Explorer Journals - Connecting Reading and Writing

Hey, hey!  Promised I would be back with a post about the social studies journals my kiddos made....I gave a "preview" in my Five for Friday link up with Doodle bugs!
So, before I share, let me say this is NOT my idea. (at the end of this post I share some spin offs of this activity that are my ideas)  This particular activity is right out of our new Social Studies curriculum as an end of unit project.  We have been learning all about European explorers, their reasons for exploring, causes and effects of their journeys and colonization of Florida......lots and lots more.  Anywhosie, our end of unit project was for the kids to choose an explorer and imagine that they were a member of that explorer's crew.  They then had to create a travel log of their journey/experience.
Love how these Social Studies texts are set up! (the text is McGraw/Hill Florida Social Studies)
Each chapter focuses on the same reading skills that we work on in reading:
cause/effect, main idea/details,.....Love that:) 
This text also has great rubrics for the end of unit projects!  We use rubrics for almost everything (well, not quite but it's heading that way)
Here are some pics of the covers:)

The student's books had a checklist of everything their journal should include. 
Some of those items were:
5 entries
dates of the journey
any challenges they faced on the journey
why they came to Florida
at least 2 illustrations
and a few other things:)

I really love how the writing helped them connect to what they have been reading.  They did a good job putting themselves in that time period (which I have to confess I thought would be hard with them living in the techno era....)  and talking about challenges they faced on the ship and on land, their interaction with the Native Americans, their purpose for exploring.  I was also able to assess their understanding of the unit overall with their responses. 
I love using reading/writing connections and am trying to add more and more of that to my instruction and activities.  This writing was purposeful and helped them better understand what they had been reading.  I think I will be adding more of this type of writing to my Work on Writing rotation.  I love the creative writing too.....but do want to add more of this type of writing.
As I was reading these, other ideas were popping into my head as ways to use this type of "purposeful journaling":
- In Science, if they pretend to be a scientist or the helper of a scientist and journal about that experience and what they are studying and learning
- they could "put themselves" into any chapter book they are reading either becoming one of the characters or create a new one and write about that
- they could even journal each day's lesson of Math with examples and their explanation of the skill
Jessica left a neat comment when I previewed this saying that she loves to have her kids write as famous historic people or book characters:)  Thanks Jess!  Those are awesome ideas too!
The sky is the limit here people:)  Have fun and I would love the hear how you use them:)
Happy journaling!


  1. I love having students "become" someone from a different time period and write with that purpose in mind. I used to do a big slave ship writing journal activity that I now miss (only teaching math will do that). Can't wait to read more about how great your kids are doing with this writing ;)

  2. This is such a great idea! I will definitely have to use this with my kiddos :) Sounds like you lucked out with a great SS text!


  3. Those are SUPER cute! :) Your SS books sounds great! Ours is rather dry and half of it doesn't cover our standards. :/

  4. I love this! It will work in my class, too! I teach 4th grade Texas History. One thing that I can share is that I have my students study their heritage when we get to immigrants, and then write "a letter home" to a pretend relative that is still back in the "old" country trying to convince them to come to Texas. I, too, was amazed at how well they could see themselves roughing it in the early days of Texas settlement.


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