Journal Writing with Toddlers: Book of the Week GIVEAWAY

February 28, 2011

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Book of the Week GIVEAWAY: Baby’s First Animals by Hinkler Books

Why we love this book:

We start reading to children when they are infants. This book with it’s simple colorful pictures and text are just what we look for when reading to baby. For toddlers, the one word pages introduce toddlers to the concept that words and letters carry meaning. The large one word text also lends itself well to introducing beginning sounds to young readers. Today we’re featuring journal writing with toddlers and this book helps build early literacy foundations for young children.

Go ahead say it, “What, a two year-old with a journal?  You’re Crazy!”

Yes, both of my children started their first journal when they turned two. Now, I use the term “journal” loosely.  As a classroom teacher, my students wrote in their journals daily.  A two year-old journal looks much different than a four year-old journal.  Which looks much different than a six year-old journal.  Over the next weeks let’s take a look at age-appropriate journals and practices.

1.  Keep it simple!

  • I buy a CHEAP spiral.
  • I write my child’s name and date on the cover.
  • I NEVER again try to date the pages. (Unless it is something special.  But a date on a page is rare!)
  • When my child has filled all of the pages of the journal, I write the end date.  The end of story.
  • If you’re in the classroom and want to document growth, simple write the date on occasion.

journal writing, Miss Enigma, age 2

2. Keep it real!

  • Let’s face it unless you’re dealing with a genius, which I can’t even spell without a dictionary, a two year-old scribbles.  So expect a journal full of scribbles!
  • I NEVER, EVER, NEVER try to get a toddler to write on the pages in order!.  I hand them the journal and say, “Have fun writing.”  Write anywhere you’d like.  The child may scribble on one page or 20.  It’s all great with me.  When it’s full it’s full.
  • Sometimes I write or draw on the paper with my children setting an example.  But this is not “instruction.”  It is us just enjoying some conversation, writing, drawing, and scribble time together.

journal writing, Miss Enigma, age 2

3.  Keep it short!

  • Journal time may only last 5 minutes.  I let the children set the pace at this age.
  • In a classroom setting, journal time might happen twice a week as an entire class.  Pass the journals out.  Scribble, scribble, scribble and then pick them up.
  • Or in a small group setting, journal time may happen during small group “instruction” time.  Pass the journals out to three or four children.  Scribble, scribble, scribble.  Talk and interact. Then pick them up.

4. Keep it fun!

  • At this age it’s all about the experience.
  • I’m not trying to teach my children how to write. It’s more of a play activity exposing them to writing and writing materials.

5. Read! Read! Read to your toddler.

We’ve got a book GIVE AWAY just for these little toddler writers!

We’re GIVING AWAY one board book Baby’s First Animals by Hinkler Books.

To enter this contest, just answer the following question in the comments section of this post.

Since we’re talking about toddler scribbles, what is the worst thing on which your little one has written? Take a look at the four foot submarine scene MacGyver drew on his wall during nap time! (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, March 3, 2011

The winner must be a resident of The United States.

The winner will be selected at random and announced Friday, March 4, 2011. Check back it might be you!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin February 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm

The worst thing my toddler ever wrote was on the wall paper. The scribble was not that bad, just the place she decided to put it. Since we were renting and it was an old German apt. it was a bit difficult to remove and reconstruct.

Tara March 1, 2011 at 11:00 am

I read this last night and have been trying to remember the worst place one of the boys have written. Well, I’m writing this now because while I was trying to remember, my 2 year old wrote on the door frame to a closet in our school room. Thankfully he did it with a dry erase marker so it came off with a wipe.
I think the journal thing is a great idea. I never thought about calling it a journal until they could write, but I started this today with my 4 year old. After we got his started, everyone else was looking around for blank notebooks too! Thanks for the great idea!!

Sarah March 2, 2011 at 5:51 am

I love this post. I’ve always given my kids journals too, great for taking out and about and on holidays and a good way to keep track of all the work! And your approach (not worrying about order of pages, not dating pages) has made me feel a little more relaxed about it.

Today my 4yo daughter asked me to draw her a frog, which I thought was strange because she would usually just go and draw herself a frog, or whatever she fancied. And then she told me that she was “fed up with kiddie drawing” at which point I almost hit the floor. It seems that she’s become inhibited about her drawing overnight. She started kindergarten a couple of weeks ago – I hope I can convince her to start again. She used to draw non-stop, so expressively and enthusiastically. I actually did a post last year about her drawing on the walls!

Sarah March 2, 2011 at 5:53 am

oh by the way, please don’t enter me in the draw – we have that book at home. I just noticed Skippy Jon Jones in your side bar – we borrowed that from the library a few weeks ago. What a hilarious book! Great fun to read aloud!

Natalie March 2, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Don’t enter me in the giveaway, but I wanted to comment that I love your approach to journals. I really should have done it when my daughter was 2. She is 4 now and not a willing writer.

maryanne March 3, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Okay, we really do live in the same house! I just bought all three kids $1 notebooks to use this way. I love your idea of just printing a date range on the cover!

And Lily may give MacGyver a run for his money some day. So far she has attacked every chair in the house, the walls, the coffee table…here is her greatest masterpiece (she got Johnny to help her with it):

The photos don’t really capture the fact that it was at least five feet long and two feet high! That was a LOT of scrubbing with magic eraser! And there is pen on the wall right now that I just haven’t gotten around to scrubbing off…

Grateful for Grace March 3, 2011 at 6:25 pm

OH, yes!! I just got out our journals to start up again. This is great encouragement. I’ve dropped the journal ball and am sad about it.

The worst thing one of my toddlers has written on was the computer screen with a Sharpie.

Jackie March 5, 2011 at 9:05 am

Great article on early writing! My kids haven’t (knock on wood) drawn on anything other than paper… yet! But my cousin’s little boy drew all over my couch with a pen that would not come out. It faded a little over time but I had to work hard to hide it. Of course, if I hadn’t been gabbing to his mom in the other room and we’d actually been watching him it would have never happened in the first place so can’t blame him too much ;)

Jackie August 24, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Ok, I went a little crazy linking to all of your journal writing posts today :)
But it’s such great stuff and I wanted to share it! Hope you don’t mind. thanks for all of the great tips.

Luci Paim April 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm

The worst thing on which my little one has written on is not what really matters, as she had written all over my bedroom walls, furniture and linen, BUT what she has used to write with – my brand new lipstick and eye pencil. She was a very creative 2 years old!
Of course I was a little upset in the beginning, but after a GOOD looking and a deep breath… I just LOVED the artistic production!
I said how please I was to see such a wonderful work, explained that there are better places to do that, and gave her some brand new crayons, chalks, finger paints, pencils and, of course, lots of good size papers.
She has never done anything like that again, but I am sure THAT was a happy artistic starting point for those little bright eyes.

J Adams June 14, 2015 at 6:04 pm

my son once wrote on the chalkboard of his toy box plus each shelf of the toy Bo’s as well!

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