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Mini Journals, Maxi Stories

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

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • 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.
  • Standards

    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.

  • Adaptations

    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.


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