5th Grade Journal Prompts

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Many teachers use journals to get students writing and allow them some personal space to write without worrying about evaluation. This lesson gives you some ideas about why journaling is important, and how you might get your fifth grade students started in their journals.

Why Journaling?

Fifth graders are at a wonderful age for becoming self-extending writers: writers who can push their own work to new levels. They can think abstractly, have mastered many of the basic conventions of writing, and have complex thoughts and feelings to articulate. One of the best ways to get your fifth graders writing is by having them keep journals, or notebooks, either paper or digital, in which they do personal writing. While this writing is not completely private, and you as a teacher have a right to review your students' journal work, journal writing is usually not evaluated the same way formal writing assignments are. Because of this, students may feel more comfortable taking risks or exploring topics they might not want to write about in other contexts.

Some students can get themselves inspired for journal entries day after day. For these students, it is beneficial to let them follow their instincts and write what is on their mind. However, many students benefit from having prompts, or starters that get them going as writers. Below are some examples of writing prompts for your fifth graders to use in their journals and help them become increasingly adept and independent as writers.

Nonfiction Journal Prompts

Much of what fifth graders journal about will be nonfiction, based on reality, knowledge and real experiences. These prompts will get your students going on their nonfiction journal entries.

  • Write about what you are an expert on.

Have your students define a topic they consider themselves an expert at. Challenge them to write as much as they can about this topic.

  • Share your weekend news.

This journal prompt, best used on Monday mornings, allows students to write about what happened over their weekend and why it was or was not important.

  • Describe a person you admire.

Have students write in detail about a personal hero or someone they love or admire very much.

  • Describe your favorites.

This prompt can be used quite diversely. Students might describe favorite books, movies or holidays. They might write about favorite meals or restaurants. Challenge them to articulate not only what their favorite is, but why it is their favorite.

  • Take a stand.

Ask students to think about an issue of importance in your school or community. Then, have them write about their views on this issue and what they might like to see happen to move the school or community toward a solution.

  • Share directions.

In this journal entry, students give directions on how to do something they are really good at, and they offer tips to novices.

  • Write a letter to a celebrity.

Have your students write letters to celebrities, authors, or community leaders. They can ask the recipient questions, share their opinion about their work, or tell the person about themselves.

  • Describe childhood memories.

In this prompt, students write about early memories. Often, students do best when they remember the first time they did something, like their first day of school, their first time meeting their current best friend, their first time riding a bike, and so on.

  • Describe family traditions.

Students can write about their family and the way their family celebrates holidays or handles specific traditional events.

Fiction Journal Prompts

Fifth graders also often like to write fiction: stories that are made up or only loosely based on reality. Use these prompts to get your students' creative juices flowing.

  • Invent a character.

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