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108 Engaging Creative Writing Prompts for 3rd Grade

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Creative writing is the perfect way to get kids interested in writing. Students’ imaginations are bursting with ideas and they’re usually still willing to share them at this age. The more we can get them writing poems, songs, stories, and paragraphs now, the more they’ll start to see themselves as writers with valuable original thoughts worth expressing. For those times when imaginations are running dry and kids need a little inspiration, or when you want them to practice a specific writing skill, these 108 creative writing prompts for 3rd grade are here to spark creativity. Enjoy!

108 Creative Writing prompts for 3rd Grade

Story Starters and Other Narrative Writing Prompts

Writing stories—fictional or real—gives children a chance to develop several creative writing skills. They practice writing dialogue, developing characters, and fashioning situations that ignite their creativity and send them gallivanting down rabbit trails. 

Although 3rd-grade students are still relatively new writers and most won’t produce complete narratives yet, practicing story writing is the best way to introduce concepts like plot, character, conflict, and setting. 

Choose one of these concepts to focus on for several lessons and select third-grade writing prompts that lend themselves well to highlighting these aspects of writing. For example, you might ask students to spend a day or two focusing on their descriptions of the characters in their stories and another few days trying out different types of conflict. 

Later, they might choose to take the parts they like best from these various assignments and put them together to form a larger narrative. 

These story starters are fun writing prompts designed to push kids out of their comfort zones and put their imaginations to work. 

Instructions for students

  • These storytelling prompts are written in a few different styles. Some of them offer you the first line of a story. For these prompts, copy the first line onto your page and continue writing from there. 
  • Other prompts give you a specific situation and then ask you to think about what you might do or say in that situation. They could also ask you to take the idea as a starting point and expand it to make it more your own. Don’t feel like you need to answer the questions directly. They are there to give you more ideas to think about as you develop your story idea. You can write your story as answers to the questions if you like, but you can also just use them as inspiration. 
  • When you see an ellipsis (three dots) at the end of a writing prompt, that means the sentence is incomplete and your version of the sentence should replace the three dots with your own words. 

24 Story Starters and Creative Writing Prompts for Third Graders

  • Imagine you have the ability to become characters in video games. Write a short story that shows how you would use this power.
  • Do you have a best friend? If so, write the story of how you met and became friends. (You can write what really happened or make up your own version of events to show how two people might become best friends).
  • Write a story about a group of friends who build or discover a time machine. What time period do they travel to? Describe what they see, hear, smell, and eat.
  • You and your friends are kayaking on a lake when you discover a hidden island. Describe what it looks like, how you explore it, and what you find there. 
  • It’s the hottest day of the year. You turn on your air conditioner and, instead of giving you an icy blast, it transports you to a snow-covered tundra. You see a small cottage with lights on and knock on the door. Who greets you and how do they help you get back home?
  • Your doorbell rings. You answer the door, but there’s nobody there. Then you look down and see two lizards talking on cell phones. “We need to talk,” the smaller one says to you. What do they tell you? How do you respond?
  • You just learned that your good friend has special powers she’s kept secret forever. All she needs is a cup of sand, three fish scales, and a splash of mud and she can make the most incredible thing happen. Write about what happens when she shows you her secret talent. 
  • There’s a big windstorm one night. The lights flicker and the power goes out. A few minutes later, it comes back on and your favorite character from the last book you read is sitting at your table. Who is it, what are they doing, and how do you make them feel welcome?
  • Think about a fairy tale you know well, such as The Three Little Pigs or Little Red Riding Hood. Write your own version of the story with a few key details changed. For example, instead of The Three Little Pigs, you could write about The Three Shy Turtles or The Three Little Pigs and Their Big Sister. 
  • You go to watch a play at a theater, but when the curtains open, something unexpected happens. What is it and how do you respond?
  • Write about a day in which time moves backward from night to morning. 
  • Write a story about two characters who don’t seem like they should be friends but somehow are. For example, you could write about a cat and a mouse, or an old woman and a little boy. What brought them together and in what ways does their friendship help them?
  • You’re playing hide-and-seek with a friend and you hide in the attic. It takes her a while to find you and, while you are waiting, you start looking through some old boxes up there. You find letters written to a family member a long time ago. Who are they from? What do they say? Imagine you learn about a family secret while reading them. What could it be? 
  • Write a story that happens completely in one small space like a closet or a car. Include at least two characters. 
  • A young cat finds itself alone in the forest. How did it get there? What does it do? Who does it meet? Does it find its way home or stay there? Tell its story using lots of descriptive words. 
  • “It’s not all your fault,” my mom said. “There’s something you don’t know.” 
  • One day, everybody brings their favorite stuffie to class. A mix up happens and all the stuffies go home with the wrong kids to the wrong houses. What happens that night? Try to write from more than one perspective. For example, you could write a paragraph or two from the perspective of one of the students and then a paragraph or two from the point of view of a stuffie. You could also have a paragraph that quickly highlights the action at several houses. (“Kimmy’s little sister cried all night. Panda freaked out when he missed his dinner and tried to eat the toilet paper. Leah wanted to call the police but her mom wouldn’t give her the phone.”
  • Your aunt shows up at your house with a box of glazed donuts and a canoe strapped to the roof of her car. “Time for a little trip,” she says. 
  • Write a story that’s told entirely in letters between two friends. They might write about the last time they saw each other, the upcoming summer break, or some of their favorite book characters. Tell us as much as you can about the characters and their friendship without writing  about  them. Let everything come out through the letters they send. 
  • What if you could invent a new planet? What sounds, sights, and smells would it have? Would people live there or some other kind of creatures? After you write down the details of your planet, write a short story that takes place there. You might write about how it was discovered or you could write a scene that shows what life is like there. 
  • You’re walking through the park with your family. You come around a curve in the path and spot a fox sitting under a tree writing in a notebook. What do you do? Do you talk to it? Does it speak? What is it writing?
  • You’re sitting on the sofa watching a TV show when your sister, who is an artist, comes into the room. She has taken all your favorite toys and used them in her art project. Describe what you see, the conversation you have with her, and the lengths you’ll go to to recover your treasured toys. 
  • “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” said Alex. “If the owl hadn’t climbed the treehouse and eaten the fish…”
  • The school year ended. You were supposed to be on holidays. Then your parents signed you up for summer school without telling you. It might have been okay if it weren’t for… 

For another take on third-grade writing prompts, check out  70 Picture Prompts for Creative Writing . 

Poetry Writing Prompts for Third-Grade Students

Another great way to introduce 3rd graders to creative writing is to get them writing free verse poetry. …

Students should be encouraged to brainstorm their own topics, as the ones they come up with will likely be the most inspiring for them. However, if they’re stuck for ideas or you want to give them a list of things to write about, have them pick one of the topics below. They may also find it helpful to use a brainstorming sheet to flesh out their ideas. 

  • Make a list of three things that happened to you this week. Choose one of them and draft a poem that tells what happened and how you felt about it.
  • Write a poem about a special tradition from your favorite holiday. 
  • Write an ode that celebrates your favorite subject in school. For example, “The Joys of Math” or “Ode to Art Class.”
  • Write a poem describing the best pet you can imagine.
  • Write a poem from the perspective of an animal.
  • Write a poem that tells about an imaginary being. Try to convey details about its size, appearance, feelings, problems, abilities, and lifestyle. 
  • Write a haiku about your favorite summer activity.
  • Write a poem detailing the first time you tried your favorite food. If you don’t remember that experience, feel free to make it up. How do you imagine it would be tasting that amazing dish for the first time?
  • Write about a poem that describes a time when you lost something important. 
  • Write a poem about your favorite place without naming the place. Use lots of details that help the reader see this place in their minds. 
  • Write a poem about a recent dream you had. Try not to mention that it was a dream. 
  • Choose one of the four seasons and write a poem describing what makes it special. 
  • Write a poem about something that’s really special to you but that seems ordinary to everyone else such as an old t-shirt or a craft you made out of recycled materials. Try to help your reader understand why it’s so important to you. 
  • Write a poem describing a day when everything goes wrong. 
  • Write a poem about your favorite person. Include details about why they’re so important to you. Consider giving your poem to them as a gift. 
  • Write a poem about a secret place (real or imagined) that only you know about. 
  • Write a poem about all the things you love to do outside. 
  • Write a poem that introduces your city or town to a visitor who has never been there. 
  • Write a poem about a game you love playing such as Hide and Seek, Pictionary, or Charades. 
  • Write a poem that includes dialogue. You could write the whole poem as a conversation or sprinkle dialogue throughout. 
  • Write a funny poem listing everything you think about when you can’t fall asleep at night. 
  • Write a poem that imagines something about your future. It could be a single event such as “When I Finally Go to Disneyland” or it could be a more general description of what you’d like your future life to be like such as “What I’ll Eat When I Grow Up.”
  • Write a poem that explains how to do a simple task such as one of your favorite (or least favorite) household chores.
  • Write a poem that uses as many sound words as possible such as bang, splash, chirp, and buzz. 

For more poetic inspiration, check out  100 Inspiring Poetry Writing Prompts for Kids . 

Journal Writing Prompts

Kids can also stretch their creative muscles through journal writing. Journaling is a precursor to memoir writing and storytelling is the heart of memoir. While journal entries can sometimes gravitate toward a mundane recitation of chronological events, they’re also an opportunity to challenge kids to become better writers. 

A nice thing about journalling is that you don’t have to invent completely original material from scratch. You are taking events from your life and making an interesting story out of them, playing with language and sentence structure, and experimenting with what to include and exclude until you end up with something enjoyable to read. 

Challenge kids to keep a running list of things that have happened to them in their writing journals so they always have a creative writing topic ready. Remind them that writing topics don’t have to be sensational (the birth of a new sibling, say). Simple events that might otherwise be overlooked—the sighting of the first blue jay to return in the spring, for example—can form the basis of strong pieces of writing when we take the time to reflect on the event and make connections. 

Continuing with the blue jay example, such an experience might lead curious children to think about the changes that come with the season and, perhaps, the seasons of their own young lives thus far. Or they might ponder the bird and wonder what she’s been up to since she last visited the backyard. Maybe they’ll see two birds competing for a choice tree and reflect on an argument they had with a sibling. The more we can get them thinking about, reflecting on, and making connections between their experiences, the more we’ll see these themes emerge in their writing. 

Here are some ideas to get them thinking about what to write in their journals:

  • A trip you’ve taken
  • Your feelings about a situation (losing an important toy, having to share a bedroom, or passing a swimming test, for example)
  • How you spent a recent birthday or holiday
  • A new skill you’ve just mastered
  • A skill you wish you had but haven’t learned yet
  • A food you tried but didn’t like
  • A walk you’ve taken in nature
  • A change in one of your friendships
  • Something that scared you until you worked up the courage to try and then enjoyed doing
  • A time when you really wanted something and finally got it
  • A time when you really wanted something and didn’t get it
  • A time when someone made you feel good
  • Something you saw that turned out not to be what you expected it to be
  • A time when you did something that scared you
  • The way your favorite song makes you feel
  • Something you’ve learned about recently that you wish you’d known sooner
  • Describe your perfect day
  • The toy or special thing you treasure the most and why it’s so special to you
  • Your earliest memory
  • A gift you received that meant a lot to you
  • A time when you laughed until your belly hurt
  • A teacher you’ve enjoyed learning from
  • A book you’ve read over and over again
  • Three things you love about your family

Need journal prompts for older kids? Check out these  60 Creative Journal Prompts for Teens

Songwriting Prompts

Writing songs is another fun way for kids to practice their creative thinking skills while also processing their emotions and experiences. Coming up with the lyrics to a song can provide stress relief for kids and give them an opportunity to express their emotions safely. 

For some kids, coming up with lyrics and a melody to a song may be too challenging. Encourage them to choose a song, jingle, or nursery rhyme they already know and write new lyrics to the same tune. Examples of simple songs they might start with include: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Baa-Baa Black Sheep, London Bridge is Falling Down, Rock-A-Bye Baby, and Waltzing Matilda. You can find more kid-friendly songs in this  playlist for kids . 

As an extra challenge, kids may want to initially write their lyrics to fit an existing tune and then come up with a new tune once they have their lyrics down. This would be a good extension activity for kids who finish their lyric writing early. 

  • Write a song about your favorite animal.
  • Think about three or four possessions (things you own) that are important to you. Write a song that celebrates the special role these items play in your life. 
  • Think about the last time you got angry. What made you angry? How did you feel? What did you want to do about it? What did you actually do? Write a song that helps someone else understand how you felt and why. 
  • What is your favorite show or movie? Choose a main character from that story and write a song inspired by them. It could be about them or it might be from their point of view. Think about what’s important to them and what they might want people to know. 
  • Write a song that describes your dream day. What would you do if you could do anything you wanted? Who would be with you? Make the details as specific as possible. 
  • Think about someone in your family who has an annoying habit. For example, your little brother who tells your parents everything you do wrong. Write a song that reimagines that annoying habit as a good thing. (“He must love me to pay so much attention to me…”)
  • Write a song that is meant to be sung by a whole class of students. 
  • Write a song about someone you look up to. 
  • Write a song about something that most people seem to like but that you hate. Try to convince them they’re wrong about the thing and that it’s truly awful. 
  • Write a song about someone you don’t see anymore such as an old neighbor or a friend who moved away. What do you miss about the times you had with that person?
  • Think about something you loved doing when you were younger but haven’t done in a while. Write a song that shares your memories of that activity. 
  • Write a song about something you hope for or would like to see happen. 

Descriptive Writing Prompts

Descriptive writing adds color and texture to many forms of writing including travel writing, poetry, fiction, and memoirs. One of our challenges as teachers is ensuring kids know how to write effective descriptions while also helping them learn how to balance descriptive prose with other written elements such as dialogue and action. A written work too heavy in descriptive writing might help the reader create vivid pictures in their minds without ever telling them anything. 

In third grade, these young writers are generally too young to discern this delicate balance between showing and telling, but it’s still a great time to develop their use of descriptive words. 

Before giving them these writing prompts, introduce them to the importance of using specific nouns and vivid verbs and adjectives in their writing. This is a wonderful time to instill thesaurus skills and show them how to choose the most appropriate words for each situation. 

When assigning prompts from this section, tell students their goal is to paint a picture with their words. If they read their work to a classmate who closes their eyes, can the classmate picture the scene clearly? If not, where do they need to add or change details?

  • Write about the most memorable dream you’ve ever had. Describe it in as much detail as possible. Where did it take place? What did you see, hear, and smell? Who was there? What did they look like? What did they do?
  • Choose a room in your house and describe its most important features.
  • Go outside and find a tree, flower, or other plant that intrigues you. Describe it in detail: what does it look like? How big is it? What does it feel like? If one of your friends took your description and went to the same outdoor area, could they find your plant based on your description?
  • If you could decorate your bedroom any way you wanted with no limits, what would it look like?
  • Imagine the coziest outfit you can. Describe how it looks and feels. How do you feel when you put it on?
  • Describe your mom or another woman you know well. What does she look like? What does her voice sound like? Does she have wear a certain perfume? How do you feel when she gives you a hug or puts her arm around you?
  • Describe a regular tradition you have with your family, such as having a large pancake breakfast on Saturdays. Help your reader feel like they’re living the memory with you by painting a detailed picture of the scene. 
  • Write about the inside of your family’s car. What does it smell like? How many seats are there? What would you find if you looked between or underneath the seats? Describe the music you listen to in the car and the kinds of conversations you have there. 
  • Describe a store you go to frequently. If possible, try to visit the store before you write about it and make notes about the things you notice there using your five senses. Tell about what you see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. 
  • Describe your writing process, that is, what you do when you write. Do you sharpen pencils and put an eraser nearby? Do you start writing right away or do you make an outline or brainstorm ideas first? Do you write single-spaced or double-spaced? Is your writing neat or messy? How do you feel when you write?
  • What is the best thing about being you? Maybe it’s your sense of humor, your Lego-building skills, or the way you ride your bike fearlessly down hills. Maybe you live in a really cool city with lots of fun things to do. Whatever makes your life special, write about that and describe why you love it.
  • What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday morning? Describe what you do, who does it with you, and how you do it.  

Other Creative Writing Prompts for 3rd-Grade Students

  • Write a scene where a famous person from another time period shows up in your classroom. 
  • Write a diary entry from the perspective of a Disney character or a character from a book you’ve read. 
  • Think about a scene you didn’t love in your favorite movie. Rewrite the scene to make it more enjoyable. 
  • Write a letter to your favorite author and tell them what you love about their book(s).
  • Invent a new country with its own language, customs, and history. Write about how your country came to be and what makes it special. If you want, you can draw a map to go with your writing.
  • Write a scene from the point of view of an object in your house such as a toaster, the dining table, or a video game console. 
  • Write a story or poem in which each sentence starts with the next letter in the alphabet. In other words, the first sentence or line starts with A, the second with B, the third with C, and so on. 
  • Write about a lost object that was found after many years. 
  • Pick a city you’ve visited and make a travel brochure about it. Include a section in which you describe the city and another in which you talk about your experience there.
  • Write a comic book* based on your favorite book or story. Try to include both dialogue (in speech bubbles) and descriptions of what’s happening. 
  • On a big piece of paper, draw a picture of the inside of a really cool house with loads of interesting rooms. Then write a short story about the people who live there and what life is like inside their amazing house.
  • Write an imaginary interview with a character from a book or movie. Pretend you’re asking them questions to publish in a magazine or newspaper and invent their answers.  

Comic book templates are available in our post,  10 Fun Writing Activities for Kids . 

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50 Creative 3rd Grade Writing Prompts (Free Printable!)

Taking the leap from the primary level to the intermediate grades.

Four printed note boards for third grade writing prompts.

Third grade is a huge transitional year in elementary school. Third grade writers have learned foundational concepts and skills and have had time to practice. Now they are developing more complex skills as they dig deeper, learn to make connections, and analyze the topics they write about. Here are 50 third grade writing prompts to help your students master and refine their writing skills.

If you’d like even more upper elementary writing prompts, we publish new ones twice a week on our kid-friendly site: the Daily Classroom Hub . Make sure to bookmark the link!

(Want this entire set in one easy document? Get your free PowerPoint bundle by submitting your email here, so you’ll always have the prompts available!)

1. Tell about a special event in your life.

creative writing 3rd class

2. What are you best at?

creative writing 3rd class

3. What do you want to learn more about?

creative writing 3rd class

4. I could never live without______.

creative writing 3rd class

5. If you could go anyplace in the world, where would you go and why?

creative writing 3rd class

6. Interview one of your parents or grandparents and ask them to tell you a story from their childhood. Share their story here.

creative writing 3rd class

7. Describe one of your favorite book characters. Tell three things about their personality.

creative writing 3rd class

8. Do you think third graders should have to do chores at home? Why or why not?

creative writing 3rd class

9. What is something you would change about school if you could?

creative writing 3rd class

10. Tell about a time you helped somebody.

creative writing 3rd class

11. Tell about a time somebody helped you.

creative writing 3rd class

12. Tell about a memorable “first” in your life. For example, the first time you ate a particular kind of food, the first time you met your teacher, etc.

creative writing 3rd class

13. Describe step by step how to make a pizza.

creative writing 3rd class

14. What does it mean to be a hero?

creative writing 3rd class

15. I am afraid of _______ because_______.

creative writing 3rd class

16. What is the difference between being polite and rude? Give three examples.

creative writing 3rd class

17. What is the most important rule in the classroom?

creative writing 3rd class

18. What are the three most important qualities you look for in a friend?

creative writing 3rd class

19. Do you think kids should be assigned homework? Why or why not?

creative writing 3rd class

20. Nature gives us many beautiful things—plants, animals, water, weather, stars and planets, etc. What is one of your favorite things in nature and why?

creative writing 3rd class

21. If I were a spider, I’d _______.

creative writing 3rd class

22. Three things that make me happy are ______.

creative writing 3rd class

23. What is your favorite holiday and why?

creative writing 3rd class

24. Tell about one of your family’s unique traditions.

creative writing 3rd class

25. If you could have a pet, what would you choose? How would you take care of it?

creative writing 3rd class

26. Write about a dream you recently had.

creative writing 3rd class

27. Tell about a person that inspires you and why.

creative writing 3rd class

28. Name five things you are thankful for and why you are thankful for them.

creative writing 3rd class

29. What are ways you can be a good citizen?

creative writing 3rd class

30. When you and a friend disagree, how do you work it out?

creative writing 3rd class

31. What do you think the world will be like in one hundred years?

creative writing 3rd class

32. What is your favorite type of weather? Why?

creative writing 3rd class

33. What superpower do you wish you had? Why?

creative writing 3rd class

34. What famous person would you like to meet? Why?

creative writing 3rd class

35. In your opinion, which animal makes the best pet? Give three reasons for your answer.

creative writing 3rd class

36. If someone gave you $100, how would you spend it?

creative writing 3rd class

37. Should third graders have cell phones? Why or why not?

creative writing 3rd class

38. If you could be an Olympic athlete, what sport would you participate in?

creative writing 3rd class

39. Write about your “getting ready for school” routine.

creative writing 3rd class

40. Write about your “getting ready for bed” routine.

creative writing 3rd class

41. If you could travel through time like Jack and Annie in the Magic Tree House, where would you go?

creative writing 3rd class

42. In your opinion, what does a perfect weekend look like?

creative writing 3rd class

43. Write about the last time you felt really angry. What happened and how did it all work out?

creative writing 3rd class

44. Pretend there was a special zoo where animals could talk. Which animal would you talk to and what are three questions you would ask?

creative writing 3rd class

45. What is your favorite thing with wheels? Why?

creative writing 3rd class

46. Tell the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears from the point of view of Baby Bear.

creative writing 3rd class

47. What do you think would grow if you planted a magic bean?

creative writing 3rd class

48. Which would you rather be able to do—fly or read people’s minds? Why?

creative writing 3rd class

49. Tell about an adult in your life that you admire.

creative writing 3rd class

50. If you were traveling for a week and could only bring a backpack, what would you pack?

creative writing 3rd class

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30 Fun And Creative Writing Prompts For 3rd Grade

Third Grade Writing Prompts

Writing prompts can be incredibly beneficial for third-grade students as they not only stimulate their imaginations but also enhance their critical thinking and writing skills. By presenting them with different scenarios, characters, and situations, writing prompts encourage children to delve deep into their creativity and explore various narrative possibilities.

As a teacher, the key to activating third-grade students’ imaginations is to give them fun writing prompts to get them excited about writing. Below you’ll find 30 fun and creative writing prompts for 3rd-grade students that are guaranteed to spark your students’ imaginations and get their creative juices flowing.

Writing Prompts For Third Grade

A Third Grade Student Writing

  • Imagine you wake up one morning to find out you’ve become a superhero. What are your powers and how would you use them?
  • Write a story about a magical tree that grows in your backyard. What is special about it?
  • What would you do if you could fly for a day? Describe your journey in detail.
  • If animals could talk, what would your pet or a favorite animal say? Write a conversation you might have.
  • Imagine that you have been given the task of redesigning your school. What changes would you make and why?
  • Write a story about a character who lives in a world where colors have been lost. How do they restore colors back to their world?
  • Write a letter to your future self. What advice would you give?
  • Imagine that you found a door in your house that you’ve never seen before. Where does it lead to?
  • Write about a day in the life of your favorite dessert. Make it as fun and wacky as possible.
  • Write a story from the perspective of a raindrop on a rainy day.
  • You have been given a magical pen that makes everything you draw come to life. What do you draw first and why?
  • Imagine you are an astronaut exploring a new planet. Describe what you see, hear, and feel.
  • If you could be any mythical creature for a day, what would you be and why? Describe your day.
  • Write a story about a mischievous ghost who lives in your school.
  • You’re a detective and you’ve been assigned to solve the case of the missing cookies. Who are your suspects?
  • Your favorite toy comes to life! What adventures do you two have together?
  • What if you woke up one day and everything was upside down? Write about your day.
  • Write a story about a magical flower that only blooms once every hundred years. What happens when it blooms?
  • If you had a pet dragon, what would a day in your life look like?
  • Write a story about an adventure in a submarine deep under the sea. What creatures do you see?
  • Imagine you could swap places with your teacher for a day. What would you do?
  • Your shoes suddenly gain the ability to talk. What stories do they tell you about where they’ve been?
  • Write a diary entry for a pirate sailing the seven seas in search of treasure.
  • If you could invent a new holiday, what would it be, and how would people celebrate it?
  • You find a magic pebble that grants you three wishes. What do you wish for and why?
  • Write a story about a visit to a planet made of candy.
  • What would it be like if animals were in charge and humans were pets?
  • Write about a day in the life of a coin. Where does it go? What does it see?
  • You have been chosen to host a party for all the fairytale characters. How would you plan and organize it?
  • Imagine you could breathe underwater. Write about your adventures under the sea.

Tips For Using These Writing Prompts In Class

A Third Grade Student Writing

As a third-grade teacher, you are likely aware that merely providing students with a writing prompt may not yield the most effective outcomes. To help students fully tap into their creative writing abilities, consider these actionable strategies.

Offer Clear Instructions

Make sure to explain the prompt clearly and in a way that your students understand. If the prompt is complex, break it down into smaller parts. Ensure they understand the task at hand before they start writing.

Create a Safe Environment

Encourage creativity and originality. Let your students know that it’s okay to make mistakes and they should not be afraid of expressing their unique ideas.

Provide Examples

Sometimes, students may find it challenging to start. Providing an example or two can help them understand the prompt better and stimulate their own ideas.

Use Prompts as Conversation Starters

Discuss the writing prompts in class before students start writing. This will help stimulate ideas, and hearing their peers’ thoughts can inspire students who may be having difficulty.

Use Visual Aids

For younger students, visual aids can be really helpful. Draw a picture, show a video or use storyboards to help illustrate the prompt and get their creative juices flowing.

Allow Choices

If possible, offer more than one writing prompt at a time. Giving students the ability to choose their writing topic can make the task more engaging and personal for them.

Encourage Peer Reviews

After students have written their pieces, encourage them to exchange their stories with their classmates for peer review. This can help students learn from each other and also improve their editing and critiquing skills.

Provide Constructive Feedback

Giving feedback is crucial. Praise students for their efforts and provide constructive criticism to guide them on how to improve their writing.

Include Prompts Related to Current Lessons

While creative prompts are excellent, try to include some prompts that relate to what students are learning. For example, if they’re learning about animals’ habitats, include a prompt about it.

Schedule Regular Writing Time

Make writing a regular activity. Consistency can help students get into the habit of writing and improve their skills over time.

More Writing Prompts

Thanks for reading! I hope your students have lots of fun creating awesome stories using these writing prompts. Before you go, check out these related articles for writing prompt ideas: 1st Grade Writing Prompts 4th Grade Writing Prompts Adventure Writing Prompts Fantasy Writing Prompts

  • Writing Activities

9 Fun 3rd Grade Writing Activities

Only 22% of students aged 8 to 11 years old write something daily outside of school (Source: Literacy Trust, 2018 ). To encourage more students to write for pleasure, we have created this list of 9 fun 3rd-grade writing activities for your students. 

In the third grade, students are just beginning to express themselves through writing. The typical third grader will know how to string a couple of sentences together and even write with some humour and style. But one common problem with students this age is that they get bored. And when they get bored, they start seeing writing as a chore or another piece of homework that needs to be done on time. 

As teachers, we should encourage our students to write for pleasure through a range of fun writing activities. This means writing because they love writing and not because your students are being told to write for a school project. We hope these creative writing activities for third students can help them see the importance and fun they can gain from writing. 

Creative Captions

Finish the story game, storyboarding, keeping an ideas journal, role-playing with paper puppets, creating your own monster, write some song lyrics, creating comic strips, how-to guides.

This is a really quick and simple writing activity to encourage your students to write daily . Simply ask them to collect some photos from magazines or the internet. Alternatively, you could provide your students with a set of random image prompts . And every day they can stick an image or two into their notebook with a short caption to describe the image. 

This introduces your students into daily writing without too much pressure on what to write and how to write it. They can write a 10 word caption or 100 words depending on their mood and available time. The key here is to give them the freedom to write anything they like about whatever that interests them. This way they can experience the relaxing and fun side of writing.

The finish the story game is a fun way to collaboratively write a story with your friends or classmates. The basic idea of this game is that one player starts the story off with a short sentence and then the other players continue the story using their own words. By the time you reach the end of the game, you should have a complete story from beginning to end written collaboratively between all the players involved. 

The story can be as weird and as wonderful as you like as the players are in charge. For more tips and ideas on how to play this game, read our post dedicated to the finish the story game . 

For most kids, especially visual learners drawing is much more fun compared to writing. To cater to the needs of these students, storyboarding is a brilliant activity. Storyboarding utilizes a range of skills, including creativity, organisational skills and writing. Not to mention it is a great way to plan your stories out, from beginning to end!

There are three ways you can use storyboarding to encourage students to write. The first way is that you provide a completed storyboard with all the images already drawn in. Here the student has to write their own description or caption to the image. This method is great for students who lack inspiration or just don’t like drawing.

The second method is dedicated to those students that just lack inspiration. Here you can give them a partially completed storyboard. Where the first one or two frames will be completed for them. Here the students’ job is to basically finish the storyboard off with their own drawings and words.

>And the final way involves using completely blank storyboard templates where the student can draw and write their own words entirely. This gives students the freedom to write about anything they like. This could be a story about a footballer or a storyboard for a video game idea. This final method is great if your students already have an idea in mind for a story!

story outline example - storyboard

Journaling has never meant to be perfect. Even as adults, we scribble quick thoughts into our journal without second-thinking our grammar or spelling. And for this reason, your students should also be encouraged to keep a journal at a young age. In particular, one type of journal which works best for third graders is an ideas journal . Here they can keep note of everything that inspires them daily. This could be a newspaper article, a certain photograph or even a quick doodle. 

Eventually, the ideas journal should become your student’s number one source of inspiration when it comes to writing stories. They should be able to look back and see their ideas from months ago and keep track of how they have developed over time. The freedom that journalling gives students will show them the fun and easy side of writing, which often gets missed in classrooms. 

When all else fails, encourage the love of writing through arts and crafts. Get your students to create their own paper finger puppets based on their favourite movie, TV show or even their imagination. Once the paper puppets are created you can hold your very own paper theatre shows in the classroom or at home! Students can write their own scripts and then using their puppets act out a scene. This is not only a fun arts and crafts activity, but it is also a fun way to encourage your kids to see the creative side of writing. 

You students could even create a whole set of paper puppets, with paper scenery and props – Which can all be kept safely in a shoebox. So whenever they are bored they can get their puppets out and hold their paper theatre shows monthly or weekly!

make paper finger puppets tutorial

Forget about writing for a moment and just get your students to imagine something new. Ask them to draw a monster. Any monster they like and anything that comes to mind. Once finished drawing they can write a description to describe their monster. Here is where you can go into great detail. Ask your students to think about what the monster eats, what it dislikes, likes, it’s interests, where it’s from and so on. Once done, your students could have written over 100 words without even knowing it!

Another idea to make this writing activity collaborative is to ask your students to share their monsters with the person next to them. Then that person can write their own description of a monster drawn by someone else. This not only encourages teamwork but also improves the creative thinking skills of your students. 

We’re sure that every one of your students loves listening to music. And now it is their chance to write some funky lyrics of their own. Simply ask your students to think of their favourite singer or band. Then give them the task of writing their own song lyrics for those people. If your students are a fan of Ed Sheeran, then just imagine that Ed himself has asked the students to write him some new song lyrics for his next album. 

Writing song lyrics is a form of poetry . Whether it’s a rap or an emotional ballad, your students can learn so much from writing their own songs. And if your students are feeling brave enough, they even perform their song in front of the class!

Comics are the all-time favourite for creative students. And more importantly writing comics involves a good level of dialogue skills, as well as creativity and imagination. And with superheroes being a popular thing in today’s culture, creating comic strips should be a fun task for all of your students. Of course not all comic strips or books are about superheroes, but it is a good place to start. 

If you’re planning on adding comic strips to your lesson plans, you should take a look at our blog post on creating your comic strips and comic books . 

animal protection unit comic strip example

How-to guides do sound like a normal, typical writing activity in the classroom. But our way of writing how-to guides is much more fun for your students. Instead of assigning the topic of the guide, ask your students to come up with their own topic. Your students should think about all the things they are good at and decide on which one they should write a guide about. 

For example, if a student is really good at playing Minecraft, then they could write a guide on how to build a treehouse in Minecraft. Alternatively if one of your students owns a pet, they could write a guide on how they take care of that pet at home. The key here is to focus on the interests of your students and not to force your own topics onto them. This will help them see the real importance of writing in their daily lives and even encourage them to continue writing outside of school time. 

Want more fun writing ideas? Check out this post on over 100 creative writing exercises to inspire you!

Third grade is the perfect time to show your students the importance of writing in their daily lives. This means showing them the creative and fun side of writing, as well as the more formal, essay-style format of writing. A mix of fun with strict guidelines can reinforce the love of writing in kids and get them to see the true beauty that creative writing can offer.

3rd Grade Writing Activities

Marty the wizard is the master of Imagine Forest. When he's not reading a ton of books or writing some of his own tales, he loves to be surrounded by the magical creatures that live in Imagine Forest. While living in his tree house he has devoted his time to helping children around the world with their writing skills and creativity.

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Third Grade Creative Writing Worksheets

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  • My New Year's Resolutions (3-6)
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  • Change the Dialog in a Comic Strip
  • Discovering Conjunctions
  • More Creative Writing Printables, 3rd Grade

Featured 3th Grade Resources

Poetry Packet for Elementary

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TeacherVision Staff

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The TeacherVision editorial team is comprised of teachers, experts, and content professionals dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and relevant information in the teaching space.

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100 Fun Third-Grade Writing Prompts for Kids: Journal Prompts

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  • Journal Writing Prompts
  • Funny Writing Prompts
  • Narrative Essay Writing Prompts
  • Fiction Writing Prompts
  • Poetry Writing Prompts 
  • Informative Essay Writing Prompts
  • Opinion Writing Prompts
  • Animal Writing Prompts
  • Descriptive Writing Prompts
  • Emotion Writing Prompts

The power of stories is immense. It not only unlocks the imagination but also improves creativity and vocabulary. For kids as young as third graders , writing prompts can be beneficial to kick-start their writing spree. It is a great way to build various genres of writing skills in kids- from narrative and informative to poetic and funny.

Stick to this blog to track down century options of 3rd grade writing prompts for kids .

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Here are more educational resources to get your third grader learning!

6 Reasons To Give Your 3rd Graders a Writing Prompt?

Teacher helping two kids with writing

When it comes to keeping your students busy with something beneficial, writing prompts are a wonderful tool. Here are a few major ways in which 3rd grade journal prompts can help children.

  • Allows children to think around creatively
  • Enhances a sense of expression
  • Eliminates the dread of writing
  • Improves story-telling
  • Boosts self-confidence in children
  • Refines grammar, spelling, and handwriting with practice

While they get busy writing the best out of their imagination, you can enjoy a sip of hot coffee (a bonus, you know!).

100 Fun Third-Grade Writing Prompts for Kids

10 journal writing prompts.

The habit of journaling must be inculcated in kids from a young age. Wondering why? Well, it goes a long way in developing the ‘writer-like’ mindset in them. Moreover, journaling is known to be a stress reliever in teens and adults alike. Whether they make it a daily or alternate habit later, here are ten examples of 3rd grade journal topics that can be perfect for giving them a needed push.

1. What has been your favorite memory of 2nd grade ?

2. On a rainy day, would you rather be inside or outside? Why?

3. How did you meet your best friend?

4. What flavor of chips do you like the most and why?

5. Who is the favorite cousin in the family?

6. When was the last time you had your favorite dinner outside?

7. Do you have someone who makes you feel special? Who and How?

8. Which school period do you like the most and why?

9. What are you most thankful for in life and why?

10. What is your favorite cartoon character?

10 Funny Writing Prompts

Girl writing sincerely

This is every child’s favorite! Funny Writing prompts can help develop an expression of humor sense in young children. Moreover, it will allow the classroom to have a light moment together when each of them will read their chucklesome experiences aloud. We can already hear the giggles!

Check out these fun writing prompts for 3rd grade kids.

1. If your pencil boxes could talk to each other, what would they be?

2. What if you were an Easter egg?

3. Imagine if cows gave ‘Skittles’ instead of milk. What would the world be like?

4. What makes you laugh?

5. What was the best joke that your best friend cracked recently? How can you make it funnier?

6. What would happen if it did rain cats and dogs?

7. Imagine there’s a kangaroo in the classroom. How did it reach there, and what would the scenario be like?

8. Would you rather wear a swimming suit in a snowstorm or wear a snowsuit to the beach? Which kind of silly will you be and why?

9. Write a review of the animated movie for kids that you have seen recently.

10. Imagine you and your best friend switch families for a day. What would the day be like?

10 Narrative Essay Writing Prompts

Narrative essay prompts can sow seeds for a future author of an American best-seller. One of the most favored writing prompts by teachers, 3rd grade narrative writing prompts expect students to tell a story based on their imagination or actual incidents. They could either build their story on dialogues or use descriptive writing. Let’s head to the list.

1. If your shoe could speak, what story would it tell?

2. One fine morning, you woke up with wings. Narrate the day.

3. If you are allowed to make classroom rules , which new rule would you make and why?

4. Make a story about where thunder comes from.

5. Imagine a boy who only eats oranges to survive. Narrate the story of his life.

6. Describe your last vacation. Where did you go, and what did you do?

7. What is the most interesting story that your family member has told you about?

8. You are given $200 to spread kindness around your city. How will you spend it?

9. If you could fly wherever you would want to, what places would you go and why?

10. What is one thing you do very well? Describe it in detail.

10 Fiction Writing Prompts

Mother helping kid with writing

Here’s another set of 3rd grade writing prompts that will make the creative juices flow in the students. Fiction writing prompts are a great stimulus for young minds to develop their characters, work on a plot line and narrate a story. 

They not only allow expand their imagination in children but gives them an opportunity to enjoy the writing process. Have a look at writing ideas for 3rd grade students:

1. What story does a camera want to tell the world?

2. A princess is trapped in a castle that is guarded by a beast. Instead of waiting for her prince charming to save her, she uses the resources and tools from inside the castle to build her escape plan. What all would she use and how? Write her escape story.

3. ‘There was a knock on the door. I opened it and saw a cat sitting there and,….’. Finish the story.

4. You had a chance to take over your father’s job for a day. Write a story narrating all your day’s events.

5. ‘On a vacation to paradise, something unexpected happens.’ Continue with the story.

6. There was a butterfly in Ohio who needed to earn the colors for herself. She could only earn five colors for herself. What would she do to earn colors, and how?

7. One day, you woke up and realize that you have a magic pen next to you. Narrate the events that followed it.

8. Imagine you get to choose how you would want to live your next 50 years. What would you choose? Who will be the people with you?

9. Your balloon just blew away! Write the story from the balloon’s perspective.

10. You ate a brownie, and now you are 20 feet tall. What do you do next?

10 Poetry Writing Prompts 

With Tik Toks and Reels throwing rubbish in the name of poems for kids , now is the time to introduce young minds to the real essence of poetry. They must be taught the power of syllables, rhymes, apostrophes, punctuation, and word choice to recognize the poetry. 

Poetry Writing Prompts can give good practice to 3rd graders to improve their phrasing ideas and, ultimately, the poetry sense! Whether it’s a limerick or haiku, here’s the suggestion list that you shouldn’t miss.

1. ‘Whenever I sing a silly song,

Whenever I daydream for too long..’ Continue the poem.

2. ‘Within the wrapping paper brown,

the smallest gift I’ve found. Write a poem to talk about the gift.

3. ‘Dear Friend,’. Write a short poem for your best friend.

4. Challenge yourself to write a poem that is no longer than 25 words.

5. Imagine you came from another planet, lost on Earth, and longing for home. Write short poetry to express yourself.

6. ‘Look at the stars and name them all….’ Continue an interesting poem.

7. ‘Through the trees, I go…’ Write a few lines of a Haiku poem.

8. Write a poem about your grandparents.

9. ‘It was quite a big day for me.’ Write a limerick using this line.

10. ‘I met a funny little woman,

As I walked along one day…’ Write a silly poem using this starter.

10 Informative Essay Writing Prompts

A highly beneficial writing exercise for all ages, informative writing prompts are about informing the reader without persuading or making an opinion to it. For 3rd graders, these essays could be a powerful tool to enable them to write from what they already know. It advances their memorization, learning, and reflective ability in them.

Check out the ideas that can be used as writing topics for 3rd graders.

1. Write a process to build a birdhouse in your backyard.

2. If you could meet any famous person in the world, who would it be and what conversion would you have with them?

3. Why is it important to preserve the environment around us? How can you help with it?

4. Do you have a pet? If yes, how do you take care of it?

5. Describe what all do you see on your way to school.

6. How do you prepare for a test? Share some tips with your friends.

7. Write the importance of a healthy diet in our lives. How can we make our diet healthier?

8. Describe life in the coldest cities of the world. Would you live in such places?

9. Doctors, Firefighters, Policemen, Delivery boys, etc., are all heroes. Write about their selfless contribution to our lives.

10. Why do leaves change color during autumn?

10 Opinion Writing Prompts

Kid writing on paper

We all have opinions, and so do the little ones! Teaching young kids to form an opinion can be rewarding for their future goals and personality development. 

It is important to familiarize them with understanding their mind and heart and strike a balance between the two. Opinion writing prompts for 3rd graders can be instrumental in getting them moving in that direction.

To ease the writing process, you can teach the kids about the OREO framework.

O – Opinions

E – Examples

O – Opinion (restated in a concluding note)

Let’s dive into some interesting topics for 3rd grade writing prompts.

1. Do you think teachers should give homework to students?

2. What are some important rules that must be followed in life?

3. How to become a kind human being?

4. What do you do when you are angry? Write some ways to calm yourself down.

5. How to make yourself happy when you are sad? Write from your experience.

6. What is the best restaurant in your city, and why?

7. Should 10-year-olds have their mobile phone? Why or why not?

8. Why should children not eat chocolates very frequently? How should they practice control?

9. Should everyone wear school uniforms in school? Why or why not?

10. If there could only be one season throughout the year, which one would you choose and why?

10 Animal Writing Prompts

If animals bring so much joy to us just by existing, how joyful it’d be to write about them? There are so many reasons to ask children to write about animals. It can be a wonderful way to enhance their creativity, fascination, attention to detail, and of course, writing skills. 

Here’s a list of animal writing prompts for 3rd graders.

1. Which animal would you like to meet and why?

2. Would you rather have a rabbit or a penguin as a pet? Why?

3. If you had a chance to become one farm animal, which one would it be and why?

4. If I were a turtle, I would…

5. Imagine waking up in the morning and seeing your favorite animal getting ready for school. What would the scenario be like?

6. Write how the world would be if humans could talk to animals.

7. You can choose either an animal or a human as your best friend. Which one would you pick and why?

8. If you could choose a different name for ‘Cow,’ what would it be? Why?

9. What I know about chickens is that….

10. A fish took a solo trip to London. Narrate the story.

10 Descriptive Writing Prompts

What do you do when you want your students to go into the tiniest details while writing? Try Descriptive writing prompts for 3rd graders. Whether they write a story or a personal experience, ignite the spark of description with these writing prompts.

1. What is your favorite math game ? Why do you like it? Also, write the steps to play.

2. Imagine you are traveling on a ship in the ocean. What does your ship look like? And, why would you like the best about your ship? Describe your journey.

3. Describe your favorite activity in the mall.

4. Which is better, winter or summer? Support your take with reasons.

5. Share a memorable experience at the park. What made it so memorable? Would you like to relive it?

6. Describe a beautiful scene from nature.

7. Alice gets to visit Wonderland in the movie ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Describe all that you can think about Wonderland- the location, the environment, the colors, the people, etc.

8. What is a perfect day for you? Include the weather, your clothes, your friends, what you eat, and your activities.

9. Write a description of a trip to the zoo.

10. Who is your favorite teacher, and why? Describe him/her.

10 Emotion Writing Prompts

Kids writing in their copies

School is not limited to books and assignments. It’s also about preparing students to reflect on their feelings and being able to jot them down. Guess what? Emotion prompts can be the right choice here as well! They inspire creativity in kids and aid them in connecting with their feelings and emotions. Few third-grade emotion prompts that you shouldn’t miss.

1. My biggest dream is…

2. My favorite thing about myself…

3. What do you do when you make a mistake? How do you feel?

4. When was the last time you helped someone? What was it about?

5. Write about the happiest day of your life.

6. If you could have any special talent, what would it be and why?

7. What five things do you love about your family?

8. I feel sad when…

9. Imagine your friend is feeling scared. What would you do to calm him/her down?

10. Write a list of 10 things you are grateful for.

Now that you know 100 writing prompts for 3rd grade, there’s nothing that can stop your students shape into brilliant writers. However, a little something that we would like you to know- make writing as much fun as possible for these young minds. Look at a few tips which will help you chart out easy ways to teach writing to 3rd graders.

5 Steps To Help 3rd Graders With Writing

Step 1: sentence-formation.

If students struggle with understanding and forming sentences, they must be taught sentences as a single complete thought. Reading sentences aloud with necessary pauses will bring more clarity to them about the nature of a sentence. Let the children practice in small groups to make the instructions more effective.

 Step 2: Paragraph Writing

The next step will be to familiarize the children with writing small paragraphs. Don’t go throwing the list of 3rd grade writing prompts in one go. Instead, focus on strengthening the core concepts of writing. Introduce children to the parts of a paragraph-head, body, and conclusion.

Step 3: The ‘Sandwich’ Rule

It is a great way to simplify the writing process for third-graders. Teach the children that writing a paragraph is similar to making a sandwich. 

It begins with a piece of bread, i.e., the topic sentence, followed by adding some ingredients in the middle, i.e., the transition sentences, and finally, fishing it with another piece of bread, i.e., the concluding sentences. 

The rule can also be practiced in small groups to enjoy the maximum benefits.

Step 4: Additional Cues

Besides creative writing prompts for 3rd graders, emphasis must be made on using words like ‘because,’ ‘since,’ ‘for example,’ ‘another,’ ‘also,’ etc., to make meaningful connections while writing. Set 30 minutes initially for most pieces. Once they have had enough practice, you can reduce the time accordingly.

Step 5: Technical Cues

In the age of digitization, you cannot fathom eliminating the aid of digital tools to help children write. Teachers must pick something fun and let the students research about them on the internet. Noting down the point will help them build a story or idea smoothly.

Get, Set, Writing!

Writing prompts are not the end but the beginning of a brilliant writing spree for your students. Nonetheless, encouragement and support from your side are imperative to build their confidence. We hope the class will enjoy these 3rd grade writing prompts as much as we enjoyed curating them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How should i motivate my child to write at home.

Before introducing them to prompts, the most important way you can help your child with writing is to give them a journal, a storybook, a pencil, and an eraser. Keep a separate basket for their stationary supplies so that they can instantly grab them whenever they are in the mood to write.

What can be the first set of prompts that I should begin with?

Children are most closely knit to their parents. Giving them writing prompts to recount a happy family vacation or their favorite family members can be an ideal beginning. Moreover, in the classroom, teachers can use prompts related to their best friend, learning environment, and favorite school activity.

How many writing prompts can I use in one go?

Depends on the length of the class period. However, it is recommended to use one prompt in each class to preserve the class’s interest. Otherwise, children often feel burnout and pressure from having too many topics to write on in a single class.

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Creative Writing For Class 3 Format, Examples, Topics, Exercises

Creative writing for Class 3 is a great way to encourage young children to develop their imagination, improve their language skills, and foster a love of writing. In this guide, we will explore the format of creative writing for Class 3, provide examples of different types of creative writing, suggest topics for writing exercises, and give tips for teachers and parents on how to inspire and support young writers.

Also Read: Creative Writing Topics For Class 4 

Format of Creative Writing for Class 3

Creative writing for Class 3 should be structured in a way that is easy for young children to understand and follow. The basic format should include:

1. Introduction: The introduction should provide a brief overview of the topic and set the scene for the story. 2. Body: The body of the story should include the main events or ideas. This is where the plot unfolds and the characters develop. 3. Conclusion: The conclusion should wrap up the story and provide a sense of closure for the reader.

Examples of Creative Writing for Class 3

There are many different types of creative writing that Class 3 students can explore. Here are some examples:

1. Narrative Writing: Narrative writing is a story told from a particular point of view. It can be fiction or non-fiction and can be told in the first, second, or third person. Here is an example of a narrative:

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Alice. She lived in a small house on the edge of the forest with her parents and her cat, Mittens. One day, Alice decided to explore the forest. She wandered deeper and deeper into the woods until she came across a clearing. In the center of the clearing was a small pond. As she approached the pond, she heard a strange noise. It sounded like soft, melodic singing. She looked around, but she couldn’t see anyone. Then, she saw a tiny, golden fish swimming in the pond. The fish was singing! Alice couldn’t believe her ears.

2. Descriptive Writing: Descriptive writing is when the author uses vivid language and sensory details to create a picture in the reader’s mind. Here is an example of descriptive writing:

The sun was setting over the ocean, casting a golden glow over the water. The waves were calm, lapping gently against the shore. A flock of seagulls soared overhead, their wings outstretched against the orange and pink sky. The salty breeze carried the smell of seaweed and sand. The beach was almost empty, except for a lone figure walking along the shoreline, lost in thought.

3. Persuasive Writing: Persuasive writing is when the author tries to convince the reader to agree with their point of view. Here is an example of persuasive writing:

Everyone should recycle. Recycling helps to reduce waste and conserve natural resources. By recycling, we can save energy, reduce pollution, and protect the environment. Recycling is easy and can be done by everyone. So, let’s all do our part and recycle!

Topics for Writing Exercises

Here are some topics that Class 3 students can use for writing exercises:

1. Write a story about a magical adventure. 2. Describe your favorite place in the world. 3. Write a persuasive essay about why kids should be allowed to have more free time. 4. Imagine that you are an animal. Write a story about a day in your life. 5. Describe a time when you felt really proud of yourself.

Tips for Teachers and Parents

Here are some tips for teachers and parents to help inspire and support young writers:

1. Encourage creativity: Encourage children to use their imagination and think outside the box. Let them explore different writing styles and genres.

2. Provide feedback: Give children constructive feedback on their writing. Point out what they did well and suggest areas for improvement.

3. Create a positive environment: Create a positive and supportive environment for writing. Celebrate each child’s successes and encourage them to keep writing.

4. Read and discuss: Read books together and discuss them with your child. Talk about the characters, the plot, and the writing style. This can help inspire children to create their own stories.

5. Use prompts: Use prompts to help children get started with their writing. Prompts can be as simple as asking them to write about their favorite animal or as complex as asking them to imagine a world without electricity.

6. Set realistic goals: Set realistic goals for your child’s writing. Start with small goals, such as writing a paragraph or a page, and work up to longer pieces of writing.

7. Allow for revisions: Encourage children to revise their writing. Explain that writing is a process and that it is okay to make mistakes. Help them to see the value in revising and improving their writing.

Creative writing for Class 3 is an important part of developing young children’s language skills and fostering a love of writing. By providing a structured format, examples of different types of creative writing, topics for writing exercises, and tips for teachers and parents, we hope to inspire and support young writers in their creative endeavors.

Free Printable Creative Writing Worksheets for 3rd Class

Creative Writing: Discover a world of imagination with our free printable Reading & Writing worksheets for Class 3 students. Enhance their skills and inspire young minds to express themselves through words.


Explore Creative Writing Worksheets by Grades

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Explore printable Creative Writing worksheets for 3rd Class

Creative Writing worksheets for Class 3 are an essential tool for teachers looking to inspire and develop the imaginative skills of their students. These worksheets provide a variety of engaging activities and prompts that encourage young minds to explore the realms of fiction writing, while also honing their reading and writing abilities. By incorporating these resources into their lesson plans, educators can help their Class 3 students build a strong foundation in storytelling and narrative techniques. Additionally, these worksheets can be easily adapted to suit the needs of individual learners, ensuring that all students have the opportunity to excel in their creative pursuits. In summary, Creative Writing worksheets for Class 3 are a valuable asset for teachers who want to foster a love of literature and writing in their students.

Quizizz is an innovative platform that offers a wide range of educational resources, including Creative Writing worksheets for Class 3, to support teachers in their mission to cultivate a passion for reading and writing in their students. This interactive tool allows educators to create engaging quizzes and games that can be used alongside traditional worksheets to reinforce key concepts and assess student progress. By incorporating Quizizz into their teaching strategies, teachers can provide a more dynamic and enjoyable learning experience for their Class 3 students, helping them to develop a deeper understanding of fiction writing and other related skills. Furthermore, Quizizz offers valuable analytics and insights to help educators track their students' performance and identify areas for improvement. Overall, Quizizz is an excellent resource for teachers seeking to enhance their Class 3 students' creative writing abilities through a combination of worksheets and interactive activities.

In this fun and energetic summer course, students build critical reading and writing skills as they create their very own picture books.

Live instructors guide students (ages 8–11) through lessons in reading, analyzing, and creating a range of original pieces.

This course is recommended for students entering Grade 3 or 4. We recommend that students enroll in Language Arts courses at grade level.

In this course, students build their reading and writing skills by studying the works of picture book masters. Each day in class, students begin by reading and discussing a picture book addressing an advanced Language Arts topic. Then, they try their hand at writing with a unique assignment based on the daily topic. In the final days of the course, students will have the chance to apply what they’ve learned as they write and illustrate a picture book of their very own.

Each lesson includes a balance of lively discussion, independent writing time, and games to get the creative juices flowing!

Students must purchase the required book(s) before the start of the course.

Our instructors hold classes virtually, in a small-sized (10-16 students) videoconferencing classroom. With a small class size, teachers can give individualized attention to each student, providing real-time verbal and written feedback and supporting students' growth as writers.

Our Language Arts summer courses do not include homework. Students receive frequent feedback on their writing and present their work throughout the course.

If you drop a summer course before the start of your first class session, we'll issue a full refund for the course tuition. No refunds will be issued for withdrawing from a summer course after the start of your first class session. We do not accept Language Arts book returns, since they are purchased from a third party.

Our summer course offerings meet five days a week, Monday through Friday. We offer this course in two timing formats. Both cover the same course material.

  • The two-week course meets for 3 hours each day.
  • The four-week course meets for 1.5 hours each day.

“Peter really appreciates the classes you offer. Especially in these pandemic times your program helps kids to connect and grow and as parents we are very grateful for this. ”

– mother, Irina B.

creative writing 3rd class

statistical investigation assignment

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The Beginner's Guide to Statistical Analysis | 5 Steps & Examples

Statistical analysis means investigating trends, patterns, and relationships using quantitative data . It is an important research tool used by scientists, governments, businesses, and other organizations.

To draw valid conclusions, statistical analysis requires careful planning from the very start of the research process . You need to specify your hypotheses and make decisions about your research design, sample size, and sampling procedure.

After collecting data from your sample, you can organize and summarize the data using descriptive statistics . Then, you can use inferential statistics to formally test hypotheses and make estimates about the population. Finally, you can interpret and generalize your findings.

This article is a practical introduction to statistical analysis for students and researchers. We’ll walk you through the steps using two research examples. The first investigates a potential cause-and-effect relationship, while the second investigates a potential correlation between variables.

Table of contents

Step 1: write your hypotheses and plan your research design, step 2: collect data from a sample, step 3: summarize your data with descriptive statistics, step 4: test hypotheses or make estimates with inferential statistics, step 5: interpret your results, other interesting articles.

To collect valid data for statistical analysis, you first need to specify your hypotheses and plan out your research design.

Writing statistical hypotheses

The goal of research is often to investigate a relationship between variables within a population . You start with a prediction, and use statistical analysis to test that prediction.

A statistical hypothesis is a formal way of writing a prediction about a population. Every research prediction is rephrased into null and alternative hypotheses that can be tested using sample data.

While the null hypothesis always predicts no effect or no relationship between variables, the alternative hypothesis states your research prediction of an effect or relationship.

  • Null hypothesis: A 5-minute meditation exercise will have no effect on math test scores in teenagers.
  • Alternative hypothesis: A 5-minute meditation exercise will improve math test scores in teenagers.
  • Null hypothesis: Parental income and GPA have no relationship with each other in college students.
  • Alternative hypothesis: Parental income and GPA are positively correlated in college students.

Planning your research design

A research design is your overall strategy for data collection and analysis. It determines the statistical tests you can use to test your hypothesis later on.

First, decide whether your research will use a descriptive, correlational, or experimental design. Experiments directly influence variables, whereas descriptive and correlational studies only measure variables.

  • In an experimental design , you can assess a cause-and-effect relationship (e.g., the effect of meditation on test scores) using statistical tests of comparison or regression.
  • In a correlational design , you can explore relationships between variables (e.g., parental income and GPA) without any assumption of causality using correlation coefficients and significance tests.
  • In a descriptive design , you can study the characteristics of a population or phenomenon (e.g., the prevalence of anxiety in U.S. college students) using statistical tests to draw inferences from sample data.

Your research design also concerns whether you’ll compare participants at the group level or individual level, or both.

  • In a between-subjects design , you compare the group-level outcomes of participants who have been exposed to different treatments (e.g., those who performed a meditation exercise vs those who didn’t).
  • In a within-subjects design , you compare repeated measures from participants who have participated in all treatments of a study (e.g., scores from before and after performing a meditation exercise).
  • In a mixed (factorial) design , one variable is altered between subjects and another is altered within subjects (e.g., pretest and posttest scores from participants who either did or didn’t do a meditation exercise).
  • Experimental
  • Correlational

First, you’ll take baseline test scores from participants. Then, your participants will undergo a 5-minute meditation exercise. Finally, you’ll record participants’ scores from a second math test.

In this experiment, the independent variable is the 5-minute meditation exercise, and the dependent variable is the math test score from before and after the intervention. Example: Correlational research design In a correlational study, you test whether there is a relationship between parental income and GPA in graduating college students. To collect your data, you will ask participants to fill in a survey and self-report their parents’ incomes and their own GPA.

Measuring variables

When planning a research design, you should operationalize your variables and decide exactly how you will measure them.

For statistical analysis, it’s important to consider the level of measurement of your variables, which tells you what kind of data they contain:

  • Categorical data represents groupings. These may be nominal (e.g., gender) or ordinal (e.g. level of language ability).
  • Quantitative data represents amounts. These may be on an interval scale (e.g. test score) or a ratio scale (e.g. age).

Many variables can be measured at different levels of precision. For example, age data can be quantitative (8 years old) or categorical (young). If a variable is coded numerically (e.g., level of agreement from 1–5), it doesn’t automatically mean that it’s quantitative instead of categorical.

Identifying the measurement level is important for choosing appropriate statistics and hypothesis tests. For example, you can calculate a mean score with quantitative data, but not with categorical data.

In a research study, along with measures of your variables of interest, you’ll often collect data on relevant participant characteristics.

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Population vs sample

In most cases, it’s too difficult or expensive to collect data from every member of the population you’re interested in studying. Instead, you’ll collect data from a sample.

Statistical analysis allows you to apply your findings beyond your own sample as long as you use appropriate sampling procedures . You should aim for a sample that is representative of the population.

Sampling for statistical analysis

There are two main approaches to selecting a sample.

  • Probability sampling: every member of the population has a chance of being selected for the study through random selection.
  • Non-probability sampling: some members of the population are more likely than others to be selected for the study because of criteria such as convenience or voluntary self-selection.

In theory, for highly generalizable findings, you should use a probability sampling method. Random selection reduces several types of research bias , like sampling bias , and ensures that data from your sample is actually typical of the population. Parametric tests can be used to make strong statistical inferences when data are collected using probability sampling.

But in practice, it’s rarely possible to gather the ideal sample. While non-probability samples are more likely to at risk for biases like self-selection bias , they are much easier to recruit and collect data from. Non-parametric tests are more appropriate for non-probability samples, but they result in weaker inferences about the population.

If you want to use parametric tests for non-probability samples, you have to make the case that:

  • your sample is representative of the population you’re generalizing your findings to.
  • your sample lacks systematic bias.

Keep in mind that external validity means that you can only generalize your conclusions to others who share the characteristics of your sample. For instance, results from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic samples (e.g., college students in the US) aren’t automatically applicable to all non-WEIRD populations.

If you apply parametric tests to data from non-probability samples, be sure to elaborate on the limitations of how far your results can be generalized in your discussion section .

Create an appropriate sampling procedure

Based on the resources available for your research, decide on how you’ll recruit participants.

  • Will you have resources to advertise your study widely, including outside of your university setting?
  • Will you have the means to recruit a diverse sample that represents a broad population?
  • Do you have time to contact and follow up with members of hard-to-reach groups?

Your participants are self-selected by their schools. Although you’re using a non-probability sample, you aim for a diverse and representative sample. Example: Sampling (correlational study) Your main population of interest is male college students in the US. Using social media advertising, you recruit senior-year male college students from a smaller subpopulation: seven universities in the Boston area.

Calculate sufficient sample size

Before recruiting participants, decide on your sample size either by looking at other studies in your field or using statistics. A sample that’s too small may be unrepresentative of the sample, while a sample that’s too large will be more costly than necessary.

There are many sample size calculators online. Different formulas are used depending on whether you have subgroups or how rigorous your study should be (e.g., in clinical research). As a rule of thumb, a minimum of 30 units or more per subgroup is necessary.

To use these calculators, you have to understand and input these key components:

  • Significance level (alpha): the risk of rejecting a true null hypothesis that you are willing to take, usually set at 5%.
  • Statistical power : the probability of your study detecting an effect of a certain size if there is one, usually 80% or higher.
  • Expected effect size : a standardized indication of how large the expected result of your study will be, usually based on other similar studies.
  • Population standard deviation: an estimate of the population parameter based on a previous study or a pilot study of your own.

Once you’ve collected all of your data, you can inspect them and calculate descriptive statistics that summarize them.

Inspect your data

There are various ways to inspect your data, including the following:

  • Organizing data from each variable in frequency distribution tables .
  • Displaying data from a key variable in a bar chart to view the distribution of responses.
  • Visualizing the relationship between two variables using a scatter plot .

By visualizing your data in tables and graphs, you can assess whether your data follow a skewed or normal distribution and whether there are any outliers or missing data.

A normal distribution means that your data are symmetrically distributed around a center where most values lie, with the values tapering off at the tail ends.

Mean, median, mode, and standard deviation in a normal distribution

In contrast, a skewed distribution is asymmetric and has more values on one end than the other. The shape of the distribution is important to keep in mind because only some descriptive statistics should be used with skewed distributions.

Extreme outliers can also produce misleading statistics, so you may need a systematic approach to dealing with these values.

Calculate measures of central tendency

Measures of central tendency describe where most of the values in a data set lie. Three main measures of central tendency are often reported:

  • Mode : the most popular response or value in the data set.
  • Median : the value in the exact middle of the data set when ordered from low to high.
  • Mean : the sum of all values divided by the number of values.

However, depending on the shape of the distribution and level of measurement, only one or two of these measures may be appropriate. For example, many demographic characteristics can only be described using the mode or proportions, while a variable like reaction time may not have a mode at all.

Calculate measures of variability

Measures of variability tell you how spread out the values in a data set are. Four main measures of variability are often reported:

  • Range : the highest value minus the lowest value of the data set.
  • Interquartile range : the range of the middle half of the data set.
  • Standard deviation : the average distance between each value in your data set and the mean.
  • Variance : the square of the standard deviation.

Once again, the shape of the distribution and level of measurement should guide your choice of variability statistics. The interquartile range is the best measure for skewed distributions, while standard deviation and variance provide the best information for normal distributions.

Using your table, you should check whether the units of the descriptive statistics are comparable for pretest and posttest scores. For example, are the variance levels similar across the groups? Are there any extreme values? If there are, you may need to identify and remove extreme outliers in your data set or transform your data before performing a statistical test.

From this table, we can see that the mean score increased after the meditation exercise, and the variances of the two scores are comparable. Next, we can perform a statistical test to find out if this improvement in test scores is statistically significant in the population. Example: Descriptive statistics (correlational study) After collecting data from 653 students, you tabulate descriptive statistics for annual parental income and GPA.

It’s important to check whether you have a broad range of data points. If you don’t, your data may be skewed towards some groups more than others (e.g., high academic achievers), and only limited inferences can be made about a relationship.

A number that describes a sample is called a statistic , while a number describing a population is called a parameter . Using inferential statistics , you can make conclusions about population parameters based on sample statistics.

Researchers often use two main methods (simultaneously) to make inferences in statistics.

  • Estimation: calculating population parameters based on sample statistics.
  • Hypothesis testing: a formal process for testing research predictions about the population using samples.

You can make two types of estimates of population parameters from sample statistics:

  • A point estimate : a value that represents your best guess of the exact parameter.
  • An interval estimate : a range of values that represent your best guess of where the parameter lies.

If your aim is to infer and report population characteristics from sample data, it’s best to use both point and interval estimates in your paper.

You can consider a sample statistic a point estimate for the population parameter when you have a representative sample (e.g., in a wide public opinion poll, the proportion of a sample that supports the current government is taken as the population proportion of government supporters).

There’s always error involved in estimation, so you should also provide a confidence interval as an interval estimate to show the variability around a point estimate.

A confidence interval uses the standard error and the z score from the standard normal distribution to convey where you’d generally expect to find the population parameter most of the time.

Hypothesis testing

Using data from a sample, you can test hypotheses about relationships between variables in the population. Hypothesis testing starts with the assumption that the null hypothesis is true in the population, and you use statistical tests to assess whether the null hypothesis can be rejected or not.

Statistical tests determine where your sample data would lie on an expected distribution of sample data if the null hypothesis were true. These tests give two main outputs:

  • A test statistic tells you how much your data differs from the null hypothesis of the test.
  • A p value tells you the likelihood of obtaining your results if the null hypothesis is actually true in the population.

Statistical tests come in three main varieties:

  • Comparison tests assess group differences in outcomes.
  • Regression tests assess cause-and-effect relationships between variables.
  • Correlation tests assess relationships between variables without assuming causation.

Your choice of statistical test depends on your research questions, research design, sampling method, and data characteristics.

Parametric tests

Parametric tests make powerful inferences about the population based on sample data. But to use them, some assumptions must be met, and only some types of variables can be used. If your data violate these assumptions, you can perform appropriate data transformations or use alternative non-parametric tests instead.

A regression models the extent to which changes in a predictor variable results in changes in outcome variable(s).

  • A simple linear regression includes one predictor variable and one outcome variable.
  • A multiple linear regression includes two or more predictor variables and one outcome variable.

Comparison tests usually compare the means of groups. These may be the means of different groups within a sample (e.g., a treatment and control group), the means of one sample group taken at different times (e.g., pretest and posttest scores), or a sample mean and a population mean.

  • A t test is for exactly 1 or 2 groups when the sample is small (30 or less).
  • A z test is for exactly 1 or 2 groups when the sample is large.
  • An ANOVA is for 3 or more groups.

The z and t tests have subtypes based on the number and types of samples and the hypotheses:

  • If you have only one sample that you want to compare to a population mean, use a one-sample test .
  • If you have paired measurements (within-subjects design), use a dependent (paired) samples test .
  • If you have completely separate measurements from two unmatched groups (between-subjects design), use an independent (unpaired) samples test .
  • If you expect a difference between groups in a specific direction, use a one-tailed test .
  • If you don’t have any expectations for the direction of a difference between groups, use a two-tailed test .

The only parametric correlation test is Pearson’s r . The correlation coefficient ( r ) tells you the strength of a linear relationship between two quantitative variables.

However, to test whether the correlation in the sample is strong enough to be important in the population, you also need to perform a significance test of the correlation coefficient, usually a t test, to obtain a p value. This test uses your sample size to calculate how much the correlation coefficient differs from zero in the population.

You use a dependent-samples, one-tailed t test to assess whether the meditation exercise significantly improved math test scores. The test gives you:

  • a t value (test statistic) of 3.00
  • a p value of 0.0028

Although Pearson’s r is a test statistic, it doesn’t tell you anything about how significant the correlation is in the population. You also need to test whether this sample correlation coefficient is large enough to demonstrate a correlation in the population.

A t test can also determine how significantly a correlation coefficient differs from zero based on sample size. Since you expect a positive correlation between parental income and GPA, you use a one-sample, one-tailed t test. The t test gives you:

  • a t value of 3.08
  • a p value of 0.001

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statistical investigation assignment

The final step of statistical analysis is interpreting your results.

Statistical significance

In hypothesis testing, statistical significance is the main criterion for forming conclusions. You compare your p value to a set significance level (usually 0.05) to decide whether your results are statistically significant or non-significant.

Statistically significant results are considered unlikely to have arisen solely due to chance. There is only a very low chance of such a result occurring if the null hypothesis is true in the population.

This means that you believe the meditation intervention, rather than random factors, directly caused the increase in test scores. Example: Interpret your results (correlational study) You compare your p value of 0.001 to your significance threshold of 0.05. With a p value under this threshold, you can reject the null hypothesis. This indicates a statistically significant correlation between parental income and GPA in male college students.

Note that correlation doesn’t always mean causation, because there are often many underlying factors contributing to a complex variable like GPA. Even if one variable is related to another, this may be because of a third variable influencing both of them, or indirect links between the two variables.

Effect size

A statistically significant result doesn’t necessarily mean that there are important real life applications or clinical outcomes for a finding.

In contrast, the effect size indicates the practical significance of your results. It’s important to report effect sizes along with your inferential statistics for a complete picture of your results. You should also report interval estimates of effect sizes if you’re writing an APA style paper .

With a Cohen’s d of 0.72, there’s medium to high practical significance to your finding that the meditation exercise improved test scores. Example: Effect size (correlational study) To determine the effect size of the correlation coefficient, you compare your Pearson’s r value to Cohen’s effect size criteria.

Decision errors

Type I and Type II errors are mistakes made in research conclusions. A Type I error means rejecting the null hypothesis when it’s actually true, while a Type II error means failing to reject the null hypothesis when it’s false.

You can aim to minimize the risk of these errors by selecting an optimal significance level and ensuring high power . However, there’s a trade-off between the two errors, so a fine balance is necessary.

Frequentist versus Bayesian statistics

Traditionally, frequentist statistics emphasizes null hypothesis significance testing and always starts with the assumption of a true null hypothesis.

However, Bayesian statistics has grown in popularity as an alternative approach in the last few decades. In this approach, you use previous research to continually update your hypotheses based on your expectations and observations.

Bayes factor compares the relative strength of evidence for the null versus the alternative hypothesis rather than making a conclusion about rejecting the null hypothesis or not.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Student’s  t -distribution
  • Normal distribution
  • Null and Alternative Hypotheses
  • Chi square tests
  • Confidence interval


  • Cluster sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Data cleansing
  • Reproducibility vs Replicability
  • Peer review
  • Likert scale

Research bias

  • Implicit bias
  • Framing effect
  • Cognitive bias
  • Placebo effect
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Hostile attribution bias
  • Affect heuristic

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Statistical Analysis: This A Step-by-Step Guide

Statistical Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide

Introduction to statistical analysis , step 1: make a list of your hypotheses and make a plan for your study., statistical hypotheses writing, creating a research design.

  • Statistical tests of comparison or regression are what you can use in an experimental design to analyze a cause-and-effect connection (e.g., the influence of meditation on test scores).
  • With a correlational design, you can use correlation coefficients and significance tests to investigate correlations between variables (for example, parental income and GPA) without making any assumptions about causality.
  • Using statistical tests to derive inferences from sample data, you can analyse the features of a population or phenomenon (e.g., the prevalence of anxiety in US college students) in a descriptive design.
  • You evaluate the group-level results of individuals who undergo different treatments (e.g., those who undertook a meditation exercise vs. those who did not) in a between-subjects design.
  • A within-subjects design compares repeated measures from participants who have completed all of the study’s treatments (e.g., scores from before and after performing a meditation exercise).
  • One variable you can change between subjects while another you can change within subjects in a factorial design.

Variables are exact.

  • Groupings you can present using categorical data. These can be nominal (for example, gender) or ordinal (for example, age) (e.g. level of language ability).
  • Quantitative data is a representation of quantity. These can be on an interval scale (for example, a test score) or a ratio scale (for example, a weighted average) (e.g. age).

Step 2: Collect data from a representative sample

Sample vs. population.

  • Probability sampling : every member of the population has a probability of being chosen at random for the study.
  • Non-probability sampling : some people are more likely to be chosen for the study than others based on factors like convenience or voluntary self-selection.
  • Your sample is representative of the population to whom your findings are being applied.
  • Your sample is biased in a systematic way.

Make a suitable sampling procedure.

  • Will you have the resources to publicize your research extensively, including outside of your university?
  • Will you be able to get a varied sample that represents the entire population?
  • Do you have time to reach out to members of hard-to-reach groups and follow up with them?

Calculate an appropriate sample size.

  • The risk of rejecting a true null hypothesis that you are ready to incur is called the significance level (alpha). It is commonly set at 5%.
  • Statistical power is the likelihood that your study will discover an impact of a specific size if one exists, which is usually around 80% or higher.
  • Predicted impact size: a standardized estimate of the size of your study’s expected result, usually based on similar studies.
  • The standard deviation of the population: an estimate of the population parameter based on past research or a pilot study of your own.

Step 3: Use descriptive statistics to summarize your data.

Examine your information..

  • Using frequency distribution tables to organize data from each variable.
  • To see the distribution of replies, use a bar chart to display data from a key variable.
  • Using a scatter plot to visualize the relationship between two variables.

Calculate central tendency measures.

  • The most prevalent response or value in the data set is the mode.
  • When you arrange data set from low to high, the median is the value in the exact middle.
  • The sum of all values divided by the number of values is the mean.

Calculate the variability measurements.

  • The highest value of data set minus the lowest value is called the range.
  • The range of the data set’s middle half is interquartile range.
  • The average distance between each value in your data collection and the mean is standard deviation.
  • The square of the standard deviation is the variance.

Step 4: Use inferential statistics to test hypotheses or create estimates.

  • Estimation is the process of determining population parameters using sample statistics.
  • Hypothesis testing is a formal procedure for employing samples to test research assumptions about the population.
  • A point estimate is a number that indicates your best approximation of a parameter’s exact value.
  • An interval estimate is a set of numbers that represents your best guess as to where the parameter is located.

Testing Hypotheses

  • A test statistic indicates how far your data deviates from the test’s null hypothesis.
  • A p value indicates how likely it is that you obtain your results if the null hypothesis is true in the population.
  • Comparison tests look for differences in outcomes across groups.
  • Correlation tests look at how variables are related without assuming causation.

Step 5: Analyze your findings

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Psychological Research

Introduction to Statistical Thinking

What you’ll learn to do: define basic elements of a statistical investigation.

Once a psychologist has performed an experiment or study and gathered her results, she needs to organize the information in a way so that she can draw conclusions from the results. What does the information mean? Does it support or reject the hypothesis? Is the data valid and reliable, and is the study replicable?

Psychologists use statistics to assist them in analyzing data, and also to give more precise measurements to describe whether something is statistically significant. Analyzing data using statistics enables researchers to find patterns, make claims, and share their results with others. In this section, you’ll learn about some of the tools that psychologists use in statistical analysis.

Learning Objectives

  • Define reliability and validity
  • Describe the importance of distributional thinking and the role of p-values in statistical inference
  • Describe the role of random sampling and random assignment in drawing cause-and-effect conclusions
  • Describe the basic structure of a psychological research article

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2. psychological research.

Statistical thinking, learning objectives.

  • Define basic elements of a statistical investigation.
  • Describe the role of p-values and confidence intervals in statistical inference.
  • Describe the role of random sampling in generalizing conclusions from a sample to a population.
  • Describe the role of random assignment in drawing cause-and-effect conclusions.
  • Critique statistical studies.


Does drinking coffee actually increase your life expectancy? A recent study (Freedman, Park, Abnet, Hollenbeck, & Sinha, 2012) found that men who drank at least six cups of coffee a day had a 10% lower chance of dying (women 15% lower) than those who drank none. Does this mean you should pick up or increase your own coffee habit?

Modern society has become awash in studies such as this; you can read about several such studies in the news every day. Moreover, data abound everywhere in modern life. Conducting such a study well, and interpreting the results of such studies well for making informed decisions or setting policies, requires understanding basic ideas of statistics, the science of gaining insight from data. Rather than relying on anecdote and intuition, statistics allows us to systematically study phenomena of interest.

Key components to a statistical investigation are:

  • Planning the study: Start by asking a testable research question and deciding how to collect data. For example, how long was the study period of the coffee study? How many people were recruited for the study, how were they recruited, and from where? How old were they? What other variables were recorded about the individuals, such as smoking habits, on the comprehensive lifestyle questionnaires? Were changes made to the participants’ coffee habits during the course of the study?
  • Examining the data: What are appropriate ways to examine the data? What graphs are relevant, and what do they reveal? What descriptive statistics can be calculated to summarize relevant aspects of the data, and what do they reveal? What patterns do you see in the data? Are there any individual observations that deviate from the overall pattern, and what do they reveal? For example, in the coffee study, did the proportions differ when we compared the smokers to the non-smokers?
  • Inferring from the data: What are valid statistical methods for drawing inferences “beyond” the data you collected? In the coffee study, is the 10%–15% reduction in risk of death something that could have happened just by chance?
  • Drawing conclusions: Based on what you learned from your data, what conclusions can you draw? Who do you think these conclusions apply to? (Were the people in the coffee study older? Healthy? Living in cities?) Can you draw a cause-and-effect conclusion about your treatments? (Are scientists now saying that the coffee drinking is the cause of the decreased risk of death?)

Notice that the numerical analysis (“crunching numbers” on the computer) comprises only a small part of overall statistical investigation. In this module, you will see how we can answer some of these questions and what questions you should be asking about any statistical investigation you read about.

Distributional Thinking

When data are collected to address a particular question, an important first step is to think of meaningful ways to organize and examine the data. The most fundamental principle of statistics is that data vary. The pattern of that variation is crucial to capture and to understand. Often, careful presentation of the data will address many of the research questions without requiring more sophisticated analyses. It may, however, point to additional questions that need to be examined in more detail.

Example 1: Researchers investigated whether cancer pamphlets are written at an appropriate level to be read and understood by cancer patients (Short, Moriarty, & Cooley, 1995). Tests of reading ability were given to 63 patients. In addition, readability level was determined for a sample of 30 pamphlets, based on characteristics such as the lengths of words and sentences in the pamphlet. The results, reported in terms of grade levels, are displayed in Table 1.

Table showing patients' reading levels and pamphlet reading levels.

Table 1. Frequency tables of patient reading levels and pamphlet readability levels.

  • Data vary . More specifically, values of a variable (such as reading level of a cancer patient or readability level of a cancer pamphlet) vary.
  • Analyzing the pattern of variation, called the distribution of the variable, often reveals insights.

Addressing the research question of whether the cancer pamphlets are written at appropriate levels for the cancer patients requires comparing the two distributions. A naïve comparison might focus only on the centers of the distributions. Both medians turn out to be ninth grade, but considering only medians ignores the variability and the overall distributions of these data. A more illuminating approach is to compare the entire distributions, for example with a graph, as in Figure 1.

Bar graph showing that the reading level of pamphlets is typically higher than the reading level of the patients.

Figure 1: Comparison of patient reading levels and pamphlet readability levels.

Figure 1 makes clear that the two distributions are not well aligned at all. The most glaring discrepancy is that many patients (17/63, or 27%, to be precise) have a reading level below that of the most readable pamphlet. These patients will need help to understand the information provided in the cancer pamphlets. Notice that this conclusion follows from considering the distributions as a whole, not simply measures of center or variability, and that the graph contrasts those distributions more immediately than the frequency tables.

Statistical Significance

Even when we find patterns in data, often there is still uncertainty in various aspects of the data. For example, there may be potential for measurement errors (even your own body temperature can fluctuate by almost 1 °F over the course of the day). Or we may only have a “snapshot” of observations from a more long-term process or only a small subset of individuals from the population of interest. In such cases, how can we determine whether patterns we see in our small set of data is convincing evidence of a systematic phenomenon in the larger process or population?

Example 2: In a study reported in the November 2007 issue of Nature , researchers investigated whether pre-verbal infants take into account an individual’s actions toward others in evaluating that individual as appealing or aversive (Hamlin, Wynn, & Bloom, 2007). In one component of the study, 10-month-old infants were shown a “climber” character (a piece of wood with “googly” eyes glued onto it) that could not make it up a hill in two tries. Then the infants were shown two scenarios for the climber’s next try, one where the climber was pushed to the top of the hill by another character (“helper”), and one where the climber was pushed back down the hill by another character (“hinderer”). The infant was alternately shown these two scenarios several times. Then the infant was presented with two pieces of wood (representing the helper and the hinderer characters) and asked to pick one to play with. The researchers found that of the 16 infants who made a clear choice, 14 chose to play with the helper toy.

One possible explanation for this clear majority result is that the helping behavior of the one toy increases the infants’ likelihood of choosing that toy. But are there other possible explanations? What about the color of the toy? Well, prior to collecting the data, the researchers arranged so that each color and shape (red square and blue circle) would be seen by the same number of infants. Or maybe the infants had right-handed tendencies and so picked whichever toy was closer to their right hand? Well, prior to collecting the data, the researchers arranged it so half the infants saw the helper toy on the right and half on the left. Or, maybe the shapes of these wooden characters (square, triangle, circle) had an effect? Perhaps, but again, the researchers controlled for this by rotating which shape was the helper toy, the hinderer toy, and the climber. When designing experiments, it is important to control for as many variables as might affect the responses as possible.

It is beginning to appear that the researchers accounted for all the other plausible explanations. But there is one more important consideration that cannot be controlled—if we did the study again with these 16 infants, they might not make the same choices. In other words, there is some randomness inherent in their selection process. Maybe each infant had no genuine preference at all, and it was simply “random luck” that led to 14 infants picking the helper toy. Although this random component cannot be controlled, we can apply a probability model to investigate the pattern of results that would occur in the long run if random chance were the only factor.

If the infants were equally likely to pick between the two toys, then each infant had a 50% chance of picking the helper toy. It’s like each infant tossed a coin, and if it landed heads, the infant picked the helper toy. So if we tossed a coin 16 times, could it land heads 14 times? Sure, it’s possible, but it turns out to be very unlikely. Getting 14 (or more) heads in 16 tosses is about as likely as tossing a coin and getting 9 heads in a row. This probability is referred to as a p-value . The p-value tells you how often a random process would give a result at least as extreme as what was found in the actual study, assuming there was nothing other than random chance at play. So, if we assume that each infant was choosing equally, then the probability that 14 or more out of 16 infants would choose the helper toy is found to be 0.0021. We have only two logical possibilities: either the infants have a genuine preference for the helper toy, or the infants have no preference (50/50) and an outcome that would occur only 2 times in 1,000 iterations happened in this study. Because this p-value of 0.0021 is quite small, we conclude that the study provides very strong evidence that these infants have a genuine preference for the helper toy. We often compare the p-value to some cut-off value (called the level of significance , typically around 0.05). If the p-value is smaller than that cut-off value, then we reject the hypothesis that only random chance was at play here. In this case, these researchers would conclude that significantly more than half of the infants in the study chose the helper toy, giving strong evidence of a genuine preference for the toy with the helping behavior.


One limitation to the previous study is that the conclusion only applies to the 16 infants in the study. We don’t know much about how those 16 infants were selected. Suppose we want to select a subset of individuals (a sample ) from a much larger group of individuals (the population ) in such a way that conclusions from the sample can be generalized to the larger population. This is the question faced by pollsters every day.

Example 3: The General Social Survey (GSS) is a survey on societal trends conducted every other year in the United States. Based on a sample of about 2,000 adult Americans, researchers make claims about what percentage of the U.S. population consider themselves to be “liberal,” what percentage consider themselves “happy,” what percentage feel “rushed” in their daily lives, and many other issues. The key to making these claims about the larger population of all American adults lies in how the sample is selected. The goal is to select a sample that is representative of the population, and a common way to achieve this goal is to select a random sample that gives every member of the population an equal chance of being selected for the sample. In its simplest form, random sampling involves numbering every member of the population and then using a computer to randomly select the subset to be surveyed. Most polls don’t operate exactly like this, but they do use probability-based sampling methods to select individuals from nationally representative panels.

In 2004, the GSS reported that 817 of 977 respondents (or 83.6%) indicated that they always or sometimes feel rushed. This is a clear majority, but we again need to consider variation due to random sampling . Fortunately, we can use the same probability model we did in the previous example to investigate the probable size of this error. (Note, we can use the coin-tossing model when the actual population size is much, much larger than the sample size, as then we can still consider the probability to be the same for every individual in the sample.) This probability model predicts that the sample result will be within 3 percentage points of the population value (roughly 1 over the square root of the sample size, the margin of error ). A statistician would conclude, with 95% confidence, that between 80.6% and 86.6% of all adult Americans in 2004 would have responded that they sometimes or always feel rushed.

The key to the margin of error is that when we use a probability sampling method, we can make claims about how often (in the long run, with repeated random sampling) the sample result would fall within a certain distance from the unknown population value by chance (meaning by random sampling variation) alone. Conversely, non-random samples are often suspect to bias, meaning the sampling method systematically over-represents some segments of the population and under-represents others. We also still need to consider other sources of bias, such as individuals not responding honestly. These sources of error are not measured by the margin of error.

Cause and Effect Conclusions

In many research studies, the primary question of interest concerns differences between groups. Then the question becomes how were the groups formed (e.g., selecting people who already drink coffee vs. those who don’t). In some studies, the researchers actively form the groups themselves. But then we have a similar question—could any differences we observe in the groups be an artifact of that group-formation process? Or maybe the difference we observe in the groups is so large that we can discount a “fluke” in the group-formation process as a reasonable explanation for what we find?

Example 4: A psychology study investigated whether people tend to display more creativity when they are thinking about intrinsic or extrinsic motivations (Ramsey & Schafer, 2002, based on a study by Amabile, 1985). The subjects were 47 people with extensive experience with creative writing. Subjects began by answering survey questions about either intrinsic motivations for writing (such as the pleasure of self-expression) or extrinsic motivations (such as public recognition). Then all subjects were instructed to write a haiku, and those poems were evaluated for creativity by a panel of judges. The researchers conjectured beforehand that subjects who were thinking about intrinsic motivations would display more creativity than subjects who were thinking about extrinsic motivations. The creativity scores from the 47 subjects in this study are displayed in Figure 2, where higher scores indicate more creativity.

Image showing a dot for creativity scores, which vary between 5 and 27, and the types of motivation each person was given as a motivator, either extrinsic or intrinsic.

Figure 2. Creativity scores separated by type of motivation.

In this example, the key question is whether the type of motivation affects creativity scores. In particular, do subjects who were asked about intrinsic motivations tend to have higher creativity scores than subjects who were asked about extrinsic motivations?

Figure 2 reveals that both motivation groups saw considerable variability in creativity scores, and these scores have considerable overlap between the groups. In other words, it’s certainly not always the case that those with extrinsic motivations have higher creativity than those with intrinsic motivations, but there may still be a statistical tendency in this direction. (Psychologist Keith Stanovich (2013) refers to people’s difficulties with thinking about such probabilistic tendencies as “the Achilles heel of human cognition.”)

The mean creativity score is 19.88 for the intrinsic group, compared to 15.74 for the extrinsic group, which supports the researchers’ conjecture. Yet comparing only the means of the two groups fails to consider the variability of creativity scores in the groups. We can measure variability with statistics using, for instance, the standard deviation: 5.25 for the extrinsic group and 4.40 for the intrinsic group. The standard deviations tell us that most of the creativity scores are within about 5 points of the mean score in each group. We see that the mean score for the intrinsic group lies within one standard deviation of the mean score for extrinsic group. So, although there is a tendency for the creativity scores to be higher in the intrinsic group, on average, the difference is not extremely large.

We again want to consider possible explanations for this difference. The study only involved individuals with extensive creative writing experience. Although this limits the population to which we can generalize, it does not explain why the mean creativity score was a bit larger for the intrinsic group than for the extrinsic group. Maybe women tend to receive higher creativity scores? Here is where we need to focus on how the individuals were assigned to the motivation groups. If only women were in the intrinsic motivation group and only men in the extrinsic group, then this would present a problem because we wouldn’t know if the intrinsic group did better because of the different type of motivation or because they were women. However, the researchers guarded against such a problem by randomly assigning the individuals to the motivation groups. Like flipping a coin, each individual was just as likely to be assigned to either type of motivation. Why is this helpful? Because this random assignment tends to balance out all the variables related to creativity we can think of, and even those we don’t think of in advance, between the two groups. So we should have a similar male/female split between the two groups; we should have a similar age distribution between the two groups; we should have a similar distribution of educational background between the two groups; and so on. Random assignment should produce groups that are as similar as possible except for the type of motivation, which presumably eliminates all those other variables as possible explanations for the observed tendency for higher scores in the intrinsic group.

But does this always work? No, so by “luck of the draw” the groups may be a little different prior to answering the motivation survey. So then the question is, is it possible that an unlucky random assignment is responsible for the observed difference in creativity scores between the groups? In other words, suppose each individual’s poem was going to get the same creativity score no matter which group they were assigned to, that the type of motivation in no way impacted their score. Then how often would the random-assignment process alone lead to a difference in mean creativity scores as large (or larger) than 19.88 – 15.74 = 4.14 points?

We again want to apply to a probability model to approximate a p-value, but this time the model will be a bit different. Think of writing everyone’s creativity scores on an index card, shuffling up the index cards, and then dealing out 23 to the extrinsic motivation group and 24 to the intrinsic motivation group, and finding the difference in the group means. We (better yet, the computer) can repeat this process over and over to see how often, when the scores don’t change, random assignment leads to a difference in means at least as large as 4.41. Figure 3 shows the results from 1,000 such hypothetical random assignments for these scores.

Standard distribution in a typical bell curve.

Figure 3. Differences in group means under random assignment alone.

Only 2 of the 1,000 simulated random assignments produced a difference in group means of 4.41 or larger. In other words, the approximate p-value is 2/1000 = 0.002. This small p-value indicates that it would be very surprising for the random assignment process alone to produce such a large difference in group means. Therefore, as with Example 2, we have strong evidence that focusing on intrinsic motivations tends to increase creativity scores, as compared to thinking about extrinsic motivations.

Notice that the previous statement implies a cause-and-effect relationship between motivation and creativity score; is such a strong conclusion justified? Yes, because of the random assignment used in the study. That should have balanced out any other variables between the two groups, so now that the small p-value convinces us that the higher mean in the intrinsic group wasn’t just a coincidence, the only reasonable explanation left is the difference in the type of motivation. Can we generalize this conclusion to everyone? Not necessarily—we could cautiously generalize this conclusion to individuals with extensive experience in creative writing similar the individuals in this study, but we would still want to know more about how these individuals were selected to participate.

Statistical thinking involves the careful design of a study to collect meaningful data to answer a focused research question, detailed analysis of patterns in the data, and drawing conclusions that go beyond the observed data. Random sampling is paramount to generalizing results from our sample to a larger population, and random assignment is key to drawing cause-and-effect conclusions. With both kinds of randomness, probability models help us assess how much random variation we can expect in our results, in order to determine whether our results could happen by chance alone and to estimate a margin of error.

So where does this leave us with regard to the coffee study mentioned at the beginning of this module? We can answer many of the questions:

  • This was a 14-year study conducted by researchers at the National Cancer Institute.
  • The results were published in the June issue of the New England Journal of Medicine , a respected, peer-reviewed journal.
  • The study reviewed coffee habits of more than 402,000 people ages 50 to 71 from six states and two metropolitan areas. Those with cancer, heart disease, and stroke were excluded at the start of the study. Coffee consumption was assessed once at the start of the study.
  • About 52,000 people died during the course of the study.
  • People who drank between two and five cups of coffee daily showed a lower risk as well, but the amount of reduction increased for those drinking six or more cups.
  • The sample sizes were fairly large and so the p-values are quite small, even though percent reduction in risk was not extremely large (dropping from a 12% chance to about 10%–11%).
  • Whether coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated did not appear to affect the results.
  • This was an observational study, so no cause-and-effect conclusions can be drawn between coffee drinking and increased longevity, contrary to the impression conveyed by many news headlines about this study. In particular, it’s possible that those with chronic diseases don’t tend to drink coffee.

This study needs to be reviewed in the larger context of similar studies and consistency of results across studies, with the constant caution that this was not a randomized experiment. Whereas a statistical analysis can still “adjust” for other potential confounding variables, we are not yet convinced that researchers have identified them all or completely isolated why this decrease in death risk is evident. Researchers can now take the findings of this study and develop more focused studies that address new questions.

Outside Resources

Discussion questions.

  • Find a recent research article in your field and answer the following: What was the primary research question? How were individuals selected to participate in the study? Were summary results provided? How strong is the evidence presented in favor or against the research question? Was random assignment used? Summarize the main conclusions from the study, addressing the issues of statistical significance, statistical confidence, generalizability, and cause and effect. Do you agree with the conclusions drawn from this study, based on the study design and the results presented?
  • Is it reasonable to use a random sample of 1,000 individuals to draw conclusions about all U.S. adults? Explain why or why not.
  • Statistical Thinking. Authored by : Beth Chance and Allan Rossman . Provided by : By Beth Chance and Allan Rossman California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Located at : . Project : The Noba Project. License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike . License Terms :

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Module 9 Assignment: A Statistical Investigation using Software

Risk factors for low birth weight.

Rates of infant mortality, birth defect, and premature labor are high for babies with low birth weight. There are many factors that may contribute to low birth weight.

In this activity, we use data from a random sample of women who participated in a study in 1986 at the Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA. ( Source: Hosmer and Lemeshow (2000), Applied Logistic Regression: Second Edition. )

For the 30 women in the study with a history of premature labor, a proportion of 18/30 = 0.60 (60%) had babies with low birth weight. For the remaining 159 women, a proportion of 41/159 = 0.26 (26%) had babies with low birth weight.

We now investigate the following research question: do the data provide evidence that the proportion of babies born with low birth weight is higher for women with a history of premature labor? This question is answered with a hypothesis test. To conduct the test we use a 1% level of significance.

Question 1:

Is this study observational or experimental?

Question 2:

Before analyzing the data, use your own experience and intuition to predict what the data will show. Do you think the proportion of babies with low birth weight is higher for women with a history of premature labor?

Question 3:

We will test the claim that the proportion of women with low birth weight babies is higher among women with a history of premature labor. What are the null and alternative hypotheses?

Question 4:

Are the criteria for approximate normality satisfied?


Click on the link corresponding to your statistical package to see instructions for completing the activity, and then answer the questions below.

R  |  StatCrunch  |  Minitab  |  Excel  |  TI Calculator

Question 5:

State the test statistic and P-value. Interpret these values.

Question 6:

Give a conclusion in context, and discuss whether a causal conclusion is appropriate.

Concepts in Statistics Copyright © 2023 by CUNY School of Professional Studies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Risk Factors for Low Birth Weight

For the 30 women in the study with a history of premature labor, a proportion of 18/30 = 0.60 (60%) had babies with low birth weight. For the remaining 159 women, a proportion of 41/159 = 0.26 (26%) had babies with low birth weight.

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For the 30 women in the study with a history of premature labor, a proportion of 18/30 = 0.60 (60%) had babies with low birth weight. For the remaining 159 women, a proportion of 41/159 = 0.26 (26%) had babies with low birth weight.

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Planning a statistical investigation (Level 3)

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In this unit students will identify how to plan and carry out a statistical investigation about a topic of interest.

  • Pose investigative questions for statistical enquiry.
  • Plan for data collection.
  • Collect data.
  • Display collected data in an appropriate format.
  • Describe data collected referring to evidence in displays.
  • Make statements about implications or possible actions based on the results of an investigation.
  • Make conclusions on the basis of statistical investigations.

It is vital, when planning statistical investigations, that students understand the importance of the way in which they collect, record and present their information (data). Inconsistencies in the carrying out any of these steps can lead to altered findings, and therefore an invalid investigation. Students will first look at choosing a topic to investigate, making sure that the topic lends itself to being investigated statistically. They will then look at a variety of ways of collecting their data and choose the best way to record it. Once they have collected and recorded their data they will investigate the best way to present their findings, taking into consideration the needs of their intended audience. To evaluate the investigations there can be a combination of methods used, depending on the students, the topics and the intended audience. It could be useful for the students to send their completed investigations and findings to interested parties for more realistic feedback.

Investigative questions

At Level 3, students should generate broad ideas to investigate, before refining their ideas into an investigative question that can be answered with data. The teacher supports the development of students' investigative questions through questioning, modelling, and checking appropriateness of variables. Investigative summary, simple comparison and time series questions are posed, where the entire data set can be collected or provided. The variables are categorical or whole numbers. 

An important distinction to make is that of the difference between investigative questions, meaning the questions we ask of the data, and data collection or survey questions, meaning the questions we ask to get the data . The data collected through survey of data collection questions allows us to to answer the investigative question. For example, if our investigative question was “What ice cream flavours do the students in our class like?” a corresponding survey question might be “What is your favourite ice cream flavour?” As with the investigative question, survey question development is done by the students with teacher support to improve them so that suitable survey questions are developed.

Analysis questions

Analysis questions are questions we ask of displays of data as we start to describe it. The teacher will often model this through asking students about what they see in their displays. A series of analysis questions can be developed in conjunction with the students. Analysis questions include questions about the features of the display. Questions such as: what is the most common? the least common? how many of a certain category? what is the highest value (for numerical data)? lowest value (for numerical data)? are analysis questions.

Dot plots are used to display the distribution of a numerical variable in which each dot represents a value of the variable. If a value occurs more than once, the dots are placed one above the other so that the height of the column of dots represents the frequency for that value. Sometimes the dot plot is drawn using crosses instead of dots. Dot plots can also be used for categorical data.


In a bar graph equal-width rectangles (bars) represent each category or value for the variable. The height of these bars tells how many of that object there are. The bars can be vertical, as shown in the example, or horizontal.


The example above shows the types of shoes worn in the class on a particular day. There are three types of shoes: jandals, sneakers, and boots. The height of the corresponding bars shows that there are six lots of jandals, 15 lots of sneakers and three lots of boots. It should be noted that the numbers label the points on the vertical axis, not the spaces between them. Notice too, in a convention used for discrete data (category and whole number data), there are gaps between the bars. 

Strip graphs  

A strip graph represents frequencies as a proportion of a rectangular strip. For example, the strip graph below shows that the students saw five light blue cars, seven yellow cars, 11 maroon cars and two grey ones. The strip graph can be readily developed from a bar graph. Instead of arranging the bars beside one another join them end to end. (Alternatively, you can easily get a bar graph from a strip graph by reversing the process.)


Tally charts

A tally chart provides a quick method of recording data as events happen. If the students are counting different coloured cars as they pass the school, a tally chart would be an appropriate means of recording the data. Note that it is usual to put down vertical strokes until there are four. Then the fifth stroke is drawn across the previous four. This process is continued until all the required data has been collected. The advantage of this method of tallying is that it enables the number of objects to be counted quickly and easily at the end.


In the example above, in the time that we were recording cars, there were 11 red cars, four yellow cars, 18 white cars and five black ones and 22 cars of other colours.

Using software for statistical displays

Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets are readily available tools that allow summarised data to be entered onto a spreadsheet and then graphed. 

Other online statistical tools that are good for graphing data, for example CODAP – Common Online Data Analysis Platform, work with raw data and allow a more flexible approach to data analysis. Support videos for students and teachers in New Zealand on using CODAP can be found here .

The learning opportunities in this unit can be differentiated by providing or removing support to students and by varying the task requirements. Ways to support students include:

  • constraining the type of data collected; categorical data can be easier to manage than numerical data
  • adjusting expectations regarding the type of analysis – and the support given to do the analysis
  • providing pre-prepared graph templates to support developing scales for axes
  • providing prompts for writing descriptive statements
  • grouping your students strategically to encourage tuakana-teina (peer learning) and mahi-tahi (collaboration)
  • providing small group teaching around the different mathematical processes involved at each stage of this investigation, in response to demonstrated student need
  • providing teacher support at all stages of the investigation.

The context for this unit can be adapted to suit the interests and experiences of your students. For example:

  • the statistical enquiry process can be applied to many topics and selecting ones that are of interest to your students should always be a priority
  • in the problem section of this activity some possible topics are suggested, however these could be swapped out for other more relevant topics for your students.

Te reo Māori kupu such as tūhuratanga tauanga (statistical investigation) and taurangi (variable) could be introduced in this unit and used throughout other mathematical learning

  • Magazines, newspapers, websites etc containing relevant examples of different types of graphs that can be used to present statistical data. A mix of good and poor examples would be ideal. Ideally the examples should be recent and topical for your students.
  • Computers and access to tools for for online questionnaires and graphing, data analysis e.g. CODAP
  • Presentation materials

This unit is set out to cover the topic of statistical investigations in depth will likely take 1-2 weeks. Some of the sessions may take more than one classroom session to complete. There is an introduction session followed by five sessions that follow the statistical enquiry cycle (PPDAC cycle) as described in the New Zealand Curriculum. Data detective posters showing the PPDAC (problem, plan, data, analysis, conclusion) cycle are available to download from Census At School in English and te reo Māori .

While this unit plan uses the five phases of the PPDAC cycle as a step by step process, in reality when using the PPDAC cycle one often moves between the different phases. For example, students might need to revisit the investigative question (problem) as a result of the planning phase. 

Session 1: Introduction

This session provides an introduction and purpose to statistical investigations. The teacher will need to provide the students with plenty of magazines, newspapers and websites that have some good examples of how data can be presented effectively and perhaps some examples of poorly displayed data. This could be collated into a chart or slideshow. Prior to the session, ask the students to spend some time at home looking through magazines and newspapers to find examples of statistics to bring in for the session.

  • Start the session with a class discussion to get the students thinking about whether or not we have a need for statistical investigations, and who uses the information? What is a statistical investigation? Can you think of an example when we might need to carry out a statistical investigation?
  • Organise the students into groups of two or three. Give out magazines, newspapers and website links and ask the students to find some examples of statistics.
  • Ask the students to look closely at the examples they have selected. Ask them to consider the following questions; Who has done the research for/carried out this investigation? Who will benefit from the results of this investigation? Is it clear to you what the purpose of the investigation is? What do you like about the way that the information is presented? Does it help you in any way to understand the information better? Do you think the information could have been presented in a different way to help the audience understand the findings? If so, what would have made it better?
  • Use a class discussion to share ideas from each group. Have the students all come up with the same ideas? Try and steer the students towards the conclusion that the best way to present the information depends on the information itself. They might notice that category data is displayed differently to numerical data.

Session 2: PROBLEM (Generating ideas for statistical investigation and developing investigative questions)

This session is ultimately about choosing an appropriate topic to investigate. You will need to discuss what data is actually measurable within your context and realistic topics that can be investigated in the given time frame. It would be a good idea to provide the students with a list of topics (perhaps relating to a current school issue, relevant curriculum area, or your students' cultural backgrounds and interests). Encourage students to come up with something original where possible.

  • Set the scene by recapping the discussion from the previous day about the purpose of a statistical investigation. The purpose of a statistical investigation is to identify a problem or issue that can be explored using data. The process includes “designing investigations, collecting data, exploring and using patterns and relationships in data, solving problems and communicating findings” (New Zealand Curriculum, 2007, p.26).
  • An issue across the school e.g. litter, uniform, parking, traffic, drop off/pick up zones
  • About the class e.g. pets, favourites, number of…, use of devices,
  • Something specific to the community e.g. options for a gala, market stall, Matariki celebration, best time for whānau to visit and see what is happening in class
  • Finding information about a particular activity e.g. sport involvement; hobbies and interests
  • Behaviours e.g. fridge pickers, tv watching, online learning
  • Is this an area that the students in our class would be happy to share information with everyone? Or is it an area that our target group (e.g. whānau) would be happy to share information with us. If not reject the idea [ethics].
  • Can we collect data to answer an investigative question based on this topic or issue? If not reject the idea [ability to gather data to answer the investigative question].
  • Would you be able to collect the data to answer the investigative question in the timeframe we have specified? If not reject the idea [ability to gather data to answer the investigative question].
  • What would be the purpose of asking about this topic or issue? If it is not purposeful then reject the idea [purposeful or interesting].
  • Would the investigative question we pose involve everyone in the group (e.g. the class or another defined group)? If not reject the idea [does not involve the whole group].
  • Organise students into groups and have them select a topic or issue to focus on.
  • What is the variable that you want to ask about?
  • Describe the group that you are asking about?
  • Summary questions have one variable and one group e.g. How much litter is around the school after lunch? [litter after lunch, around the school]; What pets do the students in our class have [pets, our class]?
  • Comparison questions have one variable and two or more groups e.g. How does the amount of litter that is around the school compare between after recess and after lunch? Does the traffic outside the school in the afternoon tend to be more than the traffic outside the school in the morning?
  • Is the question purposeful? This should have been sorted in the generating topics for investigation stage.
  • Is the question about the whole group? Check that it is not just finding an individual or smaller group of the whole group. This too should have been sorted in the generating topics for investigation stage.
  • Is the question one that we can collect data for? This again should have been sorted in the generating topics for investigation stage. 
  • Is it clear that the question is a summary or comparison question?
  • Collect in the final investigative questions. Label who posed them in preparation for the next session. Double check the investigative questions before the next session as poorly posed investigative questions can hinder the subsequent phases.

Session 3: PLAN (Planning to collect data to answer our investigative question)

Data collection is a vital part of the investigation process. The teacher will need to stress to the students, once again, the importance of being consistent in the collection of their data. There will also need to be sufficient discussion around efficient methods for data collection and recording.

  • We need to plan to collect the data.  Explain to the students that all the data will be collected using one of the following methods, depending on what data they need to collect. They might use an online survey form (e.g. google forms), and/or a paper survey, or tables (online or hard copy). Consider the skills and knowledge already developed by your students, and which method will best, in reflection of this. Ultimately, the class should move towards collecting individual data in individual rows of a spreadsheet or table. 
  • Survey questions are those we pose for a questionnaire to survey people e.g. What is your favourite colour? How did you travel to school today? Do you like eggs? People answering the questionnaire record their own responses and we collate these once all the questionnaires are complete
  • Data collection questions as those we pose for other data collection situations e.g. if we are going to collect data about the make and colour of cars passing the school then we might pose the data collection questions – what is the make of the car; what is the colour of the car and record these in a table.
  • The question needs to be specific
  • Keep wording simple and short
  • Avoid questions that ask about more than one thing
  • Support students to pose their data collection/survey questions. They should also think about any specific instructions, e.g. if they were going to collect information the amount of litter around the school they may need to define what they consider to be litter, what are the different areas they will collect from, how they will count the litter e.g. by number of pieces of litter, by weight, by plastic bags full.

Managing surveys: depending on the target groups and how you plan to manage the survey process there are a few options here to choose from.

Option 1: an online questionnaire is developed for each group that will be surveyed. This following should be considered:

  • What is the group? E.g., the class; the parents of the class; teachers in the school; students in another class (e.g. another year level)
  • Does the questionnaire contains all the survey questions from across the class that pertain to that group?
  • How will the questionnaire link be sent to participants and collected by students?
  • Is any identifying information collected? All responses should be anonymous – teachers will need to manage this carefully.

Option 2: a paper questionnaire is developed for each group that will be surveyed. Similar considerations to the online questionnaire are needed, except that a paper copy will need to be printed for each person to fill out. These should be collected up and brought back to the class if the people who have filled them out are not in the class

Other data collection methods

Depending on the topics, students might be collecting data about litter, cars, pedestrian traffic. These are not things that we would use a questionnaire for so the students will need to think about a plan to collect the data. They may decide to use a pre-prepared table or grid to do this. The table should be set up so that the information for each of their data collection questions for a single object can be recorded in a single row. For example:

Collecting information about vehicle make and colour – students might also think to collect the vehicle type too.

Set up a table with four columns: 

  • Record in a single row the information about one car
  • They should also consider in their planning how long they will collect the data for and where (this will form the “group” – data about the vehicles driving past the school from 1-2pm on 24 September).

Students need to check with the teacher before commencing data collection to ensure that their method of collection is the most appropriate and will result in data that is useful for analysis.

Session 4: DATA (Collecting and organising data)

  • Provide time for students to collect and record their data, according to their plan. Regardless of the method of collection our end aim is for students to have their data tabulated with the data from a single person or object in a single row. 
  • If data is in an online questionnaire, give the students only the data pertaining to their investigative questions
  • For paper questionnaires the data should be collected into a spreadsheet for their questions only
  • If a paper copy of a table was used this should be transferred into a spreadsheet
  • Check for any data input errors
  • Save as a .csv file

Note for teachers:  Students will use their .csv file to make their displays in the next session. If it is not possible for them to save as a .csv then the teacher may need to do this and share with them or set up the CODAP document with their data and share a link to this. See the video or written instructions on how to do this. Note the video and the instructions include getting started with CODAP too.

Session 5: ANALYSIS part 1 (Using an online tool to make data displays)

In this session the students will be introduced to using an online tool for data analysis. One suggested free online tool is CODAP . Feel free to use other tools you are familiar with. This session is written with CODAP as the online tool and assumes students have not used CODAP before.

If you do not want to use an online tool, then continue to Making Displays, and construct paper versions of bar graphs and dot plots.

Learning how to use CODAP

This diagram shows a bar graph constructed from dots on CODAP, and the configuration icon.

Making displays for the data they have collected to answer their investigative question

  • Now that the students are familiar with CODAP they can make displays with their own data to help them to answer their investigative questions. Have students label their graphs using their investigative question.
  • Graphs can be exported by using the camera icon or students can take a screen grab of the graph to put into another document. Alternatively, students can use the text feature in CODAP and write their descriptions in there. As we are heading towards a presentation it is most likely that they will use their graphs in another document for the presentation.

Session 6: ANALYSIS part 2 (Describing data displays)

  • What do you notice about the most common number of…?
  • What do you notice about the largest number… the smallest number…?
  • What do you notice about where most of the data lies…?
  • What do you notice about the most popular… least popular…?
  • What do you notice about how the data for the litter after lunch is different to the data for the litter after recess (more specific example for a comparison) …?
  • Check the “I notice…” statements for the variable and reference to the group. For example: “ I notice that the more than half the vehicles that went past our school from 1-2pm on 24 September were cars.” This statement includes the variable (types of vehicles) and the group (past our school 1-2pm on 24 September). Support students to write statements that include the variable and the group.

Session 7: CONCLUSION (Answering the investigative question and reporting findings)

This last session will focus on the final presentation of the data each group has found out. Encourage the students to be constantly evaluating what they are doing. Explain that it is fine to discover that a particular way of presentation is not working, and that it is a good idea to adjust.

  • Use this time to finish presenting information in graphs, tables, or any other format.
  • Topic chosen
  • Investigative question(s)
  • Survey/Questionnaire/Data collection method/questions
  • Group data was collected from
  • Results – tables/graphs and descriptions of the data
  • Conclusion – answer to their investigative question
  • Call to action?
  • Have groups of students share their finished presentations with the class.
  • Give feedback, including constructive criticism.
  • Is the information easy to understand?
  • Could we make it any clearer?
  • Talk about who could use the information that has been presented. Can we send it to anyone outside school? For example, investigations related to a road safety issue could be forwarded to the local council.

Dear parents and whānau,

During the next two weeks we will be working on statistical investigations. Over this time, your child will be gathering data and presenting it using tables and graphs. Your child now needs to be thinking about choosing a topic to investigate. It would be helpful for your child if you could support him/her with selecting a topic, gathering data and perhaps watching for relevant newspaper or television items that will help him/her with analysing the information and forming a conclusion.

Thank you for helping with your child's statistical investigation.

Figure it Out Links

Some links from the Figure It Out series which you may find useful are:

  • Level 3, Statistics: Pet Topics, page 1; Tally Time, page 3; Getting Statistical, page 8.
  • Level 3-4, Statistics: People Polls, Page 4; Colourful Collection, page 3.

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Statistical Investigation Assignment

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V. I.   Lenin

Capitalism and “parliament”.

Published: Nevskaya Zvezda No. 13, June 17, 1912. Signed: A Non-Liberal Sceptic . Published according to the text in Nevskaya Zvezda . Source: Lenin Collected Works , Progress Publishers, [1975] , Moscow, Volume 18 , pages  129-131 . Translated: Stepan Apresyan Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source. • README

The facts of democracy must not make us lose sight of a circumstance, often overlooked by bourgeois democrats, that in the capitalist countries representative institutions inevitably give rise to specific forms in which capital exercises its influence on the state power. We have no parliament, but then there is no end of parliamentary cretinism among the liberals and of parliamentary licence among all the bourgeois deputies.

The workers must thoroughly master this truth if they want to learn how to use representative institutions for promoting the political consciousness, unity, activity and efficiency of the working class. All the social forces hostile to the proletariat—the “bureaucrats”, landowners and capitalists—are already using these representative institutions against the workers. One has to know how they are doing this if one wants to learn to uphold the independent interests of the working class and its independent development.

The Third Duma decided to award bonuses to home manufacturers of machinery. Who are these borne manufacturers? The ones “operating” in Russia!

But upon examination we find that they, are foreign capitalists who have transferred their plants to Russia. Tariff rates are high and profits immense, so foreign capital is moving into Russia. For instance, an American trust—a corporation of capitalist millionaires—has built a huge farm machinery works in Lyubertsi, near Moscow. In Kharkov, farm machines are made by the capitalist Melhose and in Berdyansk by the capitalist John Grieves. These manufacturers are very much of the “truly Russian”, “home” variety, aren’t they?

But, of course, unless they were helped in every way by Russian capitalists, they would have been unable to operate in Russia at all. One good turn deserves another. American, British and German capitalists rake in profits with the help of Russian capitalists, who get quite a big share. Take, for example, the Lena gold-fields or the mining enterprises in the Urals. How many millions foreign and Russian capitalists have shared between them there!

The Duma is very useful to the industrialists in this respect. Both in the Duma and in the Council of State, the capitalists have a goodly number of representatives. The landlords, too, would not amount to much nowadays with out capital. For both the capitalists and the landlords, the Duma is a ready-made machinery for passing laws on “bonuses” (to be awarded to themselves ), protective tariffs (i.e., another form of bonuses to themselves), concessions (a third form of bonuses to themselves), and so on, without limit .

The “Sceptic”, a liberal writing in the liberal Rech , had some very apt comments to make on this matter. He writes with so much feeling against the “nationalists” (who award ed themselves “bonuses” to stimulate the “home” manufacture of machinery by Messrs. Grieves, Melhose, Elworthy, and other companies) that I, too, have become somewhat infected with scepticism.

Yes, the liberal “Sceptic” has not made a bad job of ex posing the “nationalists”. But why does he say nothing about the Cadets? When Golovin, for instance, was seeking a concession, did not his position as member of the Duma and former Chairman of the Duma stand him in good stead in that useful and lucrative pursuit?

When Maklakov was gobbling up his “Tagiyev” fees, did not his position as member of the Duma make it easier for him to get such “profitable” cases? [1]

And what about the numerous other Cadet landlords, merchants, capitalists, financiers, lawyers and brokers who extended their business, promoted their “connections”, and put through their “affairs”, thanks to their position as members of the Duma and to the benefits and advantages that position affords?

What if an inquiry were made into financial transactions   carried out by Duma members or with the aid of Duma members?

But no—in all capitalist countries measures have been taken to protect “trade secrets” and to guarantee that not a single “parliament” should permit such an inquiry.

However, the working-class deputies undoubtedly know a great deal about this matter; and if they took pains to look around, obtain additional Information, collect material, look up newspaper files, inquire at the stock exchange, etc., they could themselves carry out a very instructive and useful “inquiry” into the business transactions carried out by Duma members or with the aid of such members.

In European parliaments, such transactions are well known, and the workers constantly expose them, naming the persons involved, so as to enlighten the people.

[1] This refers to the following facts:

In October 1910 F.A. Golovin, a member of the Third Duma, announced that he was resigning his powers as a deputy, and shortly afterwards took an active part in a railway concession.

In March 1912 V.A. Maklakov, another member of the Third Duma, in spite of his status as a deputy, acted as defence counsel for Tagiyev, a big oil industrialist of Baku charged with manhandling Bebutov, an engineer employed by him.


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