Summer Journaling with Children

July 30, 2012

As a writer, journaling was an art form that was important and influential to me at a very early age. My mom gave me my first diary, pink with a lock, about the same time that I first took pen to paper, and I have been hooked ever since.

To some, journaling is a way to capture the most important moments, good and bad, in life. For others it is a catalog of their thoughts, dreams, inspiration, and ideas. It can contain poetry, lists, pictures, sketches, stories, ideas, and recipes. It can be a testimony to a great trip, a life-changing event, an illness, and a record of many firsts.

The art of journaling is something that even a very young child will enjoy, and that can bring about an early love of storytelling and writing for pleasure. My oldest son has kept a journal for the past year, and while most days there may only be one or two sentences on the page, it still feels like an accomplishment for him that he is recording things that he feels are important.

Jacob’s journaling began when we enrolled him in a farm camp a few summers back that had the children keep a record of the day’s activities. That week was so full of fun: milking the cows, collecting eggs, catching crawfish in the creek, harvesting veggies, and cooking (start to finish) a farm to table meal. Now he has a record of all that he did, what it felt like, and what he most loved and cherished about one of his favorite weeks of 2010.

As we look to summer activities, journaling is a way for us to record the joys of the season, as well as to chronicle what is going around us: from the changes in our wild plants, to the way our veggies grow, to the times of year that the rivers around us are at their peak. It is a chronicle of the activities that we so cherish, from picnics on the green while listening to Thursday night music, to camping trips with friends.

Creating a Summer Journal for Children

There are many ways that a young child can create a summer journal. A field guide can be created, a lined composition book can be used, or a blank sketch book.

Our children love to decorate the outside of their books;  fun paper, pictures, stamps, paints, watercolors, or just hand-drawn characters often grace their covers. We encourage them to think about what the journal will be used for before they create its cover, and the more journals they come up with, the better.

One of the biggest questions that parents can have when helping their kids to keep a journal is, “how can I help them write every day?” Journal prompts are a wonderful tool for helping kids get their writing juices flowing, and the possibilities for prompts are almost endless.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

I wish…

If I were…

Two of my favorite things are…

I hope that…

I will never forget the time when…

Today I want to…

I am challenged by…

I love it when…

My favorite part of the day was…

I laugh when…

What I saw when I…

I explored…

Today’s adventure was…

My mom and dad took me to…

I saw a…

The rules of journaling are simple: there are none. Allow your kids to freely use their journals almost any way they wish. Encourage them to keep them secret, to not care about spelling, penmanship or grammar, and to draw, doodle and sketch wherever they see fit.

Journals are windows to the soul, and creating a special space or hidden place for a child’s journal can add a memorable element to the exercise. Under the bed, in a special drawer, hidden under a pile of clothes or at the bottom of a chest are just a few ideas.

Journaling opens the door to writing, storytelling, poetry, day dreaming and letter-writing. No matter where their writing takes them, a child’s journal will always be a cherished way to look back on some of their best memories of childhood.

Every so often I enjoy pulling from the archives of Rhythm of the Home . The above was one of my favorite pieces from the 2011 series, as journaling is still such an integral part of our days. I hope that you kiddos get as much joy as possible when they take pen to paper. 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tiffany July 30, 2012 at 7:31 am

I have a friend who made a beautiful, hand-crafted journal for her stepdaughter to write in and paste pictures in. Such a perfect idea!

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