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Grammar and Writing Workbook for Grade 5

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Narrative writing for grade 5

Fiction and non-fiction narratives.

Worksheets and writing prompts focused on the elements of narrative writing.

Developing plot structure : outline plots from introduction to resolution.

Create realistic settings : develop key elements of given settings.

Character traits : link character traits to feelings, sayings, thoughts and actions.

Settings & sensory details : use sensory details to create a setting.

Writing from different points of view : write in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person.

Inner and outer dialogue : combine inner and outer dialogue in texts.

Perspective : describe the same events as seen by different characters.

Personal narrative writing : write a personal narrative from a prompt.

Fictional writing : write a fictional narrative from a prompt; hints provided.

Fantasy writing : write fantasy narratives from a prompt, with hints.

Nonfiction narrative writing : research and write non-fictional narratives. 

Narrative writing prompts : more writing prompts. 

narrative essay 5th grade

Grade 5 narrative writing worksheet

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Teacher's Notepad

31 Narrative Writing Prompts For 5th Grade

Narrative writing helps students develop storytelling skills by reflecting on their own experiences, or using their imagination, and writing about a series of events.

These assignments encourage students to think about the order of events, practice some of the most important aspects of writing, and use logic to learn from their experiences.

Below, you’ll find a list of narrative writing prompts that will help your 5th graders practice their narrative writing skills.

Some are nonfiction and some are fiction—but they’re all sure to have your students writing.

Using This Guide:

Our writing prompt guides are for you to use in whatever way makes sense for your classroom. As long as your students are working through the process of narrative writing, they’re already on the right track. 

But if you need a few ideas on how to help students get started, give one of these a try:

  • Ask the student to count the number of letters in their whole name. That number will be the prompt that they use.
  • Have students browse the list quickly, and use the first prompt that catches their eye.
  • Students can use the date of their birth to choose their prompt.
  • Have students pick their prompt using their favorite number.

Here are the Prompts:

  • Describe the best birthday you’ve ever had.
  • Write about the day you met your best friend. Where did you meet? Did you become friends instantly, or over time?
  • Write a newspaper article with the headline: BOY BECOMES PRINCIPAL FOR A DAY!
  • If you know the story, explain how you got your name.
  • Have you ever told a lie and got caught? What did you lie about? How was the issue resolved?
  • Write about your first day of kindergarten.
  • Write a story using the following words: notorious, appreciate, dialogue, participate
  • Tell a story about an ant who was determined to reach a piece of watermelon on a picnic blanket.
  • Pretend you are planning a surprise party for your best friend. Who do you invite? How do they react?
  • Write about the best prank you’ve ever pulled on someone.
  • Write a spooky story that begins with, “The cabin in the woods was never meant to be found…”
  • Tell a story about a time when you were afraid.
  • Write a story using the following words: costume, bundle, exhausted, communicate
  • Pretend you’re a superhero who protects your town. How did you become a hero? What do you do to protect people?
  • Write about a time when you helped someone without being asked.
  • Retell the story of the first day of this school year.
  • Tell the story of your favorite vacation.
  • Describe a time when you were in charge. What were you doing? How did you feel?
  • Write a fairy tale that begins with, “The princess had a cold…”
  • Write a story using the following words: bread, planet, yesterday, confused
  • Write a newspaper article with the headline: GIRL FINDS BURIED TREASURE IN HER SANDBOX!
  • Tell a story about a day when it felt like everything was going wrong.
  • Pretend you were transported into your favorite game for a day. What do you do? How do you feel?
  • Write a story about a dog who is trying to cheer up his person.
  • Retell the story of your favorite holiday memory.
  • Have you ever witnessed someone being bullied? What did you do?
  • You are at the beach when you find a message in a bottle. What does the message say? What do you do with it?
  • Write about how you felt at the beginning of the pandemic. How do you feel about it now?
  • Tell a story about a kid who always interrupts the teacher when she’s talking.
  • Write about a crowd of moviegoers who get transported into the movie they are watching.
  • There’s a loud crash, and you look out the window. A spaceship just landed on your school’s playground. Tell the story of what happens next.

Looking For More?

We have a ton of fun and engaging writing prompts and resources to keep young writers interested and help their teachers keep them on the right track.

If you’re looking for something specific and can’t find it, reach out and let us know. We love to hear all of your wonderful ideas!

narrative essay 5th grade

5th grade writing

by: Jessica Kelmon | Updated: August 4, 2022

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Your fifth grader’s writing under Common Core Standards

By now, your child knows that writing is a process that requires research, feedback, and revision. This year, kids are expected to respond to others’ prompts for improvement and learn how to evaluate their own work, too.

Super study skills

In fifth grade, taking notes becomes an essential academic skill. Fifth graders use books, periodicals, websites, and other sources to do short research projects. Kids learn to use several sources to investigate a topic from different angles — both on their own and as part of group work with peers. Your child should keep track of all the sources they use and note what they learn, the name of the source, and the page number or url so they can find it again to create a source list or bibliography later. A big step in your child’s research process this year: taking the time to review, categorize, and summarize or paraphrase the information they’ve learned. What did your child find out about the animal’s habitat from each source? Sorting evidence into categories and summarizing information will help your fifth grader with the planning, writing, and revising stages of their writing project.

Can your 5th grader get organized to write an essay?

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Revise, rewrite

By now, your child should understand that writing is a process requiring several steps: planning, first draft, revisions, editing, and publishing or sharing work. Your child’s planning work should include reading and rereading, taking notes, finding additional sources, discussing how new knowledge fits into what your child knew before, visually organizing the information they plan to include, and determining the best way to clearly present their evidence as a cohesive set of points. After the first draft is written, the teacher and other students will offer feedback: asking questions to elicit new details, suggesting ways to clarify an argument, or pressing for new sources of information. Don’t be surprised if there are a few rounds of revisions this year: it’s how your child’s writing gets stronger. If revisions aren’t enough to improve your child’s writing, then this year your child may be required to rewrite the piece or try a new approach . Once the structure and contents are set, final edits are the time to perfect spelling and grammar. All this work on one writing assignment is meant to help your child think of writing as a multistep process so they can evaluate their work and see that — if it’s not up to snuff — they should keep trying until it is.

Fifth grade writing: opinion pieces

Your child’s opinion pieces should start by clearly stating an opinion about a topic. Then, kids should set up and follow a logically ordered structure to introduce each reason they’ll offer in support of their opinion. Their reasons should be supported by facts and details (a.k.a. evidence), and your child should use linking words, such as additionally, consequently , and specifically to connect evidence-backed reasons to their opinion. Finally, kids should close their argument with a well-articulated conclusion that supports their original opinion.

Fifth grade writing: informative writing

Logic reigns when evaluating your fifth grader’s informative writing. The purpose of this type of writing is to convey facts and ideas clearly. So a logically ordered presentation of supporting points is, well… quite logical. Your child should clearly introduce the topic and present related information in the form of a few clear, well-thought-out paragraphs. Kids should draw on facts, definitions, concrete details, quotes, and examples from their research to thoroughly develop their topic. To clearly connect their research, fifth graders should use advanced linking words (e.g. in contrast, especially ) to form compound and complex sentences that convey their points. Remember that your child’s presentation matters: making use of subject headings, illustrations, and even multimedia to illustrate points is encouraged whenever they make your child’s work more logical and clear. Then, to wrap it up, your child should have a well-reasoned conclusion.

Check out these three real examples of good 5th grade informational writing: •” How to save water ” •” Saving a Resource ” •” Water Saveing ”

Can your 5th grader write an informational essay?

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5th grade writing: narrative writing

A narrative is a story. Whether inspired by a book, real events, or your child’s imagination, your child’s story should start by introducing a narrator, characters, or a situational conflict. Fifth graders will be asked to use classic narrative devices like dialogue, descriptive words, and character development. Your child should be able to show how characters feel and how they react to what’s happening. Finally, the events should unfold naturally, plausibly bringing the story to a close.

Grammatically correct

By now, your fifth grader should have a solid understanding of the parts of speech. This year, your child should learn to use and explain the function of conjunctions (e.g. because, yet ), prepositions (e.g. above, without ), and interjections (e.g. Hi, well, dear ). Kids should also start using correlative conjunctions (e.g. either/or, neither/nor ). What’s more, students learn to form and use the past, present, and future perfect tenses ( I had walked; I have walked; I will have walked. ). With this tense mastered, fifth graders will be expected to use various verb tenses to convey a sequence of events and to recognize and correct any inappropriate shifts in tense.

Check out this related worksheet: •  Active and passive sentences

More sophisticated language

This year your child will: • Regularly refer to print and online dictionaries, thesauruses, and glossaries to spell challenging words correctly. • Use academic vocabulary words in writing. • Use more nuanced descriptions (think advanced synonyms and antonyms). • Master homographs (e.g. understand that bear means the animal and to support or carry). • Employ common idioms, adages, and proverbs (e.g. “born yesterday”; “the early bird gets the worm”; “failure teaches success” ) • Interpret figurative language like similes (e.g. “light as a feather” ) and metaphors ( “it’s a dream come true” ).

This year, your child will learn to use commas after a sentence’s introductory segment (e.g. Earlier this morning, we ate breakfast .), to set off the words yes and no in writing (e.g. Y es, we will ; and no, thank you ), to set off a question from the rest of a sentence (e.g. It’s true, isn’t it? ), and to show direct address. (e.g. Is that you, Mike? ) Your child will also use commas to separate items in a series. (e.g. I want eggs, pancakes, and juice .)

Your child should also be taught how to consistently use quotation marks, italics, or underlining to indicate titles when citing sources in reports and papers.

Check out these related worksheets: •  Punctuating a paragraph • Simile or cliche? •  Homophones and homographs

And it’s live!

The final step in writing this year? Publishing! Once all the hard work (the research, planning, writing, revisions, edits, and rewrites) are finished, your fifth grader’s ready to publish. Many classes will experiment with printing work or publishing it on a blog, website, or app. While teachers should be there for support, your child should be doing the work. The point is to learn keyboarding skills (2 full pages is the goal for fifth graders) and to interact and collaborate with peers. This could mean, for example, that your child reads a classmate’s published work online and either comments on it or references it when answering a question in class.

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Writing Prompts for 5th Grade

PhotoAlto / Sigrid Olsson / Getty Images

narrative essay 5th grade

By fifth grade, students are developing basic fluency as writers. In order to hone their skills, fifth graders should practice supporting claims with factual information, conveying information clearly, and writing narratives in a logical order. The following fifth-grade writing prompts encourage students to develop their skills through topics that are meaningful to them.

Narrative Essay Writing Prompts

Narrative essays tell a story based on a student’s personal experience. They encourage students to use descriptive writing to reflect on their experiences, explain them in a logical manner, and draw conclusions from them.

  • New Beginnings . This is your last year of elementary school. What are you most excited or most nervous about when you think of starting middle school ?
  • Betwixt . Students in 5th grade are often referred to as “tweens,” meaning that they are between the young child and the teen years. What is the hardest thing about being a tween in today’s society?
  • Besties . What is the best book you’ve ever read? What made it so special?
  • Reflections . Do you remember your first-ever day of school ? Describe one vivid memory from that day.
  • Bullies . Have you ever witnessed someone bullying another student? What happened and how did it make you feel?
  • Man’s Best Friend . Do you share a bond with your dog or other pet? Describe your pet, and explain what makes your relationship unique.
  • Families . A family isn’t always a mom, a dad, and their children. Write about the ways your family is the same as and different from other types of families and what makes your bonds so strong.
  • Holiday Memories . Think about one of your favorite holiday-related memories. Write an essay describing it and tell why it is so unforgettable.
  • Guilty . Think about a time you did something that made you feel guilty. Describe what happened.
  • The Ultimate Field Trip . If you could choose anywhere in the world to go on a field trip , where would you choose and why?
  • Family Game Night . Do you enjoy playing games with your family? Describe your favorite family game or activity.
  • Tasty Treats . What is your favorite food? Describe it as if you were introducing it to someone who has never seen or tasted it.
  • Someday . Have you thought about what you want to be when you grow up? Write an essay explaining why you think you’d like that career.

Persuasive Essay Writing Prompts

Persuasive essays are those written to convince another person to agree with the writer or take action. These persuasive essay prompts inspire 5th graders to share their passions with an audience.

  • Pets Day . You’ve just gone to work with your parent for “bring your child to work day.” Write an essay convincing your school to have a “bring your pet to school” day.
  • Yuck . What is your least-favorite cafeteria food? Give three compelling reasons why your school should quit serving it.
  • Let’s Trade . Your friend’s lunches from home always look better than yours. Write an essay convincing your buddy that you should start swapping meals every day. Be sure to highlight the benefits of the food you bring!
  • Home Alone . Write an essay convincing your parents that you are old enough and responsible enough to stay at home alone.
  • Sunny Day . The weather outside is beautiful for the first time in weeks. Persuade your teacher not to assign any homework so that you’ll have time to go out to play.
  • The Sequel . The long-awaited sequel to your favorite book or video game is now available. Convince your brother or sister to do your chores this week so that you have plenty of time for reading or gaming.
  • Seating Chart . Because of your teacher’s seating chart, you’re not going to be able to sit next to your friend all year! Persuade your teacher to let students choose their seats.
  • Birth Order . Are you an only child, the oldest sibling, the youngest, or the middle? What makes your birth order the best?
  • The Ultimate Game . What is the best video game on the planet? Explain why it’s better than similar games.
  • Life Lessons . What are the three most important lessons parents should teach their children and why?
  • Test Time . Do you think standardized tests  are helpful or harmful? Explain your answer.
  • Tunes . Some studies have shown that listening to music can help students concentrate. Should students be allowed to listen to music using headphones during independent work times at school? Persuade the reader of your answer.
  • Catch-22 . You’re not a big fan of writing. Write an essay  convincing your teacher that you shouldn’t have to write any more essays this year.

Expository Essay Writing Prompts

Expository essays are often called how-to essays. They usually teach the reader something or provide facts about a particular topic.

  • Let’s Play . Your family frequently attends community theater productions, but your friend has never seen one. Write an essay describing what he or she can expect during the evening.
  • Band . You're graduating elementary school, and a younger student is taking your spot in the school band. Explain to him or her how to clean and care for your  musical instrument .
  • Lessons Learned . Write an essay to a younger sibling explaining two or three key strategies for having a positive 5th-grade experience.
  • Class Pet . You’ve cared for your class pet this week, but now it’s another classmate’s turn. Explain how to feed and care for the pet properly.
  • Upgrade Ahead . You have an idea to improve your school. Explain it.
  • Safety Zone . Explain three of the best steps kids can take to be safe online.
  • Family Traditions . Does your family have any customs or traditions that might be unfamiliar to a classmate? Describe them.
  • Pen Pal . Describe for your pen pal who lives in another state an animal native to your area, including its physical characteristics, behaviors, and any sounds that it makes.
  • Creepy Crawlies . Compare and contrast two insects or animals that are similar, but have different characteristics such as a bumblebee and a yellow jacket or a horse and a mule. How are they alike and how are they different?
  • Clean Up . Your class is going to spend a day cleaning up at a local park. You’ve done this with another group before, but some of your classmates haven’t. Explain the process.
  • Action . Your favorite book was made into a movie. Compare and contrast the film and book versions.
  • Team Players . Explain how contributing responsibly helps or how it hurts a group when someone doesn’t do his part.
  • Tell and Show . Your class is having a “tell and show” day. You have to describe your item in as much detail as possible without naming it. Only when the class guesses or gives up can you show your item. Write out the description of your item.

Creative Writing Essay Prompts

Creative writing allows students to engage their imaginations and story-telling skills while also practicing vital writing skills such as sequence and description.

  • Magic Lamp . You’ve just found a magic lamp. What happens when you rub it?
  • Say Cheese . You are given an exceptional camera. Everything you take a picture of becomes yours, but you can only take three pictures. Tell a story about the photos you take.
  • Invisible Man . One morning, you glance in the mirror and realize that you don’t have a reflection. You’ve become invisible! Write a story about your day.
  • Gone to the Dogs . Write a story from your pet’s point of view.
  • All Hail the King . Imagine that you discover an uncharted land that you claim as a new country. And, you’re the ruler! Describe your country, its people, and your newfound position of power.
  • Part of the Story . One night, you doze off after reading the latest book in your favorite series. When you wake, you discover that you’re in the story! Write about your adventures.
  • Before or After . Imagine that you live either 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future. What is your life like?
  • Dr. Doolittle . You’re walking through a pet store when you discover that you can talk to the animals. What happens next?
  • Meet and Greet . Imagine that you can meet anyone you’re studying in school right now from famous scientists to historical figures to the characters in the class read-aloud . Write a story about your meeting with that person.
  • Switcheroo . If you could switch lives with anyone in your school, who would it be? Write about your day in the life of that person.
  • Holiday Loop . Imagine you get to relive your favorite holiday every day. What’s that like?
  • Tall Tales . Tall tales are possibly true stories that contain highly exaggerated actions or events. Create a tall tale about something that happened in your family.
  • Teacher's Pet . Imagine that your teacher is actually your parent. Describe a day in class.
  • Writing Prompts for 7th Grade
  • Engaging Writing Prompts for 3rd Graders
  • Second Grade Writing Prompts
  • 100 Persuasive Essay Topics
  • First Grade Writing Prompts
  • 4th Grade Writing Prompts
  • 49 Opinion Writing Prompts for Students
  • Fun March Writing Prompts for Journaling
  • Writing Prompts for Elementary School Students
  • Journal Writing Prompts for Easter
  • 40 "Back From Christmas Break" Writing Prompts
  • 24 Journal Prompts for Creative Writing in the Elementary Classroom
  • Christmas Journal Writing Prompts
  • Writing Prompt (Composition)
  • Creative Journal Topics Involving Different Perspectives
  • February Writing Prompts

A Step-by-Step Plan for Teaching Narrative Writing

July 29, 2018

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narrative essay 5th grade

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“Those who tell the stories rule the world.”  This proverb, attributed to the Hopi Indians, is one I wish I’d known a long time ago, because I would have used it when teaching my students the craft of storytelling. With a well-told story we can help a person see things in an entirely new way. We can forge new relationships and strengthen the ones we already have. We can change a law, inspire a movement, make people care fiercely about things they’d never given a passing thought.

But when we study storytelling with our students, we forget all that. Or at least I did. When my students asked why we read novels and stories, and why we wrote personal narratives and fiction, my defense was pretty lame: I probably said something about the importance of having a shared body of knowledge, or about the enjoyment of losing yourself in a book, or about the benefits of having writing skills in general.

I forgot to talk about the  power of story. I didn’t bother to tell them that the ability to tell a captivating story is one of the things that makes human beings extraordinary. It’s how we connect to each other. It’s something to celebrate, to study, to perfect. If we’re going to talk about how to teach students to write stories, we should start by thinking about why we tell stories at all . If we can pass that on to our students, then we will be going beyond a school assignment; we will be doing something transcendent.

Now. How do we get them to write those stories? I’m going to share the process I used for teaching narrative writing. I used this process with middle school students, but it would work with most age groups.

A Note About Form: Personal Narrative or Short Story?

When teaching narrative writing, many teachers separate personal narratives from short stories. In my own classroom, I tended to avoid having my students write short stories because personal narratives were more accessible. I could usually get students to write about something that really happened, while it was more challenging to get them to make something up from scratch.

In the “real” world of writers, though, the main thing that separates memoir from fiction is labeling: A writer might base a novel heavily on personal experiences, but write it all in third person and change the names of characters to protect the identities of people in real life. Another writer might create a short story in first person that reads like a personal narrative, but is entirely fictional. Just last weekend my husband and I watched the movie Lion and were glued to the screen the whole time, knowing it was based on a true story. James Frey’s book  A Million Little Pieces  sold millions of copies as a memoir but was later found to contain more than a little bit of fiction. Then there are unique books like Curtis Sittenfeld’s brilliant novel American Wife , based heavily on the early life of Laura Bush but written in first person, with fictional names and settings, and labeled as a work of fiction. The line between fact and fiction has always been really, really blurry, but the common thread running through all of it is good storytelling.

With that in mind, the process for teaching narrative writing can be exactly the same for writing personal narratives or short stories; it’s the same skill set. So if you think your students can handle the freedom, you might decide to let them choose personal narrative or fiction for a narrative writing assignment, or simply tell them that whether the story is true doesn’t matter, as long as they are telling a good story and they are not trying to pass off a fictional story as fact.

Here are some examples of what that kind of flexibility could allow:

  • A student might tell a true story from their own experience, but write it as if it were a fiction piece, with fictional characters, in third person.
  • A student might create a completely fictional story, but tell it in first person, which would give it the same feel as a personal narrative.
  • A student might tell a true story that happened to someone else, but write it in first person, as if they were that person. For example, I could write about my grandmother’s experience of getting lost as a child, but I might write it in her voice.

If we aren’t too restrictive about what we call these pieces, and we talk about different possibilities with our students, we can end up with lots of interesting outcomes. Meanwhile, we’re still teaching students the craft of narrative writing.

A Note About Process: Write With Your Students

One of the most powerful techniques I used as a writing teacher was to do my students’ writing assignments with them. I would start my own draft at the same time as they did, composing “live” on the classroom projector, and doing a lot of thinking out loud so they could see all the decisions a writer has to make.

The most helpful parts for them to observe were the early drafting stage, where I just scratched out whatever came to me in messy, run-on sentences, and the revision stage, where I crossed things out, rearranged, and made tons of notes on my writing. I have seen over and over again how witnessing that process can really help to unlock a student’s understanding of how writing actually gets made.

A Narrative Writing Unit Plan

Before I get into these steps, I should note that there is no one right way to teach narrative writing, and plenty of accomplished teachers are doing it differently and getting great results. This just happens to be a process that has worked for me.

Step 1: Show Students That Stories Are Everywhere

Getting our students to tell stories should be easy. They hear and tell stories all the time. But when they actually have to put words on paper, they forget their storytelling abilities: They can’t think of a topic. They omit relevant details, but go on and on about irrelevant ones. Their dialogue is bland. They can’t figure out how to start. They can’t figure out how to end.

So the first step in getting good narrative writing from students is to help them see that they are already telling stories every day . They gather at lockers to talk about that thing that happened over the weekend. They sit at lunch and describe an argument they had with a sibling. Without even thinking about it, they begin sentences with “This one time…” and launch into stories about their earlier childhood experiences. Students are natural storytellers; learning how to do it well on paper is simply a matter of studying good models, then imitating what those writers do.

So start off the unit by getting students to tell their stories. In journal quick-writes, think-pair-shares, or by playing a game like Concentric Circles , prompt them to tell some of their own brief stories: A time they were embarrassed. A time they lost something. A time they didn’t get to do something they really wanted to do. By telling their own short anecdotes, they will grow more comfortable and confident in their storytelling abilities. They will also be generating a list of topic ideas. And by listening to the stories of their classmates, they will be adding onto that list and remembering more of their own stories.

And remember to tell some of your own. Besides being a good way to bond with students, sharing  your stories will help them see more possibilities for the ones they can tell.

Step 2: Study the Structure of a Story

Now that students have a good library of their own personal stories pulled into short-term memory, shift your focus to a more formal study of what a story looks like.

Use a diagram to show students a typical story arc like the one below. Then, using a simple story (try a video like The Present or Room ), fill out the story arc with the components from that story. Once students have seen this story mapped out, have them try it with another one, like a story you’ve read in class, a whole novel, or another short video.

narrative essay 5th grade

Step 3: Introduce the Assignment

Up to this point, students have been immersed in storytelling. Now give them specific instructions for what they are going to do. Share your assignment rubric so they understand the criteria that will be used to evaluate them; it should be ready and transparent right from the beginning of the unit. As always, I recommend using a single point rubric for this.

Step 4: Read Models

Once the parameters of the assignment have been explained, have students read at least one model story, a mentor text that exemplifies the qualities you’re looking for. This should be a story on a topic your students can kind of relate to, something they could see themselves writing. For my narrative writing unit (see the end of this post), I wrote a story called “Frog” about a 13-year-old girl who finally gets to stay home alone, then finds a frog in her house and gets completely freaked out, which basically ruins the fun she was planning for the night.

They will be reading this model as writers, looking at how the author shaped the text for a purpose, so that they can use those same strategies in their own writing. Have them look at your rubric and find places in the model that illustrate the qualities listed in the rubric. Then have them complete a story arc for the model so they can see the underlying structure.

Ideally, your students will have already read lots of different stories to look to as models. If that isn’t the case, this list of narrative texts recommended by Cult of Pedagogy followers on Twitter would be a good place to browse for titles that might be right for your students. Keep in mind that we have not read most of these stories, so be sure to read them first before adopting them for classroom use.

narrative essay 5th grade

Step 5: Story Mapping

At this point, students will need to decide what they are going to write about. If they are stuck for a topic, have them just pick something they can write about, even if it’s not the most captivating story in the world. A skilled writer could tell a great story about deciding what to have for lunch. If they are using the skills of narrative writing, the topic isn’t as important as the execution.

Have students complete a basic story arc for their chosen topic using a diagram like the one below. This will help them make sure that they actually have a story to tell, with an identifiable problem, a sequence of events that build to a climax, and some kind of resolution, where something is different by the end. Again, if you are writing with your students, this would be an important step to model for them with your own story-in-progress.

narrative essay 5th grade

Step 6: Quick Drafts

Now, have students get their chosen story down on paper as quickly as possible: This could be basically a long paragraph that would read almost like a summary, but it would contain all the major parts of the story. Model this step with your own story, so they can see that you are not shooting for perfection in any way. What you want is a working draft, a starting point, something to build on for later, rather than a blank page (or screen) to stare at.

Step 7: Plan the Pacing

Now that the story has been born in raw form, students can begin to shape it. This would be a good time for a lesson on pacing, where students look at how writers expand some moments to create drama and shrink other moments so that the story doesn’t drag. Creating a diagram like the one below forces a writer to decide how much space to devote to all of the events in the story.

narrative essay 5th grade

Step 8: Long Drafts

With a good plan in hand, students can now slow down and write a proper draft, expanding the sections of their story that they plan to really draw out and adding in more of the details that they left out in the quick draft.

Step 9: Workshop

Once students have a decent rough draft—something that has a basic beginning, middle, and end, with some discernible rising action, a climax of some kind, and a resolution, you’re ready to shift into full-on workshop mode. I would do this for at least a week: Start class with a short mini-lesson on some aspect of narrative writing craft, then give students the rest of the period to write, conference with you, and collaborate with their peers. During that time, they should focus some of their attention on applying the skill they learned in the mini-lesson to their drafts, so they will improve a little bit every day.

Topics for mini-lessons can include:

  • How to weave exposition into your story so you don’t give readers an “information dump”
  • How to carefully select dialogue to create good scenes, rather than quoting everything in a conversation
  • How to punctuate and format dialogue so that it imitates the natural flow of a conversation
  • How to describe things using sensory details and figurative language; also,  what  to describe…students too often give lots of irrelevant detail
  • How to choose precise nouns and vivid verbs, use a variety of sentence lengths and structures, and add transitional words, phrases, and features to help the reader follow along
  • How to start, end, and title a story

Step 10: Final Revisions and Edits

As the unit nears its end, students should be shifting away from revision , in which they alter the content of a piece, toward editing , where they make smaller changes to the mechanics of the writing. Make sure students understand the difference between the two: They should not be correcting each other’s spelling and punctuation in the early stages of this process, when the focus should be on shaping a better story.

One of the most effective strategies for revision and editing is to have students read their stories out loud. In the early stages, this will reveal places where information is missing or things get confusing. Later, more read-alouds will help them immediately find missing words, unintentional repetitions, and sentences that just “sound weird.” So get your students to read their work out loud frequently. It also helps to print stories on paper: For some reason, seeing the words in print helps us notice things we didn’t see on the screen.

To get the most from peer review, where students read and comment on each other’s work, more modeling from you is essential: Pull up a sample piece of writing and show students how to give specific feedback that helps, rather than simply writing “good detail” or “needs more detail,” the two comments I saw exchanged most often on students’ peer-reviewed papers.

Step 11: Final Copies and Publication

Once revision and peer review are done, students will hand in their final copies. If you don’t want to get stuck with 100-plus papers to grade, consider using Catlin Tucker’s station rotation model , which keeps all the grading in class. And when you do return stories with your own feedback, try using Kristy Louden’s delayed grade strategy , where students don’t see their final grade until they have read your written feedback.

Beyond the standard hand-in-for-a-grade, consider other ways to have students publish their stories. Here are some options:

  • Stories could be published as individual pages on a collaborative website or blog.
  • Students could create illustrated e-books out of their stories.
  • Students could create a slideshow to accompany their stories and record them as digital storytelling videos. This could be done with a tool like Screencastify or Screencast-O-Matic .

So this is what worked for me. If you’ve struggled to get good stories from your students, try some or all of these techniques next time. I think you’ll find that all of your students have some pretty interesting stories to tell. Helping them tell their stories well is a gift that will serve them for many years after they leave your classroom. ♦

Want this unit ready-made?

If you’re a writing teacher in grades 7-12 and you’d like a classroom-ready unit like the one described above, including slideshow mini-lessons on 14 areas of narrative craft, a sample narrative piece, editable rubrics, and other supplemental materials to guide students through every stage of the process, take a look at my Narrative Writing unit . Just click on the image below and you’ll be taken to a page where you can read more and see a detailed preview of what’s included.

narrative essay 5th grade

What to Read Next

narrative essay 5th grade

Categories: Instruction , Podcast

Tags: English language arts , Grades 6-8 , Grades 9-12 , teaching strategies

52 Comments

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Wow, this is a wonderful guide! If my English teachers had taught this way, I’m sure I would have enjoyed narrative writing instead of dreading it. I’ll be able to use many of these suggestions when writing my blog! BrP

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Lst year I was so discouraged because the short stories looked like the quick drafts described in this article. I thought I had totally failed until I read this and realized I did not fai,l I just needed to complete the process. Thank you!

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I feel like you jumped in my head and connected my thoughts. I appreciate the time you took to stop and look closely at form. I really believe that student-writers should see all dimensions of narrative writing and be able to live in whichever style and voice they want for their work.

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Can’t thank you enough for this. So well curated that one can just follow it blindly and ace at teaching it. Thanks again!

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Great post! I especially liked your comments about reminding kids about the power of storytelling. My favourite podcasts and posts from you are always about how to do things in the classroom and I appreciate the research you do.

On a side note, the ice breakers are really handy. My kids know each other really well (rural community), and can tune out pretty quickly if there is nothing new to learn about their peers, but they like the games (and can remember where we stopped last time weeks later). I’ve started changing them up with ‘life questions’, so the editable version is great!

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I love writing with my students and loved this podcast! A fun extension to this narrative is to challenge students to write another story about the same event, but use the perspective of another “character” from the story. Books like Wonder (R.J. Palacio) and Wanderer (Sharon Creech) can model the concept for students.

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Thank you for your great efforts to reveal the practical writing strategies in layered details. As English is not my first language, I need listen to your podcast and read the text repeatedly so to fully understand. It’s worthy of the time for some great post like yours. I love sharing so I send the link to my English practice group that it can benefit more. I hope I could be able to give you some feedback later on.

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Thank you for helping me get to know better especially the techniques in writing narrative text. Im an English teacher for 5years but have little knowledge on writing. I hope you could feature techniques in writing news and fearute story. God bless and more power!

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Thank you for this! I am very interested in teaching a unit on personal narrative and this was an extremely helpful breakdown. As a current student teacher I am still unsure how to approach breaking down the structures of different genres of writing in a way that is helpful for me students but not too restrictive. The story mapping tools you provided really allowed me to think about this in a new way. Writing is such a powerful way to experience the world and more than anything I want my students to realize its power. Stories are how we make sense of the world and as an English teacher I feel obligated to give my students access to this particular skill.

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The power of story is unfathomable. There’s this NGO in India doing some great work in harnessing the power of storytelling and plots to brighten children’s lives and enlighten them with true knowledge. Check out Katha India here: http://bit.ly/KathaIndia

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Thank you so much for this. I did not go to college to become a writing professor, but due to restructuring in my department, I indeed am! This is a wonderful guide that I will use when teaching the narrative essay. I wonder if you have a similar guide for other modes such as descriptive, process, argument, etc.?

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Hey Melanie, Jenn does have another guide on writing! Check out A Step-by-Step Plan for Teaching Argumentative Writing .

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Hi, I am also wondering if there is a similar guide for descriptive writing in particular?

Hey Melanie, unfortunately Jenn doesn’t currently have a guide for descriptive writing. She’s always working on projects though, so she may get around to writing a unit like this in the future. You can always check her Teachers Pay Teachers page for an up-to-date list of materials she has available. Thanks!

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I want to write about the new character in my area

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That’s great! Let us know if you need any supports during your writing process!

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I absolutely adore this unit plan. I teach freshmen English at a low-income high school and wanted to find something to help my students find their voice. It is not often that I borrow material, but I borrowed and adapted all of it in the order that it is presented! It is cohesive, understandable, and fun. Thank you!!

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So glad to hear this, Nicole!

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Thanks sharing this post. My students often get confused between personal narratives and short stories. Whenever I ask them to write a short story, she share their own experiences and add a bit of fiction in it to make it interesting.

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Thank you! My students have loved this so far. I do have a question as to where the “Frog” story mentioned in Step 4 is. I could really use it! Thanks again.

This is great to hear, Emily! In Step 4, Jenn mentions that she wrote the “Frog” story for her narrative writing unit . Just scroll down the bottom of the post and you’ll see a link to the unit.

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I also cannot find the link to the short story “Frog”– any chance someone can send it or we can repost it?

This story was written for Jenn’s narrative writing unit. You can find a link to this unit in Step 4 or at the bottom of the article. Hope this helps.

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I cannot find the frog story mentioned. Could you please send the link.? Thank you

Hi Michelle,

The Frog story was written for Jenn’s narrative writing unit. There’s a link to this unit in Step 4 and at the bottom of the article.

Debbie- thanks for you reply… but there is no link to the story in step 4 or at the bottom of the page….

Hey Shawn, the frog story is part of Jenn’s narrative writing unit, which is available on her Teachers Pay Teachers site. The link Debbie is referring to at the bottom of this post will take you to her narrative writing unit and you would have to purchase that to gain access to the frog story. I hope this clears things up.

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Thank you so much for this resource! I’m a high school English teacher, and am currently teaching creative writing for the first time. I really do value your blog, podcast, and other resources, so I’m excited to use this unit. I’m a cyber school teacher, so clear, organized layout is important; and I spend a lot of time making sure my content is visually accessible for my students to process. Thanks for creating resources that are easy for us teachers to process and use.

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Do you have a lesson for Informative writing?

Hey Cari, Jenn has another unit on argumentative writing , but doesn’t have one yet on informative writing. She may develop one in the future so check back in sometime.

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I had the same question. Informational writing is so difficult to have a good strong unit in when you have so many different text structures to meet and need text-dependent writing tasks.

Creating an informational writing unit is still on Jenn’s long list of projects to get to, but in the meantime, if you haven’t already, check out When We All Teach Text Structures, Everyone Wins . It might help you out!

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This is a great lesson! It would be helpful to see a finished draft of the frog narrative arc. Students’ greatest challenge is transferring their ideas from the planner to a full draft. To see a full sample of how this arc was transformed into a complete narrative draft would be a powerful learning tool.

Hi Stacey! Jenn goes into more depth with the “Frog” lesson in her narrative writing unit – this is where you can find a sample of what a completed story arc might look. Also included is a draft of the narrative. If interested in checking out the unit and seeing a preview, just scroll down to the bottom of the post and click on the image. Hope this helps!

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Helped me learn for an entrance exam thanks very much

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Is the narrative writing lesson you talk about in https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/narrative-writing/

Also doable for elementary students you think, and if to what levels?

Love your work, Sincerely, Zanyar

Hey Zanyar,

It’s possible the unit would work with 4th and 5th graders, but Jenn definitely wouldn’t recommend going any younger. The main reason for this is that some of the mini-lessons in the unit could be challenging for students who are still concrete thinkers. You’d likely need to do some adjusting and scaffolding which could extend the unit beyond the 3 weeks. Having said that, I taught 1st grade and found the steps of the writing process, as described in the post, to be very similar. Of course learning targets/standards were different, but the process itself can be applied to any grade level (modeling writing, using mentor texts to study how stories work, planning the structure of the story, drafting, elaborating, etc.) Hope this helps!

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This has made my life so much easier. After teaching in different schools systems, from the American, to British to IB, one needs to identify the anchor standards and concepts, that are common between all these systems, to build well balanced thematic units. Just reading these steps gave me the guidance I needed to satisfy both the conceptual framework the schools ask for and the standards-based practice. Thank you Thank you.

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Would this work for teaching a first grader about narrative writing? I am also looking for a great book to use as a model for narrative writing. Veggie Monster is being used by his teacher and he isn’t connecting with this book in the least bit, so it isn’t having a positive impact. My fear is he will associate this with writing and I don’t want a negative association connected to such a beautiful process and experience. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Thank you for any information you can provide!

Although I think the materials in the actual narrative writing unit are really too advanced for a first grader, the general process that’s described in the blog post can still work really well.

I’m sorry your child isn’t connecting with The Night of the Veggie Monster. Try to keep in mind that the main reason this is used as a mentor text is because it models how a small moment story can be told in a big way. It’s filled with all kinds of wonderful text features that impact the meaning of the story – dialogue, description, bold text, speech bubbles, changes in text size, ellipses, zoomed in images, text placement, text shape, etc. All of these things will become mini-lessons throughout the unit. But there are lots of other wonderful mentor texts that your child might enjoy. My suggestion for an early writer, is to look for a small moment text, similar in structure, that zooms in on a problem that a first grader can relate to. In addition to the mentor texts that I found in this article , you might also want to check out Knuffle Bunny, Kitten’s First Full Moon, When Sophie Gets Angry Really Really Angry, and Whistle for Willie. Hope this helps!

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I saw this on Pinterest the other day while searching for examples of narritives units/lessons. I clicked on it because I always click on C.o.P stuff 🙂 And I wasn’t disapointed. I was intrigued by the connection of narratives to humanity–even if a student doesn’t identify as a writer, he/she certainly is human, right? I really liked this. THIS clicked with me.

A few days after I read the P.o.C post, I ventured on to YouTube for more ideas to help guide me with my 8th graders’ narrative writing this coming spring. And there was a TEDx video titled, “The Power of Personal Narrative” by J. Christan Jensen. I immediately remembered the line from the article above that associated storytelling with “power” and how it sets humans apart and if introduced and taught as such, it can be “extraordinary.”

I watched the video and to the suprise of my expectations, it was FANTASTIC. Between Jennifer’s post and the TEDx video ignited within me some major motivation and excitement to begin this unit.

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Thanks for sharing this with us! So glad that Jenn’s post paired with another text gave you some motivation and excitement. I’ll be sure to pass this on to Jenn!

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Thank you very much for this really helpful post! I really love the idea of helping our students understand that storytelling is powerful and then go on to teach them how to harness that power. That is the essence of teaching literature or writing at any level. However, I’m a little worried about telling students that whether a piece of writing is fact or fiction does not matter. It in fact matters a lot precisely because storytelling is powerful. Narratives can shape people’s views and get their emotions involved which would, in turn, motivate them to act on a certain matter, whether for good or for bad. A fictional narrative that is passed as factual could cause a lot of damage in the real world. I believe we should. I can see how helping students focus on writing the story rather than the truth of it all could help refine the needed skills without distractions. Nevertheless, would it not be prudent to teach our students to not just harness the power of storytelling but refrain from misusing it by pushing false narratives as factual? It is true that in reality, memoirs pass as factual while novels do as fictional while the opposite may be true for both cases. I am not too worried about novels passing as fictional. On the other hand, fictional narratives masquerading as factual are disconcerting and part of a phenomenon that needs to be fought against, not enhanced or condoned in education. This is especially true because memoirs are often used by powerful people to write/re-write history. I would really like to hear your opinion on this. Thanks a lot for a great post and a lot of helpful resources!

Thank you so much for this. Jenn and I had a chance to chat and we can see where you’re coming from. Jenn never meant to suggest that a person should pass off a piece of fictional writing as a true story. Good stories can be true, completely fictional, or based on a true story that’s mixed with some fiction – that part doesn’t really matter. However, what does matter is how a student labels their story. We think that could have been stated more clearly in the post , so Jenn decided to add a bit about this at the end of the 3rd paragraph in the section “A Note About Form: Personal Narrative or Short Story?” Thanks again for bringing this to our attention!

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You have no idea how much your page has helped me in so many ways. I am currently in my teaching credential program and there are times that I feel lost due to a lack of experience in the classroom. I’m so glad I came across your page! Thank you for sharing!

Thanks so much for letting us know-this means a whole lot!

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No, we’re sorry. Jenn actually gets this question fairly often. It’s something she considered doing at one point, but because she has so many other projects she’s working on, she’s just not gotten to it.

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I couldn’t find the story

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Hi, Duraiya. The “Frog” story is part of Jenn’s narrative writing unit, which is available on her Teachers Pay Teachers site. The link at the bottom of this post will take you to her narrative writing unit, which you can purchase to gain access to the story. I hope this helps!

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I am using this step-by-step plan to help me teach personal narrative story writing. I wanted to show the Coca-Cola story, but the link says the video is not available. Do you have a new link or can you tell me the name of the story so I can find it?

Thank you for putting this together.

Hi Corri, sorry about that. The Coca-Cola commercial disappeared, so Jenn just updated the post with links to two videos with good stories. Hope this helps!

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Reading Worksheets, Spelling, Grammar, Comprehension, Lesson Plans

50 Narrative Essay Topics

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a narrative essay can also tell an exciting story and create vivid pictures in the reader’s mind! We’ve got 50 narrative essay topics designed to prompt students to craft memorable written narratives. These can be modified for students in elementary, middle and high school. Feel free to print the entire narrative essay topics list for plenty of inspiration for your next narrative essay assignment!

Narrative Essay Topics

  • Your first day of school.
  • Your most exciting day of school
  • A field trip that your class took.
  • Your favorite summer vacation.
  • A trip that included something unexpected or surprising.
  • A time that you experienced something spooky.
  • A time that you experienced something truly frightening.
  • A time that you learned something new that changed you in some way.
  • The moment when you met someone who changed your life.
  • The day that you got your first pet.
  • A move from one place to another.
  • Something funny that happened to you.
  • Something funny that happened to one of your family members or friends.
  • Something embarrassing that happened to you.
  • Your favorite birthday party.
  • A birthday that was disappointing.
  • A big storm (rain, snow or even a tornado!).
  • A time that the power went out.
  • A summer day when the temperature got much higher than expected.
  • A time when you went to an amusement park.
  • A time when you got lost somewhere.
  • A memorable experience with a favorite family member.
  • A sad experience with someone about whom you care.
  • Your most exciting moment playing sports.
  • Your most exciting moment performing in a play, singing, playing music or dancing.
  • An experience that left you feeling frustrated.
  • An experience that was hard but ended up being worth it.
  • A time that you experienced rejection.
  • A weird encounter with a stranger.
  • A random act of kindness.
  • A time that you took a stand for someone or for an issue that you care about.
  • A moment when you thought you might get hurt but didn’t.
  • Breaking a bone (or otherwise suffering an injury).
  • Your first time away from home for the night (or longer).
  • A time when you experienced a historic event.
  • Where you were when a major event happened. (Note: You don’t need to have been at the site of the event; this prompt is about where you were when you found out about the event and how you reacted.)
  • A time when you rebelled against your parents or teacher.
  • A dangerous experience.
  • A misunderstanding between yourself and someone else.
  • A difficult decision that you had to make.
  • The end of a friendship or relationship.
  • The beginning of a friendship or relationship.
  • A time when you judged someone first and then realized that you were wrong about the person.
  • A time when someone judged you first and then realized that he or she was wrong about you.
  • A moment when you felt that you were starting to grow up.
  • A time when you saw one or both of your parents in a different light.
  • A time when you looked up to your older sibling.
  • A time when your younger sibling looked up to you.
  • A time when you were grateful to be an only child.
  • An experience that you think has only ever happened to you!

Looking for more essay topics? Compare and Contrast Essay Topics Descriptive Essay Topics Cause and Effect Essay Topics Persuasive Essay and Speech Topics

  • Grades 6-12
  • School Leaders

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15 Inspiring Personal Narrative Examples for Writers

Reveal a part of yourself in your essay.

narrative essay 5th grade

Students start writing personal narratives at a young age, learning to use descriptive language to tell a story about their own experiences. Try sharing these personal narrative examples for elementary, middle, and high school to help them understand this essay form.

What is a personal narrative?

Think of a narrative essay like telling a story. Use descriptive language, and be sure you have a beginning, middle, and end. The essay should recount your personal experiences, including your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Learn more about personal narrative essays here:

  • What Is Narrative Writing, and How Do I Teach It in the Classroom?
  • Engaging Personal Narrative Ideas for Kids and Teens
  • Best Mentor Texts for Narrative Writing in Elementary School

Elementary School Personal Narrative Examples

In elementary school, personal narratives might be quite short, just a paragraph or two. The key is to encourage kids to embrace a personal style of writing, one that speaks in their own voice. Take a look at these elementary school personal narrative essay examples for inspiration.

The Horrible Day

“next i fell asleep in my cereal and my brother stole my toast”—anonymous student.

narrative essay 5th grade

In this short personal narrative written by a 2nd grader, the author describes a bad day with lots of details and an informal tone. It’s a great model for your youngest writers.

Read the full essay: The Horrible Day at Thoughtful Learning

Keep an Eye on the Sky!

“as we made our way out to the field, my stomach slowly turned into a giant knot of fear.” —anonymous student.

Any student who dreads gym class will connect with this essay, which turns a challenge into a triumph. This narrative from Time for Kids is annotated, with highlighted details and tips to help kids write their own essay.

Read the full essay: Keep an Eye on the Sky! at Time for Kids

Grandpa, Chaz, and Me

“i really miss grandpa, and so does my brother, even though he never met him.” —cody, 4th grade student.

Written by a 4th grader, this essay relates the author’s loss of a grandfather at a very young age. Using simple, personal language, they tell a compelling story in a few short paragraphs.

Read the full essay: Grandpa, Chaz, and Me at Thoughtful Learning

Surviving an Embarrassing Situation

“i had made the shot in the wrong basket, giving the green shirts the win” —anonymous student.

narrative essay 5th grade

Personal narratives tell a story, with a beginning, middle, and end. This annotated essay outlines those parts, making it easier for young writers to do the same in their own writing.

Read the full essay: Surviving an Embarrassing Situation at Sopris West Educational Services

“Do you have a friend who loves you?” —Kendra, 4th grade student

Writing about friends gives writers the chance to describe someone’s physical characteristics and personality. This 4th grade essay uses personal details to bring a beloved friend to life.

Read the full essay: Ann at Thoughtful Learning

Middle School Personal Narrative Examples

By middle school, personal narratives are longer and more involved, telling more detailed stories and experiences. These middle school personal narrative essay examples model strong writing skills for this age group.

“As thoughts of certain death run through my mind, the world appears a precious, treasured place.” —Amy, student

narrative essay 5th grade

Describing an opportunity to overcome your worst fears makes an excellent personal narrative topic. The vivid descriptions of the landscape and the author’s feelings help the reader make a strong connection to the author.

Read the full essay: The Climb at Thoughtful Learning

The Best Friend Question

“i’ve often wondered, does not having a best friend make me defective” —blanche li, age 13, diablo vista middle school, danville, california.

When her Spanish teacher asked students for an essay describing their best friend, 13-year-old Blanche Li fell back on her standard story: that of a made-up person. Here, she explains why she made up “Haley” and wonders what having an imaginary best friend says about her.

Read the full essay: The Best Friend Question at The New York Times

The Racist Warehouse

“i didn’t know racism was still around; i thought that situation had died along with dr. king.” —alicia, 8th grade student.

Strong personal narratives often relate the way the author learned an important life lesson. Here, an 8th grader describes her first experience with racism, in an essay that will sadly ring true with many readers.

Read the full essay: The Racist Warehouse at Thoughtful Teaching

“For the first time, we realized that we didn’t know how to express our voice, and we always suppressed it.” —Jocelyn C., 7th grade student, Texas

narrative essay 5th grade

Seventh-grader Jocelyn C. describes the unique experience of spending two years living in an RV with her family, traveling the country. She relates the ups and downs of their trip, illustrating the way her family learned to live together in close quarters and embrace the adventure.

Read the full essay: RV Journey at Write From the Heart

An Eight Pound Rival

“i’m trying to accept that he didn’t mean to dominate the center stage all the time, that’s just one of the many lovable assets of his personality.”.

A new sibling can change everything in a family, especially when you’ve always been the baby. This middle schooler explains her challenging relationship with a little brother that she loves, even when he drives her a bit crazy. (Find this essay on page 42 at the link.)

Read the full essay: An Eight Pound Rival at Teaching That Makes Sense

High School Personal Narrative Examples

High school students have more complex stories to tell, though they’re sometimes reluctant to do so. Reading personal narrative essay examples like these can encourage them to open up and get their thoughts, feelings, and ideas down on the page.

Sorry, Wrong Number

“when i received the first text, i was a playful sixth grader, always finding sly ways to be subversive in school and with friends.” —michelle ahn, high school student.

narrative essay 5th grade

When Michelle Ahn was 11, she started getting texts for a wrong number, a man named Jared. Rather than correcting the error, she spends the next few years occasionally engaging with his texters as “Jared,” learning more about him. Though she finally comes clean, her time as “Jared” exposes her to a way of life very different from her own, and opens her eyes to the inner lives of others.

Read the full essay: Sorry, Wrong Number at The New York Times

Caught in the Net

“little does everyone else know how often i’m not doing school research or paper writing; instead i’m aimlessly writing emails or chatting with internet friends and family hundreds of miles away.” —kim, college student.

Even before social media and smartphones swept the world, internet addiction had become a problem. Here, a student shares her experiences in AOL chat rooms, meeting people from around the globe. Eventually, she realizes she’s sacrificing life in the real world for her digital friends and experiences, and works to find the right balance.

Read the full essay: Caught in the Net at Thoughtful Learning

Nothing Extraordinary

“an uneasy feeling started to settle in my chest. i tried to push it out, but once it took root it refused to be yanked up and tossed away.” —jeniffer kim, high school student.

During an ordinary shopping trip, high schooler Jenniffer Kim suddenly realizes she’s ashamed of her mother. At the same time, she recognizes all the sacrifices her mom has made for her, and gladly takes the chance to make a tiny sacrifice of her own.

Read the full essay: Nothing Extraordinary at The New York Times

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

“at this point in life, i had not yet learned to be gentle with myself, or others.” —anonymous student.

narrative essay 5th grade

A teen who lives with bipolar disorder recounts a difficult conversation with her parents, in which her mother dismisses her as “crazy.” A few years later, this same teen finds herself in the emergency room, where her mother has just tried to die by suicide. “Crazy!” the daughter thinks. After her mother also receives a bipolar disorder diagnosis, the author concludes, “‘Crazy’ is a term devised to dismiss people.”

Read the full essay: The Pot Calling the Kettle Black at Pressbooks

What a Black Woman Wishes Her Adoptive White Parents Knew

“i know that i am different, but do not have the words to understand how.” —mariama lockington.

Though not written by a high schooler, this essay by Mariama Lockington makes an excellent mentor text for this age group. Lockington dives deep into her feelings about being adopted by parents of a different race, and shares her challenges in poignant language that speaks directly to the reader.

Read the full essay: What a Black Woman Wishes Her Adoptive White Parents Knew at Buzzfeed News

Do you use personal narrative examples as mentor texts in your classroom? Come share your experiences and ask for advice in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook !

Plus, strong persuasive writing examples (essays, speeches, ads, and more) ..

Find stirring personal narrative examples for elementary, middle school, and high school students on an array of topics.

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Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students

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MASTERING THE CRAFT OF NARRATIVE WRITING

Narratives build on and encourage the development of the fundamentals of writing. They also require developing an additional skill set: the ability to tell a good yarn, and storytelling is as old as humanity.

We see and hear stories everywhere and daily, from having good gossip on the doorstep with a neighbor in the morning to the dramas that fill our screens in the evening.

Good narrative writing skills are hard-won by students even though it is an area of writing that most enjoy due to the creativity and freedom it offers.

Here we will explore some of the main elements of a good story: plot, setting, characters, conflict, climax, and resolution . And we will look too at how best we can help our students understand these elements, both in isolation and how they mesh together as a whole.

Visual Writing

WHAT IS A NARRATIVE?

What is a narrative?

A narrative is a story that shares a sequence of events , characters, and themes. It expresses experiences, ideas, and perspectives that should aspire to engage and inspire an audience.

A narrative can spark emotion, encourage reflection, and convey meaning when done well.

Narratives are a popular genre for students and teachers as they allow the writer to share their imagination, creativity, skill, and understanding of nearly all elements of writing.  We occasionally refer to a narrative as ‘creative writing’ or story writing.

The purpose of a narrative is simple, to tell the audience a story.  It can be written to motivate, educate, or entertain and can be fact or fiction.

A COMPLETE UNIT ON TEACHING NARRATIVE WRITING

narrative writing | narrative writing unit 1 2 | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

Teach your students to become skilled story writers with this HUGE   NARRATIVE & CREATIVE STORY WRITING UNIT . Offering a  COMPLETE SOLUTION  to teaching students how to craft  CREATIVE CHARACTERS, SUPERB SETTINGS, and PERFECT PLOTS .

Over 192 PAGES of materials, including:

TYPES OF NARRATIVE WRITING

There are many narrative writing genres and sub-genres such as these.

We have a complete guide to writing a personal narrative that differs from the traditional story-based narrative covered in this guide. It includes personal narrative writing prompts, resources, and examples and can be found here.

narrative writing | how to write quest narratives | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

As we can see, narratives are an open-ended form of writing that allows you to showcase creativity in many directions. However, all narratives share a common set of features and structure known as “Story Elements”, which are briefly covered in this guide.

Don’t overlook the importance of understanding story elements and the value this adds to you as a writer who can dissect and create grand narratives. We also have an in-depth guide to understanding story elements here .

CHARACTERISTICS OF NARRATIVE WRITING

Narrative structure.

ORIENTATION (BEGINNING) Set the scene by introducing your characters, setting and time of the story. Establish your who, when and where in this part of your narrative

COMPLICATION AND EVENTS (MIDDLE) In this section activities and events involving your main characters are expanded upon. These events are written in a cohesive and fluent sequence.

RESOLUTION (ENDING) Your complication is resolved in this section. It does not have to be a happy outcome, however.

EXTRAS: Whilst orientation, complication and resolution are the agreed norms for a narrative, there are numerous examples of popular texts that did not explicitly follow this path exactly.

NARRATIVE FEATURES

LANGUAGE: Use descriptive and figurative language to paint images inside your audience’s minds as they read.

PERSPECTIVE Narratives can be written from any perspective but are most commonly written in first or third person.

DIALOGUE Narratives frequently switch from narrator to first-person dialogue. Always use speech marks when writing dialogue.

TENSE If you change tense, make it perfectly clear to your audience what is happening. Flashbacks might work well in your mind but make sure they translate to your audience.

THE PLOT MAP

narrative writing | structuring a narrative | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

This graphic is known as a plot map, and nearly all narratives fit this structure in one way or another, whether romance novels, science fiction or otherwise.

It is a simple tool that helps you understand and organise a story’s events. Think of it as a roadmap that outlines the journey of your characters and the events that unfold. It outlines the different stops along the way, such as the introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution, that help you to see how the story builds and develops.

Using a plot map, you can see how each event fits into the larger picture and how the different parts of the story work together to create meaning. It’s a great way to visualize and analyze a story.

Be sure to refer to a plot map when planning a story, as it has all the essential elements of a great story.

THE 5 KEY STORY ELEMENTS OF A GREAT NARRATIVE (6-MINUTE TUTORIAL VIDEO)

This video we created provides an excellent overview of these elements and demonstrates them in action in stories we all know and love.

Story Elements for kids

HOW TO WRITE A NARRATIVE

How to write a Narrative

Now that we understand the story elements and how they come together to form stories, it’s time to start planning and writing your narrative.

In many cases, the template and guide below will provide enough details on how to craft a great story. However, if you still need assistance with the fundamentals of writing, such as sentence structure, paragraphs and using correct grammar, we have some excellent guides on those here.

USE YOUR WRITING TIME EFFECTIVELY: Maximize your narrative writing sessions by spending approximately 20 per cent of your time planning and preparing.  This ensures greater productivity during your writing time and keeps you focused and on task.

Use tools such as graphic organizers to logically sequence your narrative if you are not a confident story writer.  If you are working with reluctant writers, try using narrative writing prompts to get their creative juices flowing.

Spend most of your writing hour on the task at hand, don’t get too side-tracked editing during this time and leave some time for editing. When editing a  narrative, examine it for these three elements.

  • Spelling and grammar ( Is it readable?)
  • Story structure and continuity ( Does it make sense, and does it flow? )
  • Character and plot analysis. (Are your characters engaging? Does your problem/resolution work? )

1. SETTING THE SCENE: THE WHERE AND THE WHEN

narrative writing | aa156ee009d91a57894348652da98b58 | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

The story’s setting often answers two of the central questions in the story, namely, the where and the when. The answers to these two crucial questions will often be informed by the type of story the student is writing.

The story’s setting can be chosen to quickly orient the reader to the type of story they are reading. For example, a fictional narrative writing piece such as a horror story will often begin with a description of a haunted house on a hill or an abandoned asylum in the middle of the woods. If we start our story on a rocket ship hurtling through the cosmos on its space voyage to the Alpha Centauri star system, we can be reasonably sure that the story we are embarking on is a work of science fiction.

Such conventions are well-worn clichés true, but they can be helpful starting points for our novice novelists to make a start.

Having students choose an appropriate setting for the type of story they wish to write is an excellent exercise for our younger students. It leads naturally onto the next stage of story writing, which is creating suitable characters to populate this fictional world they have created. However, older or more advanced students may wish to play with the expectations of appropriate settings for their story. They may wish to do this for comic effect or in the interest of creating a more original story. For example, opening a story with a children’s birthday party does not usually set up the expectation of a horror story. Indeed, it may even lure the reader into a happy reverie as they remember their own happy birthday parties. This leaves them more vulnerable to the surprise element of the shocking action that lies ahead.

Once the students have chosen a setting for their story, they need to start writing. Little can be more terrifying to English students than the blank page and its bare whiteness stretching before them on the table like a merciless desert they must cross. Give them the kick-start they need by offering support through word banks or writing prompts. If the class is all writing a story based on the same theme, you may wish to compile a common word bank on the whiteboard as a prewriting activity. Write the central theme or genre in the middle of the board. Have students suggest words or phrases related to the theme and list them on the board.

You may wish to provide students with a copy of various writing prompts to get them started. While this may mean that many students’ stories will have the same beginning, they will most likely arrive at dramatically different endings via dramatically different routes.

narrative writing | story elements | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

A bargain is at the centre of the relationship between the writer and the reader. That bargain is that the reader promises to suspend their disbelief as long as the writer creates a consistent and convincing fictional reality. Creating a believable world for the fictional characters to inhabit requires the student to draw on convincing details. The best way of doing this is through writing that appeals to the senses. Have your student reflect deeply on the world that they are creating. What does it look like? Sound like? What does the food taste like there? How does it feel like to walk those imaginary streets, and what aromas beguile the nose as the main character winds their way through that conjured market?

Also, Consider the when; or the time period. Is it a future world where things are cleaner and more antiseptic? Or is it an overcrowded 16th-century London with human waste stinking up the streets? If students can create a multi-sensory installation in the reader’s mind, then they have done this part of their job well.

Popular Settings from Children’s Literature and Storytelling

  • Fairytale Kingdom
  • Magical Forest
  • Village/town
  • Underwater world
  • Space/Alien planet

2. CASTING THE CHARACTERS: THE WHO

Now that your student has created a believable world, it is time to populate it with believable characters.

In short stories, these worlds mustn’t be overpopulated beyond what the student’s skill level can manage. Short stories usually only require one main character and a few secondary ones. Think of the short story more as a small-scale dramatic production in an intimate local theater than a Hollywood blockbuster on a grand scale. Too many characters will only confuse and become unwieldy with a canvas this size. Keep it simple!

Creating believable characters is often one of the most challenging aspects of narrative writing for students. Fortunately, we can do a few things to help students here. Sometimes it is helpful for students to model their characters on actual people they know. This can make things a little less daunting and taxing on the imagination. However, whether or not this is the case, writing brief background bios or descriptions of characters’ physical personality characteristics can be a beneficial prewriting activity. Students should give some in-depth consideration to the details of who their character is: How do they walk? What do they look like? Do they have any distinguishing features? A crooked nose? A limp? Bad breath? Small details such as these bring life and, therefore, believability to characters. Students can even cut pictures from magazines to put a face to their character and allow their imaginations to fill in the rest of the details.

Younger students will often dictate to the reader the nature of their characters. To improve their writing craft, students must know when to switch from story-telling mode to story-showing mode. This is particularly true when it comes to character. Encourage students to reveal their character’s personality through what they do rather than merely by lecturing the reader on the faults and virtues of the character’s personality. It might be a small relayed detail in the way they walk that reveals a core characteristic. For example, a character who walks with their head hanging low and shoulders hunched while avoiding eye contact has been revealed to be timid without the word once being mentioned. This is a much more artistic and well-crafted way of doing things and is less irritating for the reader. A character who sits down at the family dinner table immediately snatches up his fork and starts stuffing roast potatoes into his mouth before anyone else has even managed to sit down has revealed a tendency towards greed or gluttony.

Understanding Character Traits

Again, there is room here for some fun and profitable prewriting activities. Give students a list of character traits and have them describe a character doing something that reveals that trait without ever employing the word itself.

It is also essential to avoid adjective stuffing here. When looking at students’ early drafts, adjective stuffing is often apparent. To train the student out of this habit, choose an adjective and have the student rewrite the sentence to express this adjective through action rather than telling.

When writing a story, it is vital to consider the character’s traits and how they will impact the story’s events. For example, a character with a strong trait of determination may be more likely to overcome obstacles and persevere. In contrast, a character with a tendency towards laziness may struggle to achieve their goals. In short, character traits add realism, depth, and meaning to a story, making it more engaging and memorable for the reader.

Popular Character Traits in Children’s Stories

  • Determination
  • Imagination
  • Perseverance
  • Responsibility

We have an in-depth guide to creating great characters here , but most students should be fine to move on to planning their conflict and resolution.

3. NO PROBLEM? NO STORY! HOW CONFLICT DRIVES A NARRATIVE

narrative writing | 2 RoadBlock | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

This is often the area apprentice writers have the most difficulty with. Students must understand that without a problem or conflict, there is no story. The problem is the driving force of the action. Usually, in a short story, the problem will center around what the primary character wants to happen or, indeed, wants not to happen. It is the hurdle that must be overcome. It is in the struggle to overcome this hurdle that events happen.

Often when a student understands the need for a problem in a story, their completed work will still not be successful. This is because, often in life, problems remain unsolved. Hurdles are not always successfully overcome. Students pick up on this.

We often discuss problems with friends that will never be satisfactorily resolved one way or the other, and we accept this as a part of life. This is not usually the case with writing a story. Whether a character successfully overcomes his or her problem or is decidedly crushed in the process of trying is not as important as the fact that it will finally be resolved one way or the other.

A good practical exercise for students to get to grips with this is to provide copies of stories and have them identify the central problem or conflict in each through discussion. Familiar fables or fairy tales such as Three Little Pigs, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Cinderella, etc., are great for this.

While it is true that stories often have more than one problem or that the hero or heroine is unsuccessful in their first attempt to solve a central problem, for beginning students and intermediate students, it is best to focus on a single problem, especially given the scope of story writing at this level. Over time students will develop their abilities to handle more complex plots and write accordingly.

Popular Conflicts found in Children’s Storytelling.

  • Good vs evil
  • Individual vs society
  • Nature vs nurture
  • Self vs others
  • Man vs self
  • Man vs nature
  • Man vs technology
  • Individual vs fate
  • Self vs destiny

Conflict is the heart and soul of any good story. It’s what makes a story compelling and drives the plot forward. Without conflict, there is no story. Every great story has a struggle or a problem that needs to be solved, and that’s where conflict comes in. Conflict is what makes a story exciting and keeps the reader engaged. It creates tension and suspense and makes the reader care about the outcome.

Like in real life, conflict in a story is an opportunity for a character’s growth and transformation. It’s a chance for them to learn and evolve, making a story great. So next time stories are written in the classroom, remember that conflict is an essential ingredient, and without it, your story will lack the energy, excitement, and meaning that makes it truly memorable.

4. THE NARRATIVE CLIMAX: HOW THINGS COME TO A HEAD!

narrative writing | tension 1068x660 1 | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

The climax of the story is the dramatic high point of the action. It is also when the struggles kicked off by the problem come to a head. The climax will ultimately decide whether the story will have a happy or tragic ending. In the climax, two opposing forces duke things out until the bitter (or sweet!) end. One force ultimately emerges triumphant. As the action builds throughout the story, suspense increases as the reader wonders which of these forces will win out. The climax is the release of this suspense.

Much of the success of the climax depends on how well the other elements of the story have been achieved. If the student has created a well-drawn and believable character that the reader can identify with and feel for, then the climax will be more powerful.

The nature of the problem is also essential as it determines what’s at stake in the climax. The problem must matter dearly to the main character if it matters at all to the reader.

Have students engage in discussions about their favorite movies and books. Have them think about the storyline and decide the most exciting parts. What was at stake at these moments? What happened in your body as you read or watched? Did you breathe faster? Or grip the cushion hard? Did your heart rate increase, or did you start to sweat? This is what a good climax does and what our students should strive to do in their stories.

The climax puts it all on the line and rolls the dice. Let the chips fall where the writer may…

Popular Climax themes in Children’s Stories

  • A battle between good and evil
  • The character’s bravery saves the day
  • Character faces their fears and overcomes them
  • The character solves a mystery or puzzle.
  • The character stands up for what is right.
  • Character reaches their goal or dream.
  • The character learns a valuable lesson.
  • The character makes a selfless sacrifice.
  • The character makes a difficult decision.
  • The character reunites with loved ones or finds true friendship.

5. RESOLUTION: TYING UP LOOSE ENDS

After the climactic action, a few questions will often remain unresolved for the reader, even if all the conflict has been resolved. The resolution is where those lingering questions will be answered. The resolution in a short story may only be a brief paragraph or two. But, in most cases, it will still be necessary to include an ending immediately after the climax can feel too abrupt and leave the reader feeling unfulfilled.

An easy way to explain resolution to students struggling to grasp the concept is to point to the traditional resolution of fairy tales, the “And they all lived happily ever after” ending. This weather forecast for the future allows the reader to take their leave. Have the student consider the emotions they want to leave the reader with when crafting their resolution.

While the action is usually complete by the end of the climax, it is in the resolution that if there is a twist to be found, it will appear – think of movies such as The Usual Suspects. Pulling this off convincingly usually requires considerable skill from a student writer. Still, it may well form a challenging extension exercise for those more gifted storytellers among your students.

Popular Resolutions in Children’s Stories

  • Our hero achieves their goal
  • The character learns a valuable lesson
  • A character finds happiness or inner peace.
  • The character reunites with loved ones.
  • Character restores balance to the world.
  • The character discovers their true identity.
  • Character changes for the better.
  • The character gains wisdom or understanding.
  • Character makes amends with others.
  • The character learns to appreciate what they have.

Once students have completed their story, they can edit for grammar, vocabulary choice, spelling, etc., but not before!

As mentioned, there is a craft to storytelling, as well as an art. When accurate grammar, perfect spelling, and immaculate sentence structures are pushed at the outset, they can cause storytelling paralysis. For this reason, it is essential that when we encourage the students to write a story, we give them license to make mechanical mistakes in their use of language that they can work on and fix later.

Good narrative writing is a very complex skill to develop and will take the student years to become competent. It challenges not only the student’s technical abilities with language but also her creative faculties. Writing frames, word banks, mind maps, and visual prompts can all give valuable support as students develop the wide-ranging and challenging skills required to produce a successful narrative writing piece. But, at the end of it all, as with any craft, practice and more practice is at the heart of the matter.

TIPS FOR WRITING A GREAT NARRATIVE

  • Start your story with a clear purpose: If you can determine the theme or message you want to convey in your narrative before starting it will make the writing process so much simpler.
  • Choose a compelling storyline and sell it through great characters, setting and plot: Consider a unique or interesting story that captures the reader’s attention, then build the world and characters around it.
  • Develop vivid characters that are not all the same: Make your characters relatable and memorable by giving them distinct personalities and traits you can draw upon in the plot.
  • Use descriptive language to hook your audience into your story: Use sensory language to paint vivid images and sequences in the reader’s mind.
  • Show, don’t tell your audience: Use actions, thoughts, and dialogue to reveal character motivations and emotions through storytelling.
  • Create a vivid setting that is clear to your audience before getting too far into the plot: Describe the time and place of your story to immerse the reader fully.
  • Build tension: Refer to the story map earlier in this article and use conflict, obstacles, and suspense to keep the audience engaged and invested in your narrative.
  • Use figurative language such as metaphors, similes, and other literary devices to add depth and meaning to your narrative.
  • Edit, revise, and refine: Take the time to refine and polish your writing for clarity and impact.
  • Stay true to your voice: Maintain your unique perspective and style in your writing to make it your own.

NARRATIVE WRITING EXAMPLES (Student Writing Samples)

Below are a collection of student writing samples of narratives.  Click on the image to enlarge and explore them in greater detail.  Please take a moment to read these creative stories in detail and the teacher and student guides which highlight some of the critical elements of narratives to consider before writing.

Please understand these student writing samples are not intended to be perfect examples for each age or grade level but a piece of writing for students and teachers to explore together to critically analyze to improve student writing skills and deepen their understanding of story writing.

We recommend reading the example either a year above or below, as well as the grade you are currently working with, to gain a broader appreciation of this text type.

narrative writing | Narrative writing example year 3 1 | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

NARRATIVE WRITING PROMPTS (Journal Prompts)

When students have a great journal prompt, it can help them focus on the task at hand, so be sure to view our vast collection of visual writing prompts for various text types here or use some of these.

  • On a recent European trip, you find your travel group booked into the stunning and mysterious Castle Frankenfurter for a single night…  As night falls, the massive castle of over one hundred rooms seems to creak and groan as a series of unexplained events begin to make you wonder who or what else is spending the evening with you. Write a narrative that tells the story of your evening.
  • You are a famous adventurer who has discovered new lands; keep a travel log over a period of time in which you encounter new and exciting adventures and challenges to overcome.  Ensure your travel journal tells a story and has a definite introduction, conflict and resolution.
  • You create an incredible piece of technology that has the capacity to change the world.  As you sit back and marvel at your innovation and the endless possibilities ahead of you, it becomes apparent there are a few problems you didn’t really consider. You might not even be able to control them.  Write a narrative in which you ride the highs and lows of your world-changing creation with a clear introduction, conflict and resolution.
  • As the final door shuts on the Megamall, you realise you have done it…  You and your best friend have managed to sneak into the largest shopping centre in town and have the entire place to yourselves until 7 am tomorrow.  There is literally everything and anything a child would dream of entertaining themselves for the next 12 hours.  What amazing adventures await you?  What might go wrong?  And how will you get out of there scot-free?
  • A stranger walks into town…  Whilst appearing similar to almost all those around you, you get a sense that this person is from another time, space or dimension… Are they friends or foes?  What makes you sense something very strange is going on?   Suddenly they stand up and walk toward you with purpose extending their hand… It’s almost as if they were reading your mind.

NARRATIVE WRITING VIDEO TUTORIAL

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Teaching Resources

Use our resources and tools to improve your student’s writing skills through proven teaching strategies.

When teaching narrative writing, it is essential that you have a range of tools, strategies and resources at your disposal to ensure you get the most out of your writing time.  You can find some examples below, which are free and paid premium resources you can use instantly without any preparation.

FREE Narrative Graphic Organizer

narrative writing | NarrativeGraphicOrganizer | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

THE STORY TELLERS BUNDLE OF TEACHING RESOURCES

narrative writing | story tellers bundle 1 | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

A MASSIVE COLLECTION of resources for narratives and story writing in the classroom covering all elements of crafting amazing stories. MONTHS WORTH OF WRITING LESSONS AND RESOURCES, including:

NARRATIVE WRITING CHECKLIST BUNDLE

writing checklists

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OTHER GREAT ARTICLES ABOUT NARRATIVE WRITING

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Narrative Writing for Kids: Essential Skills and Strategies

narrative writing | narrative writing lessons | 7 Great Narrative Lesson Plans Students and Teachers Love | literacyideas.com

7 Great Narrative Lesson Plans Students and Teachers Love

narrative writing | Top narrative writing skills for students | Top 7 Narrative Writing Exercises for Students | literacyideas.com

Top 7 Narrative Writing Exercises for Students

narrative writing | how to write a scary horror story | How to Write a Scary Story | literacyideas.com

How to Write a Scary Story

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100 Best Fun Writing Prompts for 5th Grade: Journal Prompts

Kids Reading Books

  • Prompts for Narrative Essays
  • Prompts for Informative Essay Writing
  • Prompts for Research Writing
  • Funny Fifth Grade Writing Prompts
  • 5th Grade Poetry Writing Prompts
  • Prompts for 5th Grade Fiction Writing
  • 5th Grade Animal Writing Prompts
  • 5th Grade Emotion Writing Prompts
  • Journal Writing Prompts for Fifth Graders
  • 5th Grade Descriptive Writing Prompts

As parents and teachers, we recognize the significance of writing as a fundamental skill that enables children to express their thoughts, emotions, and ideas. However, generating ideas and inspiration for writing can be challenging for many 5th-grade students. To aid students in this process, 5th grade writing prompts prove to be a valuable resource. Furthermore, Science Daily published an article that highlights the crucial connection between handwriting and brain activity. Writing can increase brain activity, leading to better memory retention and cognitive development. This is particularly important for students as it can positively impact their academic performance.

“Writing is the painting of the voice.” – Voltaire

By using writing prompts, children can explore various topics, develop their imagination, and hone their writing skills. In this collection, we have compiled various writing prompts that are engaging, entertaining, and sure to inspire creativity in 5th grade students. This collection has something for everyone: Persuasive writing, descriptive essays, narrative stories, and imaginative writing. Fifth grade journal prompts can help inspire creativity and reflection in their writing. So, let’s get started and explore these exciting 5th Grade writing prompts.

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Explore 5th Grade educational resources !

10 Prompts for Narrative Essays

Writing Narrative Essays? Here Are Ten 5th grade narrative writing prompts:

“A great story can lead us to new worlds, new ideas, and new ways of thinking.” – Neil Gaiman
  • Write about a time when you faced a difficult decision.
  • Imagine you are stranded on a deserted island. Describe what you would do?
  • Create a narrative about a magical adventure.
  • Write about a time when you learned something important.
  • Think about the prospect of time travel. How would you react, and where would you go?
  • Develop a narrative about a superhero you create.
  • Describe a time when you overcame a fear.
  • Imagine you can do whatever you want. Tell me what it would be and how you’d use it.
  • Create a narrative about a day in the life of your pet.
  • Write about a time when you had to stand up for what you believe in.

10 Prompts for Informative Essay Writing

A list of ten 5th grade writing prompts to get you started on an informative essay:

  • Write an essay about a famous person who inspires you.
  • Research and write an essay about a historical event that interests you.
  • Write about the benefits of physical activity and exercise.
  • Write an essay about the effects of technology on society.
  • Research and write an essay about a country you would like to visit.
  • Write about the importance of reading books .
  • Write an essay about the positive and negative effects of social media.
  • Research and write an essay about an animal species that is endangered.
  • Write about the importance of recycling and conserving natural resources.
  • Please write an essay about the role of education in shaping our future.

10 Prompts for Research Writing

Here are ten Research writing prompts for 5th grade:

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” -Zora Neale Hurston, author and anthropologist.
  • Research and write about your favorite historical figure.
  • Choose a famous landmark and research its history and significance.
  • Investigate and write about an important event in history.
  • Research and write about a unique and interesting animal species.
  • Study and write about famous inventors and their inventions.
  • Research and write about the culture and traditions of a country you are interested in.
  • Explore and write about a current scientific discovery or innovation.
  • Investigate and write about the effects of climate change on a particular region or ecosystem.
  • Research and write about a famous artist and their artwork.
  • Study and write about a significant moment in space exploration history.

10 Funny Fifth Grade Writing Prompts

Kids laughing in a classroom

Here are ten prompts for Fun Writing Prompts for 5th Grade:

  • Write a funny story about a talking animal.
  • Imagine speaking to your pet and writing about what you would say.
  • Write a comic dialog between two unlikely characters.
  • Write a humorous story about a mischievous character getting into trouble.
  • Create a funny story using three random objects.
  • Write a funny kids’ poem . This can be about your favorite food.
  • Imagine a world where everything is opposite, and develop a narrative about it.
  • Develop a narrative about a silly superhero with extraordinary power.
  • Create a funny dialog between a parent and a child.
  • Develop a narrative about a funny and unexpected event that happened to you.

10 5th Grade Poetry Writing Prompts

The following are ten writing topics for 5th graders seeking poetry writing prompts:

  • Write a poem about your favorite season.
  • Imagine you are a raindrop falling from the sky. Write a poem describing your journey.
  • Write a poem about a place that makes you happy.
  • Choose an object in the room and write a poem about it.
  • Write a poem about a dream you had.
  • Create a poem that includes the words “whisper,” “twist,” and “moon.”
  • Write a poem about a memorable moment with a friend.
  • Describe a beautiful sunset in a poem.
  • Write a poem about the ocean and all its wonders.
  • Create a poem about your favorite animal.

10 Prompts for 5th Grade Fiction Writing

Opinion writing prompts 5th grade to help encourage critical thinking and self-expression in young students. Here are ten 5th grade writing prompt ideas to get them started:

  • Create a story about a mysterious package that arrives in the mail.
  • Develop a narrative about a person who can time travel.
  • Create a story about a magic tree that grants wishes.
  • Imagine being lost in the forest and creating a story about your adventure.
  • Develop a narrative about a group of friends who discover a hidden treasure.
  • Create a story about a person who can talk to animals.
  • Create a narrative about a family vacation gone wrong.
  • Imagine you could shrink to the size of an ant. Develop a narrative about your adventures.
  • Create a story about a person who wakes up one day with superpowers.
  • Develop a narrative about a group of people stranded on a deserted island.

10 5th Grade Animal Writing Prompts

Here are ten writing ideas for 5th grade for animal-themed assignments:

  • If you could be any animal for a day, which animal would you choose and why?
  • Create a narrative told from the point of view of a bear family as they emerge from their hibernation period.
  • Describe the life of a whale in the deep sea.
  • Write a persuasive essay on why zoos are important for conserving endangered animals.
  • Describe the life of a squirrel gathering nuts for winter.
  • Write a fictional story about a fox trying to outsmart a group of chickens.
  • Describe the life of a butterfly from caterpillar to butterfly.
  • Write a research paper on the migration patterns of birds.
  • Describe the life of a lion in the savannah.
  • Write a poem about the beauty of nature and the animals that live in it.

10 5th Grade Emotion Writing Prompts

Here are ten prompts for 5th grade writing prompts About Emotion:

  • Describe a moment when you experienced a strong sense of self-satisfaction and accomplishment.
  • Describe a moment when you felt scared and how you overcame your fear.
  • Create a narrative about a character who overcomes a difficult challenge.
  • Describe a time when you felt happy for someone else.
  • Write a letter to your future self about your dreams and aspirations.
  • Describe a time when you felt angry and how you managed your anger.
  • Develop a narrative about a character who learns the importance of forgiveness.
  • Describe a moment when you felt grateful for something or someone.
  • Write a poem about the different emotions that people feel.
  • Describe when you felt sad and how you coped with your sadness.

10 Journal Writing Prompts for Fifth Graders

The following are ten suggestions for 5th grade journal prompts to use:

  • Describe an instance where you successfully conquered a challenging obstacle.
  • Describe a moment when you felt proud of yourself and why.
  • Write about a place that is special to you and why it is important.
  • Describe a time when you helped someone else and how it made you feel.
  • Write about your favorite book and what you learned from it.
  • Describe an instance where you made a mistake and what you learned from it.
  • Write about a person who inspires you and why.
  • Describe a time when you felt grateful for something or someone.
  • Write about your favorite hobby and why you enjoy it.
  • Describe when you tried something new and what you learned from the experience.

When choosing 5th grade journal topics, consider selecting prompts that encourage students to explore their interests, emotions, and experiences in a safe and supportive environment.

10 5th Grade Descriptive Writing Prompts

Here are ten topics to consider when looking for descriptive writing prompts for 5th grade:

  • Describe your favorite outdoor place and explain why it is special to you.
  • Write a descriptive paragraph about a delicious meal you recently enjoyed.
  • Imagine you’re walking through a spooky forest. Describe what you see, hear, and feel.
  • Describe the view from your bedroom window. What can you see in the distance?
  • Write a paragraph describing a character from your favorite book. What do they look like, and what makes them interesting?
  • Describe your dream bedroom. What colors would you use, and what kind of furniture would you have?
  • Imagine you’re on a deserted island. Describe the island and the environment around you.
  • Write a paragraph describing a memorable moment from a family vacation.
  • Describe a special item you keep in your room. Why is it important to you?
  • Imagine you’re in a bustling city. Describe the sights, sounds, and smells you experience.

Encourage Fifth Graders in Becoming Writers

Writing is a significant skill that is essential for communication, expression, and personal growth. As highlighted in an article published by UCONN , writing prompts play a crucial role in engaging students’ interest in a particular topic and encouraging them to write thoughtfully and creatively. While effective prompts should introduce and limit the writing topic, they should also provide clear instructions about the writing task. It is imperative to equip 5th graders with resources and guidance to help them develop their writing skills. 

Educators and parents can provide 5th grade journal prompts and creative exercises to assist students in exploring various forms of writing and finding their unique voice. Additionally, feedback and constructive criticism can help students improve their strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, teaching 5th graders to write improves their academic and personal lives by promoting self-expression, creativity, and critical thinking.

Fifth Grade Writing Prompts for Developing Young Writers

Teacher Teaching in Classroom

5th-grade writing prompts can be a powerful tool for parents and teachers to help students develop their writing skills and creativity. By providing a starting point for writing, prompts can help students overcome writer’s block and find inspiration for their ideas. The prompts in this collection cover a wide range of topics and genres, encouraging students to explore their interests and experiences through writing.

“A well-crafted writing prompt can spark creativity and lead to a deeper understanding of oneself and the world around us.” – Laura Robb

Parents and teachers can inspire students to develop regular writing habits and enhance their skills by utilizing 5th grade journal prompts. According to an article published by the Journal of Instructional Research , both approaches of writing i.e. direct and indirect, have positive effects on students’ writing abilities. This article dived into exploring these approaches for promoting writing. The direct approach focuses on teaching writing skills explicitly and providing feedback on children writing. The indirect approach, on the other hand, emphasizes creating a supportive environment that encourages writing.

We can motivate students to write on a variety of topics, experiment with different writing styles, and share their work with others. By nurturing a passion for writing, we can help our students become confident, creative, and effective communicators. Why not give these prompts a try and see where they take you? Let’s encourage our young writers to unleash their creativity and express themselves through the power of writing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are these prompts suitable for all 5th class students.

These 5th grade writing prompts are designed to be accessible to most students, but they may need to be modified or adapted for students with special needs or English language learners.

How can I implement these ideas into my lesson plans?

Creative writing prompts 5th grade to use it for anything from journal entries to class discussions. Teachers can also have their students use these as a springboard for creative thinking and topic development.

Can these prompts be used for other grade levels?

Yes, many of these prompts can be adapted for other grade levels depending on the level of complexity and difficulty. Teachers can also modify the prompts better to fit the interests and abilities of their students.

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Writing a Personal Narrative (Gr. 5)

narrative essay 5th grade

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Featured 5th grade resources.

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Writing a How-to Report (Gr. 5)

Understanding the Total Number of Punic Wars

This essay about the Punic Wars presents a grand narrative of ambition, strategy, and destiny between Rome and Carthage. It explores the origins of each war, starting with the First Punic War over Sicily, followed by Hannibal Barca’s daring campaigns in the Second Punic War, and concluding with the total destruction of Carthage in the Third Punic War. The text highlights the lasting impact of these conflicts on the ancient world and the timeless lessons they offer about power and human conflict.

How it works

The epic narrative of the Punic Wars can be likened to an immense tapestry, intricately crafted with threads of ambition, strategy, and destiny. Each conflict weaves its own distinct pattern into this narrative, portraying not merely the confrontations between Rome and Carthage, but also the intricate interplay of power, alliances, and betrayals that sculpted the ancient world.

The origins of the First Punic War (264–241 BC) are rooted in the enticing allure of Sicily, a prize both Rome and Carthage sought for its strategic position and plentiful resources.

What began as a power struggle for control of this coveted island escalated into a comprehensive war. Naval engagements transformed the Mediterranean into a theater of bloodshed, while armies clashed across Sicily’s challenging landscapes. Rome’s superior naval capabilities eventually secured their victory, compelling Carthage to surrender Sicily and pay a hefty price for its aspirations.

The Second Punic War (218–201 BC) unfolded as a story of bold ambition and strategic brilliance, epitomized by the enigmatic Hannibal Barca. Driven by an intense desire to avenge Carthage’s earlier defeat and extend its influence, Hannibal led his forces, including formidable war elephants, across the Alps into the heart of Italy. Epic battles ensued, from the blood-drenched fields of Cannae to the rugged terrains of Hispania. Although Hannibal’s audacious tactics threatened to dismantle Rome’s supremacy, it was Rome’s steadfast determination and resilience that ultimately prevailed, leading to the Treaty of Zama and harsh terms imposed on Carthage.

Conflict reignited, setting the stage for the Third Punic War (149–146 BC), a somber conclusion to a saga of rivalry and vengeance. Provoked by Rome’s insatiable ambition and Carthage’s perceived violations, the war culminated in the total destruction of Carthage. The once-majestic city was reduced to ruins, its walls breached, and its population scattered. Rome emerged victorious, but the cost of this triumph was profound, as the fall of Carthage planted the seeds of Rome’s eventual decline.

Beyond the clashing of swords and the thunder of battle, the Punic Wars left a lasting imprint on history, reshaping the geopolitical landscape of the ancient world and influencing the trajectory of empires. The lessons from these conflicts, from strategic complexities to the perils of unchecked ambition, resonate through the ages, offering timeless insights into the nature of human conflict.

To fully grasp the scope of the Punic Wars is to embark on a journey through history, witnessing the collision of civilizations and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. This saga continues to captivate and inspire, a testament to the enduring legacy of empires and the relentless progression of history.

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PapersOwl.com. (2024). Understanding the Total Number of Punic Wars . [Online]. Available at: https://papersowl.com/examples/understanding-the-total-number-of-punic-wars/ [Accessed: 29-May-2024]

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IMAGES

  1. Narrative Writing Examples 5th Grade

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  2. Affordable Narrative Essay Fifth Grade : Select Size

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  3. Affordable Narrative Essay Fifth Grade

    narrative essay 5th grade

  4. Affordable Narrative Essay Fifth Grade : Select Size

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  5. 51 Great Narrative Writing Prompts for 5th Grade Students

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  6. Personal Narrative Example

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  1. Descriptive writing grade5

  2. Grade 3, 4, & 5 Narrative (story) chant Video 3

  3. Grade 5 English

  4. Authors Perspective // 5th grade reading lesson online

  5. Adding a Conclusion to an Informative Essay // 5th grade writing lesson online

  6. Format an Essay

COMMENTS

  1. Narrative writing worksheets for grade 5

    Fiction and non-fiction narratives. Worksheets and writing prompts focused on the elements of narrative writing. Developing plot structure: outline plots from introduction to resolution. Create realistic settings: develop key elements of given settings. Character traits: link character traits to feelings, sayings, thoughts and actions.

  2. 31 Narrative Writing Prompts For 5th Grade

    Write about the best prank you've ever pulled on someone. Write a spooky story that begins with, "The cabin in the woods was never meant to be found…". Tell a story about a time when you were afraid. Write a story using the following words: costume, bundle, exhausted, communicate. Pretend you're a superhero who protects your town.

  3. 5th grade nonfiction writing samples

    Fifth grade writing sample #1. Bipolar Children. This student's report starts with a decorative cover and a table of contents. The report has eight sections, each clearly labeled with a bold subhead, and includes a bibliography. At the end, this student adds three visuals, two images from the internet with handwritten captions and a related ...

  4. 5th grade writing Writing

    5th grade writing: narrative writing. A narrative is a story. Whether inspired by a book, real events, or your child's imagination, your child's story should start by introducing a narrator, characters, or a situational conflict. Fifth graders will be asked to use classic narrative devices like dialogue, descriptive words, and character ...

  5. 5th Grade Narrative Writing Resources

    In fifth grade, students start to craft real and fictional narratives and work on clear sequencing. They use specific techniques such as dialogue and pacing to enrich their narratives. Fifth graders learn how to dodge turbulence in their writing by smoothing their transition abilities. Students are also taught how to include sensory details for ...

  6. 51 Great Narrative Writing Prompts for 5th Grade Students

    17. Write a story about a time when you got hurt during recess or P.E class. 18. Tell about a memorable first day of school. 19. Write a story about a horrible visit to the dentist or doctor. 20. Share what you like most and least about responding to narrative writing prompts for 5th grade. narrative writing prompts for 5th grade.

  7. Writing Prompts for 5th Grade

    Persuasive essays are those written to convince another person to agree with the writer or take action. These persuasive essay prompts inspire 5th graders to share their passions with an audience. Pets Day . You've just gone to work with your parent for "bring your child to work day.". Write an essay convincing your school to have a ...

  8. PDF Narrative Writing Checklist: Grade 5

    Narrative Writing Checklist: Grade 5 I write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective techniques, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. How is my Narrative writing? Did I write like a fifth grader? YES NO zation Introduction I wrote an engaging beginning and established a setting or situation for my

  9. 5th Grade Essay Writing Worksheets & Free Printables

    Respond to Art: Opinion & Evidence #2. Worksheet. Make an Argument! Worksheet. Hyperboles in History. Worksheet. 1 2. Fifth grade students are expected to master and utilize many skills when developing and writing essays. Our fifth grade essay writing worksheets will give them the encouragement they need to remain composed while composing.

  10. Printable 5th Grade Narrative Essay Structure Worksheets

    Fun educational games for kids. Spanish-English dictionary, translator, and learning. Fast and accurate language certification. Marketplace for millions of educator-created resources. Browse Printable 5th Grade Narrative Essay Structure Worksheets. Award winning educational materials designed to help kids succeed. Start for free now!

  11. PDF Rubric for a Narrative Writing Piece

    Narrative structure is noticeable, but the reader may have to infer it-sequence of episodes moves logically through time with some gaps. Some appropriate paragraphing. Evidence of coherence may depend on sequence. If present, transitions may be simplistic or even redundant. Structure is attempted, but reader may still have to infer.

  12. PDF Grade 5 Narrative Writing Standard W.5

    Grade 5 Narrative Writing. W.5.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. a. Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.

  13. A Step-by-Step Plan for Teaching Narrative Writing

    If you don't want to get stuck with 100-plus papers to grade, consider using Catlin Tucker's station rotation model, ... This is a wonderful guide that I will use when teaching the narrative essay. I wonder if you have a similar guide for other modes such as descriptive, process, argument, etc.? Reply. Eric Wenninger says: January 24, 2019.

  14. 50 Narrative Essay Topics

    A weird encounter with a stranger. A random act of kindness. A time that you took a stand for someone or for an issue that you care about. A moment when you thought you might get hurt but didn't. Breaking a bone (or otherwise suffering an injury). Your first time away from home for the night (or longer).

  15. 15 Inspiring Personal Narrative Examples for Writers

    This 4th grade essay uses personal details to bring a beloved friend to life. Read the full essay: ... These middle school personal narrative essay examples model strong writing skills for this age group. The Climb "As thoughts of certain death run through my mind, the world appears a precious, treasured place." —Amy, student.

  16. Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students

    NARRATIVE FEATURES. LANGUAGE: Use descriptive and figurative language to paint images inside your audience's minds as they read. PERSPECTIVE Narratives can be written from any perspective but are most commonly written in first or third person.. DIALOGUE Narratives frequently switch from narrator to first-person dialogue. Always use speech marks when writing dialogue.

  17. 100 Best Fun Writing Prompts for 5th Grade: Journal Prompts

    Here are ten Research writing prompts for 5th grade: "Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose." -Zora Neale Hurston, author and anthropologist. Research and write about your favorite historical figure. Choose a famous landmark and research its history and significance.

  18. Writing a Personal Narrative Printable (5th Grade)

    Writing a Personal Narrative (Gr. 5) This printable writing packet teaches students how to write a personal narrative paragraph. A model and blank timeline, as well as, a personal narrative at four different stages of completion are provided. Incorporate this printable into your class lesson or as practice at home.

  19. 5th Grade Writing Samples

    Fifth Grade Narrative Essay Prompt. Fifth Grade Narrative Essay Sample 1. Fifth Grade Narrative Essay Sample 2. Fifth Grade Narrative Essay Sample 4. Logo Image. Logo Title. Oakdale Joint Unified School District. 168 South 3rd Avenue. Oakdale. CA. 95361. USA. 209-848-4884. 209-847-0155. Instagram (opens in new window/tab)

  20. Writing Narratives

    These worksheets are appropriate for Fifth Grade English Language Arts. We have crafted many worksheets covering various aspects of this topic, writing conclusions, engaging readers with words and details, character development, transitional words, phrases, and clauses, writing a narrative, expository writing, and many more.

  21. Understanding the Total Number of Punic Wars

    This essay about the Punic Wars presents a grand narrative of ambition, strategy, and destiny between Rome and Carthage. It explores the origins of each war, starting with the First Punic War over Sicily, followed by Hannibal Barca's daring campaigns in the Second Punic War, and concluding with the total destruction of Carthage in the Third Punic War.

  22. 5th Grade Narrative Essay Structure Educational Resources

    Fifth Grade Daily Sub Plan B. Lesson Plan. 1. Browse 5th Grade Narrative Essay Structure Educational Resources. Award winning educational materials designed to help kids succeed. Start for free now!