Journal Activity Ideas—- Keeping a classroom journal can be more than just encouraging students to write down their thoughts or feelings on any given day.
It can be more than just giving them an open-ended question and asking them to write about that topic. It can be more than responding to current events or writing opinion pieces. While these are all wonderful ways to practice writing in your classroom, it’s important to remember that a unique journal activity can go a long way in terms of inspiring your students and helping them develop their writing skills.
The key to any good journal activity is to make it as fun as possible. If you choose the right activity, your students will not even realize that they are focusing on a specific skill set or attempting a new style of writing. Journal activity ideas can be used in classrooms of all sizes and across all age groups. They are flexible and versatile, and you can customize an activity in order to meet the needs of your curriculum.
The journal activity ideas on this page range from writing projects that can be completed individually to group work that encourages students to brainstorm with one another. Writing does not have to be an independent activity — in fact, many students improve their writing more quickly when they work in tandem with their peers.
Ultimately, you can incorporate these journal activities into your classroom curriculum in the way that works best for you and your students. Use these journal activity ideas to inspire your students and help them to naturally develop their writing skills.
5 Journal Activity Ideas for Elementary Students
- Draw a Word — For this activity, ask your students to think of one words that best describes them right now. Rather than having them write about that word and explain their reasoning why, have them draw the word on their journaling page. Remind them that the shape of their letters and the colors that they select for their art work can serve as symbols for why they chose that specific word.
- Intro to Bullet Journaling — Explain to your students the concept of bullet journaling and why it has become so popular in recent years. Then, ask them to spend the next day keeping a bullet journaling. Your students may find that this is a practical approach to journaling that allows them to write frequently while staying organized and mindful throughout the day.
- Word Search Journal Entry — Give your students a word search, and tell them to highlight the first five words that they find. In all likelihood, each student will uncover different words first. Then, ask them to write a journal entry that uses all five of those words. The journal entry could be an opinion piece, a short story or even a poem. They have total freedom, except for the fact that they have to use the five words that they uncovered in the puzzle.
- Nature Walk Journaling — For this activity, have your students grab their journals and come with you on a nature walk outside. Tell them to spend at least 10 minutes walking around in the fresh air and immersing themselves in the sights and sounds of nature. Then, encourage them to find a quiet spot where they feel at ease, and have them free write for another 10 minutes. Your students will likely be surprised by how easy it is to clear their minds when they are soaking up the sunshine or being refreshed by a cool breeze.
- Attitude of Gratitude Activity — It’s easy for students of all ages to feel frustrated or cranky at times. In order to help your students practice mindfulness, use this attitude of gratitude activity. Have students work with a partner or in a small group, and discuss the things they are most thankful for. Then, have them write a journal entry together that they can present to the class about what they are grateful for and why it helps to focus on the positives each day.
7 Journaling Activities for Middle and High School Students
- Write Letters to Loved Ones — The old-fashioned art of letter-writing may not be super common anymore, but it’s still a fun way for kids to practice their writing skills! Set your students up with pen pals from a classroom across the country—or have them write to grandparents, long-distance relatives, or even their own classmates and friends.
- Practice Poems — Poems are a wonderful and effective way to help young students become better writers. Because poetry utilizes so many different methods and deals so deeply with descriptive language, students will quickly learn things like the importance of word choice and how to create a tone and effect with their words.
- Create Silly Short Stories — When you’re looking to get kids writing and you want them to be excited about the process, silly short stories are your new best friend! When kids write short fiction, they are able to fully explore their imaginations and their wildest dreams can come to life on the page. And most importantly, the act of writing a story stretches all of their writing muscles in one simple exercise.
- Add More Adjectives — Once your students have been practicing various writing exercises for a while, it can be fun to have them go back over some of their old work and add to it for effect. One of the simplest ways to do this is to take an extra pass with the purpose of adding more adjectives. Kids will love the chance to liven up their writing—and they’ll quickly learn how much adding new descriptions can help them to communicate!
- Describe the Picture — Another fun and simple journal activity for elementary school kids? Have each student choose a favorite picture and then write about what they see in the image. Encourage kids to be as descriptive as possible and to use sensory language to create an image with their words!
- Explain It To Someone Who’s Never Seen It — In this exercise, students should choose any object they like—and then write about it as if they were describing it to someone who had never seen it (such as a younger child or even an alien from another planet!). Encourage students to use great detail and to discuss the object’s shape, size, colors, and more—as well as how the object works or what it does.
- Write as a Group — Bring the whole class together and let everyone get in on the fun by writing a collaborative story as a group! Your students won’t be able to stop laughing at the silly combinations they can come up with when they take turns writing sentences and adding to the story piece by piece. As they work, you can emphasize the importance of writing concepts like story structure, continuity, character development, and descriptive language.
Related Links & Resources
- 9 Creative Writing Activities for Kids
- How to Develop Writing Skills in Students
- What Should I Write About? (150 Ideas!)
- The Benefits of Journaling in the Classroom
When you blend journal activity ideas into your normal journaling exercises, you will find that your students are more engaged in the journaling process. It’s important to help them understand that journaling is a practice that they can continue throughout their lives, and that there are many ways to keep and maintain a journal. At the end of the day, you want them to understand that they can use journaling as a way to improve their writing skills. When journaling becomes a daily habit, they will always keep on writing!
Until next time, write on…
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