In many of our writing times, we are helped by writing in our memory books. These have been worked on and added to since the very first days of school. Nearly every day I take pictures of our projects, field trips, cooking experiences, EBs, and just day-to-day life - and about once a month I print a batch of these pictures out to use as prompts. This really helps young writers get ideas, because it is usually pretty easy to write about what you know best - your own life and memories! (Hint: this is a great idea to use during summer vacation - Do a photo journal!)
But sometimes, even having a picture isn't enough to get the writerly juices flowing. Then it may be time to try some different techniques, like spreading out and spider webbing.
Getting out of our desks and sprawling on the floor with a batch of memories, a clipboard, some 3x5 cards, some sharpened Ticonderogas, and (of course) a stick of peppermint gum, writers took a fresh look at some of the experiences from the past couple months and chose just one or two that really "spoke" to them.
To help them flesh out ideas if they were having trouble, they drew spider webs. The main idea went in the middle with supporting information around the outside. Many were surprised how much they really had to say about a topic!
Webbing is an excellent tool to use in all sorts of writing projects - even writing letters to Grandparents.