Journaling Tips for Kids! {Makes pretty dang good writers}

1.  Write in your journals EVERY DAY!
We start on the very first day of school and we continue every day after.  I show them how to write the short date and then I give them a sentence like this:
I like to eat _____________.
They copy the sentence and sound out a word to fit in the sentence.  Then, they draw an illustration.

2. Show them what you expect: 
I enlarge one of their journal pages, write a journal entry, illustrate it and then laminate it. That way, I can use it year after year. I show it to them on the very first day of school.  This is what I expect. I expect good handwriting, finger spaces, sounding out words, and an illustration with 6 or 7 {however old they are) colors included. I start to expect more as the year goes on.

I'm pretty much the best artist...EVER!

3.  Let them write about whatever they want!
YES! They can pick to write about whatever they want.  It's called choice people and
Seriously, after the first 2 weeks of school, they HAVE to think of something they want to write about. I don't give them a prompt or even help them. You don't want them to rely on you every day for an idea.

4. What about if they REALLY can't think of anything?
If I have a student who really can't think of what to write about, I pick from the journal prompt jar. Anyone can use the prompt when I pick it out, but they don't have to.  I got the idea to make my journal prompt jar using a Crystal Light container from Kathleen at Growing Kinders. The prompts are taped to a popsicle stick and I've just added all of the prompts and the journal prompt cover, to my Journal through the Year Pack. It looks like this:
The prompts are taped to a popsicle stick! I have provided you with over 50 prompts. You can get them {here}!
Then, as I've been Pinteresting lately, I found {this} amazing idea to color one end of your stick red and one end green. Then, when you pick from the jar, you only pick out green sticks. That ensures that you never pick a prompt that you've already done. LOVE!
One end is red                                        One end is green

I also have a writing prompt picture booklet (I made 3 for my class) and a student can grab a book and find a topic idea. You can decide on what pages you want to put in there so it's not overwhelming. Or, you can cut out the pages and make writing prompt picture cards.

5. Start at the beginning of the day.
Journals are a great "morning work" starter {without all the worksheets and hassle}.  My students come in to class, vote for lunch, write their password, and start their journals. It takes about 20-30 minutes each day to do journal.  When they are finished, they can do a fast finisher.

6.  Conferencing!!!!! {This step is MUCHO important!}
This is where your students will really make you proud.  When they are finished with their journal, they will bring it up to me. THEY read their journal to me.  I pick ONE thing that I think they should work on {sight words, punctuation, finger spaces, etc.}, circle that one thing, and they go back to their seat to work on it again. When they finish, they show it to me and I put a huge smiley face or sticker on their page!  Not all of your students will be in line for conferencing at one time. Some students take the WHOLE 30 minutes to perfect their journal and some are done in 15 minutes.  It takes no more than 30 seconds to conference with each student. You can do it.

Here are the expectations I have for my students:

7. Journal Share
Each day I pick 4 students to share their journal with the class. This is where I really motivate them to work hard on their journals.  If they do well on whatever I asked them to work on, they have a good chance of getting to stand up in front of the class and share their journal. Because speaking and listening skills are apart of the 1st grade Common Core State Standards, I use a rubric to grade them on their journal share.
FYI- I didn't come up with this! My teammates have done this forever! 

You can download the journal shares for free {here}.

8. Use developmentally appropriate journal pages.
I know that I used to use composition notebooks for journals when I was first teaching. My students were really struggling with handwriting and spacing.  Since then, I've created a journal writing page that is appropriate for their level. At the beginning of the year, there are only 2 handwriting lines on the page.  Now, there are 8 or 9 lines!  In kinder, you might just want 1 or 2 lines all year. Whatever is appropriate for your students!  You might even want to differentiate between students, too.  Maybe John can have a few more lines in his journal because he's always spilling over to the next page. That's ok!!!  I've included a large variety of journal writing pages in my packet.  Here's an example:

That's all the tips I have for you! I promise your kiddos can do it!  Here are some recent examples of awesome journal writing:

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