Quotations are rich wells in which to dip our pens. Give your 7th – 12th graders something to ponder with these intriguing, thought-provoking quotations. Most of these quotations come from famous people and are accompanied by more than one writing prompt, so your students have many options open to them.

Opinions are the easiest paragraphs and essays to write, and your students have loads of opinions. Let them organize their thoughts and write some opinions based on any of the following quotations.

Dig in!



7 Thought-provoking Quotations

1. Possessions

“Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” –Jesus, Luke 12:15

  1. Write about where you see greed in your life.
  2. If a person’s life does not consist in his possessions, as Jesus declares, what does it consist of?
  3. You have a friend who believes that “he who has the most and biggest toys wins.” How can you convince him or her otherwise? Write a letter.



2. Circumstances

“The character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done.” –Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., U. S. Supreme Court Justice 1902-1932

  1. Do you agree with Holmes? Explain.
  2. Are there acts in which the circumstances or the mitigating factors do not or should not affect a person’s consequences? Explain.
  3. You are a judge in a criminal case (murder, theft, breaking and entering—you choose the offense). The accused is standing before you. What would make you give a light sentence? A heavier sentence?


3. Patriotism

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president.” –Theodore Roosevelt, former U. S. president.

  1. Write two or three sentences describing what it means to stand by your country. Then write two or three to describe what it means to stand by your president or your country’s leader.
  2. Write your opinion of this quotation, explaining why you agree with Roosevelt or not.
  3. Define the word patriotism in one paragraph or longer. Include one negative definition (“Patriotism is not . . . “).


4. Validity

“Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced.” –Extreme Iceland ad containing a picture of an erupting volcano.

  1. Do you have to experience something to make it real in your life?
  2. What have you experienced that is now real to you because of the experience?
  3. How can something become real to you without your having to experience it?
  4. What would you like to experience?


5. Attitude

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.” –William James, author

  1. What is the greatest discovery of your generation? Explain.
  2. Is it true that a person can alter his life by changing his attitude? Explain.
  3. Identify something you have a truly bad attitude about. How would you go about changing your attitude? Make a list of the steps you would take.
  4. You identified a bad attitude about something. Change your attitude and see if William James is true in his assertion that your life can be altered. Write about your experience.


6. Pleasures

“That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.” –Henry David Thoreau, naturalist, author of “Civil Disobedience”

  1. What makes a person truly rich? Explain.
  2. What inexpensive pleasures can you enjoy or have you enjoyed? Write your ideas. For inspiration, go to this site to download the eBook 24 Simple Pleasures for free.
  3. In what do you find pleasure? Make a list of at least 10 objects, activities, sensory experiences, or other.
  4. Do you agree with Thoreau? Explain.


7. Defend

“The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.” –Dr. Jane Goodall, primatologist

  1. Dr. Jane Goodall has devoted her life to studying and defending primates. For whom would you like to speak out? Explain.
  2. Are you more interested in protecting people or in protecting animals? Explain why.
  3. Was there ever a time when you could not speak out for yourself but wished you could or wished someone else would? Write your story.




Enjoy another bundle of quotes to ponder and write about. >>

Your students will write about God with these 7 prompts. >>

Looking for worthy middle school prompts? >>

How about some engaging high school prompts? >>

And our blog is loaded with free tutorials, printables, and prompts. >>

Yours for more vibrant writing,

Sharon Watson




Copyright © 2017 by Sharon Watson