Writing Prompts for students who cannot read

I have noticed an increased emphasis on writing these days in the curriculum.  We are asking kids to not only write more, but we are expecting them to write at a higher level than before.  Although I imagine this is a challenge for even the regular education teacher,  what do you do if you teach students who do not have that same ability?

What if you teach students who don’t even know how to read?

This is what I was faced with, and I had to find a way for my students to meet the curriculum guidelines and produce some form of written content that I could “grade” and demonstrate growth and comprehension with.  So, this is what I came up with.

And it worked GREAT!!

I would come up with a template relating to the topic we were studying.  Sometimes, I just wrote it out quickly on construction paper.  Sometimes, I had something all neatly formatted and printed off.

If I was really on my game, I had all my predetermined choices ready to go and printed out.  That was my goal.  It would look something like this:


But, let’s face it, sometimes we are just not that ahead of the game.  We  use what we have.  Sometimes that was looking through magazines, and other pre-printed material I could find.  Sometimes, we used the student’s communication device.  He or she would point to a picture and I would write the answer in the empty box.

Do you get the feeling that this sometimes turned out like a Mad Lib?

Well, that was okay!!  It was their story.  There were no wrong answers.  It was their own personal expression.

That brings me to the other very important part to this writing process with students who likely can not even read or talk.  They need a chance to share their story.  I wish I had permission to share some of the videos I have take of students sharing their stories.  It was truly inspiring.  I had them “read” their story in whatever mode of communication they were most comfortable with.  That may mean I recorded their story on their device, and they got to hit “play” while we listened.  For my most affected students, I recorded their story, one line at a time, on a BigMack.  They would read their story, hitting the button to advance to the next line.

So, I encourage you to try this out with your students.  I think you will be so pleasantly surprised, and it will lead to increased participation and communication. Be sure to click on the button below to get your free apple writing prompt!!


  • It does not have to be long
  • There are no wrong answers
  • Use what you have, it doesn’t need to look perfect
  • Give them a chance to share their creations

Due to the positive response from this post, I created a unit that contains 26 different writing prompts from A-Z.  You can check it out here!!

Writing Prompts A-Z zombie

As always, my heartfelt thanks to all those special education teachers out there who show up day after day to fight the good fight.  I know you often don’t have the tools you need or the time in your day to make them.  Just know, that what you are doing makes a difference.  We (parents and other teachers) know it and appreciate it.

Sincerely, Christa Joy

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