Persuasive writing is an important skill for students to learn. Although young writers in elementary school may not write long form essays, they still need to practice and hone their ability to persuade people with words.
As with any students, the best essay topics are those that are relevant to the kids. The kinds of persuasive writing prompts and tasks that are appropriate for older kids won't work with younger children. You need some age appropriate tasks that your 3rd grade students can respond to in a meaningful way.
That rules out a lot of complex, grown up issues, like politics and government. However, more immediate concerns are great - like school rules, classroom decisions, and playtime arguments. They are based in the student's experience of the world, which makes the written word more relevant.
While this isn't an exhaustive list, these ten persuasive writing tasks will help get you started and headed in the right direction.
List of Persuasive Writing Prompts for 3rd Graders
- The PTA is going to award a "Best Relative of the Year Award" in the spring. Every student is allowed to suggest one person to receive the award - a parent, aunt, uncle, cousin, brother, sister, or other relative. Write a letter to the PTA and tell them why they should pick your relative to win the award.
- The principal is planning to invite a famous person to talk to the students at an assembly next month. He's not sure who to invite, and he needs suggestions. Write the principal a letter suggesting a person, and explain why he or she would be the best celebrity to speak to your fellow classmates.
- A lot of kids in your class are sleepy in the morning. The principal is worried that some students aren't going to sleep early enough, so he writes a letter to all of the school's parents suggesting that every kid have a 9:00 PM bedtime. Do you think this is a good idea? Write a letter to the principal, explaining why you think this is a good or bad idea.
- Your friend didn't do his homework last week. When your teacher called home, your friend's mother said he must have been watching too much TV. Your friends mother and the teacher agree that your friend shouldn't be allowed to watch TV for the rest of the school year. Help your friend come up with an argument to persuade his mother to change her mind.
- Over the summer, your mother gets a letter from the principal that you will have to wear a uniform to school next year. Members of the PTA have decided that they don't like the idea, and they've complained to the school board. Decide whether you agree with the principal or with the PTA. Write a letter to the school board arguing for your opinion.
- Your gym teacher has decided that every Friday, the students will be able to vote on which game they want to play. Decide which game you want the class to play, and then write a speech that would help you convince your classmates to vote for your sport.
- Next week, your teacher is going to allow the class to watch a movie. However, he says that it must be appropriate for all students to watch, it must be related to something you've learned this year, and it must be interesting to all of the students. Think about which movie you think your class should watch and then write a letter to your teacher trying to convince him to support your choice.
- Next month, your class is going to get a class pet. You will all be responsible for taking care of it during the day, and someone may have to take it home to care for it. Your teacher has decided to let the class vote on what kind of pet to get. Write a speech that will persuade your classmates to choose the pet that you most like.
- One of your classmates brought in a radio to listen to music during recess. When your friends started arguing about which station to listen to, your teacher decided that the class would have to take a vote. Suggest a radio station that will make everyone happy, and then write a speech supporting your choice.
- The entire third grade will be going on a school trip in June. The principal is taking suggestions for where you should go. Write a letter to him suggesting a place and providing several reasons for why this would be a great place for you and your classmates to visit.
Tools to Help You Tackle Persuasive Writing
Phew. That was a mouthful! I didn't think 10 writing prompts would be that long...
One thing you'll notice is that all of the writing prompts provide the students with an authentic situation. These are all plausible things that could happen to a third grade student. As Paulo Freire would suggest, these are authentic. He or she will have a frame of reference to think about the question, and it's framed in terms of a person or group that the student already interacts with - parents, teachers, principals, etc.
All students would benefit from authentic and meaningful writing tasks, but this especially true of younger students who have trouble grappling with abstract concepts. If you need more ideas, you could try looking through this list of persuasive essay topics about school rules and see if you could adapt them for a younger audience.
You'll also want to think about how your students can organize their writing. Essay mapping and outlining is an equally important skill, and as your students get older they will need to be able to organize their thoughts into multiple, discrete paragraphs. An essay map, like this online graphic organizer, may useful in helping them organize different reasons to support their argument.
Good luck, and happy writing to you and your third graders!
poppy on January 17, 2019:
is not what i expected
Pippy on September 04, 2018:
You are the werst