Beginning writers may not be able to journal the same way middle school students can, but they can journal just as creatively and effectively.
Young Students Can Journal
Many teachers think of journaling as an activity for children who have already developed writing skills. However, even emergent writers can benefit from daily journaling exercises. The key is to adjust the activity to fit the child's ability.
For children who are just learning to write their ABC's, journaling will be heavily supplemented with drawings, stickers, or pictures from magazines. The actual journaling process will involve tracing the dotted letters in a few simple words or filling in blanks with their names or short sight words.
Children who are writing simple sentences will be able to handle writing short journal entries on specific topics, such as their favorite colors or what they like to eat for lunch.
Introducing the Concept of Keeping a Journal
When a child is just starting to journal, the process of learning to write an entry is just as important as what the journal page actually says. One great way to introduce the concept of keeping a journal to the kids is to create a sample journal using oversize paper. (Flip charts turned sideways work well.) Write a sample journal page for each of the first five or so, and writing prompts you plan to assign to the class.
Then, teach an introductory session explaining what journaling is and why it is useful. Read a few short experts from journals other people have kept and talk about how you and your students are able to find out more about the lives of the journal writers.
Beginning Journaling Tips
- Set beginning writers up for success by displaying word cards attached to objects that the children may want to use to complete the journaling assignment for each day. For example, if you are asking the kids to write about their favorite pets, you may want to display a stuffed dog with a card that has the word "dog" written on it.
- Encourage students to illustrate their entries after they have finished writing them. Being able to add some artwork is an added incentive to students who aren't enjoying the writing process.
- Stress neatness and reward students who do their best work with a sticker for the cover of their journals. Just be sure you don't compare one student's journal to another journal when evaluating the work. If a normally sloppy student has tried to write more neatly than usual, then his work may still not be as neat as a student who always turns in tidy work. However, he should get recognition for doing his personal best.
- Written from teaching experience.
Elementary School Journal Ideas
Teaching elementary school students to journal encourages them to learn to express themselves creatively and helps reinforce basic English skills.
- Journaling in Preschool and Kindergarten Grades
- Creating Journals for Beginning Writers
- Ideas for Elementary Journal Writing Prompts