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How to Motivate Reluctant Writers in 1st Grade: 6 Effective Ways

Getting kiddos, especially 1st graders, motivated to write can be the trickiest part of the writing process.  There are dozens of reasons why my students don’t want to write – ranging from not having any ideas to being hung up on spelling.

While I do teach Writer’s Workshop {and the basis is that you guide students to write in various genres} I’ve found that many students have trouble with those small moments or how-to books. So, I also do a fair amount of other writing in the classroom with different structures to provide other ways to write, too.

I know I’m not alone in this, so I’ve rounded up some of my favorite ideas to motivate reluctant writers!

a writing prompt to help motivate reluctant 1st grade writers | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch


What teacher doesn’t love a good list? Let’s train those kiddos early to get list writing going! Ha!

In all seriousness, writing lists is a very simple way to generate ideas and the first step to encouraging reluctant writers to put their pencil to paper.

list writing is a great way to motivate reluctant young writers | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

I add Listmania strips to our Daily 5 writing station. Sometimes I just add a random list {such as Places I’d Like to Visit} or a specific skill we’re working on {such as a spelling pattern for the week or shape that we’ve focused on}

The best part? Kids don’t even feel like they’re writing since lists are just made up of words!

You can find Listmania in the Lucky Store.

Related Reading: Silly Books to Motivate Reluctant Readers

Would You Rather? Prompts to Motivate

If you hang around any group of kids for long enough you will definitely hear, “Would you rather…” questions come up in a conversation. Why not turn that idea into getting kiddos to write their answers instead of just sharing with friends.

a reluctant writer using a would you rather prompt to become a better writer | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch
student writing about swimming in a pool as a motivation technique | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

I’ve created Seasonal Would You Rather? Packs, as well as a general Would You Rather? writing pack that can be used at any time of year {which includes an editable version to add your own questions!}

would you rather prompts can motivate reluctant writers | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

It’s also fun to read a kid’s opinions on various subjects!

I think some of my favorite prompts are in my Would You Rather Spring Edition!

Silly Story Starters

There’s something about turning something silly that gets kids to buy-in! I added these laminated cards to my writing station with blank paper.

examples of silly story starters for 1st grade writers | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch
a student using a funny writing prompt about the tooth fairy | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

It’s so fun to read what kids come up with when there is really no right or wrong answer – they’re just being asked to use their imaginations to answer a silly question!

I’ve included colored and black and white options of the writing prompts so you can pick the version that works best for your classroom.

example of a writing activity to motivate reluctant writers | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

You can find Silly Story Starters in the Lucky Store!

Journals for the Year

Sometimes reluctant kids just need a nudge to get writing. These seasonal journals have pre-filled ideas so they can get started right away and not say, “I don’t know what to write about!”

a spring journal being used to motivate a nervous 1st grade writer | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

These seasonal journals for 1st grade cover the three important writing genres: narrative, opinion, and how-to writing. I’ve included two different types of paper so you can choose what works best for your kids!

You can find A Year of Journals in the Lucky Store!

a year of journal prompts for 1st grade writers | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

Class Books

If you peek in my classroom library at any given time, I can guarantee that at least one student is reading one of our class books. They’re one of my most effective strategies for motivating my most reluctant writers!

class books help students have fun writing | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

Although there is not much writing, kids feel accomplished by adding a page to our books. Plus, because they know other students will be reading their pages, they tend to use better handwriting 🙂

You can find Class Books for the Year in the Lucky Store.

You can read even more about Class Books here!

Shared Classroom Journals

Often students are motivated by others writing! Monkey See, Monkey Do, right?

Years ago I started adding Shared Classroom Journals to our Daily 5 writing station and you can’t believe how much it motivates students!

picture of shared classroom journals in a 1st grade classroom | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

They love reading each other’s entries and it motivates them to add detail so they can share their ideas with classmates! You can read more about Shared Journals here {and snag them for FREE!}

a reluctant writer following a prompt from a shared classroom journal | Lucky Learning with Molly Lynch

Recap of How to Motivate Reluctant Writers in 1st Grade Classrooms

Sometimes students are reluctant to write because they fear they’ll get things wrong. Be sure to check out Punctuation Posters to help improve their confidence in writing!

What’s your favorite way to motivate reluctant writers? Let me know in the comments!


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