Recommended for grades 3-6

Key Elements in Lesson 1:

  • Students will create a Salmon Journal by either:
    • Using any bound book with blank pages; or
    • Creating a journal from scratch as an arts-and-crafts activity.
  • Students will personalize their Salmon Journal by creating a cover design.
  • Students will consider different ways of using their journal: scientific documentation, note-taking, and drawing, for example. 

Outcomes of Lesson 1:

  • Students will develop a foundation for journal keeping and recording their own ideas and questions.

Learning Activity:

Journals Can Lead Thinkers to Great Heights

In Salmon School, you will discover new things, you will be asked questions for which you don’t yet know the answer, you will have questions of your own, you’ll be asked to draw, create diagrams and write stories. You will be given space to think for yourself. We want it to be a journey that you write down and can reflect on later, even later when you are an adult. So while Salmon School is “online,” your work will be hands-on. You will create and maintain a Salmon Journal. You will use a pencil, a pen, colored pencils, perhaps crayons to record your thought process and write down answers. Just know that you are in the company of many of histories greatest thinkers, inventors, scientists, writers and artists — and journals were the foundation of their creative thought processes which made each of them uniquely great.

Many noteworthy people throughout history have kept journals. People like Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Virginia Woolf, Henry David Thoreau, and Frida Kahlo — they all kept personal journals! A journal is much more than a diary or log. It is a tool for recording what you see, learn, feel, and even dream. It can capture your creative thoughts. It can encourage you to search, see, and think in new ways. It can set you free to express feelings, values, and attitudes that might be difficult to say out loud. It gives you a way to develop and apply your creative talents. In Salmon School, your Salmon Journal will focus on what you study here, but the purpose of a journal is to also allow it to take you places you may not have expected. Our hope is that your Salmon Journal will inspire you to discover new ways to learn and express your thoughts.

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?