January Writing Prompts

Journal Topics and Warmup Ideas

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Students return from the winter break during the first week of January. With the new year comes resolutions and a desire to do better. January is a great time to start students on daily writing assignments. These can be in the form of warmups or journal entries. The ideas provide writing prompts for each day of the month.

Daily Writing Prompts

Having a writing prompt handy for each day of the month can ease teacher planning. The numeral before each prompt represents the date in January.

  1. New Year's resolutions: Many people begin the new year with a list of resolutions. Write about three of your New Year's resolutions and explain what steps you need to take to make them come true.
  2. Goal setting: Goal setting is an important part of creating an ideal future for yourself. Come up with a one-year goal, a three-year goal and a 10-year goal for yourself. Then write about three steps that you will take to accomplish each of these goals.
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien's birthday: Discuss your feelings on fantasy and science fiction. Do you enjoy these types of books? Explain why or why not.
  4. Isaac Newton's birthday: Explain what Newton meant by the following quote: "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants."
  5. National Bird Day: When the United States was founded, Benjamin Franklin argued that the national bird should be the turkey. Instead, the bald eagle was selected. Was this a good choice or should the Founding Fathers have gone with the turkey instead? Give reasons for your answer.
  1. Sherlock Holmes' birthday: Today is the birthday of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Do you like mysteries? If so, tell about your favorite mystery book, television series, or movie. If not, explain why you don't like them. Alternatively, write about Little Christmas or the Epiphany. Many cultures celebrate a second Christmas on this date. What celebrations would you like to see twice a year?
  2. Winter break: Describe the best thing that happened to you over winter break.
  3. Elvis Presley's birthday: What is your favorite type of music? Your least favorite? Explain your reasons for each.
  4. Seasons: What is your favorite season? Why?
  5. United Nations Day: What is your opinion about America's participation in the U.N.? Or, what is your opinion on the effectiveness of the U.N. in negotiating world peace?
  6. Death of Francis Scott Key: On this day in 1843, Francis Scott Key died. He penned the lyrics of the "Star-Spangled Banner." What is your opinion about the use of this song as a political protest (such as NFL Players kneeling)? Do you put your hand over your heart and stand in respect when the national anthem is played? Should athletes be required to do so?
  1. National Pharmacist Day: Meat producers around the nation typically put low levels of antibiotics in the animals' food to help promote growth. However, some people are concerned that this leads to antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans. The meat industry argues that if it were unable to include antibiotics, the cost of meat would dramatically increase. Do you think that the meat industry should be forced to stop using these antibiotics? Defend your answer.
  2. Make Your Dreams Come True Day: What is a dream that you have for your future? Describe this dream and explain the steps you can take right away to help make it come true.
  3. Benedict Arnold's birthday: React to the following statement: One man's traitor is another man's hero.
  4. Super Bowl hype: Do you watch the Super Bowl for the game, the ads or both? Explain your answer.
  5. Passage of the 18th Amendment: This amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” but not the consumption, private possession, or production for one’s own consumption. Currently, a large number of states and the District of Columbia have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form, but marijuana is still against federal law. Should states have the right to allow marijuana be regulated like alcohol?
  1. Benjamin Franklin's birthday: What was Franklin's most important contribution to America?
  2. Winnie-the-Pooh Day: Which character from "Winnie-the-Pooh" do you think is most like you? Explain your answer.
  3. Popcorn Day: What is your favorite movie? Or, who is your favorite film director? Why?
  4. Presidential Inauguration Day: What qualities does it take to be an effective president of the United States? Or, what makes a president of the United States ineffective? What evidence do you have to support your answer?
  5. Martin Luther King's birthday: King stated in his famous "I Have a Dream" speech: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." What is your opinion on how close America has come to fulfilling King's dream? What evidence do you have to support your opinion?
  6. National Hobby Month: What is your favorite hobby? What makes it your favorite?
  7. National Blood Donor's Month: Should blood donors be paid to donate blood? Explain your answer.
  1. California Gold Rush: If you had lived in the 1840s when gold was discovered in California, do you think that you would have traveled West to take part? Why or why not?
  2. National Opposite Day: What would you do differently if you were the teacher in this class? Or, what is the opposite reaction that you have from your family on a topic (politics, music, technology)? Why do you react differently?
  3. Australia Day: Have you ever traveled out of the country? If so, describe the similarities and differences between the country you visited and America. If not, explain which countries you'd like to visit and why.
  4. Lewis Carroll's birthday: Which character from "Alice in Wonderland" would you most want to meet? Which would you least like to meet? Why?
  5. Jackson Pollock's birthday: What is your opinion of modern art? Do you like it or hate it? Why?
  6. Thomas Paine's birthday: Do you agree with the following statement by Thomas Paine: "Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one." Explain your answer.
  1. Franklin Roosevelt's birthday: Franklin Roosevelt was elected to four terms as president. After this, the 22nd Amendment was passed limiting the president to two terms or 10 years. Do you think that there should be term limits for presidents? What about for senators and representatives? Explain your answer.
  2. Jackie Robinson's birthday: Robinson was the first African-American to play baseball in the Major Leagues. Many praised him for his courage. How do you define courage? Give examples of people who you think are courageous.