Journal Writing with Kindergartners: Book of the Week GIVEAWAY

March 29, 2011

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Book of the Week GIVEAWAY: Baby Bear, Baby Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr & Eric Carle

Why we love this book:

What’s not to love?  It’s Bill Martin Jr & Eric Carle! As we continue our series on journal writing with kindergartners we cannot emphasize enough the importance of easy familiar reading to build a strong early literacy foundation and to aid children in developing a core of familiar words. “What Do You See” are all perfect words for early writing. Kindergarten is all about exposure, experiences and exploration. Pattern books like Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? certainly fit the bill.

This simple book is also wonderful for introducing nouns, adjectives and verbs to young children. Each animal is portrayed through the use of a descriptive adjective and an action word. Children love acting out the actions of each animal. For an expanded lesson on using children’s literature to teach nouns and verbs, head on over to our post: Ready, Set, Action!: Teaching Nouns and Verbs.

So now that we’ve got toddlers and preschoolers writing in a journal, let’s get those “big” kindergartners writing. Well guess what, kindergartners aren’t big kids and some of them aren’t ready to write. Yes, I said it! How do I know? I’ve taught them, including my own son. Now, this doesn’t mean they are slow. It simply means they will bloom in their own time. Trust Leo the Late Bloomer, they’ll bloom.

So while some push little five-year-olds to read and write, I believe in exposing children to great literature, singing, hands-on experiences and an abundance of writing opportunities, including journal writing. However, I do not think it is necessary for a five-year-old to write in a journal every day. For heaven’s sake, they need some time to soak up life and build their experiences with the world. That’s my two cents for what it’s worth. And please don’t even get Joyce started!

Journal Writing with Kindergartners


  • Unlined journal paper bound on the horizontal long edge
    • Unlined because it simply frees the beginning writer. If you’ve worked with young writers, you’ve noticed they ignore the lines any way. So lend them a hand and just get rid of the lines.
    • Bound on the long edge . . . I’ll touch on this in a minute . . .
  • Alphabet Sound Guide: Print this FREE
  • Pencils and Markers

kindergarten journal entry, MacGyver, age 5

Getting  Started Day One:

  • I gave MacGyver an Alphabet Sound Guide and very simple directions,

kindergarten journal entry, MacGyver, age 5

  • For several days we continue with these simple directions: draw or write.
    • At this early writing stage, conversation is key.
    • In the classroom,  I would sit with four or five children in a small guided group and engage them in conversation about their journal entries. On occasion, I would write their stories for them. Without conversation, I’d never know these are flying saucers.

kindergarten journal entry, MacGyver, age 5

kindergarten journal entry, MacGyver, age 5

The Next Step:

  • I introduce the concept of memories by reading aloud Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge by Mem Fox. After the read aloud, we share our own special memories.
  • Then I invite the children to write about their own special memories and explain that our journals are a place to draw and write about memories and special days.
  • This is MacGyver’s first memory entry about a special night when he and Daddy went hunting for crabs in the dark with flashlights.
  • Throughout the year, I continue with: Books that Inspire Children to Write.

kindergarten journal entry, MacGyver, age 5

  • MacGyver continued with his memory writing by drawing a picture of a peach tree. Previously that day, he had planted his peach pit in hopes that it would grow into a tree. That was definitely a special event in his book. :)

kindergarten journal entry, MacGyver, age 5

Introducting the Practice Page:

  • Finally, the reason I bind the journal on the long edge is so the children can have a practice page above their journal page.
  • It is much easier for a child to copy words directly down, rather than from a side page.
  • I use the practice page,
    • to teach letter formation.
    • to use sound boxes, assisting children in sounding out easy words.
    • to take easy words to fluency.
  • MacGyver wrote, “I am ” and then I finished the sentence for him.

kindergarten journal writing, MacGyver, age 5

Broadening the Concept of Journal Writing:

  • Our journal also doubles as an observation journal, a science journal and a theme study journal.
    • MacGyver loves science and insects; therefore, his journal is sprinkled with bugs and creepy crawly life.
  • We can see above that MacGyver copied my sentence. In a print rich environment, young children will begin to experiment with writing.

kindergarten journal entry, MacGyver, age 5

  • MacGyver’s interest in bugs led to a theme study on insects.
    • MacGyver was given the assignment to draw and label the parts of an insect: head, thorax and abdomen. And because MacGyver is always one step ahead of me, he added 6 legs.

kindergarten journal entry, MacGyver, age 5

kindergarten journal entry, MacGyver, age 5

  • Theme Study Assignments:
    • On occasion, MacGyver is given journal assignments. (This is the exception rather than the norm.)
    • In conjunction with our family trip to the beach, we did a theme study on oceans. MacGyver used his ocean books to complete the above journal entry.

These journal entries are just a sampling from MacGyver’s kindergarten journal. To get your children started with journal writing . . .

We’re GIVING AWAY one hard cover copy of : Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr / Eric Carle

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

Can you remember a special memory from kindergarten? (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 31, 2011

The winner must be a resident of The United States.

The winner will be selected at random and announced Friday, April 1, 2011. Check back it might be you!

Life with Jeannine

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Deb March 29, 2011 at 5:22 pm

We had a big circle set in the tiles with the letters of the alphabet on them. I sat next to a girl named Blueberry on the first day and we were friends for several years.

Robin March 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm

My special memory from Kindergarten was playing with big cardboard blocks and building tall buildings.. we then watched as they crashed down.

Anissa March 29, 2011 at 8:47 pm

I loved Spanish Bingo – it probably wasn’t too politically correct but my favorite word was buracho (means drunk man). I don’t think I knew what the word meant at the time but for some reason I really liked saying the word. I come from a long line of non-drinkers and continue that today but I still like the word. Very strange what sticks with you.

I also liked naptime and the rotating “boyfriends” who fought to put their mat next to my mat.

Wow, I sound like a stellar example…I sure have changed from my five year old self!

5ennie March 29, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Hmm.. no kindergarten for me, I started school as a 6-year old in Finland. But I remember from my first grade my teacher who had a hard time with my ‘P’s – I would start from the bottom and somehow she always knew that ;-)

My youngest is starting K this Fall, and I love the idea of journaling!! Thank you!

Alice March 29, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Oh, I remember having stations we rotated. There was a color song about the primary colors that I still remember. And we played “Who stole the cookie?” at circle time. I really loved that!

Natalie March 30, 2011 at 12:49 am

Great post. I went to school back home in the former Soviet Union, so it’s very different. We had grades, you know. I remember being very upset when I got C in math once. I think it was my only C in all the years in school :)

Merelyn March 30, 2011 at 6:02 am

This going to date me but in Kindergarten, we did the 2 tin cans and a string thing (ya know, to replicate how (obsolete) telephones work). And LOTS of playing on a grassy hill outside of our little, old house Kindergarten. So fun! Thanks Mrs. Limehouse!!

Ellie March 30, 2011 at 8:09 am

One of me special memories from kindergarten is drawing a picture that I was so proud of. Then I lost it! Then my teacher helped me find it, and pinned it on a special place on the wall. All’s well that ends well! (Though I wish I could remember what that picture looked like!)
I would love to win this book; we are always borrowing it from the library (when it’s available)!

Tara March 30, 2011 at 11:11 am

The memory that always first pops into my mind from kindergarten is hiding on the playground when it was time to go inside from recess. I have a horrible memory so I may have done it more than once since it stands out so clearly! :)

Again, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your putting all your ideas on here, I have learned so much from your blog. So far, in the journal writing series, I have had a son in every category!!

Julie@The Adventures of Bear March 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I hit my nose on the water fountain and had my very first bloody nose! Nice memory:) I am learning SO much from your blog. To think I would never have wandered over here if you hadn’t commented on my blog. Thank you! I love these posts on journals and drawings. I have an early blooming girl and she will love doing this.

Brandy March 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I don’t remember much about Kindergarten, but I do remember learning to spell Wednesday. And getting paddled on my hand with an apple tree shaped/painted paddle because I was running around the room. I remember the first day walking in with my paper towels and tissues, as well.

Sarah Scott September 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm

One memory that sticks out in Kindergarten is that I had the chicken pox so I stayed home from school for a week. When i returned to school my best friend also had scabby pox all over her as well. We didn’t even know the other was gone that week as well. :)

Amber September 12, 2011 at 10:15 pm

I know the giveaway is closed, but I just had to comment. I’m so glad you endorse ditching lined paper for this age. My five-year-old loves to write and is fairly good at letter formation and spacing, given that she’s not had explicit instruction in this, but I can’t get her to write big enough to take up the space on lined kindergarten paper. We both just get frustrated. So, I’m following your lead and letting her write on blank paper and we’ll introduce lines maybe next year!

Valerie nosie March 17, 2014 at 8:10 pm

My memory of kindergarten is I stayed home the day my school burned down and wonder if the babies from the home keeping area made it out.

Jeannine March 18, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Oh Valerie, what a heart tugging memory!

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