Book GIVEAWAY: I Like Me by Nancy Carlson and I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont and a Journal to get started. Book GIVEAWAY information at end of post.
When I was in seventh grade, our teacher introduced journal writing to our Language Arts class. Well it really wasn’t an introduction at all! We all had a spiral and at the beginning of class each day she told us to stop talking and start writing. We had no idea what we were doing or why we were doing it and we certainly had no idea what to write. When we whined about not knowing what to write about she informed us to just write, “I don’t know what to write about.” over and over again. So that’s what I did, day after day. Needless to say, Journal Writing 101 was not a huge success.
So as a classroom teacher and homeschooling Mom, I’ve vowed to make journal writing a much more inspirational and successful learning experience. Here are a few tips that have worked well for me in the classroom and homeschool.
Day 1 Supplies:
- read aloud books
- pencils or markers
- blank spiral journals
- preschool – first grade: unlined paper spiral bound paper works well
- second – third grade: a simple lined spiral notebook
- pencil or markers
Print this paper FREE: Journal Paper
Day 1: 10 Easy Steps . . .
1. Read aloud a book that features an “all about me” topic. We selected:
- I Like Me by Nancy Carlson
- I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
2. Introduce the concept of a journal.
- A journal is place for us to write about ourselves, our feelings, things we like and things we don’t like.
- (In the weeks that follow, we will also introduce the concept of writing about special memories.)
3. Have a big class discussion that features the topic “all about me”.
- “Tell me something you like about yourself.”
- “Tell me about the things you like.“
3. Model any formatting expectations you have for the children. Don’t make any assumptions, even if they have done journal writing in previous classes.
- For example, I like for children in kindergarten through third grade to draw on the top half of the page and write on the bottom half of the page? So I know I need to model this.
- I also want them to only write on the front of the pages. So I need to model this. (I have a very good reason for this. More to come in an upcoming post.)
4. Teach the children how to record the date on each page. Again, I model and set the expectation on page formatting.
- For preschoolers, my recording the date expectations are very different! You can write the date for them or let them use a date stamp. Yes, you’ll have to model how to use the date stamp.
5. Start writing and illustrating! Young children communicate through pictures. Invite the children to start with a drawing.
Preschool – First Grade: “Draw a picture of yourself or something you like. You can write about your picture if you’d like.”
Second – Third Grade: “Draw a picture of yourself or something you like and then write about it.”
This is Miss Enigma’s first day with a big girl journal, age 3. We read our “I Like Me” books and then I gave Miss Enigma a mirror to look at her face. She informed me that she drew herself with a “mad-face” because she was mad at her brother. Yes, it’s shocking. My children argue a lot. I’m sure your children never fight.
This is a sample of MacGyver’s first grade journal. He often wrote about our dog Shadow in his first grade journal.
6. Keep the writing time short.
- Follow the children’s lead. Preschool children might be done in 5 minutes!
- First through Third will probably draw and write for about 15 – 30 minutes.
7. Share and celebrate!
- Pick three children to share. Yes, all of the children will want to share. Again, this is the time to set expectations. EVERYONE will have an opportunity to share in the days to come. There will be close to 200 hundred days to share!
8. Model how to comment and ask questions as the children share their writing and illustrations.
- I like the way you . . .
- I like the part about . . .
- The part about . . . was funny.
- The part about . . . was interesting.
- I like your picture.
- Why did you write about . . .?
9. I don’t worry if the children only draw. It’s just the first day! You’ve got a whole school year or a whole lifetime if you’re homeschooling. This is more about establishing routines, expectations and creating a positive experience.
10. Follow-up lessons:
- What Makes Me Happy by Catherine and Laurence Anholt is all about the feelings of children. Read a different pages each day, have a big discussion and invite the children to write or draw about:
- What makes you happy?
- What makes you scared?
- What makes you shy?
- What makes you excited?
- Of course, I let the children write about any topic. However, giving them some ideas is much better than instructing them to just write, “I don’t know what to write about over and over again.”
That’s it to get started. We will continue with journal writing in the weeks to come: How to inspire children to write about their memories.
We’re GIVING away one copy of I Like Me by Nancy Carlson and I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont and a Journal to get started.
To enter this contest, just answer the following question in the comments section of this post.
If you were given a journal today and told to draw or write about something you like, what would you write about? (Or just say “Hey.” We’re flexible around here.)
One entry per person, please.
No entries after 8:00 pm Central Time, Thursday, September 2, 2010
The winner must be a resident of The United States.
The winner will be selected at random and announced Friday, September 3, 2010. Check back it might be you!
THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED. But you are welcome to leave a comment. We love hearing from our readers!
Life with Jeannine