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Diary Writing Topic Guide for Teachers
A diary is a form of recount, where a writer records events, along with their thoughts and feelings about them. They can be personal documents, or they can be shared with others, perhaps even published.

Diaries are important historical documents because they can give us an insight into what life was like in different times and places. Fiction books can also be written in the form of a diary.

Teach your children about diary writing using our handy topic guide!

Choose a section:
Teaching Ideas | Resources | Facts | Videos | Books | Links

Teaching Ideas

  • Use our diary templates with younger children to create a weekly diary for a prince or princess.
  • Try some of our ideas for using The Diary of a Killer Cat with your children.
  • Write a diary entry for a historical figure, or a character in a book. What would they put in their diary?
  • Ask children to keep their own diary for a few days. What kinds of things will they write in them? Do they want their diary to be private or are they happy to share what they have written?
  • This Wordwall sorting activity makes a good discussion starter. Which are features of a diary, and which aren’t?
  • Write a diary entry in the style of a book, perhaps a cartoon like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or a scrapbook like My Secret War Diary.
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Resources

The Recount Writing Pack

Diary Facts

  • The oldest known diary is the diary of Merer, which was discovered in a cave in the Egyptian desert. In it, Merer, an official, recorded his activities as he travelled through Egypt, about 4,500 years ago.
  • Samuel Pepys’ diary is an important source of information about the Great Fire of London. Pepys recorded that he buried a Parmesan cheese to keep it safe from the fire!
  • Charles Darwin kept a journal during his voyage on the HMS Beagle, which was invaluable to him in gathering evidence for his theory of evolution.
  • Captain Scott’s journals of his expedition to the South Pole were found with his body, and published the year after his death.

Videos

Features of a diary entry

Using The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark as a stimulus, this video lesson recaps the features of a diary entry, including informal language and idiom.

Running time: 14:58

Diary of a Victorian Workhouse Boy

Find out about the life of Charlie Gubbins, a 9-year-old boy sent to the Victorian Workhouse, through his diary.

Running time: 11:48

An Interview with Samuel Pepys

Diarist Samuel Pepys answers questions about the Great Fire of London.

Running time: 2:07

The diary | Anne Frank House

Learn more about Anne’s diary in this short video.

Running time: 2:34

Books

My Secret War Diary
The diary of Flossie Albright, who is just nine when World War II begins.
The Diary of a Killer Cat
When Tuffy brings in a dead bird, he can’t understand why his owner Ellie makes such a fuss.
Diary of a Wombat
Younger children will love this simple diary, about Wombat’s life.
The Lost Diary Of Tutankhamun’s Mummy
Part of a series of historical “lost diaries”, this book gives you the facts about Ancient Egypt from the perspective of a mummy!
The Diary of a Young Girl
Older children will be fascinated by Anne Frank’s diary.

Are you teaching your children about other topics? Explore our full collection of guides!

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