Using The Imagine Project with your child, in your Classroom, School, or Group:
My Imagine Journal™ is an interactive 7-step expressive writing activity that gives kids and teens (and adults) the opportunity to write about an old story that might be holding them back, let it go, and Imagine a new story in it’s place. It’s a powerful tool that brings increased self-awareness, builds resilience, stress management, and gives them positive direction in their lives—all while getting kids to write! Kids and teens love it!
Below is all the information you will need to bring The Imagine Project to your students/child including lessons plans, videos, and suggestions for music to play while students write (keep scrolling). The Imagine Project writing activity can be added to your literacy curriculum, wellness activity, mindfulness unit, social emotional support, multi-cultural units, autobiography, or other areas it might work best to support the emotional wellness of your students! The Imagine Project teaches kids a lifelong tool to support themselves emotionally! Good luck! You will love the power of this project!!
Using The Imagine Project in with individuals, groups, classrooms, school or youth program:
Teachers, counselors, admin, parents, etc. can download and print off the journals for each child as a part of a writing activity at school (there are also digital and Spanish versions available). All journals are free. The Imagine Project writing process can be done one time during the school year, weekly, monthly, or whenever a student is struggling with something emotionally. What a great opportunity for students to talk about any issues that might be distracting or holding them back from moving forward in school!
There are 4 journals, Kids (2nd-5th through 6th), Teen (6th-12th) and Adult versions. The younger students K-2 can use the Kindergarten journal which follows the book, Bryon the Caterpillar who Loved to Imagine. Watch here for a video taped version of a teacher reading Byron.
The writing process can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks. The younger the student, the more time it will take. For younger students (K-4th grade) we recommend doing steps 1 and 2 together, step 3 separate or together with step 4, and then 5 and 6 together, and of course take a few minutes every day for 30 days for step 7. As students get older you can do steps 1-4 together or even all the steps in a 60 minute period of time. For 5th grade and above play one song for steps 1 and 2 (see below for music recommendations). Then play 2-4 songs for step 3 and 1-2 songs for steps 4-7. We encourage time for students to read their stories out loud after either step 3 or step 4.
Accommodations and Scaffold Ideas for kids with varying strengths.
Videos: Here are various videos you can use throughout your lesson planning, while working with the students doing The Imagine Project, or for a greater understanding of The Imagine Project:
- Click here to watch a short video on how The Imagine Project works.
- Click here to watch Lauren Zuiker teaching her 2nd graders how to write their Imagine story using the book “Corduroy” as an example.
- Watch this video of teachers and counselors talking about how they’ve used The Imagine Project with their students.
- Dr. Jerry Yager, Clinical Psychologist/ChildTrauma Expert talking about The Imagine Project.
- Listen to Todd Daubert, a 31 year teaching veteran talks about using The Imagine Project weekly.
- Click here to have your child/student watch the video of Dianne leading teens through the writing process. For Middle and High School age teens.
- Use this video as an introduction to the project: Imagine Project Intro video
- Use this video showing teens talking about doing The Imagine Project: Teen Video
- Kamia’s Imagine story (teen)
- Here are more videos of 5th graders telling their Imagine story and talking about the project:
Jason and Paige are featured in the original book (The Imagine Project: Stories of Courage, Hope, and Love) talking about their stories and writing for the book. Jay and Emily are from an Alternative High School. All big stories and appropriate for high school students or adults.
- Jay’s story about challenges at home with his mom and boyfriend.
- Emily’s story is also about abuse at home.
- Jason Landers talks about being bullying in school and the military.
- Paige Butkus tells her story of divorce and being sexually assaulted at 16 years old.
An inspiring video that will help the kids when they are getting ready to write about new possibilities in their lives: Greatness Within ft Motivational Video with Les Brown.
An awesome Beyonce video that I sometimes use at the end to inspire the kids to make a mark on the world: I was here.
Writing stirs emotions. Different music creates different emotions. Here are some suggestions for music to use while the kids are writing:
Step One: “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera
Step Two: “Story of my Life” One Direction
Step Three: “Into Dust” by Mazzy Star, “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers, “Renegades” by X Ambassadors, and/or “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley
Step Four: “Just Imagine It” by MKTO and “Rise Up” by Audra Day
Step Five: “Brave” by Sara Bareilles
Step Six: “This is my Fight Song” by Outfit Studios
Other music suggestions: “Roar” by Katy Perry, “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus, “Life is Worth Living” by Justin Bieber, “Fly” by Maddie and Tae, “I Love this Life” by Locash, “Imagine” by John Lennon, “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw, “Roll up Your Sleeves” by Meg Mac, “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers, “Sideways” by Travis Meadows, “Be Yourself” by Seth Alley, “Fly” by Maddie and Tae.
Do’s and Don’ts:
- Have students read their stories together in a group (this is optional).
- Clap after each student reads their stories.
- Teach compassion, respect, attention, and even have other students visualize wrapping the reader in love (especially with the little ones).
- Have students pick a positive power word that goes along with their story. This is helpful in supporting them believe in themselves.
- See them without their story. They need a positive role model to believe in them. If you aren’t sure you can handle being with their emotions, ask a counselor to be in the room with you. Here is a blog to help you help kids who are feeling emotional.
- See their resilience and how amazing they are!!
- Send home the parent letter before you do the project so parents are aware of what the kids are doing.
- Read the student’s story if you’ve told them you’re not going to read it (we suggest telling the kids no one needs to read their stories if they don’t want you to).
- Send them home on a Friday after reading their story from step 3.
- Try to fix them, it’s okay if they cry, let them feel their emotion, care for them through it. In the words of Brene` Brown, hold the energy of, “I am here with you.” You aren’t doing therapy with them, you are just giving them a place to be heard.
For more information you can read The Imagine Project: Empowering Kids to Rise Above, Drama, Trauma, and Stress (Yampa Valley Publishing, 2018) by Dianne Maroney, RN, MSN
Another wonderful resource to combat bully and teach empathy visit Children Mending Hearts.
“After doing The Imagine Project, I hear my students saying to someone who is having a bad day, or is sad or mad about something, ‘Imagine it getting better!’ I think they are learning to grasp that they may go through tough times, but they can influence what happens next. They are also more compassionate, aren’t as quick to judge, and they are comfortable and confident sharing their written stories with each other now. The best part—because of The Imagine Project they LOVE TO WRITE—EVERYTHING!”
Michelle Parker, 5th Grade Teacher
Enjoy! Email me with any questions, Dianne firstname.lastname@example.org
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