Analyzing Primary Sources: Grade 3 Writing Prompts & Activities

Chinese children at play--"the dragon's head"

Primary source images are great resources for integrating language arts with social studies. The activities below were designed around the grade 3 Common Core State Standards for writing. These third-grade writing prompts and activity ideas build on the K-2 writing prompts and activities.

Text Types and Purposes
Grade 3 Writing StandardsWriting Prompts / Activity Ideas
1. Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.
a. Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.
b. Provide reasons that support the opinion.
c. Use linking words and phrases (e.g., because, therefore, since, for example) to connect opinion and reasons.
d. Provide a concluding statement or section.
  • Give this picture a title and describe why you chose that title. Then explain why you think this picture is important or not.
  • What story does this picture tell? Would you give the story a thumbs up or a thumbs down? Why?
  • Image Review: Think about this picture as a story and write a review of it, just like a book review. Be sure to provide specific details that support your review. Don’t forget to include your recommendation for “reading” this story or not.
2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
a. Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.
b. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.
c. Use linking words and phrases (e.g., also, another, and, more, but) to connect ideas within categories of information.
d. Provide a concluding statement or section.
  • What is the topic of or the story that this picture tells? Is this picture happy or sad? What details in the picture support your thinking?
  • What is the topic of or the story that this picture tells? Is this picture new or old? What details in the picture support your thinking?
  • What is the topic of or the story that this picture tells? Describe what you could change in the picture to give it a new idea; be sure to include what the new idea is.
  • What question(s) do you have about this picture? Look at the picture closely and, if possible, try to find clues that might help you find an answer to one of your questions. Describe your thinking process.
3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
a. Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
b. Use dialogue and descriptions of actions, thoughts, and feelings to develop experiences and events or show the response of characters to situations.
c. Use temporal words and phrases to signal event order.
d. Provide a sense of closure.
  • Imagine you overheard the people or objects in this picture talking, what were they saying? Use the conversation to tell the story of this event or the experience of one person or object in the picture had of this event.
  • If you could talk to someone/something in this picture, what would you say? Use your conversation as the basis of a story related to the picture.
  • Tell a story of what happened before this picture was taken. Were other people or objects present? What events led up to this scene?
  • Tell a story of what happens next in this picture. Will some people or objects no longer be present? Will new people or objects appear? Why or why not?
  • Imagine you are in this picture. Tell the story of how you came into this picture, what happened while you were in it, and how or why you left.
Production and Distribution of Writing
4. With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)covered in 1-3
5. With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grade 3).
6. With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
7. Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.Complete the Learning from the Source: American Memory & Me Birthday Project.
8. Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.
9. (begins in grade 4)N/A
Range of Writing
10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.covered in 1-9

PARCC Grade 3 Rubric to Score Prose Constructed Response items

Please feel free to download and distribute the CCSS Grade 3 Writing Prompts & Activities (but please keep the format, including logos, intact).

Check back for more CCSS elementary writing prompts & activities!

Kindergarten Writing Prompts & Activities

Grade 1 Writing Prompts & Activities

Grade 2 Writing Prompts & Activities

Grade 4 Writing Prompts & Activities

Grade 5 Writing Prompts & Activities

More Standards-based primary source activities