55 Journal Prompts for Kids to Encourage Self-Expression and New Ideas

, Staff Writer
Updated April 20, 2021
Student thinking about creative writing prompt
    Student thinking about creative writing prompt
    girl photo: kali9 / E+
    Used under Getty Images license

Journal writing is a wonderful way to help children develop a love of writing while also learning to express themselves and convey new ideas. Nothing is more exciting than giving a kid a writing prompt and seeing the places they can take it. To spark kids' flair for reflective communication and to encourage them to consider the future, try these 55 journal prompts for kids.

Journal Questions for Kindergarten and 1st Grade

The youngest students are still learning the basics of reading and writing, so any journal writing assignments given to them should be very simple. Allow youngsters in this age group to use words, pictures or a combination of both to create their journal entries. For more ideas, explore some kindergarten writing prompts with pictures.

  • What's your favorite part of the classroom? Why do you like it?
  • What do you enjoy most about the weekends? Why?
  • What part of the school day is the most fun for you? Why?
  • What color do you like best? Why do you like it so much?
  • What is your favorite lunch at school? What do you like about it?
  • What food do you wish you could eat every day? Why?
  • What's the best part about recess? Why do you like it?
  • What part of your face do you like the best? Why?
  • What toy is your favorite? Why do you like it?
  • What is your favorite outside activity? What do you enjoy about it?
  • Do you like to wear socks when you sleep? Why or why not?
  • How do you feel about brushing your teeth?
  • Do you like taking naps, or would you rather stay awake all day?
  • What does it mean when someone yells or screams. How does it make you feel?
  • What's your favorite bedtime story? What do you like about it?

Reflective Journal Topics for Elementary Kids

Once kids have reached second grade and beyond, they'll have the writing skills to explore more in-depth journal questions. Move to more advanced questions by asking students to reflect on things they have experienced in their lives. This is a great way to introduce reflective writing to the early elementary classroom.

  • What's the scariest dream you have ever had. How did it make you feel?
  • Describe a time that you misbehaved at home and got in trouble for it. What did you learn from that experience?
  • What's the most important thing you have learned in school so far this year? Why is it important?
  • Where is your favorite place to spend time in your home? Why do you like it?
  • Do you prefer virtual school or in-person school? Why or why not?
  • Do you sometimes see things on television that make you feel stressed? What kinds of things are they?
  • Describe the last current event or news story you remember hearing about. How do you feel about it?
  • Describe something you disagree with an adult in your life about. How do you and the adult communicate about it?
  • What's your favorite thing about being part of your family?
  • What do you wish someone had told you about school before you started first grade?
  • What school rules do you wish were different? How do you feel they should be changed?
  • Think of a time that you felt like an adult was really listening to what you had to say. What did they do that made you feel that way?
  • Which do you like better — math or reading. Why did you choose the one you selected?
  • Do you enjoy meeting new people or does it make you nervous? Why did you answer the way you did?
  • Why is it important to apologize to a person if you did something that hurt their feelings?
  • What do you find the most stressful about school? How does it make you feel? What would make it less stressful?
  • What type of exercise or physical activity do you like the most? Why?
  • What is your favorite board game? Why do you like to play it?
  • Describe the earliest happy memory you have. How do you feel when you think about it?
  • What's the nicest thing you have done for another person? How did they react? How did it make you feel?

Future-Focused Journal Prompts for Kids

Once kids have gotten comfortable with reflective journal writing, encourage them to come up with new ideas by asking hypothetical questions or encouraging them to write about what the future may hold. Rather than expressing feelings about events that have already occurred, they'll be able to express themselves while putting their imaginations to the test. The prompts below are ideal for upper elementary and middle school students.

  • If you could be a famous celebrity, who would you want to be? Why?
  • If you were a teacher, what would you do with your class that is different than what your teacher does? Why?
  • If you had to decide today what kind of job you will do when you grow up, what would you choose? Why?
  • Where would you go if you could go anywhere? What would you do when you got there?
  • If you could choose anywhere in the world to live when you grow up, where would that be? Why?
  • What is your most favorite place in the world? Would you live there?
  • What is a secret dream that you have? What can you do now that will help you reach it later in life?
  • What do you think will be better about school when you finish this grade and start the next one?
  • What questions would you like to ask middle schoolers about what things are like in their grade?
  • List and describe three things you could do that would make you a better friend. Are you willing to do them?
  • If you were in charge of redecorating the classroom, what things would you change about the way it looks?
  • If you got to be a teacher for a day, what subject would you most want to teach? Why?
  • If all of the keys to the school were lost and no one could get in the building, what ideas can you come up with that could save the school day?
  • What things can you do that could help make life better or easier for people who are less fortunate? How will these things make a difference?
  • What actions can you do now that could help protect the environment? In what ways will these things impact life in the future?
  • If you could start a new after-school club, what would it be? Why do you think the club is needed?
  • Imagine that you decide to run for class president when you get to high school. Why should people vote for you?
  • Describe a perfect way to hang out with your friends. Who would you play with and what would you do?
  • When you grow up, what will you enjoy doing on days that you don't have to work or go to school? Why?
  • If a new classmate starts school tomorrow, what can you do to help make that person feel welcome?

Lessons Learned From Early Journal Writing

Students who learn to express themselves in writing from an early age will have a head start when it comes to writing skills and self-expression. Journaling not only gets children into the habit of writing regularly but also encourages them to consider what they can learn from past experiences and explore the future. When you run out of these topics, there are plenty of other journal writing exercises for kids to consider. For example, gratitude journal prompts are great journal topics for kids. Keep the fun going as young learners start mastering other types of writing by adding these story starters for your kiddos.