No More Writing Prompts! Book of the Week GIVEAWAY

September 3, 2013

EVERY Day Journal Writing with Children . . . NO More Writing Prompts! from

Week at a Glance

  • Book of the Week GIVEAWAY: When I Grow Up by Al Yankovic
  • journal writing without prompts
  • teaching children how to write daily
  • writing about memories
  • using books as writing inspiration
  • jump starting writing through conversation
  • non-fiction journal writing

When I Grow Up Book GIVEAWAY

Book of the GIVEAWAY: When I Grow Up by Al Yankovic

Why we love this book:

Yes, this book is written by “Weird A”l Yankovic. Don’t let that scare you away. When this books was recommended to me, I was skeptical. But then I read it. It’s cute! Darn cute! And kids love the silly and yet important message.

When I Grow Up Book GIVEAWAY

Billy was excited because “Thursday at noon, as I’m sure you know well, Is the time of the week when we do show-and-tell. And this week the subject — so special to me — Was When I grow up, what am I gonna be?”  Billy just can’t decide on a career . . . maybe a snail trainer or a lathe operator . . . or perhaps a professional pickle inspector or a deodorant tester . . . . Or maybe — just maybe now — when Billy grows up, he can be a great teacher like dear Mrs. Krupp.

This fun rhyming book opens the door for children to dream about what they will be when they grow up. Dream is the key word because When I Grow Up is full of both totally ridiculous ideas and even some actually reasonable ones.

journal writing in first grade: grandpa

EVERY Day Journal Writing with NO More Writing Prompts

Have you ever heard, “I don’t know what to write!” Sure you have! Most people let their fingers do the walking and google quickly provides A List of Writing Prompts for Every Day of the Year! What could be easier? “Here little sweetie write about XYZ topic today.” And guess what you still hear, “I don’t know what to write about XYZ topic!”

Long, long ago I freed myself from writing prompts. And I rarely ever hear the dreaded, “I don’t know what to write!”


1. Write “All About Me!”

Self Portrait writing lesson

Wilfrid Gordon MacDonald Patridge by Mem Fox

2. Write About a Special Memory

  • Every school year, I begin journal writing by reading aloud Wilfrid Gordon McDonal Partridge by Mem Fox. (Yes, my own children hear it every year!)
  • After Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge helps Miss Nancy find her memory, I engage the children in a discussion about their own special memories.
    • “What is a memory?”
    • “Does this story make you think of any memories?”
  • Next, I invite the children to draw and write about a special memory.
  • Books That Inspire Children to Write is a step-by-step guide on how I teach children to write about their own memories.
  • Books That Inspire Children to Write highlights excellent books for reading aloud to children during journal writing.
  • Throughout the year, I invite the children to write about their memories. The memory can be as simple as playing with the dog yesterday.

Journal Writing Prompts for Children

3. Write About a Book that Sparks an Idea or a Memory

  • At the beginning of journal time every day, I read aloud a book.
  • During this time, I try to read books about every day life. Books that might spark the children’s own memories or ideas.
  • Books That Inspire Children to Write highlights some of the books I read during journal time. These books teach children that they can write about every day events in their lives.
  • When I Grow Up is a good example of an “All About Me” book.
  • After reading, I simply posed the question, “What do you think you’d like to be when you grow up?”
  • “You might want to write about that today?”
  • Miss Enigma chose to write her version of When I Grow Up; however, MacGyver wrote about his own topic idea.

First grade journal: Park

4. Have a Conversation and then Write

  • Children like to talk about themselves and about the important (and not so important) events in their lives!
  • After reading aloud a book, I have a discussion with the children.
  • Does, this book remind you of anything? Have you ever done anything like this? Have you ever been on a boat, train, airplane? Have you ever been to the park, amusement park, zoo, pet store, Grandma’s house . . .?
  • If you have children you know they are ready to talk!!!
  • After talking I simply prompt, “You might want to write about that today.”

Teaching Children Letter Writing

5. Write a Letter to Family or Friends

  • Who writes letters any more?!
  • My kids actually like writing letters during journal time.
  • Several weeks before homeschool began, MacGyver told me that for journal time he wanted to write to our neighbors who moved away in June. He included several photos since catching creepy critters was a favorite pastime they shared.
  • I teach my children how to ask a few questions in the letter and then write a couple of sentences about themselves.
  • I usually make a copy of their letters so they have one for their journal and one to mail.

journal writing in first grade: horseshoe crab

6. Write about Facts and Information

  • MacGyver loves nonfiction books.
  • He reads and reads and reads and tells us facts and facts and more facts.
  • Some days he writes little summaries about specific creatures he’s been reading about.

plant diagram second grade

7. Write About a Specific Theme Study Topic

  • Occasionally, I do assign a theme study topic.
  • “Today, I would like for you to draw and label the parts of a plant. Next, I would like for you to list the things a plant needs to grow.”
  • “We’ve been studying about George Washington and The American Revolution. Today I would like for you to write a summary about what you’ve learned about George Washington. I would like for you to include where and when he was born, three important facts about his life and when he died.”
  • “Yesterday, we visited The Botanical Garden. I would like for you to write a summary about our day. I would like for you to include something new you learned, your favorite part of the day and your least favorite part of the day. “
  • The more the children write summaries, the less direction they need.

journal dinosaur museum

8. Write Every Day . . . Write About You, Things You Like and Your Special Memories

  • My children know they are going to write EVERY day.
  • At the beginning of the year, I help the children brainstorm a list of special memories, travels, friends and family. If they get writer’s block one day, I help them refer to their list of ideas.

My Children know I expect their very best, but I don’t expect their journals to be perfect. Their journals are a place to write, write and write some more. The more we write the easier it gets. The easier it gets the more we write! Have a great year of memories and writing!

Life with Jeannine

  When I Grow Up Book GIVEAWAY

 We’re GIVING AWAY one hard cover copy of When I Grow Up by Al Yankovic

To enter this contest, use the Rafflecopter to answer the following question. After you leave a comment, you can move ahead with more entries.

Answer the following question in the comments section of this post.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A snail trainer?  (Or just say “Hey.” We’re flexible around here.)

The Rules:

No entries after 11:59 pm Central Time, Sunday, September 8, 2013

The winner must be a resident of The United States.

The winner will be selected at random and announced Monday, September 9, 2013. Check back to claim your prize. It might be you!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Tara H September 3, 2013 at 10:49 pm

I wanted to be a teacher, and now I have the privilege of teaching my 5 boys! And I must say that I almost wasn’t going to enter this one when I saw Al Yankovic’s name. :) Then I read that you were skeptical too so here I am… :)

Jeannine September 3, 2013 at 10:57 pm

I know! I know! Weird Al’s name isn’t doing him any favors! But I was surprised to find this book actually fun and charming.

Anna@The Measured Mom September 4, 2013 at 4:58 am

AMEN to no more writing prompts! If only more people felt the same. Thanks for all the great resources!

Jeannine September 4, 2013 at 7:03 am

NO more writing prompts actually makes writing so much easier. The children know they will write every day and they are welcome to write about anything!

Tanya September 4, 2013 at 8:05 am

As a young child I remember wanting to be a singer. I was always singing. We have many tapings of my silly singing around the house. By the age 10 I wanted to be a doctor.

tammy c September 4, 2013 at 1:39 pm

what did I want to be when I grew up is a wife and mother

Jeannine September 4, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Well Tanya, which was it a singer or a doctor? Or if you were anything like me, you went through a number of phases.

Ellie September 4, 2013 at 6:00 pm

I wanted to be a ballet dancer. I did take ballet, and I guess I was okay, but for a professional career, my talent was sorely lacking! ;-)

Dianne September 4, 2013 at 6:31 pm

I wanted to be an archaeologist.

Candis September 4, 2013 at 7:50 pm

I wanted to be a teacher and I was. Now I am getting to teach my own children and there is nothing better! LOVE these ideas for writing. We have started Writing Workshop for the past week in our Kinder homeschool and I have been following the same methods that I used in the classroom based on Lucy Caulkins’s Units of Study for Primary Writing. Your ideas tie perfectly into those units! Thanks so much!

Brandy September 5, 2013 at 6:56 am

I wanted to be a teacher! I was a classroom teacher for 7 years and now I am teaching my three at home.

Jeannine September 5, 2013 at 8:01 am

Such variety in this bunch . . . singer, doctor, ballet dancer, archaeologist.

Candis and Brandy I agree that teaching my own children is the best! Such fun and time for bonding.

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