Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Encouraging Young Writers: A DIY Advent Journal

My daughter was always a reluctant writer and had no interest in any worksheets. Now, when she is in second grade, her fine motor skills caught up with the hard work required in writing, and she is more willing to stay with her writing for longer. I decided to take advantage of this change and introduce joint journaling to her with an Advent Journal.

Step 1: Make It Special

Decorating a DIY Writing Journal

I introduced the concept of a joint journal to Smarty before Thanksgiving to give her time to think about it. We used a plain 100 sheet college notebook and both of us decorated our cover. Smarty had a lot of ideas about what she wanted to put on the cover, and I had her sketch it first, because I could see that she cannot fit her lofty vision on one sheet of paper. She went all out with stickers and markers, and managed to squeeze most of her desired elements in, and she even managed to incorporate some of mine.

Step 2: Set Aside Time to Write and Read

A Simple Writing Journal for a 7 Year OldThis has proved difficult the first week of December as this was a week of rehearsals and performances for Smarty’s theater production. Still, we tried to set time every evening after dinner for her writing time. This is not a bad time for us, since Smarty is pleasantly full and also has an excuse to stall before starting her bath routine. I wrote my entry while she was in the bath, and then we read our entries as part of our evening reading ritual.

Step 3: Agree on the Rules

A Writing Journal Sample from a 7 Year Old

We agreed that we will alternate topic selection each day and that we should make an effort to write a page. Writing a page was Smarty’s suggestion, and it surprised me, since only recently we were fighting over writing 3 sentences. She also asked me to correct her spelling or punctuation (I haven’t had a chance to correct this particular page when I took a picture), because she becomes a lot more aware of her own misspellings and wants to improve.

Step 4: Be Flexible

Even though we wanted to journal every day, we didn’t manage that with all other Christmas obligations. The good news is that we didn’t abandon it. I am hoping that I will manage to convince Smarty to start another joint journal for 2014 – this would be such a terrific memory to keep for when she is a young woman and doesn’t want to journal with Mama any longer.

More Resources

Your Turn:

Did you try journal writing for your kids or with your kids? How did it go?


Erica MomandKiddo said...

I love the idea of writing every day for advent.

Becky said...

Cute idea! Pinned. Thank you for linking to my writing prompts and our writing series! :)

Joyful Learner said...

A's writing is so neat! It's wonderful that she enjoys writing.

Alison P. said...

That is great. My son is only 5 but I introduced the journal and he used to draw pictures. I figure that it is a good introduction for when he is ready to write more frequently. I think that it is great that you are writing with her. It will be a great memory when she grows up :)

Ticia said...

For a while I wrote a journal with Jeff, but that kind of died a slow death......

I remember back when we first got married seeing a kit called a "Circle Journal," it's a lot like writing letters back and forth, but you mail the same journal back and forth. I thought that was the coolest idea ever, but didn't know who'd I'd write back and forth with. That's what partially started the joint journal Jeff and I did.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

I write a journal every day that is mostly about/for the kids, but I love the idea of writing one WITH my kids!

Dayna Abraham said...

Great tips. I wonder if my boys would want to pinpal with mouse? Would you be interested? We could tag team post about it. Let me know

Anna said...

This is a really great idea, Natalie! I love how she's full and happy to put off bedtime after supper -- you're right, a great time to get a reluctant writer to sit down and compose! Thanks for sharing our writing series in your post.