Journal Writing for Young Learners, or How I Got Them to Just Pick Up the D*** Pencil

Okay, I admit the title of this piece will feel slightly misleading, but only slightly. Getting your youngest learners to write their own sentences and short paragraphs can be a challenge in the beginning. While some kids take to it right away, others shrug their shoulders in that “I don’t know how to do this and I don’t even want to try and you can’t make me” kind of way that some kids are so aggravatingly good at.

So, what to do?

Well, a while back I started giving my young learners what I call a “Write, Cut, and Draw Journal”. A catchy title it is not, but it has proved to be a good stepping stone between ‘pre-writing’ and Writing™.  

The concept is super simple. Students cut out the assorted words at the bottom of the page and then glue them together into a three, four, or five-word sentence at the top. Next they rewrite the sentence in their own hand, and draw a picture of what it means. jump / My / rope. / can / dad becomes My dad can jump rope.

The booklets I give my students have one such page for every week day, enough to practice writing at the beginning or end of each class for about ten minutes. There’s a new book every month and the sentences roughly correspond to seasonal conditions in the northern hemisphere. (So summer books will have summery sentences and winter booklets will have wintery sentences.)

This style of worksheet is hardly new or particularly innovative, but it is tried and true, and I’m planning to regularly release new batches from here on to eternity so there will essentially be an endless supply. Click on the image above and try one out.

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