Journal Writing with Preschoolers: And a Two Book GIVEAWAY

March 8, 2011

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Book of the Week GIVEAWAYS:  On The Go by Ant Parker and Airport by Byron Barton

Last week we began our series on age appropriate journal writing with toddlers. This week we’re continuing the series with preschoolers. As a Teacher and now a homeschool Mom, I’ve learned to keep things low maintenance! For all of the simple “How To’s” you can read last week’s post: Journal Writing with Toddlers. We’re going to continue along the same path with preschoolers:

1. Keeping Journal Writing Simple

2. Keeping Journal Writing Real

3. Keeping Journal Writing Short

4. Keeping Journal Writing Fun

5. Reading, Reading, Reading to our Preschoolers

Journal Writing with Preschoolers

preschool journal entry, MacGyver, age 3

When MacGyver was about 14 months old, he became obsessed with airplanes. Not a little obsession, but a great-big-over-the-top obsession. Everyone knew of his obsession. Accordingly, he has been showered with toys and books about airplanes.Yes, we honored his obsession and it flourished.

Our book GIVEAWAYS this week are a reminder to honor our children’s interest.

preschool journal entry, MacGvyer, age 3

His entire journal as a three year old is filled from cover to cover with drawings of airplanes. That is all he was interested in drawing and I didn’t push the issue. I figured there would be plenty of time later in life for him to develop a more well rounded writing portfolio! None the less while he was still fixated on airplanes, he actually began to experiment with writing letters.

preschool journal entry, MacGyver, age 4

One year later, MacGyver was still drawing airplanes. He had just turned 4 when he drew this airplane. We can see his fine motor skills progressing. He is also continuing his experimentation with writing letters. He would tell me, “Mommy this airplane is a B125789F25. I wrote it right here on the wings.”

preschool journal entry, MacGyver, age 4

Throughout his four-year-old journal MacGyver continued drawing airplanes. With each drawing his fine motor skills progressed.

preschool journal entry, MacGyver, age 4

Then one day, MacGyver “illustrated” a story instead of drawing an airplane. This is a picture illustrating the day he and daddy launched a rocket. That is Daddy holding a rocket, not a gun. Up by the sunshine is Mommy with her ponny tail. Can you see me?

preschool journal entry, MacGyver, age 4

MaGyver began illustrating more and more stories. This one shows MacGyver on a pair of stilts observing a butterfly coming out of its chrysalis. And there just happened to be a pilot flying by watching him and his butterfly. This illustration reminds me how important it is to engage children in conversation. If I had not talked to MacGyver about his drawing, I would have never known about his stilts and the chrysalis. Children have much more going on in those little brains than we give them credit for.

preschool journal entry, MacGyver, age 4

This is an illustration of MacGyver flying around the world. This Story is one of my favorite.

preschool journal entry, MacGyver, age 4

This journal entry is an illustration of a hotel we stayed in as a family. MacGyver copied the word “HOTEL” from a picture included in his Lego building set. I was very impressed that he knew where to go to copy this word. Who taught him that? Seriously, where did he learn that.

preschool journal entry, Miss Enigma, age 4

Here’s the big lesson I’ve learned about children: All children are different! At age 4, Miss Enigma doesn’t draw airplanes. Miss Enigma doesn’t write letters. Miss Enigma doesn’t illustrate stories. Miss Enigma draws faces. Oh, and she scribbles. However, her scribbles now represent words that tell stories. She’s a great story teller and she knows that writing carries meaning. So as she tells me an elaborate story, she slowly scribbles, pretending to write. However, she hasn’t started experimenting with letter writing. And you know what, that’s perfectly fine! Because all children are different. And being a child is not a contest!

Life with Jeannine

We’re GIVING AWAY one copy of On The Go by Ant Parker and Airport by Byron Barton

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

In honor of MacGyver, where is the last place you’ve flown? Did you fly around the world like him? (Or just say “Hey.” We’re flexible around here.)

The Rules:

One entry per person, please.

No entries after 8:00 pm Central Time, Friday, March 11, 2011

The winner must be a resident of The United States.

The winner will be selected at random and announced Saturday, March 12, 2011. Check back it might be you!

FREE printable Alphabet Sound Guide

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

maryanne March 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I would LOVE to fly around the world someday! Utah was the last place I flew, and we’ll be flying to Nevada later this month, so these books would be perfect for my kids!

I can’t believe how well MacGyver drew airplanes as a three-year-old!

Tara March 8, 2011 at 8:24 pm

MacGyver’s art continues to amaze me!!

My husband works for an airline so we can fly for free, however, in our 10 years of marriage we have only flown twice. I think the last time I flew was to the Mall of America (and that was about 8 years ago).

Robin March 8, 2011 at 9:23 pm

The last place I flew to was to Florida to enjoy my family and the warm clear waters from the gulf. I miss the soft white sand and pretty shells.. I think I will fly back this summer.
My husband was also in love with airplanes at at an early age. We have a scrap book he made when he was a young boy. At this moment to this day he still loves airplanes and now gets to work with the simulations of flight which helps teach the new pilots how to fly.

Brandy March 8, 2011 at 9:23 pm

The last place I fl ew was to Boston for my brother’s college graduation….about 8 years ago. I’ve only flown one other time before that. Not experienced with planes, obviously.

Mozi Esmes Mom March 9, 2011 at 10:12 am

My 3yo is a bit of a traveling bebe – we’ve been around the world a couple of times… Last flight was from England to Oregon.

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Joy Hannabass March 9, 2011 at 11:21 am

Wow I’ve never been on an airplane. Just don’t travel that much, but I do love to read about traveling, and about things around the world!

Annette W March 9, 2011 at 12:19 pm

In 2006 I flew to California…no where since. :)

However, I wanted to say thank you for including Miss Enigma’s drawing. My daughter (age 4) can barely do rainbows and faces…let alone a flower.

Heather @ Cultivated Lives March 9, 2011 at 8:22 pm

We flew last to St. Louis, although we ‘pretended’ to fly all over the world this last year when we studied world geography!!!

Ellie March 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm

The last place I flew to was southern California. To visit my husband’s family during the holidays. We usually fly about once or twice a year to visit family, but nowadays, I much prefer vacations where no airplanes are involved!

Shonda March 10, 2011 at 9:29 am

We flew to Minnesota for a family reunion in the summer. We go every year! This year will be very different since we will be taking our baby who will be 3 months old by then as well as our active 2 year old! My son absolutely loves airplanes and anything on the go! Very cute website. I want to start some journal writing in the next year with my little guy.

Karen March 10, 2011 at 6:35 pm

I haven’t flown since Christmas when I flew to my sister’s house in the windy city.

Anissa March 10, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Texas — two summers ago. I guess, we need to travel more but with the cost of air plane travel it just seems that we stick closer to home. We have a number of fun destinations within driving distance and that fits more in our budget and lifestyle! I miss our faraway family though…

Katie March 12, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Last place I flew to was Florida several years ago… I’d love to win this for my headstart class!

Merelyn March 14, 2011 at 2:55 pm

So we started the Journal thing last week b/c I love your idea and now I see pics of your spiral – of course, even your cover looks neat! I scrawled “Boe” really big across the front and scribbled the date. It’s so representative of who we are, isn’t it? Miss Neat and Tidy! Thanks again for the GREAT idea!!!

Natalie March 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I love this series. It’s interesting to see through these 2 journals how different kids can be in their approach to art and writing. MacGyver is extremely artistic, but my 4 year old daughter could probably find more in common with Ms Enigma :)

Kathy Davis September 26, 2011 at 8:32 pm

The last time I flew was to Italy 2 years ago. It was awesome!

Mary February 9, 2015 at 1:42 pm

I have been teaching preschool in my home for about 10 years. I teach not babysit. I do my very best to try to get my students as ready for kindergarten as I possibably can. I have discovered lately that the curriculum is getting more advance as the years go by. In a good school system kindergarten isn’t the same as it was even 5 years ago. Our neighborhood school first graders are writing book reports. Which means writing and reading skills are on the top of my teaching goals for my pre-K students. I would like to start teaching Journal writing. I reviewed your site and was found it very interested. I was wondering what do you do about explaining in the journal what the child drew. My students are learning to sound out words and a few are learning to read. I would like to let the students try to write out their story, but do I write it correctly under their writing. And what about spelling mistakes. Do I correct them, or not be too worried for now. Any tips and advice you can offer I would truly appreciate.
Ms. Mary

Jeannine February 9, 2015 at 4:43 pm

Hi Mary, Yes I agree the curriculum is advancing quickly. Teaching and learning are changing quite a bit. I like a balanced approach. I model, I use guided reading and writing, shared reading and writing, word work and free exploration and journal writing. In the classroom, I pull a small group each day for journal writing. As they write at my table, I can interact with sounding out words and modeling writing. For those just getting started with writing I like to let them dictate a SHORT, simple sentence. I write it on a small sentence strip. Then I cut the sentence apart and let them glue it into their journal in the correct order, including finger spaces. For more advanced, I might pull a few high frequency type words from their writing for them to correct and practice writing. While I’m working with a small group the other children “write” independently in their journals. I write with every child at least once a week. We also do a great deal of shared writing.

Let me give you a few links that might be helpful:

10 Steps to Introduce Journal Writing

Journal Writing with Kindergartners, Letter Guides and Sound Boxes

Handwriting, Word Work, Spelling and Sentence Writing

Cut Apart Sentences

Brainstorming word for writing and the practice side of the writing Journal.

Ms. mary February 10, 2015 at 9:23 pm

Thank you for your quick response to my email. I passed out to my students, the journals, art boxes with writing and drawings supplies this morning and sat with them while I explained what to do. They were already sort of aware what a journal was . I write a journal page on each child everyday and send them home in back packs for parents to read and sign.
After explaining, the children got to work drawing pictures. I wish you could of seen the smiles on their little faces. They were so proud of their journals and drawings:) Then came the writing part. Several children started sounding out the words, where one little guy got upset because he wanted everything to be perfect. I told him not to worry, for what he’s doing is called “Kid Writing” and he is writing his way today. It seem to help:) at the end of Journal Time I had very happy students.
I like your plan of writing short sentences down on a sheet of paper and cutting
the words apart. Then I can have the students help me put the words in the correct order. I will check out the sights you sent. You have been a big help. Thanks again, I will keep you updated.

Ms. Mary

Jeannine February 11, 2015 at 11:57 am

Mary thank you for sharing your success story! Another strategy I use is to write difficult words with a highlighter in the student’s journal and let the student trace the letters. Some words are too difficult for an emergent writer to try to sound out. I don’t want frustration, I want encouragement!

I also do a mini lesson with the entire class on the stages of writing. I tell them the “story” of when I first began writing.
1. First, I draw a simple picture of two friends. “This says, ‘I like my friend.’ When I was a little girl I used pictures to tell my stories. You can use pictures to tell your stories.”
2. Next, I write nonsense letters. “Then I started school and I began to write letters but I didn’t know all of the sounds. So I just wrote the letters I knew. These letters say, ‘I like my friend.'”
3. Then, I write the words with phonetic sounds; however, “friend” is not spelled correctly. “I began to learn my letter sounds and I started sounding out the words. Not all of the words were correct but I did my best and I was proud. These letter sounds say, ‘I like my friend.'”
4. Last I write the words correctly. “Finally, I began to learn more and more words and I could spell most words correctly. This sentence say, ‘I like my friend.'”

I explain that all children go through the stages of learning to write. At first it is tricky and then it gets easier and easier. The important thing is they try. With practice, they will begin to spell more and more words correctly. Trying and making mistakes is an important part of learning to write.

Good luck Mary. I loved reading about your classroom experience.

Ms. mary February 11, 2015 at 1:10 pm

The Journals returned to school today. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened them. Several had notes to their children with praised. This really warmed my heart:) in the personal journals I send home each evening, there was a thank you note to me for getting the kiddos into journaling. By the way that thank you came from the mom of the little guy that got upset about his spelling. She has a daughter in first grade and she knows how important journal writing is. I must give you some of the thanks for you gave me a few ideals on how to approach it in a positive way. So thank you!
I have a question. I have 4 and 5 year olds in my pre school how often do you think I should plan Journal Time? I only teach a 4 day program. Thanks again for all of you valuable help.
P.S. I have jotted down my website. Feel free to check it out:)
Ms. Mary

Jeannine February 11, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Mary, You could do journaling every day if it fits in the schedule but it’s not necessary. You’ll have to see what works best for you and your students. I know at that age, journal time does not last long. Fifteen minutes at a time may be all their attention can handle. Young ones move from one task to another quickly!

I visited your site. I like seeing all of the kiddos painting and doing hands-on activities.

I noticed you are studying the human body. You might want to check out the book Bones by Steven Jenkins. It is awesome!

Happy Writing!

Ms. Mary February 23, 2015 at 9:32 pm

Hi, Jeannine,
I wanted to check in and give you an update on how our journal writing is going. Students drew their fourth entry today. Journal writing is going slow, but very well:) My students are really getting into the hang of drawing and thinking up a short message to go along with their drawings. I am very pleased. For now journaling only happens once a week. Hopefully in a few weeks I can plan it more often. I am actually thinking when the weather warms up, taking the children on a walking field trip around our neighborhood and let them draw what they see. I hope you don’t mind all the questions I ask you. You have been a big help. I have another question for you. Do you always think of the topic for the kiddos, or is it left up to them? Thank you for checking out my web site. I am very proud of it and what we accomplish through our days together. We are big with “Hands On” activities. We even travel out in lots of different types of weather. Thanks for the
info about the Bone book. We are just finishing up our unit on Our Bodies. We are moving on to making a toy store/learning about money. Thanks again for
everything. Have a great week.

Jeannine February 24, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Mary you can never ask too many questions! Children and learning are my passion.

Most often I let the students think of their own topics. Their journals are a place to record memories and every day life. I stress simply real life writing rather than story writing. It’s hard to write stories! It’s much easier to write about playing at the park, a trip to the zoo or spending the night at grandma’s house.

Here is a link to my approach to writing topics:
No More Writing Prompts!

Mary March 23, 2015 at 8:12 pm

Hi Jeannine,
It has been awhile since I have emailed. I wanted to give you an update on how journaling is going with my preschoolers. I hung on to all you were sharing with me and your info really is starting to pay off. You really know what you are talking about. My students are actually starting to sound out words. The little guy I spoke of when I started this activity is starting to spell a few words. He even tells the other students he is not kid spelling as much as he was. His mom is thrilled. As for the other students several are trying to spell words out when they sit to draw and paint pictures. We are on our way:) I will be sending three of my students to kindergarten in the upcoming Fall with the knowledge of proper sentence
structurs and journal writing thanks to all your help and support. I will keep you updated in the months ahead. Thanks again!

Mary November 7, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Hi Jeannine,
We are settling into the new 2015/16 school year and my three students I sent off to kindergarten are doing well. Especially with reading. I still try to keep in touch with them and the families. I invite them to special activities throughout the months. It is always exciting to see how they have grown and how well they are doing in Kindergarten, not only socially, but accidemically as well. Since I don’t teach preschool on Fridays I help out in my granddaughters kindergarten class. I now have several new students. We try to journal one or two times a week. It is very exciting, now that I know what I am doing:)
If you have any new thoughts or info on journaling please email and let me know.
Thanks again for all you do do education ” All” of us.
Ms. Mary

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