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Altered Journal Pages and Stories

Setting goals helps everyone to achieve success. This activity will showcase the goals of members of the whole class in a colorful and personal way!

  • Grade 5
    Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. The visual journal is a way of keeping student art work, reflections and insights into various curricular areas together. Many teachers are now helping students to maintain their personal work in the form of a journal of some sort. Journal pages may include vocabulary, mind-maps, graphs, charts, collage and text.
    2. This lesson plan below is intended to be a suggestion of how a teacher might initially assist students in getting pages prepared for upcoming journal entries. Teachers of any discipline can use student journals to provide students with a tool that will help them learn more about themselves as they make connections in their learning experiences.
    3. Teach students to design their pages in ways that are unique and personal. Show how using the following elements will add interest and continuity to their pages such as: use color, such as fast drying watercolor, for the background; create a border out of the rubbing of the side of a colored pencil along the edge of the page or something more complex and deliberate such as a ruler to create lines; use shapes to hold text and ideas that need to be emphasized on a page; use shading, bold color, collage and texture to add interest and support an idea; and interesting fonts, large and small letters, can fill space on pages and avoid blank spaces.
    4. Prompts may be used for a first time journal entry. Initial ideas may include: pass out an outline for poetry such as the “I Am” template, a Haiku format or Diamonte poem. Ask students to respond by first writing poems on notebook paper. At this point, students may peer edit work and collaborate to make improvements.
    5. Using blue painter’s tape, show students how to mask out shapes on their journal pages. The tape is less likely to tear the paper surface than regular masking tape. Students should create masked spaces that will be big enough to hold the writing they are doing for their poetry.
    6. When the tape is in place on the pages, students may begin to apply a thin, watercolor wash on their pages. Before painting, have students tuck a paper towel or absorbent piece of paper behind the pages they are working on. This will prevent the watercolor wash from spreading to other pages in the journal. Allow to dry before taking off the blue painter’s tape.
    7. When the tape is removed there will be negative space for writing the poetry from earlier in the lesson. Suggest that students design an interesting border to frame the work they have done so far. Remind students as they work to use the criteria (a-e above) to check their work for the best appearance and presentation. Additional use of materials such as Crayola Metallic Markers, Crayola Oil Pastels, Crayola Color Sticks and similar Crayola drawing mediums will enhance the journal page.
    8. When students have completed their entries and journal pages are finished and dry, ask students to share the poetry with each other.
  • Standards

    LA: Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

    LA: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

    LA: Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly

    VA: Brainstorm multiple approaches to a creative art or design problem.

  • Adaptations

    Journal pages can be altered by teaching students how to use paper engineering. For example: younger students may be excited to learn how to use ‘pop-ups’ in their journal pages. Simple projects include making a pop-up layer, V-fold mouth pop-up or a layer + V-fold. These methods are readily available on YouTube and many books are available on the subject of paper engineering. More complicated types of pop-ups can be investigated and taught as relevant for the journal lesson objectives.

    Rather than using watercolor for a background color, students can create layers of color on their pages by using dry media. Have students us up those older, broken Crayola® Crayons. Take wrappers off of old, broken Crayola brand crayons and use multiple colors to layer, texture and rub over the masked-off areas of the journal page according to the instructions in this lesson plan. Use Crayola Color Sticks to rub over and around the masked- off areas of the pages. Dip brushes into Crayola Washable Metallic Paints and Glitter Paints to dry brush over the surface before taking the tape off. The more layers of Crayola products on the paper the deeper and more complex the background.

    Use the technique for masking- off areas on pages first. Next, teach students how to create mono-print plates to press their journal pages upon. Use Crayola Acrylic Paints rolled out on a smooth surface (called a ‘plate’) with a brayer. Manipulate the paint with the end of a brush handle, cardboard pieces, etc., creating lines and textures. When the mono-print is prepared, lay the journal page face down onto the wet surface and press. Peel back carefully to reveal the color from the plate. This step can be repeated when the paint has dried on the paper to create a deep and complex background.

    Work collaboratively with teachers in other curricular areas of your school. It is more likely that the visual art teacher would be able to teach mono-printing, design, elements and principles of art, all things necessary for beautiful and complex backgrounds and borders on well-designed papers. Teachers in the ELA classes can have students create the writing content that is placed in the negative, masked-off areas of the pages from this lesson plan. Students can exhibit and share their journal pages both visually and orally as performance.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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