Analyzing Primary Sources: Grade 5 Writing Prompts & Activities

Children playing at the entrance to the temple, Nagoya, Japan
Primary source images are great resources for integrating language arts with social studies. The activities below were designed around the grade 5 Common Core State Standards for writing. These fifth-grade writing prompts and activity ideas build on the K-4 writing prompts and activities.

Text Types and Purposes
CCSS Grade 5 Writing StandardsWriting Prompts / Activity Ideas
1. Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
a. Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer’s purpose.
b. Provide logically ordered reasons that are supported by facts and details.
c. Link opinion and reasons using words and phrases (e.g., consequently, specifically).
d. Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.
  • Is this picture a good example of ________? Why or why not? What details in the picture support your thinking?
  • Image Collection: Review a set of pictures and choose four that you think belong together. Create a curator note for each and write a summary that identifies a common theme of the images and the value or importance of this collection.
    Teacher Note: Select a set of images that relates to a theme or unit that you teach.
2.Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
a. Introduce a topic clearly, provide a general observation and focus, and group related information logically; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
b. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
c. Link ideas within and across categories of information using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., in contrast, especially).
d. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
e. Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.
  • What is the topic or story that this picture tells? Where might this picture have been created? What details in the picture support your thinking?
  • Explain the topic or story that this picture tells, then describe how you would change the image to give it a new idea; be sure to include what the new idea is and how your picture changes support that idea.
  • Analyze the uncovered half of the picture and write a summary of your observations and reflections, using specific details from the image to support your thinking. Exchange your written summary with a partner and draw the other half of the image based on the written summary you received. After, as a pair, first review and discuss your drawings and then reveal the full pictures and discuss how your drawings compared to the complete images.
    Teacher Note: You will need to prep the images beforehand by covering half of each picture; label the images and pair students who have the same image but opposite sides revealed.
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.
b. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, description, and pacing, to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.
c. Use a variety of transitional words, phrases, and clauses to manage the sequence of events.
d. Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.
e. Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.
  • Identify the location of this image and tell the story of what was happening at the same time in a nearby location; include an illustration of the new scene.
  • Create a picture that relates to this picture. Tell the story of your picture, including an explanation of how it relates to the original image.
  • If you could talk to someone or something in this picture, what would you say? Write up your interview of the person or object; make sure that the questions and answers relate to the place, time period, and theme of the image and that the tone and style of your article matches your intended audience.

Teacher Note: Guide students in each of these writing activities by creating a rubric based on the standard 3 criteria.

Production and Distribution of Writing
4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (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, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grade 5).
  • Provide students with feedback (teacher or peer) on one of the prompts/activity ideas.
  • Direct students to review and comment on their peers’ newspapers made as part of the Primary Source Perspectives of the Civil War project.
6. With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.
  • Have students complete the Primary Source Perspectives of the Civil War project, publishing the newspapers as e-zines or web pages.
  • Scan student drawn image halves (see standard 2 writing prompts and activities) and post these online (i.e., ThingLink, blog, wiki, etc.) together with the associated full pictures. Have students conduct a virtual gallery walk to analyze the images and write up a summary of the exhibition. Later, as a class, discuss their ideas and thinking processes.
  • Divide students into groups and have them work together to create a shared, collaborative document (i.e., Google Docs, Padlet, Miro).  Direct them to look closely at an image as a whole and then in detail. Ask students to write down 3-5 nouns, 3-5 verbs, and 3-5 adjectives that they think describe this scene or situation. Then tell them to focus on one person or object in the picture, looking closely at the details. After, they will imagine themselves as the person or object and write down 3-5 nouns, 3-5 verbs, and 3-5 adjectives that they think describe how the person or object is thinking or feeling. Finally, have students use their word lists to write a poem or short song about the picture.
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
7. Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
  • Complete the Primary Source Perspectives of the Civil War project.
  • Add this picture to your textbook by providing a caption for the image and conducting research to write accompanying text that relates to the topic/theme of the picture.
  • Analyze the set of pictures using the primary source analysis tool; list 2-3 questions you have about each picture and 2-3 questions you have about the set of pictures as a whole. Conduct research to find possible answers to your questions. Write an e-mail report to a supervisor or a press release detailing your findings. Hint: use the bibliographic record to help focus your search.

Teacher Note: Select a set of images that relates to a theme or unit that you teach.

8. Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources.Find or create images from your life and a current event that relate to the topic or story of this picture; explain how they are related and how they are similar, different, or both.
9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
a. Apply grade 5 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text [e.g., how characters interact].”).
b. Apply grade 5 Reading standards to informational texts (e.g., “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s)”).
What is the topic or story that this picture tells? Why might this picture have been created? Who might have been the intended audience? What do you think the creator wanted the audience to think or feel when looking at the image? What details in the picture support your thinking? What more can you determine from the bibliographic record and your knowledge of this place, time period, and topic?
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
New York City - children on the street: boys playing checkers in the street

Grade 5 sample ELA/Literacy PARCC assessment

Please feel free to download and distribute the CCSS Grade 5 Writing  Prompts & Activities (but please keep the format, including logos, intact).

Kindergarten Writing Prompts & Activities

Grade 1 Writing Prompts & Activities

Grade 2 Writing Prompts & Activities

Grade 3 Writing Prompts & Activities

Grade  Writing 4 Prompts & Activities

More Standards-based primary source activities