Finding good writing prompts for kids can be quite difficult sometimes. It often requires a lot of trial and error, but once a great prompt is discovered, the experience is extremely rewarding.
This summer, I led a Harry Potter themed writing camp called Word Wizardry. The 3rd through 6th graders who took the camp were incredibly wonderful and creative in all their writing. However, they responded especially well to one writing prompt in particular: “Create Your Own Magical Creature.”
We introduced this prompt by having the kids name a couple of magical creatures they already knew from the Harry Potter series and from mythology in general. They shouted out everything from hippogriffs to unicorns to werewolves, and it provided them with a relatively solid frame of reference. We then asked the kids to create a creature of their own. As a part of this creation, the kids described their creature, providing details about its appearance and abilities. Most of the kids also chose to draw pictures of their creatures, which allowed the visual artists a chance to shine as well. The last component of this prompt was for the kids to write a story about their creature. We presented many options for this aspect: they could write a scene in which they (or a character) was interacting with their creature, a day in the life of the creature, or some kind of history on their new creation.
Not only did the kids have an absolute blast creating their own creatures, but they came up with some super imaginative and hilarious stuff. One of my personal favorites was the “Giant Blob.” This blob was so immense that it consumed the entire Earth. The premise of the blob’s story was that we humans were all just living inside the Giant Blob’s stomach, completely unaware of the true nature of our existence. Pretty awesome, right?
Another great creature creation was the green serpent that guarded a volcano full of gold. The boy who made this creature created an entire back story filled with long-lost prophecies, daring adventurers, and even underlying messages about the cost of greed. Needless to say, it’s kind of amazing what elementary schoolers can create when given the opportunity.
This writing prompt accomplished two awesome things: it generated super cool work from the kids, and it was also incredibly fun. Remember that this prompt is easily adaptable for any workshop; it does not need to be Harry Potter themed in order for it to work! I would highly recommend “Create Your Own Magical Creature” as a writing activity for 3rd through 6th graders. Happy creating!