Mini Journals, Maxi Stories

Mini Journals, Maxi Stories lesson plan

Writing partners naturally imagine creative adventures! This colorful storyboard sends plots, characters, and settings in new directions.

  • 1.

    Invite students to define the term "story triggers." Have the group embark on a story-writing adventure in which they add exciting twists and turns to a story. With classmates, brainstorm 12 or more challenging story triggers that keep a plot moving. Document student contributions on a class white board using Crayola Dry-Erase Markers.

  • 2.

    Organize students into teams of two or small groups. Inform groups that they will be creating a new story starter for classmates to share.

  • 3.

    Each group will create a storyboard, beginning with identifying the title of their creative writing expedition on poster board with Crayola® Gel Markers. Measure a grid of boxes in rows and columns. Attach hook and loop fastener tape to the back of each mini journal and in each box on your grid. Attach a notebook and write a story trigger in each box. Add unique, colorful borders around the edges.

  • 4.

    Students begin their stories in the mini journals. Writing with Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils will allow for easy editing.

  • 5.

    Each group selects a trigger. Each day, writing partners/groups choose a different journal, read the story that has been started, and then add a new twist based on the story trigger on the grid. Switch colored pencils with each new chapter. After adding a new adventure, place the mini journal in a different box. The next pair of writers generates new excitement tomorrow.

  • 6.

    Provide time, perhaps near the end of a school week, to share a completed story. Discuss the twists and turns added by teams and the excitement these add to student writing.


  • LA: Read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • LA: Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).
  • LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • MATH: Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system.
  • VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.


  • Consider creating a larger grid, with enough mini-journals that each student in the class can create individual stories.
  • Adapt this activity to biographies of people, famous or family members. Encourage students to include various aspects of their lives as triggers: early years, education, family members, major accomplishments, memorable quotes, etc.