When you want your students to write more, motivation is half the battle. Giving kids a real purpose and a real audience for writing can make a big difference in their desire to write! In today’s post, I’ll describe 10 engaging persuasive / opinion writing projects that you can use to motivate your students.
– “All About Me” book – This is more opinion writing than persuasive, but kids can make a book of their “favorites” (food, toy, activity at school, restaurant, recess activity, game, TV show, etc.). They give at least one reason to explain each favorite. Then, place the books in the classroom library – the kids will love reading about each other!
– New student book – Have your students make a class book for students who move into the area from out of town. Each child can write a page about a different topic (or a few different students can write about the same topic). The topic of the book could be “Important Places”, and each student can make a page about an important place in the community. On the page, they would name an important place (i.e. library, water park, pool), describe it, and give reasons to explain why it is an important location in the community. Place the book in the school office so new students have something to read while their parents fill out registration paperwork.
– Recess activities letter – Have students write a letter to a friend in the class or school. In the letter, the child can name an activity at recess and explain why the friend should try it. Kids can get into a “recess rut,” doing the same thing at recess day after day, so this can be a fun way to motivate them to try something new! Have kids deliver the letters and then invite their friends to try out the activity with them at recess.
– Reviews – The possibilities are endless here! Kids can write book reviews, and then you can feature a few at a time in the classroom library to encourage kids to try out new books. Other possible topics include favorite restaurants, foods, video games, board games, TV shows, movies, sports, toys, and music. Make sure that you find a real audience for their reviews, such as other students in the school, administrators, community members, etc.
– Debate notes – Have students engage in simple debates, like, “Should kids watch TV on school nights?” In order to prepare for their debates, they will have to write persuasive papers about their opinions and reasons. You can have them put different reasons on notecards and form teams to work together during the debate. I would probably only do this one with 2nd grade and up.
– Book awards – If you teach a traits-based writing program, your students might already be familiar with concepts like “word choice” and “ideas.” Turn this into a book awards project. Students can give books prizes for “wonderful word choice,” “detailed descriptions,” or other categories of your choice. They can each present one award and show off the book as the rest of the class listens.
– “Dear Mom and Dad” letter – Students can select something they want to see changed in their household and write to their parents to explain why they think the change should take place. Encourage students to think beyond the typical “later bedtime” or “buy me a new toy” topics. Maybe they wish their family ate dinner together more often? Perhaps they would like to have a family game night? Maybe they want more “say” in decorating the home? Help your students think outside the box here, and then have them hand-deliver or even mail their letters.
– “Dear Teacher” letter – Similar to the “Dear Mom and Dad” letter, kids can select something in the classroom that they would like to see changed and write to you to share their opinion and reasons. They will be delighted when you write them back a letter in response!
– “Dear Principal” letter – Similar to the above. Encourage kids to think about a problem in the school that might be solved, and to write to the principal to share their ideas. My principal wrote back to my kids, and they were thrilled!
– “Dear Community Leader” letter – Similar to the above. Have kids think about problems in the community and improvements/changes that they might like to see. Your students will probably need your help to find audiences for their letters. Many of my kids chose topics like, “people need to slow down in neighborhoods,” so I had to look on the town webpage and find names and addresses for people who were in charge of things like road signs/transportation. If you are lucky, some of the community leaders might write them back!
Most of these projects are included in my persuasive writing units for K, 1st, and 2nd. The lesson plans are already done for you, and supplementary materials (the ones pictured in this post) are included!