j is for journal

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at the end of the school year each child took home a rainbow wrapped book of memories (and lots of dried glue).

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each child starts the school year with a blank journal.  we’ve used the “composition books” for the past few years.  their names and/or photo are on the cover.

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a guided activity is made available to preschoolers most days.  children are also allowed to work in their journal anytime they want to.

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one year we started each day with journal time.  one year we ended each day with journal time.  one year we had a journal table.  i’m not sure what next year will hold.

one thing that is unique about journal work is that a teacher is almost always very involved.   most of our activities are explained and demonstrated by a teacher, but then children are set loose.

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in this case, a teacher was there to help keep that quarter still.  we ended up taping the quarter in.  at the last day of school, one little friend found a quarter still in her journal!

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for this project it was holding the cookie cutter down while tracing happened.

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there are times we’ll save work and glue or tape it in journals as well.

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a self portrait (or portraits in this case) is always done.

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we practice number writing and letter writing too.

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teachers write dictations as children like it.  one way we ask the question is:  “is there anything you want to pretend this is?”  as many of you know, when asking a preschool child, “what is it?” h/she will often freeze up.  but pretending is often easier.

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i’ve got a new stash of journals, all clean and smooth waiting for another stash of preschoolers.

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33 thoughts on “j is for journal

  1. Love it! I do many of these ideas, but not in a journal. So I am sure some parents may toss out random pieces of paper. This is a great keepsake and assessment tool as well!
    Thank you for sharing!


  2. Kristin, I just found this journal idea of pinterest and am totally in love with it!!! Would you have a follow up post to this? I am teaching my daughter this year for the first time at home and would like to do something like this but am short on ideas.. Any suggestions?


  3. Just came across this on Pinterest! What a fabulous idea! WOuld you be willing to add a larger list of activities you do with these? I love the idea of a guided daily activity!!


  4. This is super! I teach K-1st students with developmental delays, particularly autism, and this would be perfect to reach them on each of their extremely different levels. Thanks for sharing!


  5. Thank you for the great ideas! I teach half day pre-k3 and this is a fabulous idea to have a semi-structured writing center that touches on our weekly letter/theme!! I am so glad I added composition books to my supply list for the upcoming school year!
    The pictures you posted really helped the ideas come to life!


  6. Thank you so much for sharing this. My four year old Son is not really interested in drawing, colouring or pretty much anything that involves a pencil/texta/crayon! A journal and some of the fun activities you have included might get the pencil in his hand!


  7. I love the pictures on the front of their journals. I taught 3rd grade and we would have a special time that all would write in their journal. One year at the end of the day we would write about our favorite thing that happened that day. We also used journals to write about science experiments ( What did you do? What did you use? What happened? ) One year we picked something different each day. Usually on Monday, we would write about what happened on the weekend.


  8. These are wonderful ideas. I have “Doodle Books” for my kindergartners (to encourage them to draw more and to help them build confidence in their drawing skills) and I plan on using some of these ideas in them!


  9. Could you leave a list of some more of you ideas for your journals. I absolutely love this idea! What a great end of the year treasure:)


      1. and this year i’ve moved back to using regular paper (copy paper or construction or manila) and we’ll assemble them into a book at the end of the year. i’m not sure if i’ll like it as much, but we’ll see!


  10. AS always, you inspire me! I have all 4 year olds in my home childcare this year, I’ll be going to purchase journals today!


  11. wow, what a fabulous idea! I just started a jounal with my soon-to-be kindergartener as a recommendation from another site on how to get her ready for school and stay connected with her throughout the year. I was afraid I would run out of things to write in there with her, but realize now I can do activities in it too. And maybe I’ll start my younger son one now so he can participate too! I love the idea of putting their picture on the front :)


  12. I love your journals. I have the children keep a journal as well but we call it a name journal. At the top of each page is an empty space though for children to draw and dictate pictures. At the bottom is where we practice the letters of each name!


  13. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!! I’ve always had journals in my 4’s class, but some of the kids never use them. I hadn’t thought about putting a table activity out for the journals, love it!


  14. those are awesome..what age group do you do that with? i have the young threes..do you think they could do something like this?
    very cute idea..i would love to also see the things you would ask them to put in thier journal.


    1. our youngest preschoolers are 30 months of age. the same as my other lesson planning, i work to find activities that the youngest will feel successful with and the oldest (5-6 years in our school) feel satisfied with.

      this means open-ended and there NEVER being a “right way” to do it.


  15. Do you have a master list of all the different things you have your students do in the journals? I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea and I have already purchased my journals for my four year old preschool class. Would love to get some more of your ideas for them. Thanks!


    1. oh, i wish i would have one master list. instead i have ideas written in my weekly lesson plans (and even those would often change).

      our journal activities are alphabet based like our other activities. so, during F week, we’ve done things like drawing a feather, taping a feather in and writing the letter F. we’ve also given each child a red, orange and yellow crayon for them to make fire (this takes a lot of scribbling!).

      we also do seasonal things like picking a leaf on the first day of autumn, adding stickers to a drawn christmas tree, making a fancy valentine to tape in.

      i also print off photos from the school year and spend the last weeks of school gluing those in.

      it’s a big job, but they love it.


      1. This is such a great idea! I am a preschool teacher as well, and I was just thinking to myself this year that I wanted to figure out a way to have more purposeful “learning to print” time and this could really go along with that. I like the corresponding activities you could do too (like you said drawing a feather or taping in a feather for the letter F and so on). My center time is currently open and free for the kids to move around as they like, working on activities as they like. I like the idea of a journal table, but I don’t like to tie myself down to one spot in the room for center time because then I don’t get to visit with kids that go to the book corner, or the dramatic play center or whatever. You mentioned you have done it where you have a journal time at the end of the day, at the beginning of the day and also a free table….was there a method you preferred? Right now I’m leaning towards a specific journal time that is set aside that all kids would do (maybe right before the freedom of centers?) but wanted to hear your thoughts on what worked and didn’t about a scheduled time and during free time.


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