Everyone has a story to tell when it comes to their family. Whether it’s funny, sad, or delightful, there is usually no shortage of anecdotes about the things our families do and what our families mean to us. Whether you teach elementary, middle or high school, your pupils will have plenty of personal experiences to write about when it comes to these expository writing prompts on family.
For 1st and 2nd graders:
Prompt 1: Describe an unusual tradition that your family has.
Prompt 2: Describe a really fun day with your family that was a surprise to you.
Prompt 3: What’s your favorite thing to do with your father?
Prompt 4: What’s your favorite thing to do with your mother?
Prompt 5: Do you have a favorite cousin? Why do you like him or her so much?
Prompt 6: How does your family celebrate birthdays?
For the older grades:
Prompt 7: Think of the wrinkled, gnarly hands of a much older person. When you see those hands, do you think of them as ugly? Or can you see past the mere skin and bones of the hands and see all of the beautiful things that person did with their hands throughout their lives (held a newborn baby, wiped a child’s tear, cuddled with their family, smoothed the fur of a beloved pet). Picture an old person’s hands and write a story about something wonderful those hands did.
Prompt 8: Your brother or sister is having a birthday. Your grandparents have asked for ideas for a present. Write a letter to your grandparents suggesting several gifts for your sibling and explain why these gifts are a good choice.
Prompt 9: Where are you in the family tree? Are you the oldest, middle, youngest, or an only child? Write an essay explaining the advantages of your special position in the family. Or write an essay explaining which position you would prefer to be and why.
Prompt 10: Imagine that you could “invent” the perfect sibling. What would this dream brother or sister be like? Write a description.
Prompt 11: Describe a time you and your sibling(s) did something and had to agree to “not tell mom and dad.”
Prompt 12: Explain the difference between being an older sibling and a younger sibling. Think about the advantages and challenges of each.
Prompt 13: Tell about a time your family ate a special meal together. Be sure to describe the environment, the food, the sounds and more.
Prompt 14: Think of a time you were on a car trip with your family and describe the trip. Think about the demeanor of those in the car, the things you did to pass the time, the scenery, the car itself and more.
Prompt 15: Imagine a family member from the future travels back in time to today to visit. Describe the places you think would be important to show him while on he’s visiting.
Prompt 16: Visualize someone in your family and describe them in detail.
Prompt 17: Singer Bob Marley was quoted as saying, “The truth is everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” Write about a time a family member hurt you and how you dealt with it.
Prompt 18: A.A. Milne, the writer of Winnie the Pooh, wrote “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” Think of a family member that has passed away and describe what it was like losing them.
Prompt 19: Manners have changed over the course of time. For example, texting at the dinner table was unheard of five years ago, and writing a thank you note for a gift was considered the norm. Describe the differences in the manners your parents were taught compared to what you were taught.
Prompt 20: Think of a family member who is the most influential in your life and describe the traits that make them such an important person.
Prompt 21: Have you got a relative that you are always thrilled to see? Why do you enjoy this relative so much? What makes him or her so special in your eyes?
Prompt 22: Write an essay about your most unusual relative. What unusual thing has he or she done? Is this person well known outside of your family for this accomplishment?
Prompt 23: You can only keep one memory from your childhood. What memory would that be?
Prompt 24: Are you related to anyone famous, either living or dead? If so, who are you related to, and is it something your family likes to share with others, or is it considered a taboo subject in your house?
Prompt 25: Many children have jobs or chores to do to help out at home. Think about a job (or chore) you have and explain why it is important for your family. If, for example, you don’t do your job, does it impact someone else?
Prompt 26: Do you have a friend that your parents are not so fond of? Why is that? Can you look at the situation from your parents’ point of view?
Prompt 27: Imagine that you are able to invite one person from history for dinner one night with you and your family. Who would you invite? Why did you choose that person?
Prompt 28: Do you have a relative that you just don’t enjoy being with at all? Why don’t you like them? What do they do that frustrates you so much?
Prompt 29: Write about how your parents met. If you don’t know how they met, make something up!
Prompt 30: One day as you are Googling family names for fun, you discover that one of your relatives, who you haven’t seen in a long time, is in jail. Are you going to tell your parents? Do you think they already know? Write an essay on how you would handle this information.
Prompt 30: DNA testing is becoming more and more popular. While it is a good thing in many cases, there have been cases of people discovering half sisters and brothers that they never knew about. How would you feel to find out that you had a half sister or brother that your parents never mentioned? Would you be angry, excited, confused? Write an essay describing how you’d react to the news.
Prompt 31: Does your family use labels to describe you and your siblings? Is one of you the athletic one, the musical one, the bookworm? Do you agree with the labels assigned to each of you? Do you think parents should use labels to describe their children? Why or why not?