Recommended for grades 3-8

What do the following people have in common?

  • Albert Einstein
  • David Douglas
  • Teddy Roosevelt
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Thomas Edison
  • Charles Darwin
  • Henry David Thoreau
  • Leonardo Da Vinci


All are famous people, of course, but they all did something else that may have contributed to their success — they all kept personal journals. Today you’re going to start what is perhaps your first journal, and now you know you’ll be in good company with some of the world’s greatest thinkers, poets, leaders, inventors, and more. A journal is a great way to learn about the world, and even about yourself.

A journal is much more than a diary or just taking notes. It is your own personal book where you can record your observations and thoughts in your own way. You can write, you can draw. You can use it to capture your own creative thoughts and ideas. As you listen and learn about salmon, you can use it to write down information you learn, and write down questions that you can research later. All this is possible in the journal you are about to create.

Take a moment to think about how you keep track of what you see, learn and experience around you every day:

  • Do you tell your friends about what you see?
  • Do you take pictures?
  • Do you take a moment to think about your experiences at the end of each day?
  • Do you write it down in a notebook or on the computer?

Journals can encourage you to search, see, and think in new ways. They can set you free to express feelings, values, and attitudes that might be difficult to say out loud. A journal can be a way for you to develop and apply your own creative talents.

Learning Activity: Create your own Salmon Journal

During each lesson you are going to write down questions and work through the process of developing answers. You’re going to take notes on what you are learning. You’re going to draw. You’re going to express your thoughts and ideas. You’re even going to write stories. And you’re going to do it all in your Salmon Journal. You will keep it with you at all times, so that you can write thoughts down “whenever inspiration strikes.” Thoughts and ideas can surprise you by happening when you do not expect them — when you’re brushing your teeth, walking the dog, eating breakfast, or anytime, really. That’s why it’s good to keep your journal close so that when that idea does “strike,” you can write it down. Once it’s in your journal, you don’t have to worry about forgetting it! You’ll be amazed how good that can make you feel. Many great thinkers in history have kept journals “within arm’s reach” for this reason. Journals gave them comfort knowing that their ideas were being recorded and not forgotten. Those journals led to historic breakthroughs. NOTE: OVERHAUL THIS PHOTO GALLERY WITH BETTER EXAMPLES.

Let’s Get Started:

  1. Use any bound book with blank pages for your journal, such as a composition book, spiral notebook or loose leaf three-ring binder.
  2. Or make a journal from scratch: Fold 6 to 8 sheets of blank letter size paper in half for the inside pages. Additional pages can be added if needed. Fold one sheet of colored paper in half for the cover. Use a hole punch to punch two evenly spaced holes along the folded edge. Insert the brass fasteners from the front and spread open to fasten.
  3. Create a cover design: Make a personal bond with your new journal by creating a cover design all your own. Draw, attach natural objects, or glue pictures to your cover. There are no limits — make it truly yours. Be sure to title it “My Salmon Journal” and include your name, grade, teacher and the date you created your journal.
  4. Save the first inside page of your Salmon Journal to be your table of contents. At the top of this page, title it “Table of Contents.” Leave the rest of the page blank for now. As you write in your journal over time, you can add items to your Table of Contents.
  5. How to begin writing in your journal:
    1. Begin each journal entry with the date — in small letters in a top corner of the page.
    2. Your journal is a blank canvas.
      1. With each lesson, you will be asked to respond to questions or instructions by writing and drawing in your Salmon Journal. Always start with a fresh page, and title that page the title of the lesson.
      2. But be creative. Don’t limit your journal entries to simply the Salmon School lessons. Start on a blank page, write the date in a top corner, and write down ideas, questions, simple thoughts, complex ones. Write lyrics. Sketch. Learn to write ideas down or draw them out, no matter how small. Small ideas can lead to bigger ideas. You have so much potential. Find out what you’re capable of thinking and imagining.

Develop your Own Journal Entry Style
Here are some ideas that have guided others:

  • Go beyond. As you learn about salmon, write down thoughts, questions and even conclusions that were not covered in the lessons.
  • As you study and learn, write down questions that you have to help you remember what you want to learn more about.
  • Try varying your entry style. Feel free to explore how you write down your thoughts and take down notes. Even just changing the color of the pen you’re using can change your mood, which can lead to new ideas.
  • Take risks. Your journal is a safe place to risk writing down new ideas and developing new techniques of expressing yourself on paper.
  • For science entries, consider writing your observations on one side, and how you feel about what you observed on the other side.
  • Use all of your senses to make observations of things around you: sight, sound, touch and smell.
  • It doesn’t all need to be about salmon. Write down interesting or inspiring things you hear, learn or read in the course of your day. Write down a great song lyric you heard — or write lyrics yourself. Write down a great quote from someone you admire, or a phrase you heard for the first time. Write these gems down. “Own” them — otherwise you might forget them.
  • Consider giving your pages special smells by pressing leaves or flowers, or other objects in your journal (smell is the strongest of the senses to key memories). Salmon use smell — and you can too.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

  • Keep your journal in a place nearby, where it’s easy to grab when ideas strike.
  • Include your Salmon Journal in your backpack, as well as a pencil, a pen and colored pencils.

Want to learn more about journaling?