This is a great beginning of the year writing activity I have used with my second graders. I begin by reading the book, Something Extraordinary, by Ben Clanton. (I usually order it from the library.) It is a great book and leads to a great discussion about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Rough draft page
Final copy (+extra sheet of blank lines)
Cover page with a space for a picture
I have them brainstorm 5 ideas (see the paper) they could write about after reading the book, or the next day depending upon your schedule. After they brainstorm, they need to pick one to write about. We edit together and then they write their final copy, complete the cover and tah-dah, the first writing of the year is complete! I love it!
I would save this first piece of writing and compare it to those they complete later in the year.