Teaching Writing – Recipes & Resources

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These tried and true lesson activities will help you get your students writing and communicating in English. The recipes work with most teaching scenarios and situations. Just modify the basic recipe with your own basic ingredients (age, level, topic). This is the third in a series of 5 posts. See the posts about Speaking and Reading.

Also, see this full list of many activities for writing lessons. View this post in your browser.

1. Grammar Poems

A grammar poem is a wonderful guided writing activity with structure and support to help emergent writers.

Suggested Level: A2 and above.

Ingredients: printable graphic organizer. Easy to prepare. View some examples here.

Instructions: 1. On the board write out the grammar poem with blanks. See this example handout for writing but the topic can be about almost anything and so can the grammar prompts. Ask students to suggest answers and complete the grammar poem on the board as a call. 2. Provide students with a grammar poem template (or just get them to copy it off the board. 3. Students write out their own grammar poems. 4. Share with groups and the whole class. They’ll be proud!

Cooking Tip: Monitor students and provide help during the activity. After their rough draft, get the students to write out a good copy and display on a bulletin board!

Serves Up: creativity, grammar, self-expression, poetry, poster


2. Guided Writing

Guided writing provides students with modifications

and support so they can complete writing assignments. They can just as simple as sentence starters where students complete the writing of a sentence to MadLibs where students write in their own information to complete the story.

Suggested Level: A2 and above

Ingredients: provide students with a sentence stretching card.

Instructions: Students fill out the information then write their “stretched” sentence and share with the class. Do one together on the board. Fill out the Who, What, Where info. and then write the sentence together. Next, students write their own including all the information.

Cooking Tip: It’s easy to provide students with guided writing exercises. Simply list some sentence starters and have them finish the sentences and share.

Serves Up: grammar, syntax, vocabulary, scaffolding

Teaching The 4 Skills Of English - Activities (4)

3. Story Writing – Narratives

Almost all students love stories and being creative

in writing them. It’s a lot of fun! Here are a few suggestions for stories.

Suggested Level: B1 and above

Ingredients: blank paper, imagination


Story Chains: Provide each student with a blank piece of paper. Get students to write at the top a story starter. I often have used, “A man walked into a bank”. Students pass their paper, all in the same direction. The second student continues the story with a new sentence on a new line. Then tell the student to fold the paper so it hides the first sentence. Pass on and students continue writing and folding. To finish, read out the chain stories – they’ll be lots of laughs!

Free Writing: Provide students with a blank template like [3a]. Students draw a picture and then write a short story under the picture. Share with the class.

Story Maps: Students use a story map as a pre-writing activity. After completing the story map, they write out their first draft of the story.

Story Dominoes: Provide students with 4 or 5 random pictures (get them from magazines). Students write a story connecting the pictures. See some examples.

Storybook writing: Put 4 pieces of blank paper together. Fold once and then fold again. Cut the fold. Staple. You have a storybook and students then draw pictures and illustrate them to create their own storybook and addition to the class library.

Serves Up: stories, narrative, bookmaking

4. Writing Prompts

Writing prompts stimulate students to write about a specific topic. Students can keep a writing notebook where they can record all their free writing.

Suggested Level: B2 and above

Ingredients: paper and pen, notebooks, blog or journal

Instructions: Provide students with many writing prompts. Students choose a prompt and write about it. See examples here or use our online generator.

Cooking Tip: You’ll need to read student notebooks and provide feedback and correction as necessary. Make this a daily class habit with higher level students.

Serves Up: creativity, free writing, expression

5. Cards

Any special occasion can be a good time for students to write cards and deliver them to class members.

Suggested Level: A2 and above

Ingredients: individual writing, blank paper.

Instructions: Provide students with blank paper and get them to make and decorate cards. Pre-teach typical salutations and card-related language. Postcards make a great writing activity and way to practice writing in the simple past tense.

Cooking Tip: Appoint one person in class as the mailman – they will deliver the cards in class to students.

Serves Up: register, travel, communication, holiday

6. Blogs. Journaling.

Advanced students will enjoy keeping a school or class blog or online journal and sharing their interests.

Suggested Level: B2 and above

Ingredients: private blog accounts – see Edublogs.

Instructions: Students will love creating their own blog and updating it regularly. Provide students with topics to write about and conference with students regularly about their blog. Highlight student writing in class.

Cooking Tip: Be aware of online and digital safety. Students should have a high level of privacy and class blogs should have levels of permitted sharing.

Serves Up: technology, personal writing, media literacy

7. Magazines and Newspapers

Students enjoy creating their own class magazines and newspapers to share with the wider school body.

Suggested Level: B2 and above

Ingredients: Groups. Newspaper or magazine template. You will be able to find many options online.

Instructions: Provide students with some examples of other newspapers or magazines created by students (you’ll find many online). Create groups with each group having a specific task related to the newspaper or magazine (editor, journalist, photographer, interviewer etc. …..

Cooking Tip: Publishing is key. Set dates and then celebrate after you print your edition for distribution to the school and parents.

Serves Up: media, publishing, writing process

8. Learning Logs. Reflective Journals.

Writing can be an activity to help students reflect on their own learning while at the same time, build their writing fluency and skills.

Suggested Level: C1 and above

Ingredients: Individuals. Learning logs or journals.

Instructions: Provide students with some structure and questions you want them to reflect upon in their learning journals. Make it a daily or weekly habit to have students record reflections about their studies in their logs. See some example templates.

Cooking Tip: You will have to be very strict and keep a tight schedule to keep the journals filled with valuable comments. Read them and find out lots about your students and even your own teaching. Remember, keep your comments positive!

Serves Up: journals, writing product, reflection

9. Biographies. Obituaries.

Students research and find out about their favorite celebrities and people from history.

Suggested Level: B2 and above

Ingredients: small groups, individuals

Instructions: Provide students with a model text about the life of a celebrity (Ex. Prince, Muhammad Ali etc …). Students then use a research template to record important information about the person. Next, students write out their full report or obituary.

Cooking Tip: Focus on the model so students have a good example for their final draft.

Serves Up: genre, research journalism

10. Film And Book Reviews

Writing is the perfect post – reading or watching activity! Students respond to a film or book.

Suggested Level: B2 and above

Ingredients: Individuals. A graphic organizer for film or book reviews.

Instructions: Read some film or book reviews with students. Note important features. Provide students with a graphic organizer to record their thoughts about a film they watched or book they read. Guide students in the writing of their final draft.

Cooking Tip: Sharing is the final stage of the writing process. Share student reviews and see if classmates agree!

Serves Up: writing process, digital media, reviews.

11. Filling Out Forms

Students need to practice filling out forms in English and recognizing the specific writing of this format. A lifeskill for any student going to work or live in an English speaking country.

Suggested Level: B2 and above

Ingredients: Individual. Spare copies of forms.

Instructions: Provide all students with the same form. Go through it step by step so students understand it fully and answer all questions. Next, provide a slightly different form for students to complete independently. There are many different kinds of forms and official documents students can practice filling out in English (credit and bank applications, checks, rental applications, job applications etc. …)

Cooking Tip: Pre-teach a lot of the individual headings and terms.

Serves Up: employment, life skills, travel abroad

12. Comics And Cartoons

Anything funny always works in class. Students love writing for an audience and also the pictures as prompts that cartoons and comics provide really help get their engines started.

Suggested Level: B1 and above

Ingredients: Blank cartoon templates for students to fill in.

Instructions: Read some comics together, project them on the screen. Or even Anime or Manga. Then, inspired, show students a comic that has the writing erased (you can do this with many programs – see some pre-made here. Fill in together. Then students can do the same individually and come up with their own creative comic or cartoon. After, read and compare the versions. Also, you can just use a storyboard and have students also draw the comic.

Cooking Tip: Providing examples and modeling is key. Lower-level students can be paired with those of higher ability. This activity works well in pairs or small groups.

Serves Up: media, drawing, prompts, design

Author: admin
A valued Teaching Recipes staff member. Here to help teachers with their cooking.