Keeping a short-term journal


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AJ has been keeping a journal for the last five weeks, specifically to share with my parents when they return from their overseas trip tomorrow. Every evening before dinner she has sat at the kitchen table and recalled the most important event (or two or three) of the day as she remembered it and has drawn it in her pink covered sketchbook.

Some days she manages a mere five minute scribble before dashing off to some other exciting activity, while other days she has taken great care to include tiny details and lots of feeling, as well stickers and the odd leaf or flower stuck in with vast amounts of sticky tape. Major events have been noted, such as the first hot day of the season accompanied by the joyful illustration of being able to wear shorts (above left) but also little things like choosing apples at the greengrocers, a cuddle on the couch and Daddy cooking risotto. I write in the date and a dictated description to finish the entry.

I can’t imagine AJ wanting to continue keeping a journal so regularly at this age, but because this had a point to it that she could grasp and because it was a nice way for her to think of her grandparents other than just missing them, it was a great short term project… and what we have is a wonderful snapshot in time of a month just before her fourth birthday.

Sometime soon I am going to scan in some of the pages and email them to AJ’s other grandparents who live overseas.

You could easily adapt this kind of activity for older kids – they might want to keep a photo journal, a highly decorated scrapbook or a more traditional written journal.

Related links:

Useful tips about journalling for kids on the Hallmark site including “Don’t criticize, edit, instruct or imply that there is need for improvement.” which is sometimes tough when they are taking their entry off in a seemingly bizarre direction. Try and go with the flow!

Tips from the DIY Network on scrapbooking for kids.

9 Responses to “Keeping a short-term journal”

  1. Michelle

    That is absolutely priceless. Everything, from your very good observation that AJ’s 5 wk journal had a definite point to it, to the reminders that some days will be more productive than others. Thank you so much for this post, I can’t wait to find an appropriate time to do this with my 4 yr old.

  2. lara

    I’d just like to say that from a primary school teachers point of view, I think that you are giving your daughter such a fantastic start to literacy learning by doing this project with her. I wish all new school children could have done this type of activity at home in their pre-school years. Well done and keep up the good work!

  3. Sarah

    I love this idea. I am actually sort of dissapointed you only posted about it now, as my own son’s grandparents just got back from a 7 week overseas trip, and he (and the grandparents!) would have loved this sort of project. Great idea! AJs pictures are amazing too.

  4. Tftcarrie

    Just last week, I began a hunt for a journal for my 4 year old. I remember starting one with the help of my mother at her age. But it wasn’t just a completely blank journal. THere were free pages to draw pictures, and to write the days events (as transcribed by mom), but there were also prompts and questions to get the small journaler talking. It was really fabulous and a great way to record the wonderfully creative mind of a four year old.

    But I can’t find anything like it anymore. I might just have to get a blank book and insert my own questions.

  5. Hanna

    LOVE this!

    For a while before I started school when I was a kid mom and I wrote a journal together. Before going to bed she took it out. I said what had happened and she wrote from my perspective. All i could write was my name, but it is a great little book that I don’t want to loose.

  6. rachel

    My mom helped me keep a journal from about the age of 3. I would dictate and draw pictures at the beginning, and as I learned to write I was able to do it myself. We would write on Sunday afternoons. This became one of the most valuable habits I have ever had through my teenage years to the present. My childhood journals are priceless!! Keep going. It doesn’t have to be every day to be incredibly valuable.

  7. Kat

    An extremely wonderful idea. I wish that my mom had suggested I kept a journal when I was that age. I loved to draw and make up my own stories but they are lost forever now because I never wrote them down. Some drawings have survived but I can only guess the stories behind them. It would have been great to show my children one day.

    I also find it hard to journal nowadays. I get caught up in my penmanship and grammar to the point where I have many a time given up. I’m sure when I was younger I had less cares for such things and would have gone on and on.

    But thank you for sharing this. I’ll try it with my kids one day!

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