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. These activities can be completed independently or with the whole family! 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.
Subscribe to the OWL Weekly
Newsletter for exclusive activities:
- Daily writing prompts/activities
- Book recommendations
- Excerpts of student writing from the Austin Bat Cave anthology
- Opportunities for young writers to share their work with us!
Austin Bat Cave is excited to announce that we have teamed up with Austin Family Magazine to hold a Spring Writing Contest for students in the local Austin area (and beyond). The theme for this contest is Choose or Create Your Own Adventure!
This contest is open to students from 2nd-6th grade writers and 7-12th grade and to all genres of writing related to this theme. Young writers can also write in English, Spanish or both!
The contest is now open and closes on February 26th, so be sure to submit!
Writing Activities for K-5 Students
Check out and download writing activities around a topic or genre created by staff and volunteers and ready for you to use at home!
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
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!
creative writing Activity
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)
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
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
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
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).
Writing Activities for Teens
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)
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)
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
Tips on Style
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)
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.
Writing Wisdom for College Application Essays
This video reviews important tips for writing your essays from an experienced college essay writing coach!
Use this worksheet to follow along with the video above to learn guidelines and tricks for writing an essay that conveys your personality to the college admissions officer.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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:
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).
Submit your Writing!
Calling all Austin Bat Cave 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 website and share it with ABC, we will feature it in the next Weekly Newsletter and on the ABC website! We will also consider your work for publication in the 2021 ABC student anthology, and your work may also be selected for a live reading on ABC’s Dispatches from the Bat Mobile on Instagram! To submit your writing, email our Regional Program Manager.
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