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Grades 7–12
Poetry

The Beast with Ada Limón

Ada Limón
This poetry prompt from Ada Limón invites students to consider a personal connection to an animal.
What Your Students Will Produce

See more Sparks at this level

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Memory Line

by Anna Griffin, 826 National

Memoir
Narrative
Poetry

Students plot significant memories on a timeline in this reflective writing activity.

Grades 7–8
Sparks
Student Biographers

by, Laura Lisabeth, Ph.D., 826NYC

Informational
Narrative

Students will interview each other in order to create an interesting written portrait. This is a great exercise in journalistic writing and the ability to work together with classmates.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
How to Write an Anti-Ode

by 826 National, inspired by student authors of 826 New Orleans

Poetry

Usually, an ode is written in celebration, but this Spark asks students to write an anti-ode—a poem about something they can’t stand!

Grades 5–8
Sparks
Loop-y Lyrics

by Julius Panoriñgan, 826LA

STEM

Students will use their knowledge of popular music to learn basic computer programming concepts.

Grades 3–9
Sparks
The Dialogue Shuffle

by Klariza Alvaran, 826CHI

Media
Narrative

This spark activity is designed to get your students on their feet while reinforcing the need for strong dialogue in narratives.

Grades 3–8
Sparks
Recipe Zines

by 826 National

Informational
Media
Narrative

With a little folding and loads of creativity, students make their own zines that feature abstract recipes.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Ghost Stories with Karen Russell

by Karen Russell, novelist and short story writer

Narrative

A hauntingly good pair of prompts! Students will reconsider the purpose of ghosts by either describing a haunted setting or writing from the perspective of a misunderstood ghost.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Personal Narratives with Mariama Lockington

by Mariama Lockington, novelist and poet

Memoir
Narrative

Students revisit powerful memories to generate personal stories filled with heart.

Grades 5–8
Sparks
Making (and Breaking!) Rules in Poetry

by Mindy Misener, 826michigan

Poetry

This activity encourages young writers to identify the rules in their own poems and to then experience the joy of either smashing the rules outright or finding a graceful way to reimagine them.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Write Here, Write Now

by 826 National

Informational
Narrative
Persuasive
Poetry

These 10 prompts ask students to browse the 826 Digital Student Writing Gallery for writing inspiration.

Grades 6–8
Sparks
Obsession with Jessica Goodman

by Jessica Goodman

Persuasive

This Spark uses students’ favorite things to support their persuasive writing practice.

Grades 7–11
Sparks
Screenwriting with Spike Jonze

by Spike Jonze, award-winning screenwriter and producer

Media
Narrative

A pair of prompts that invites students to consider how time, location, and dialogue can be used to construct a scene and build meaning.

Grades 7–8
Sparks
Cheesy Pop Song Poetry

by Catherine Calabro and Rachel Feder, 826michigan

Poetry

A fun, free-writing task which challenges students to take cheesy pop lyrics and make them into their own original poems.

Grades 6–8
Sparks
Black Box Archaeology

by Louise McClune, 826 Valencia

Informational
Narrative

In this activity, students work as budding archeologists and creatively reimagine ways for archaeologists and historians to use artifacts to tell stories.

Grades 6–8
Sparks
Artifact Detective Balderdash

by Louise McCune, 826 Valencia

Informational
Narrative

Students play a spin-off version of Balderdash in this activity, working as budding archeologists who must use the power of observation to solve a few artifact mysteries.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Making Conversation with P. Carl

by author and activist P. Carl

Media
Narrative

Author and activist P. Carl asks students to write dialogue that captures two distinct and opposing voices, crafting a scene of action and discord.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Protester Portraits

by 826 National

Informational
Media
Narrative

Students consider perspectives of activists speaking up against racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd and use imagery to capture protest scenes in writing.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Taboo Emotions with Tiphanie Yanique

by author Tiphanie Yanique

Narrative

In this Spark, students will explore two taboo emotions, desire and fear, by mapping where these feelings dwell in their bodies and using tactile language to describe their impact.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Location, Location, Location with G.D. Falksen

by G.D. Falksen

Narrative

Students draw inspiration from a real or fictional location and use this sense of place to develop an in-setting document.

Grades 6–9
Sparks
Magic 8 Ball: Character Desires

by Debra Mitchell, 826CHI

Media
Narrative

Students pose questions to the magic 8 ball in this activity centered on character motivation.

Grades 9–12
Sparks
Identity Statements

by Rebeca Darugar, 826NYC

Memoir
Narrative

Students create an identity chart and write about parts of their identity most salient to them.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Letters, Undelivered

by Maria Villareal, 826CHI

Informational
Narrative

This activity prompts students to write words unspoken in letters that are undelivered.

Grades 4–7
Sparks
Character-O-Matic Protagonist & Antagonist

by the Team at 826CHI

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

In this activity, students create original monsters in archetypal protagonist and antagonistic roles by focusing on internal and external characteristics.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Meaning from Shape

by Cristeta Boarini, 826 MSP

Poetry

Sometimes the shape of the poem can convey as much meaning as the words themselves.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Elevate Your Voice with Rachel Eliza Griffiths

by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Poetry

This poetry prompt from Rachel Eliza Griffiths asks students to consider the ordinary in their lives—then write a poem that celebrates those ordinary objects and figures.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
A Place Worth Being with Jason Reynolds

by Jason Reynolds, The New York Times Best-Selling Author & National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Narrative

Students will write a personal narrative where they describe themselves as a place. Not a specific place, but all the things a "place" consists of.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Your Front Door

by Maria Villareal, 826CHI

Narrative

An effective writing prompt about a significant threshold.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
No Lab Coats Required: The Writing Laboratory

by Katie Manning and Brandon Brown, 826LA

Narrative
Poetry

Students enter a Writing Laboratory, no lab coats required, and use methods of observation to embark on their writing process.

Grades 6–9
Sparks
Neighborhood Poem

by Aarti Monteiro, 826NYC

Poetry

Students identify the power of imagery in poetry, then practice putting this power to use in a poem about their neighborhood.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Something True with Kelly Jensen

by Kelly Jensen, writer and editor

Informational
Memoir
Narrative

Make space for creativity in nonfiction! Students will play with traditional nonfiction formats with these two writing prompts from Kelly Jensen, writer and editor.

Grades 5–12
Sparks
Telephone Pictionary

by 826 National

Narrative

By combining two classic games, students will learn how storytelling and art can build community or help them break through writer’s block.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Social Movements with Lisa Ko

by author Lisa Ko

Fantasy/SciFi
Informational
Narrative

This writing prompt from author Lisa Ko invites students to explore the impact of social movements by envisioning and writing from an ideal future.

Grades 4–8
Sparks
Setting the Tone

by Aarti Monteiro, 826NYC

Narrative

This activity explores the way emotions change how we perceive settings. Students work in groups to create descriptions of apartments based on an emotion they draw from a hat.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Playing with Timelines with Phil Stamper

by Phil Stamper, author

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

With this pair of prompts, students look to the past and future for writing inspiration.

Grades 4–7
Sparks
Character-O-Matic

by the Team at 826CHI, with inspiration from Ryan Harty, 826michigan

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

In this activity, students practice analyzing a character’s internal motivations and fears and develop their own original characters.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Emulation Poetry

by Jillian Wasick, 826 Valencia

Narrative
Poetry

To jumpstart their own poems, students take inspiration from the poetry of the others.

Grades 7–8
Sparks
Synonym Game

by Christopher Ankney, Tom Bianchi, & Amy Wilson, 826michigan

Informational
Narrative

In this fun, interactive game, students will build an understanding of the concept of synonyms. A strong grasp on how to use synonyms will improve students’ overall writing skills.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Choosing My Name

by Karla Brundage, 826 Valencia

Poetry

In this Spark, students will further their understanding of how language can impact identity through the process of naming.

Grades 9–12
Sparks
Yes, And

by Jessica Thompson, 826 Dallas Project, and the Dallas Free Press

Narrative

This Spark uses a popular improv game to show students the value of their ideas and the importance of keeping an open mind while writing.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Writing to Process (Secondary)

by Asia Calcagno, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative
Poetry

Writing can be a powerful tool when working through feelings of grief, sadness, or anger. This Spark creates an intentional opportunity for youth to write and speak about what is on their minds.

Grades 9–12
Sparks
Tell Me About Yourself: Interview Practice

by Jessica Thompson, 826 Dallas Project, and the Dallas Free Press

Informational
Media
Narrative

In this Spark, students will learn more about conducting interviews and practice by interviewing a classmate.

Grades 7–9
Sparks
The Power of Observation

by Dave Eggers, 826 Valencia & 826 National

Informational

Through a series of short drawing activities, students will explore the ways observable details can have a major impact on their writing.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Write with Pride

by Molly Sprayregen, 826CHI

Poetry

Students consider the influence that labels hold and write poetry to become empowered to describe themselves however they want.

Grades 1–12
Sparks
A Good Time to Write: Remote Learning Kit

by 826 National

Informational
Media
Memoir
Narrative
Persuasive
Poetry

Engage young writers of any age at home with this collection of 826 Digital writing prompts and activities.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
What Makes a Person? with Leslie Margolis

by Leslie Margolis

Informational
Narrative

Leslie Margolis invites students to consider their own personhood and what determines or defines it with two short prompts.

Grades 5–9
Sparks
A Day in the Life of Flood City
by New Leaf Literary & Media

by Daniel José Older, author of Flood City

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

This Spark introduces students to the fantastical world of Flood City and prompts them to write a journal entry from the perspective of a Flood City resident.

Grades 3–12
Sparks
Book Scavenger Hunt Poetry with Amanda Gorman

by Amanda Gorman

Poetry

Amanda Gorman, Inaugural U.S. Youth Poet Laureate, shares her favorite way to inspire a new poem or get past writer’s block.

Grades 6–8
Sparks
Be a Maker: Hashtag Activism and the Instagram Essay

by Laura Lisabeth, Ph.D., 826NYC

Informational
Media
Persuasive

In this activity, students explore Instagram as a form of public rhetoric and practice using hashtags as a way to engage with larger communities.

Grades 4–12
Sparks
Tell Me a Story

by 826 National

Narrative

This Spark provides students with the opportunity to get to know their classmates by sharing personal stories about a specific topic.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
“The Hill We Climb”

by 826 National

Poetry

Students discuss the 2021 inaugural poem by Amanda Gorman and write their own poems in response to "The Hill We Climb."

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Playing With Words with Aracelis Girmay

by Aracelis Girmay in collaboration with Aarti Monteiro & Nico Garbaccio, 826NYC

Narrative
Poetry

What lives inside a word? Find out how to trace connections between two dissimilar words with playful Spark from award-winning poet Aracelis Girmay.

Grades 6–8
Sparks
The Illustrated Word

by Maria Villarreal, 826CHI

Media
Narrative

In this activity, students illustrate a favorite word and explore what makes words meaningful through illustration, research, and discussion.

Grades 7–8
Sparks
Memories With Meaning

by Maria Villareal, 826CHI

Narrative
Poetry

In this activity, students begin with the most essential details from various memories, helping them hone in on specifics without getting caught up in writer's block.

Grades 4–8
Sparks
Interviewing Inanimate Objects with Daniel Handler

by author Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket

Narrative

Students will anthropomorphize an inanimate object to produce interview questions and answers.

Grades 4–7
Sparks
Setting-O-Matic

by the Team at 826CHI

Narrative

Students learn to incorporate setting as a key element of a story, starting with inspiration from collages.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Memories of Home with Rebecca Stead

by Rebecca Stead

Narrative

Using a place with personal meaning, students will learn a strategy for getting over the hurdle of beginning the writing process.

Grades 9–12
Sparks
Life in the Time of Coronavirus

by Princess McDowell, the 826 Dallas Project

Narrative

Whether students write to process, to remember, to imagine, or to heal, this collection of prompts asks students to recognize how their world has changed in response to COVID-19.

Grades 9–12
Sparks
Four Corners

by Cristeta Boarini, 826 MSP

Narrative

This activity prompts students to use words related to community and identity to reframe ancestral stories of resistance, growth, and survival.

Grades 6–7
Sparks
What’s Your Cause?

by Meredith Goldberg-Morse, 826LA

Persuasive

In this activity, students write about a cause they are passionate about and imagine how they can create change in the world.

Grades 7–9
Sparks
A List of Golden Details

by Dave Eggers, 826 Valencia & 826 National

Informational
Narrative
Poetry

Students will collectively create a running list of golden details—details and descriptions that are singular, completely original, and make one's subject unforgettable.

Grades 6–8
Sparks
One Good Line Deserves Another

by Maria Villarreal, 826CHI

Media
Poetry

In this activity, students draw upon inspiration from existing text and the world around them to launch stories of their own.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Objects and Habits with Isaac Fitzgerald

by author Isaac Fitzgerald

Narrative

In this Spark, students will mine their home and their habits for story and personal essay ideas.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Perspectives with Daniel Ehrenhaft

by David Ehrenhaft

Narrative

Daniel Ehrenhaft asks students to consider perspective in a piece of their writing with this reflective spark.

Grades 4–7
Sparks
The Dialogue Alphabet Game

by 826 National

Media
Narrative

This activity reinforces the role of dialogue in a story, with students creating realistic conversation in A-Z fashion.

Grades 7–12
Sparks
Last Times with Amanda Gorman

by Amanda Gorman, Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of the U.S. and 2021 Inaugural Poet

Narrative
Poetry

Students recall “last times” in their lives and revisit the depth of their experience through writing.