Setting Up Our Writer's Notebooks

Still trying to catch my breath after the crazy start to this school year, but I am excited to share a few tips on how we setup our Writer's Notebooks in class this year!

One of the first things we do is decorate the cover, both front and back. It's best of kiddos use pictures from magazines or photos printed on regular computer paper, as they stick to the composition notebooks better (photo paper can be too thick). I have had students bring in pictures to decorate on a Friday, or I have assigned it as homework over the course of a few days.

If you do decide to decorate in class, HERE is a copy of a letter I send to parents to help them help their child look for special pictures:

After they have their covers decorated, we share them in class. Depending on how much time you have, you can have them share 1-2 special pictures in Author's Chair, or you could have them do a gallery walk (or both!).

This year, I had my students set out their Writer's Notebooks at their table spots and we all got the chance to walk around and see them before they shared:

This worked beautifully, since all kids were eager to share with friends and share what they had added. You can see that some decorated both the front and back, and some only decorated the front-- up to them :)

Teacher Tip: To keep these intact all year long, I take some cheap, clear packing tape and run it across the covers, top to bottom, to cover the pictures. This will help the notebooks withstand the abuse they will receive on a daily basis ;)

Once our notebooks were decorated on the outside, I had them start to generate ideas on the inside. I found a wonderful resource from Nick at Sweet Rhyme & Pure Reason on TpT called 50 Things I Love:

Click the picture above to be taken to this free resource on TpT!
They folded these in half and glue it onto the inside back cover of their Writer's Notebooks so they can unfold it and access it anytime throughout the year. This was such a fun way for them to write down their ideas, I found it to be a fun twist on the heart map I've done in years past :)

I hope these ideas helped get your students' Writer's Notebooks set up these first few weeks back!

Have a wonderful end to your week!


  1. Great ideas! I love the letter with suggestions. Thanks for sharing!

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

  2. LOVE! LOVE the idea of decorating the journals and taking ownership of them!

  3. WE LITERALLY finished decorating our writer's notebooks this week too!! I love decorating day just as much as the students!!! :)

  4. Hi Stephanie,

    My name is Martin and I'm a teacher from Canada. I just started a new website called Resources4teaching where educators can buy and sell lessons and educational resources. We are new and are looking for people to join and put up their materials for sale on our website. We are having an iPad draw for the first 100 Vendors who join and upload at least 1 lesson /resource for sale on our website. There are absolutely no fees to join and you earn royalties of 70%. You can visit us at:

    If you know any other teachers who might be interested in this Website, please forward this to them and if you have any questions, feel free to message me.

    Have a great day

  5. Thank you for sharing some great ideas and resources to get writers' notebooks started. I just love having students decorate their notebooks. You can learn so much about students just by how they decorate the notebook and by reading their topics.

    Fit to be Fourth
    Follow me on Bloglovin

  6. Thank you for sharing these ideas! Writing is one of my favorite subjects. I love seeing children make the connection between their lives and personal narratives.

  7. Great ideas :) I love having my students decorate their notebooks, too. It gives them even more ownership. Clear packing tape? Who knew? Probably a lot easier and cheaper than contact paper!!
    Fun in Room 4B