I think journaling is an important skill for children to have. It aids in literacy development as well as language and reading abilities. Big Brother and Little Sis have both had journals for the last couple of years (Big Brother started when he was 4 and Little Sis when she was almost 3).
When I was teaching, the school I worked for used the Write From the Beginning Curriculum throughout the school. I have adapted pieces of it to teach my children how to write and journal.
The first HUGE step to teaching your children to journal is modeling. We have an easel with a white board. Sometimes, I have the children sit on the floor and watch me do my “journal.” Before I begin writing, I brainstorm out loud about what I might write about. Usually it has something to do with what I’ve done or what I am planning to do that day. I draw a line across the bottom of the easel. My words go below the line, my picture goes above it. With young children, you will want to leave more space for pictures and less for words. I write my name and date at the top of the easel. Next, I write my words. For example, “Today, I am going to Publix.” I then draw my picture, making sure that it goes with the words I just wrote. During this whole process, I am talking about what I am doing and why I am doing it so the children understand the process for themselves. After I model my journal, the children have a chance to go and write in theirs’. Some days I give them a specific assignment… other days, they can write about whatever they want.

 The kids each have their own school box where they keep their scissors, crayons, pencils, journals and whatever they are working on. At the beginning of the school year, I let them pick their own journal. You can imagine the excitement!
 This is one of Little Sis’s first entries from the beginning of the year. She told me what words to write and then she drew the picture. 
 This is an entry by Little Sis from this past March after a trip to Sea World. She wrote the words, date and drew the picture. She’s come quite a long way since the beginning of the year!
Big Brother works on writing complete sentences. He does not like writing because he does not want to make mistakes with spelling. I have told him not to worry about spelling for now… just to sound words out as well as he can. He does not like this… he is a perfectionist. He enjoys making detailed and colorful drawings. I am not very strict with the journals at this point. They are more for creativity and developing a love of writing.
 Part of My Father’s World first grade includes reading through the Bible reader (which is basically a leveled reading book that becomes more complex as it goes) and journaling about the readings. As the year goes on, the space for writing increases and the space for pictures becomes smaller. At first I only had Big Brother write once sentence to go with the story… now he has to write three.
This is one of his Bible journal entries. He wrote about when Jesus went out to the desert and was tempted. 
The topics you can use are endless when it comes to journaling with young children. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
– What did you do today?
– What did you play with today?
– What is your favorite _______________? (food, toy, animal, etc.)
– What is your least favorite __________________?
– What would you do if you were king/ queen for the day?
– If you could have any pet in the world, what would it be?
– How do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
– What are you thankful for?
Also… one more tip. Have lots of books around to look up words and ideas. Usborne’s First Thousand Words is a great one!
Journaling With Young Children

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