations. These prompts will help them identify a reader or audience and adapt their writing to fit the needs of that group:
- Describe your bedroom at home to someone who lives in a foreign country.
- Imagine your life 10 years from now. Write a letter to your older self.
- Imagine someone who has just been tripped in the hallway by a bully. Tell that person what he or she should do the next time the bully tries to do that.
- Write a letter to a friend who has just lost a pet.
- Pick one thing you'd like to change in your school. Write a letter to your principal about it.
- Imagine a new student has just joined your class. Offer lots of tips to help get through the first day.
- Write one paragraph about your morning, thinking of your best friend as the person who will read it. Then, write another paragraph about your morning that your principal will read.
- What are three things you know to be true about life? Write some advice for a younger sibling, cousin, or friend.
- Write a paragraph introducing your teacher to a new student. Now, write a paragraph introducing your teacher to the president or prime minister.
- Explain how to use a cell phone to someone who has never seen one before.
These writing prompt worksheets will help kids get started with their writing. These exercises are fun and interesting - even for reluctant writers. Download and print them for your own students.