How about we keep a summer journal this year?! And how about I make it easy peasy (and free, too). Sound like a fun way to get in a little bit of writing practice?
I thought so, which is why I created this Free Printable Summer Journal, complete with writing prompts! Well, I created the journal prompts and my fairy godmother (who is younger than I am… so is it possible for her to be my fairy godmother?) Mallory made it look all beautiful for us.
Today I thought I could share with you a bit about how writing tends to develop with these little ones of ours so that you can use this summer journal in just the right way for you and yours.
But I am jumping the gun!
First, let me tell you what this free printable summer journal includes. The journal is a PDF file for you to download that includes 30 summer-themed journal prompts (one per page), as well as a blank page in case you are feeling ambitious and want to create some writing prompts of your own.
Why 30 writing prompts? That works out to about three journal pages per week. I thought that just about the right ratio of journal writing days to non-journal writing days. We do want to keep this fun, after all.
So let’s chat for a minute about where your little one might be RIGHT NOW in writing, and where he or she is headed. This way, we can support our little writer properly, with just the right amount of support, while still offering a little challenge to bump them up to that next level.
Supporting young writers and readers are like growing tomato plants (hear me out on this…). If we support them too much, they will grow all thin and scraggly, never developing thick stems. But if we don’t support them at all, they will grow to droop on the ground. Okay, so I don’t actually know how to grow tomato plants… but I am assuming…
So we want our little tomato plants to be properly supported so they feel confident in their ability to accomplish the task and excited about learning some new skills as well. Just like a tomato wants to learn to grow from a flower into a…. nevermind.
I shall stick to what I actually know. Here is how writing develops:
Step One: Drawing and Oral Language
With little ones, this summer journal is going to involve a lot of chatting! You can read the journal prompt to your little one and have a conversation about it together. This is a wonderful way to grow oral language and increase your child’s vocabulary. You can then have your child draw a picture and decide on a sentence to write together, with you doing the writing. By writing out your child’s sentence for him or her your child will see that his ideas can be written down and shared.
Step Two: Drawing and First Sound Writing
As your little one progresses through learning those letters and sounds (not sure how to go about this step? I have a fabulous resource on this as well. Grab your “How Wee Read” and get the step-by-step for teaching your child!), he or she can begin to print the first sound to words. If your child drew a sandwich and apple to go in a picnic lunch, you could encourage your child to label his drawing with an “s” by the sandwich, an “a” by the apple, and a “p” by the picnic basket. You can do this by asking your child what the first sound he or she hears when saying that word. You can then have your child give you a sentence to accompany the picture, helping him choose a nice and short sentence. He can help you by printing the first letter to some of the words, or if he is ready, he can trace over your letters for the whole sentence. (I know, I switched from he/she to just ‘he’ mid paragraph. Sorry! I will use ‘she’ next paragraph so as to not offend anyone. Then I will switch back to he/she for the final paragraph just to keep everyone on their toes).
Step Three: Drawing, First and Last Sound Writing
Once the first letters are a walk in the park for your little one to write, have her stretch out the whole word to hear the last sound as well. For the word “bear” your child might write “br” – brilliant!! For the word “carrot” your child might write “kt” equally brilliant! We are just focusing on sounds, not worried about correct letters just yet. We are wanting our children to build their confidence as writers. At this point, you can create a little “word wall” or personal dictionary for your child. This is just a place where very common words are written down so your child can find them and print them, spelling them correctly. Make this an alphabetical list and only add a few words each day as they come up in your child’s writing. Under the picture in your child’s journal you can encourage her to write a whole sentence, or you can write the sentence having your child add in letters, or copy your sentence.
Step Four: Drawing, Phonetic Spelling, and Copywork/Word Wall
Finally, your little one will be confidently writing, adding in those middle sounds to words as he or she stretches out those words slowly. Spelling won’t be excellent for quite some time, as that takes lots of exposure and practice. Keep adding words to the word wall, and have your child do some ‘copy work’ as well. This is when your child tells you what he would like to write, you write it out for your child, and then he or she copies it. This is a great way to reinforce spelling, letter formation, and more.
And there you have it! Our little tomato plants are all set to write!
Ready to grab your free summer journal with writing prompts? Grab yours right here!
Thank you so much for reading, sweet friend!