I watched the writing videos on how to get the kids to set up their notebook and jot down ‘think small’ ideas and ‘happenings’ in their notebook. I only had 1 student that could do that (I have 12 students). I modeled, we shared ideas, etc… Back at their seat their minds went blank. Are they able to do this? The video was with 4th graders are my expectations off? Suggestions for getting 2nd graders to list writing topics?






I’ve seen this done in a first grade classroom. Students bring their journals and pencils to the rug. Teacher does the “ideas and happenings” lesson, and while students are there, she has them Turn and Talk to a neighbor, or in groups of 3 to share any ideas. They write, or draw, a word or simple picture right there to help them get those ideas down right then (for a minute or two). Then they share altogether, and do another Turn and Talk time with the ideas they have heard from others, making the point that talking with others helps us remember ideas we just couldn’t think of. Works for many kiddos–not everyone, of course, but I’d say for most.

Jenny Laurich

You might try showing students a timeline you’ve created of your day. An example might be a trip to a theme park, like Disneyland. They will be able to see all of the things you did there. Then select one small event of the day and that would be what they write about.

Joan Moser

Just this morning I was working in a 1st and 2nd grade classroom. Since it is the first week of school here, the teacher read a story about families and then students went out to practice Work on Writing. Before they left, she did a model writing about her family. She thought out loud for students her thinking about how she just read a story about families and maybe she would write about her family today.
By sharing what goes on in our own minds as to how we decide on what to write about, students see what that process looks like and can imitate it. Some students also wrote about their families, others chose a different topic. So without assigning a topic for them, she in essence provided an idea in case they were stuck.

Amy Doss

Thank you for the ideas! I will try them all


I am also a 2nd grade teacher and I would appreciate any suggestions for writing with my students. Thanks!


I’m pretty sure this has been touched on above, but just another shout out for using mentor texts for writing, as we do for teaching reading strategies. I love making connections to the author’s writing, and challenging kids to try out the styles in their own writing.
Helps make that reading/writing connection.

Kris Wegner

There is a book called “Rocket Writes A Story” by Tad Hills that is helpful when writers can’t think of a story. I would recommend it for 1st or 2nd grade.


I love that book. Another book I love is “What do You do with an Idea?”

Kayla Lindstedt

I interned in a 2nd grade classroom and the teacher had students bring in ‘all about me’ bags on the first day of school with specific items such as something from a trip, something about their family, something they collected, etc. While they presented she wrote a list of ideas from what they were saying to write about later. Then every Monday for about 5 mins students would share if something exciting had happened to them over the weekend and that would be added to the list. Worked great for narrative ideas.

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