The Best Back to School Writing Activity

writing lesson for the first week of school

Back to school time can be stressful, but your very first writing lesson of the year does not have to be! This simple, yet meaningful activity is an engaging and informative way to kick off your back to school season and get to know your students as writers right from the first day of school.

I love using this writing lesson at the start of every school year because this lesson offers so many benefits! After many years of teaching and tweaking this activity, it I have found this lesson to be:

  • engaging
  • motivating
  • inspirational to students as writers
  • and creates a one of a kind back to school bulletin board

This lesson also helps you to get to know your students as writers, build rapport, and positive relationships with students all while getting to know their writing strengths and areas for improvement. All of which will help you during your very first writing conference of the year.

You will love it and all its benefits, too!

Want to give it a try? Read the steps for teaching this lesson and then grab the lesson printables for FREE at the bottom of this post.

Step 1: The Read-Aloud

The Best Back to School Writing Activity

Begin with a blank anchor chart with the header, What do good writers do? Then read the story Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills. Instruct students to be listening for strategies that good writers do during the read-aloud of the book. After reading the book, but before discussing it as a class, have students complete reader reflection questions. When they are done, discuss each question and writing strategy that they wrote about together as a class.

Step 2: Brainstorm

what do good writers do anchor chart

Following a reading of the book, have students work in pairs, small groups, or independently to brainstorm strategies and techniques that good writers use. Have students record their ideas on the recording sheet and be ready to share.

Step 3: Complete the Class Anchor Chart

The Best Back to School Writing Activity

Now your students are ready to share strategies that good writers use. Record student ideas on the class anchor chart. If your students need guidance, you can use the pre-written anchor chart ideas included in the free lesson set at the bottom of the post. Use the premade list to guide student discourse so that students can generate these ideas on their own. Display your completed anchor chart in the classroom.

Step 4: I am an Author!

The Best Back to School Writing Activity

Now comes the creativity! Have students illustrate themselves as authors! This is such an empowering activity for students to not only complete but to see hanging on their classroom bulletin board. Students should create colorful drawings of themselves writing. As they draw help them by asking them:

  • What tools do they need as authors? 
  • Where are they as they write? 
  • What are they writing about? 
  • Which writing genre are they writing? 
  • How do they feel as they write? 

These questions should be answered through their illustrations. Have students label their illustration, too! This activity is perfect for your first writing bulletin board of the year or leave these illustrations up all year long. I display them on your writing bulletin board during the first month of school, and then I take them down and add them to my students' writing notebooks.

Step 5: Get Writing

upper elementary first day of school writing lesson

Once the first lesson is officially done and your students' author illustrations are hanging up, get them writing. I love offering students a choice of three prompts to write to during the first week of school. I give them a choice of three personal narrative prompts because that is our first writing unit we study.

For the first writing prompt of the year, I do not give students any directions. They just pick a prompt and write. These first writing pieces serve as valuable formative assessments for me as we begin our first writing unit. They also serve as a great comparison tool for students at the end of the year when they reflect on the growth that they have made as writers. Keep these first writing pieces safe so students can compare their first and last writing pieces. It is the best last day of school writing activity!

And that is it! These five steps will help you kick off your school year in an engaging way to get your students excited about writing this school year!

You will love teaching this lesson during the first few days of the school during each back to school season. It will not only engage your students but it will motivate them, too. Through these activities, you will gain valuable information about each one of your new students as writers that will help to help guide instruction during your first unit of writing.

Need more specific writing tips and lesson ideas? Read these blog posts:

Love this writing lesson idea? Then you will love this back to school poetry writing activity!

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upper elementary writing first week of school free



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