Journaling is a fun, reflective activity that promotes literacy, open-ended writing, social growth and creativity. It can also be used as a daily exercise to deepen students’ understanding of science, math and other subjects.

When keeping a journal, encourage students to jot down things that interest them on a daily basis. If they are reluctant to write, ask them to simply record the weather or their favorite activity of the day. The key is to avoid setting strict rules and guidelines on journaling. It’s helpful to provide topics, but let them journal their way. Some may want to draw a picture and describe it or simply scribble.

Journaling is a rewarding experience that every student should have, regardless of their style. Below are a few activities you can try to promote journaling and to get students excited about writing.

1. Create a clever cover

Allow students to make the journals their own. They can create covers that show what they’re interested in. Tapping into their creativity, they can use construction paper, markers and other supplies to make a design from scratch. Or instead they can cover their journal in wallpaper in different designs, sheet music, personal artwork, blueprints, fabric covered cardboard and other options.

To make the journals, simply staple several sheets of lined paper inside the covers. You may also want to include some blank sheets for sketching.

Check out these All About Me Journals (Set of 10) for more journal options

2. Provide a variety of supplies

Don’t limit students to only using pencils when journaling. Get creative! Provide them with gel pens, stickers, foam shapes, confetti and other fun art materials to add to their journal. It’s okay to get messy while journaling, and students can use these tools to better express their thoughts and feelings beyond the written word.

3. Record special events and projects

Journaling can be a great way to wrap up events and projects, such as a field trip or science experiment. It can deepen learning and help students retain information after the event or project is over. For a field trip, set aside a few minutes for students to record some of their favorite activities. It’s much easier to remember and record activities that have just occurred.

For a science experiment, for example, students can journal the entire process and document their hypothesis and the actual results. Check out these STEM journals that outline the scientific method and provides a space for students to draw pictures and write text.

4. Build a list of fun writing prompts

Finally, provide students with fun, interesting and thought-provoking topics to help jump-start their writing. These prompts can be used to spark their creativity, reflect on certain emotions or experiences or even tap into their goals and aspirations. A simple question, which has no right or wrong answer, can yield unlimited possibilities for students to express themselves.

Below are a few prompts to help you get started:

  • What is the best feeling in the world?
  • What will life be like in the year 2545?
  • If you could travel back in time, where would you go?
  • What is the most important thing you’ve learned so far this year?
  • What is your favorite word and why?

Journaling provides a number of benefits for students. With just a few minutes each day, you can help inspire creativity, deepen learning and promote social-emotional development. Use these simple tips to incorporate journaling into your afterschool program in a fun and meaningful way today.