Ten Tips for Keeping a Journal in Preschool
J is for Journal
After reading about how others started, organized and maintained their journals; I started making the decisions about how I would use the journals in my classroom.
I chose to use simple black and white composition books for our journals. I used a name label sticker on the front of each child's journal and also made one for myself.
My class typically is most successful when I model expectations for them before they attempt a structured task like this. Before the kids ever used their journal, I had all of the journals prepped and in a basket and I modeled drawing a picture in my journal. Since most of the students in my class have language impairments, I wanted the focus of our journals based on increasing their communication skills. After I drew my picture, I talked about it. I labeled the picture, told the class a sentence about my picture. We did this a few times, using the word journal and modeling how to draw, turn pages, choose the next page, etc. The first time I passed out their journals at circle time, all we did was look at the journal and turn the blank pages.
We used our journals in a small group, structured center with adult support at first. After all of the students started to understand the purpose and became more proficient at drawing their pictures, I would also put them out for a table activity or "morning work" first thing in the morning in a large group.
Since my goal was to help increase communication, every time the students worked in their journal, they talked to an adult (me, my assistant, a volunteer) about it and we wrote their exact words on the paper. Through this, we also had ongoing documentation showing how their language skills improved over time. You can see the length of utterance increases, use of age appropriate vocabulary, use of pronouns and use of action words. This became a great way for me to show parents what language skill I might be working on with a child and how they could help.
I also found that our science center was a great inspiration spot for lots of writing and observation.
Here are some photos of some of our journal work:
And here are some from a different student: