Your Pandemic Journal
This is an opportunity to write history!

Today’s Activities


You’re living through history! Write about it!

Write it down. Keep a pandemic journal. – Washington Post

Not only are you writing for yourself, but you’re allowing others the chance to know about these unique times.  You’re writing history!


How have others written about their own unique experiences in the past?

In 79 A.D.,  Pliny the Younger watched as Mount Vesuvius erupted across the bay from his home in Naples.  His description of the account gives us a sense of what he experienced.

The Destruction of Pompeii, 79 AD

Giovanni Boccaccio lived through the bubonic plague as it swept through his city of Florence in 1348.  

The Black Death, 1348

Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe, lived through a subsequent wave of the bubonic plague as it attacked London in 1722  His journal not only provides insight to his encounter with the plague but provides parallels and perhaps pointers for our own experiences with COVID-19.

What Can Daniel Defoe’s “Plague Year” Teach Us About Coronavirus?

And, of course, the diary of Anne Frank has made us all aware of the humanity of people who suffered through the holocaust of World War II.  You can read more about her here as well as discover other diaries written by young people during that era. 

The diary


Reading Primary Sources

You’ve just read excerpts from four very different primary sources describing the unique times the writers experienced.  Which one touched you the most?  Which one described a period in history you would like to know more about?  

The following link includes a variety of contemporary sources from 1898 when the bubonic plague reached San Francisco.  

Bubonic Plague in Chinatown

Skim through a couple of the articles.  Does anything sound familiar to the kind of unsound theories people share today?


Now it’s time to write your own first-hand account of living through a pandemic.

Journal Writing: A Short Course

This link will help you get started writing.  Set aside a time of day to write – it doesn’t have to be for long – fifteen minutes is fine.  

Here are more tips on writing in a journal. 

18 Life-Changing Tips For Keeping A Journal

Think about how your experience of sheltering in place has changed over time.  How do you feel now compared to the end of March?  How has this affected the people you know and care about?  Write about it.


Types of journals and other types of writing

Nature journal:
While your own feelings and experience are important, you can also write about what you observe.  For the first time for many of us, we have the opportunity to observe the natural world over an extended period of time. Keep a nature journal where you note how many different birds you see or identify the trees in your yard.  ( is an app that will help you identify leaves.) 

Journaling in the Natural World – Freelanced Writing

Dream journal:
Many of us are having unusually vivid dreams during this pandemic. The pandemic is giving people vivid, unusual dreams. Here’s why.

Keep a dream journal where you record what you’ve dreamed of.

And, of course, don’t limit yourself to journal writing: here are some other suggestions:

12 Ideas for Writing Through the Pandemic With The New York Times

Boccaccio used his journal to eventually write The Decameron, a collection of stories describing living through the plague.  Maybe one of your journal entries will inspire a short story or poem. 

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Teaching Tips

Accessibility Feature

Turning on transcripts for YouTube Videos [PDF]


A free mobile app that uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves.

More High School Lessons

Additional lessons are available for this grade level by pressing “More Lessons” above, or selecting a lesson below:

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