10 Easy Steps to Introduce Journal Writing: Preschool – Third Grade

August 30, 2010

Post image for 10 Easy Steps to Introduce Journal Writing: Preschool – Third Grade

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.

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.

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.

I Like Me! (Puffin Storytime) Book & CD

I Like Myself!

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.)

The Rules:

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

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

maryanne August 30, 2010 at 8:41 am

I actually write in a journal everyday, mostly memories I want to share with my own kids someday.

And I keep a journal in part because my mom started one for me when I was a baby – and let me draw in it as a toddler.

Lorri August 30, 2010 at 9:40 am

I write in a journal sometimes, but would like to write more. Thanks for such great opportunities to win books!

Robin August 30, 2010 at 10:40 am

I write in journals all the time. I have one that i keep my ideas i have for books that someday I will write, and one for feelings and the day reflections.
I make journals for the children in my classroom, some have difficulties at first and then by the end they have mastered putting their thoughts down with pictures or words.

Jackie August 30, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Hey, I’m writing about writing this week too!! I’d probably journal about my kids and all the funny stuff they do and say. My mom keeps saying, “Write that down. You don’t want to forget!”
By the way, fantastic post (as always)!!

Alice August 30, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Thanks for the great post, I want my kids to have a love for both reading and writing and I like the ideas you gave. The books look adorable and I know my kids would love them!

And to answer your question, I would write about traveling, since it’s something I love. I would draw pictures of myself visiting all the places I hope to someday see and take my kids. Travel is one of the best teachers of all I think!

Anthy August 30, 2010 at 10:04 pm

I would start writing down my memories of my grandmother who died about 10 years ago. I miss her.

Jamie Tobin August 31, 2010 at 8:43 am

I have always wanted to start journaling,maybe this is a hint……I would journal about all of the thoughts that go through my head especailly at night and how I strive to be a better mother and wife.

Brandy August 31, 2010 at 9:20 am

I would write about my family and teaching. It’s the easiest to write about for me and there is a lot of content in those areas. Writing is one of my favorite things to teach to my children and also when I was in the classroom (2nd grade)!

Chloe's Mommy September 1, 2010 at 12:36 am

The thought and request inspires me today, to finally journal
in mind-memory of a little girl ( myself ) that loved to write.Through life’s experiences writing was lost inside of me. Now
as a mommy of a six year old little girl in the first two weeks of homeschooling, I aspire to give to her, all of the joys lost and now found. Thankyou, for this is my first entry as I begin here my journaling journey for my life and my daughters.

Sincere Thanks

Maegan September 1, 2010 at 8:51 pm

If I had time today, I would write a journal about how interesting, stressful, and exciting it is to be building a house and incubating a baby at the same time. Especially when it is a race to see which one will be finished first!

aj September 2, 2010 at 12:06 pm

i have a ten year journal that i got half price b/c it only had 7 years left. “because time flies” is the website, i think. anyhoo…i love it, 2-3 sentences per day for the next 7 years and then i do a whole page for each kid on their birthdays. i want to get my kids started journaling.

Cynthia September 2, 2010 at 4:31 pm

I would write about my children because they are my life. We have a great time doing school together.

Anne September 8, 2010 at 3:03 am

This is a fantastic list! I used some of these even with my middle school students! Thanks for linking up at Feed Me Books Friday – hope you’ll continue!

ruby October 9, 2010 at 10:09 am

hi i jus wanted to add that i teach english in the elemantery department and i always encourage my students to do journal entries about themselves. for example jus recently we read together fourth grade rats by jerry spinelli , so one of the task given was to write a journal of a fourth grader highlighting things such as bullying, friendship issues and fitting in school chanllenges that kids encounter everyday at school..they loved expressing themselves it was awesome reading them and stepping into their shoes.

Janet Wagner from Creative Writing November 6, 2010 at 5:01 pm

This is one of the best step-by-step “how to introduce journaling” instructions I’ve seen in my long career as a writing teacher! Thank you! Will refer this post to others wanting to journal with their kids–and with their students!

Melissa Leong June 29, 2011 at 12:01 am

This is great! Thank you for the tips!

Eze,Chris Ifeanyi January 17, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Journal is a very good work,i have written many,and i am still writing many. Thanks for improving the kids!

anna zaragoza February 12, 2012 at 10:13 pm

I wish someone had got me started writing a journal when I was young.

Marlene Herrera June 18, 2012 at 10:35 am

Good Morning!!!

I love journaling. Are there other opportunities to enter another journal entry contest to win books.

Jeannine June 18, 2012 at 10:56 am

Hi Marlene! We GIVE AWAY books every week for parents, teachers and homeschool. Just check back each week. You can check out our GIVEAWAYS on our main page. We always list our new posts in the slider or you can usually find our Book GIVEAWAYS in our “at school” section. Good luck and happy reading and journal writing!

Jessie Chan October 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Hi there.

I am so lucky today that I found your site and had chance to read your excellent post. It really inspired me.

If fact, I am an English learner and have never had an experience of writing a journal myself even in my native language. But, after reading your post, I really want to give it a try and get my little girl, who is five, started writing a journal. Thanks for your tips.

I would write about my daughter’s new bracelet because I bought it for her birthday last week. And today, she wanted me to put it on and, well, it’s perfect on me. ^^

By the way, thanks for your sharing. It really make my day. Have a great day.

Jeannine October 9, 2012 at 11:47 am

Jessie it is wonderful to hear how you are inspired to begin journal writing with your daughter. Have fun writing about all of your special memories!

Kristen November 6, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Wow! This is great!! I am a preschool teacher, and I have been looking for ways to introduce journaling. I am definitely going to use this lesson to introduce journaling to my threes and fours. Thanks for sharing!!

Jeannine November 7, 2012 at 10:33 am

Hi Kristen! I also have a post on journal writing with preschoolers. It includes many journal samples and might give you more ideas for writing with your little ones. Have fun writing!

Awesome June 11, 2013 at 4:24 am

OMG!!!!! Thanks so much for sharing this and it really helped me with my school project even though I am not a preschooler. Once again thank you so much :)

Mahima Bedi January 4, 2016 at 11:30 pm

Thanks a lot for sharing this article with us. I have a 5 year old daughter who kept asking me questions about my new planner for years 2016. I started using stickers this year so we understand where the curiosity came from. Today
Today on 4th day she is still writing her journal. Her emotion of the day, and a sticker. I am planning to make it more challenging each month to record her day .

Judy baggett December 14, 2016 at 6:37 am

My husband and I are Sundayschol teacher . We want to teach the children in our class to journal. We want them to learn to hear Gods voice. Know He’s with them always .

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