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How to Teach Journal Writing in K-2

2018-08-04T13:41:20+00:00 Articles, Child Learning|

Writing is an important part of children’s education and a skill that requires daily practice. With today’s technology and available games, children are not given the opportunity to draw and write during play-time that often, so it is crucial for teachers to make the most out of writing lessons.

According to NCTE / IRA‘s Standards for the English Language Arts (ELA), “Students [should] employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes”. One of the best and most creative strategies to master writing skills is setting up regular journal writing sessions.



No matter how small their first entries are – children that write a journal on a daily basis get to develop various skills more quickly than other kids of their age. They get to:

  • Practice on transforming their thoughts into written words.
  • Learn to form written sentences that can be understood by others.
  • Learn to write a cohesive story with a beginning, a middle part, and an ending.
  • Work on fine motor skills by learning to hold a marker and later a pencil.
  • Work on proper letter formation and spacing.

And ultimately:

  • Gain confidence in sharing their thoughts and opinions with others.

How to Teach Journal Writing in Kindergarten

Even first graders can benefit from journal writing. It is a skill that will help them in their elementary years and can even be the start of a good adult habit – since journal writing has many emotional benefits.

If you are teaching journal writing to your kindergarten students, here is a list of steps to follow in your classroom:

  • Provide the writing materials. Colorful pens and white paper are a great choice for beginner writers. Avoid pencils for now, since they can be difficult to use for very young children who have not yet developed a strong grasp.

  • Select a topic. Choose a topic is relevant for all students and if not, provide alternatives. Make sure to have additional paper for students who want write more.

  • Show proper letter formation. Before your students start writing, show them the proper way to letter sizing, formation, and spacing. You can help them follow your instructions by writing some words of the first sentence on the paper of each student.

  • Show them how to follow basic grammar and punctuation. Before start writing a sentence, beginner writers need to learn how to space words. Finger spacing is a great technique, where the student measures the space between each word by placing their finger after the last and first letter of two words. Ask them to use periods when the sentence is complete and try sounding out each word before writing.

  • Illustrate the work. Ask students to draw a picture that is related to the topic they write about. This will help them better connect their thoughts with their writing and can also help them get new ideas to write about.

  • Help with spelling. Provide a basic sight word list to help your students spell some of the most common sight words. You can also provide a list of words related to the topic. For example, if the subject is “my favorite animal”, you can write down the spellings of “cat”, “dog”, “fur”, “feather”, etc.

  • Include a simple prompt. Journal prompts help beginner writers to start their writing. Of course, you can use the same content without writing prompts. This is a great opportunity for advanced writers to be creative and independent.

  • Assess the writing. Help students learn from their mistakes – like misspellings or non-cohesive sentences, but make sure to be encouraging. You want to foster an early love for writing so build on what each student can do and gradually add new rules and instructions.

If your students are struggling with writing you can always provide some pre-writing help. Some tricks to help struggling learners are to:

  • Discuss the topic before any writing happen.
  • Ask for an oral journal entry and record it.
  • Providing graphic organizers to break writing into manageable chunks.

Journal Prompts Ideas

But, what should children write about in their journals? While they can always describe events that happened on the previous day, you can help them learn how to express their unique character and explore their imagination, by proposing an interesting topic or writing prompts.

Here are some writing ideas:

  • What is inside my backpack…
  • My favorite game…
  • My family…
  • When I grow up…
  • My favorite animal…
  • My best friend…
  • A day at the beach…
  • What I do after school…
  • My favorite day of the week…
  • My favorite night-time story…
  • My favorite subject at school…
  • Describing my house…
  • Describing my street…
  • The best place to play in my neighborhood…
  • The best joke I heard…
  • The best trip ever…
  • My favorite food…
  • If a genie granted me three wishes…
  • If I was invisible…
  • My favorite holiday…
  • What is the first thing you do in the morning…
  • Write a story about a magical fruit…
  • What is the best job in the world?..
  • What is your favorite ice-cream flavor?..



Journal writing may seem daunting at first so, if that’s the case for your student, you can always start small. Even writing a single cohesive sentence is a huge achievement for a beginner writer. Make sure to congratulate your students for trying, and gradually ask them to write longer journal entries, as they become more confident at writing.

Photo credit: Khomkrit Phonsai, shutterstock.com

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