Thursday, March 19, 2009

Journaling: Writing with My Children

Up to this point we've not included journaling as a part of our school day.
We do keep nature journals, which are a treasured part of our nature study, and I've had the kids narrate stories and field trips at various times, but we've not kept a daily journal of thoughts, favorite things, happenings in our lives, etc.

That's all about to change tomorrow, as we begin to have a Daily Diary Time. Writing is one thing that we need to do more of in our home, and I think journals are a great way to accomplish several writing goals:

-Creative Writing
-Organizing thoughts
-Creating a beginning, middle, and ending for a story
-Using Literary Devices
-Sentence Structure

I also think that I'll learn some things about my children that I didn't know before!

I've purchased each child a Crayola Sketch pad. At the bottom I will draw Handwriting Without Tears style lines, and above those there will be plenty of space for them to draw a picture.

Rather than just hand them their journals and let them write about whatever they want (although there will be days that they can do just that), I will give them three writing prompts from which they can choose one to write about. I've printed out the prompts onto slips of paper and placed them in a jar. Each morning after our read aloud time everybody will pull out three slips of paper, read them with help from me, and then pick one to write about. I'm hoping this will help to keep our writing focused, and at the same time give everyone some ownership of their journals.

I will also keep a journal and write alongside my children. I feel like that if they see me modeling the writing process, they'll realize how important it is and that it can be an enjoyable pasttime.

I thought I would share this list of writing prompts and story starters. Some of these were written by me, and others were collected from around the web. Every now and then I'll give them a topic to write about that is related to the unit study we have going.

I hope that you find some of these prompts helpful if you and your children already keep journals or decide to give it a try. :)
(Sorry, but no author's names were attached to the ideas I collected online, so I don't know whom to give credit to.)

You can click here for a downloadable version of these story starters.

1. Describe your favorite dessert. Write about how it looks, tastes, smells, feels.
2. What is your favorite toy? Why?
3. If you could be any animal, what would you be? Why?
4. If you could meet any famous person, who would it be? Why?
5. What is your favorite sport? Tell about how to play it.
6. What is your favorite pet? What does it look like? Why is it your favorite?
7. What is your favorite book? Why?
8. Who is your favorite Star Wars character? Why?
9. What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?
10. What is the bravest thing you have ever done?
11. What is your favorite trip you have ever taken?
12. If you could be a super hero, what super powers would you have?
13. Who or what makes you laugh? Why do you think this person or things is funny?
14. Who is a hero of yours? Explain why this person means so much to you.
15. Invent the best dessert in the whole world and describe how to make it.
16. How do you feel when it's your birthday? Why?
17. What would you do to entertain your family without spending any money?
18. If you could invent anything, what would it be? Why?
19. What is your favorite song? Why?
20. If you could give any gift, what would you give, and to whom would you give it?
21. What is your favorite game? Explaing how to play it.
22. What makes our family special?
23. What is something you do well?
24. What is your favorite season? Why?
25. What is your favorite holiday? Why?

26. A good friend is someone who...
27. If I were a giant I would...
28. Some of the rules of our family are...
29. A tradition my family has is...
30. Something I could teach to someone else is...
31. When I grow up, I want to...
32. If all the streets were rivers, I would...
33. If I could fly to the moon...
34. When my Daddy was a little boy, he...
35. When my Mommy was a little girl, she...

36. Yesterday, we were outside riding our bikes, when we saw a huge hot air balloon floating toward our street. It descended lower and lower until finally it landed right in front of our house. There was a note attached to the basket at the bottom of the balloon. It said, "Grab your family and climb aboard for an adventure."
So I...

*37. This morning I woke up and ran downstairs for breakfast. I went to the window to look out and see what the weather was like. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that it was raining pancakes and maple syrup. I stood there watching all of this food falling through the air when suddenly a gigantic pancake landed on our house. It completely covered the roof and all of the windows and doors.
So I...

38. Yesterday I was outside playing baseball when a huge rocket landed in my backyard. Two famous astronauts stepped out and told me that I could borrow their rocketship and fly it anywhere I wanted, so I...

39. Last summer my family and I stayed for a week in a log cabin in the woods. One morning after breakfast I opened the front door to go outside and there stood a...

40. Yesterday my family and I went on a hike in the woods. We came around a bend in the path and there the woods opened up into a grassy meadow filled with beautiful daffodils. In the middle of the meadow was a stone wall with a gate. We walked up to the gate, opened it and went inside to find a beautiful, secret garden. We began walking through the garden and exploring all of the beautiful flowers and shrubs. I found a little pond that was filled with frogs and tadpoles and fish and was surrounded by tall grass. I began making my way through the stand of tall grass when suddenly, I tripped over something hard. I looked down to see a wooden treasure box. I leaned down to get a closer look and...

41. My favorite thing about spring is…

42. Yesterday I went outside and was flying my kite because it was such a windy day. All of a sudden a huge gust of wind blew the kite high. I held tightly onto the kite string, and it lifted me up off the ground too. Before I knew what happened, I…

43. This morning I went outside and saw a little robin hopping around in the backyard looking for worms. I decided to quietly tiptoe near him and get a better look at him before he flew away. I got closer and closer and came just two feet away from where the robin was standing. I was surprised that the little robin did not fly away. Instead, he turned his head to look at me, and then began to talk! He said…

*This is an example of a story starter that is based on a topic we're studying (weather) and a book we're currently reading (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs).

If you do journaling with your children or have any writing prompts that you'd like to share, I'd love for you to leave a comment with your ideas and experiences. :)

I'm excited about our first day of writing together. I'll be back tomorrow night to let you know how it goes!

Update has been posted. :)


  1. I LOVE this! Kathryn sometimes resists the things I suggest for her to write, but I like the idea of drawing them out of a jar. We'll have to give this a try. :-)

  2. If they struggle with how to start on some of these, something I've always found useful is to draw an illustration first and then write.
    A picture is often worth more than a 1000 words.
    We do that with narration too. The boys are allowed to draw things from the read aloud while I'm reading and then they write about their drawings.
    I hope your journal endeavors prove to be very fruitful!
    Thanks so much for your kind words and your visit too!

  3. What a great idea! I loved seeing your children's finished work too!!!

    I've been terrible about many aspects of writing. This looks like fun. Maybe I could try it even just once a week. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Love that you plan to write alongside your children. This is SO important! I have free creative writing lessons on my blog if you run out of ideas; check out my sidebar at

  5. I've tried to encourage my son to journal. Decorating a composition book seems to have inspired him. Thanks for sharing this helpful list! It might help for those days the inspiration wanes. ;)


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