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Expository Writing Activities and Prompts

The Pledge of Allegiance (K-2 suggested grade level)
Read the Pledge of Allegiance aloud to students. Ask them to discuss the deeper meanings of the words. After the discussion, students can write a paragraph about or draw a picture of what they think is important about what they heard in the words of the Pledge.
The Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy & Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic, 2000)
What Did You Say? (K-2 suggested grade level)
Play the old telephone whispering game. Have students choose a campaign slogan or phrase that they have heard before, and whisper it in the ear of the next student, passing it on in this manner until the last person hears the “secret.” Play in teams; ask the last person to write down what he / she heard. See which team gets closer to the correct slogan or phrase by the time it reaches the last person on the team.
Favorite Color - Project Based Learning Activity (K-2 suggested grade level)
People have always associated colors with different things and places. These associations or meanings are also known as symbolism. For example, yellow symbolized Mercury and the sun to the ancient Romans. To the Chinese, yellow symbolized royalty, the Egyptians associated yellow with the east, and the Japanese thought yellow symbolized courage.
What is your favorite color? Make a list of things that are your favorite color. What do you think about when you see your favorite color? Why?
Giraffe Award - Research Idea (K-2 suggested grade level)
With the holidays around the corner, there will be many opportunities to teach about and model altruism. Nominate someone special for a "Giraffe Award" for sticking his or her neck out for the good of the community. Have students listen to the story of how giraffes got their long necks and discuss the lessons learned. Ask students to think about people in your community who are ‘giraffes.’ Have students each write a paragraph explaining who they would like to nominate for a Giraffe Award. This is a national nonprofit that has been moving people to stick their necks out for the common good and giving them tools to succeed.
Seasonal Advice - Science Integration Idea (K-2 suggested grade level)
Some friends who live in another country are coming to visit and want to know the best time of year to come. Think about how the seasons affect your weather. Write your friends a letter, telling them when to come. Don’t forget to tell them what to pack in their suitcase!
*For pre-emergent and emergent writers, ask them to draw what the weather is like, and pictures of what to pack in the suitcase.
Twelve to a Dozen - Math Integration Idea (K-2 suggested grade level)
How many items make a dozen? Brainstorm with your classmates different items that are often found in groups of twelve. Draw a picture of these items. Make a list of all the items you can think of that come in quantities of a dozen.
In Science (K-2 suggested grade level)
Students draw then label or write sentences that identify different ways and fuels used for cooking and heating their homes (electricity, gas, oil, wood, coal, etc.)
Show and Tell (K-2 suggested grade level)
Write, draw or dictate a note to your class about what you are bringing for Show and Tell. Share what you know about your object.
Say What? - (3-5 suggested grade level)
An idiom is an expression that has a meaning apart from the meanings of its individual words. Give individual students a chance to learn new idioms and their meanings by giving them time to interact with idioms online. Put students in groups and direct them to find and discuss the meanings of 10 new idioms. From these, ask students to select a favorite idiom, use it in a sentence, and illustrate its literal and figurative meanings.

Online idiom resources:
Eye on Idioms
ESL Idiom Page
Idioms by Kids - Publish your students' literal idiom pictures online
My Favorite Quote - (3-5 suggested grade level)
A proverb is a short but memorable saying that tells some important fact about life that many people believe to be true. For example, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and, “Scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours,” are both American proverbs. Choose a proverb, make a cartoon or drawing illustrating its meaning, then write a short paragraph to explain it.
Visit this site for help finding your favorite quote: World of Quotes
Tree Myth - (3-5 suggested grade level)
Have students research the trees in your community and read different tree myths. Then, have them write their own myth about the trees they researched. Use the web site Spirit of Trees to help in your research “This website was originally conceived of as an educational resource for the DC Memorial Tree Groves Project, a Washington, DC-based national memorial to the victims of 9/11… [It] highlights the symbolic and aesthetic dimensions of trees. You will find, in particular, an extensive collection of multicultural folktales from contemporary storytellers, with links to more tales on the web.”
In Social Studies (3-5 suggested grade level)
Students, in small groups or teams, discuss then draft a Students’ Bill of Rights.
Make Lemonade - Math Writing Activity (3-5 suggested grade level)
On a hot summer’s day, you’d like to make twenty dollars to support your trip to a nearby water park so you decide to set up a lemonade stand. Write a complete description of the supplies you’ll need, the estimated costs and how you will determine how much to charge for each glass of lemonade.
Making Close Friends (3-5 suggested grade level)
Have you discovered the secret to making a close friend (or someone in your family) laugh? Explain the best way to make someone giggle.
Afraid (3-5 suggested grade level)
Everyone is afraid of something: heights, spiders or flying are common fears. What do you fear most? Write about a situation in which you face your fear. What happened? What did you do to overcome the fear or does it still frighten you today?
Important Social Issues (6-8 suggested grade level)
Brainstorm a list of important social issues that students want the presidential candidates to address during their campaigns. Ask each student to choose a topic that is most important and draft a letter to the 2008 Presidential candidates that outlines a specific course of action. For more resources, visit:
Lights, Camera, Action! (6-8 suggested grade level)
Cameras can promote creativity in writing. Students use technology and critical thinking skills when choosing and manipulating shots with photo editing software. Writing is also much easier after they have already begun tapping into their creative sides. Be sure to predicate your photowriting activities with a discussion about subject matter and expectations. You should also choose in advance which genre students will write in. Themes can provide much needed structure for students. For example, for a non-fiction piece, students might take pictures of their favorite spots around town. When they bring the photos back, you may have them brainstorm, trade, create storyboards, or write on demand. Final drafts can be printed and bound or loaded to a blog or class website. Sources for photography if cameras are not available:
Transportation (6-8 suggested grade level)
Think of two different types of transportation, such as a scooter and in-line skates, a sled and skis, a canoe and a sailboat, a subway and a bus, or a train and and airplane. Compare and contrast the two. Consider issues such as speed, comfort, enjoyment, and expense.
Journaling (6-8 suggested grade level)
Cut and paste examples from your other journal entries showing unique or distinctive aspects of your writing style, and then comment on them, making specific reference to details.
Advice to the Fifth Grade Students (6-8 suggested grade level)
This year, you have learned what it takes to be a sixth grade student, what your teachers expect out of you, and how to succeed as a student. Write a letter that gives fifth grade students specific advice on what they really need to know before they enter sixth grade in the fall.
Scene It? (6-12 suggested grade level)
Increase your students’ awareness of movie culture and give them an authentic audience for their writing. Use movie clips and a word bank to teach description. Read online movie reviews to prepare students for writing their own movie reviews.

Act I
Send your students home with the assignment to watch a movie and write a review.

Act II
After they have written the reviews, pair students up to peer edit. Then publish students’ revised reviews on the Common Sense Media website.

Taylor, K. (2007). Using DVD and video in your ESL class - part two. Retrieved March 4, 2008, from ESL Teachers Board Web site:

What's the law on downloading music? (6-12 suggested grade level)
In preparation for a lively discussion on plagiarism and copyright laws, direct students to research and take notes on the current issue of downloading music. The following links provide a starting point:
Encourage students to find other web sites with information regarding this issue. Preface the assignment with a discussion of legitimate vs. illegitimate web resources. During the discussion following the research, reinforce the principles of reliable sources.
Explain Yourself! - Math Integration Idea (6-12 suggested grade level)
You have been given a problem to solve. In addition to working out the correct answer, write a complete description of how you went about solving the problem. How did you decide what approach to take or formula(s) to use? Describe not only how you solved the problem but how you checked your work and your level of confidence that you were able to solve it correctly.
Restate, Request, Review - Science Integration Idea (6-12 suggested grade level)
Encourage students to keep a notebook for this purpose.
After teaching a new concept, ask students to summarize what they just learned in their own words in their notebooks including any questions they may have or clarifications they may need. Ask them to title and date each entry.
As a looping activity, at the beginning of the next class, ask students to share what they had written, and offer answers and clarifications for them to add to their notes.
Students can also exchange notebooks with one another in order to validate their summaries and notes.
Advise students to use the summaries and notes to review for tests.
Three Social Studies/History Integration Ideas (6-12 suggested grade level)
Challenge your students to identify a foreign country they would like to visit. Ask them to describe the country and write a rationale for their choice.
As a journal entry, prompt students to write about how an economic principle affects their every day life.
Propose this fictional opportunity to your students: Choose one political person who is nationally known and with whom you could meet for one hour.

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