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Welcome to the Austin Bat Cave Online Writing Lab! The ABC OWL houses writing resources like creative writing prompts, activities, and video lessons for a variety of grade levels.


Austin Bat Cave is a creative community. Our writing programs empower students to find their voices and tell their stories. The ABC OWL is an extension of our in-person programs and designed to be a resource that assists young people—no matter their skill level—in their development as writers. Our hope is that ABC’s online writing tools and resources will ignite a young person’s passion for writing.

OWL Weekly Newsletter

Each week this newsletter will offer:

  • Daily writing prompts/activities
  • Book recommendations
  • Excerpts of student writing from the Austin Bat Cave anthology.
  • Opportunities for young writers at home to share their work with us!

Writing Activities for Younger Authors

Check out and download writing activities created by staff and volunteers around a topic or genre and ready for you to use at home!

Poetry/Mindfulness Activity: “Observing the Night Sky” — Spend some time observing the night sky and reflecting on how it makes you feel, then experiment with journaling and writing poetry. (Bilingual activity – English and Spanish)

Creative Writing Activity: My Favorite Place on Earth” — Imagine one of your favorite places to explore and write about what makes it special. When you’re finished writing, draw a picture of your favorite place! (Grades 1-5)

Creative Writing Activity: Best Breakfast Ever” — Use new vocabulary words to write about your favorite breakfast foods, from donuts to omelets! Use a worksheet to describe the best breakfast you’ve ever eaten, and when you’re done, draw your breakfast! (Grades 1-5)

Creative Writing Activity: “Writing Bingo”/ “Loteria de Escritura” — Make writing and journaling a fun game! Do an activity a day or play writing bingo with your family and see how many squares you can fill! (Bilingual activity – English and Spanish) (Can be used for all ages, but most appropriate for Grades 2nd-7th grade)

Creative Writing Activity: Family Tree Project — Have you ever wanted to learn more about the members of your family? Learn more about interviewing them and creating your own family tree; this is good practice for aspiring young journalists!. (Bilingual activity – English and Spanish, can be used for all ages, but most appropriate for Grades 2nd-8th grade).

Creative Writing Activity: “Writing Choice Wheel”/“Rueda de Escritura”— Make writing and journaling a fun game! Print this wheel and attach a brad or paperclip to spin each day for a new writing activity, or have a family member or friend spin for you! (Bilingual activity – English and Spanish) (Can be used for all ages, but most appropriate for Grades 2nd-8th grade)

Story Writing Activity: A Story Without Words — There are many ways to tell stories, and this activity will show you many different ways to tell stories using only illustrations, to write a story based on illustrations and more! (Bilingual activity – English and Spanish, can be used for all ages, but most appropriate for Grades PreK-5th grade).

Teen Corner

If you are looking for activities specifically for teens, look no further!

Fiction Writing Activity: “What Would You Do If…? “ — Imagine what you would do if you went off the grid and returned to find out about COVID-19! (Bilingual activity – English and Spanish) (Grades 7-12)

Poetry Activity: I Come From” — How did you come to be the way that you are? What are your roots? In this activity, use poetry to explore the people, places, stories, and experiences that have formed your identity (Bilingual activity – English and Spanish) (Grades 7-12)

Journal Activity: “Brain Dump“— Feel like you’ve got a million thoughts swirling around in your head? Put on your favorite song and try out this journaling activity (it’s like Marie Kondo for your mind). (Bilingual activity – English and Spanish) (Grades 7-12)

Poetry Activity: Teen Poetry Inspiration —Read and respond to Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s poetry and get tips for writing your own inspirational poem! Bilingual activity – English and Spanish) (Grades 7-12)

Music Journalism Activity: Have you ever wanted to review your favorite artist or album? In this activity, you will be able to deconstruct a song into its different layers, learn how to combine fact and opinion into a written article, become familiar with basic journalism terms, and learn how to express your passion for music in a clear and engaging manner. (Grades 6-12)

Resources for Writing Your College Admissions Essay

General Tips: College Essay Writing Tips Handout — If you are working on your college admissions applications, here are some tips for how to write a great essay! (Grades 11-12)

Tips on Style: 5 Tips for More Style Handout — Want to find ways to improve your writing style and find your own writing voice? Here are some tips and tricks to make your writing pop for readers! Bilingual activity – English and Spanish) (Grades 7-12)

Video Tutorial—The Role of the College Essay: This video will guide you through the process of putting together your application portfolio and explain the role of the college essay from the perspective of the admissions officer. The video will also help you develop goals for your essay-writing process.
Video Tutorial—Writing Wisdom for College Application Essays: This video reviews important tips for writing your essays from an experienced college essay writing coach!

Worksheet—Writing Wisdom for College Application Essays: Use this worksheet to follow along with the above video to learn guidelines and tricks for writing an essay that conveys your personality to the college admissions officer.

Video Tutorial—Four College Essays: This video provides examples of four types of college essays and reviews the features of each essay to help you learn how to strengthen your writing. Role-play the job of a college admissions officer and learn which of these essays led to the student getting accepted!

Worksheet—Four College Essays: This worksheet shares a sample of four college admissions essays written by real high school seniors. Read these essays along with the video above to learn pros and cons of these different approaches.

Video Tutorial—Generating Topics for College Essays: This video will help you use the Topic Generator Worksheet (below) to choose the right essay topic to tell your story and will prepare you to begin drafting. Remember, there are no bad topics!

Worksheet—Topic Generator for College Admission Essay: Use this worksheet with the video above to determine a topic for your essay that compliments and strengthens the rest of your application portfolio.

Video Lessons and DIY Tutorials

Check out these DIY writing activities and tutorials created by staff and volunteers on different topics and genres for you to use at home!

DIY Mini-Zine tutorial: Learn how to create your own mini-zine (recommended for young writers in 3rd-8th grade but can be adapted for all ages)
Note: This video is bilingual (English and Spanish)
DIY Creating Shape Poems Tutorial: Writing poems can be fun and different when you make the shape of your poem match the content! Try out this activity and have fun creating poetry and art at the same time! (Can be used for all ages, but most appropriate for Grades 3rd-8th grade-you will need to make a Canva.com account).
DIY Creating Blackout Poetry Tutorial: Have you ever wanted to create your own poetry but you’re having trouble getting started? Try out this activity to make poetry using language/text from someone else’s writing! (Can be used for all ages, but most appropriate for Grades 2nd-8th).
Here are some texts that you can use for your blackout poems:
The Declaration of Independence
The Star Spangled Banner
Lift Every Voice and Sing  
If you want to create a blackout poem on your device or computer, use this page.
And learn more about blackout poetry from poet Austin Kleon:
DIY Choose Your Own Story Tutorial: Want to write your own adventure story but don’t know where to start? Try using this video lesson using the “Choose Your Own Adventure” story structure to create your own fictional story. (Can be used for all ages, but most appropriate for Grades 3rd-8th).
Creating a 2020 Time Capsule Tutorial: As we move through a turbulent and changing time, take some time to create a written time capsule to document what this year has been like for you so far. This video will show you how to create a time capsule for this year using collage and writing (Can be used for all ages, but most appropriate for Grades 7th-12th).
Here are the prompts that are listed at the end of the video to create your own time capsule!
How to Create a Nature Journal Tutorial: In this DIY tutorial, you will learn how to create your own nature journal to observe and write about what you notice in nature each day! This will help you to connect to your surroundings and can improve your understanding of the natural world (Grades 1st-12th).

Virtual Tour of the ABC Magic Bat Bus!

Austin Bat Cave’s Bat Mobile, a mobile library and classroom, has been visiting schools and students in Austin and Del Valle, and now you can take a virtual tour of the bus and check out all the wonders for yourself! The tour includes interactive writing, reading, and art activities students and parents can complete together (bilingual activities – English and Spanish)! You can even comment and share your favorite parts of the bus with us!

Read Youth Writing

Check out the following poems and stories by ABC students featured in our 2020 student anthology.

Submit Your Writing

Calling all ABC students! Part of our mission is to create opportunities for you to publish your writing and share it with a wider audience through readings and digital platforms. If you respond to a writing prompt from the OWL Weekly Newsletter or one of our writing activities and want to share it with ABC, we will feature it in the next OWL Weekly Newsletter and on the OWL website! We will also consider your work for publication in the 2021 ABC student anthology.

To submit, click here.


Austin Bat Cave is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization supported by a wide base of generous donors and the hundreds of volunteers who work with us each year.

Your gift helps maintain the ABC OWL and provides students across our community with crucial writing support and instruction.

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