We’re a full week into summer vacation here in Wendolonia-land and we’re already crossing stuff off of the Summer Fun List! I’m hoping to show you some of the stuff we’re doing as we go along in the next few weeks and the first thing on the list is Wyatt’s summer journal.
This is the second summer I’m attempting a summer writing journal with my seven-year-old. Last year, I set him up with a spiral notebook and regularly printed photos of our summer activities to encourage him to keep a scrapbook/journal-y type thing. It didn’t really go so well. Despite telling him he could write about whatever he wanted, he was very resistant to the idea and it often qualified more as a show-down than it did as even the loosest interpretations of “fun”. Here’s a sample page from last year’s journal. I gave him a photo I took of him on the slip ‘n’ slide and told him he had to write something about it. Anything!
This page said, “My mom is crasy!” The opposite page said, “My mom is crool!!!!” (The misspellings equal “crazy” and “cruel” if you didn’t pick up on that.) I guess I was glad he was practicing his writing?
This year I decided I needed a different strategy. He is writing a lot more on his own now just for fun, so I know he isn’t opposed to writing on principal, but I decided I didn’t want to push the scrapbooking idea too much.
I thought about making a journal for him, but Wyatt expressed interest in this Mini Smash Folio when we came across it at Target, so I decided to just buy it and save myself a little effort. He thought the pages in it were “cool and funny” so it seemed like an overall good choice. I also think he’ll enjoy doodling on the cover.
He was excited about it when we first got it home, and wrote on a few pages independently, but after a few days he lost interest, so I decided to add some writing prompts to the journal to give him a little direction.
Most of the topic ideas I used came from the Journal Buddies site which has a ton of great writing prompts. The topics are targeted at kids, but they are general enough that I found a lot I’d like to use in my own Smash book. I’m hoping that sometimes we’ll sit down and both write about the same topics then talk about them. You can see a few examples of the types of questions I added above: “Make a list of groceries you think Mom should buy you from the store.” and “What would you do if there was a dragon stuck under your bed?” Other prompts I’ve already written into the book include:
- You just won $1,000,000! What are you going to do?
- Write a list of books you read this summer.
- What are you really good at? (His answer: “Math and video games and watching stuff on YouTube.” Heh. All true.)
I’ve also tried to encourage him to draw pictures to accompany his writing. Wyatt loves drawing but I’ve found he often falls into a pattern of drawing the same things over and over. The design of this page reminded me of maker culture so I wrote a robot related writing prompt on one side and then asked him to draw a picture on the other side of the spread. I suggested he use a white pen to draw on the black paper for extra fun. I have gold and silver pens waiting in the wings if he wants to use those, too.
I’ve purposely left a lot of pages blank so he can fill them in with his own ideas. I’m guessing much of what he’ll add are drawings or art work. One of the first things he drew were these great monsters that he learned to draw from the appropriately titled, How to Draw 101 Monsters. I think they’re pretty awesome.
Another thing I’m encouraging is humor. Wyatt is constantly making up jokes, so I asked him to write down some of those ideas. If you can’t read this one it says, “What are really fire crackers? Flaming crackers.”
Do you encourage (or require) your kids to keep a summer journal? What sort of things do they like to write about?