One of the best ways to help your kindergarten students learn the writing process is to use daily kindergarten writing journals. However, there are a few important things to remember to implement them appropriately. Learn how to find the best journals and incorporate them into your daily routines with these supplies, prompts, and tips!
Kindergarten journals are a great way to build your students' writing skills! When writing becomes a daily habit, it becomes much easier and less stressful. Since kindergarteners cannot all read and may still be developing the fine motor skills to write by hand, it's essential to adapt your routines to be developmentally appropriate.
To start, you might want these free blank writing pages which you could staple together to create a journal.
They have wide lines and are colour-coordinated to help your students form their letters properly.
What are Kindergarten Writing Journals?
There are several different ways to make or use kindergarten writing journals, so let's break it down.
You can either buy or make your own writing journals. This can look like printing out a bunch of the free writing pages above or purchasing pre-made primary notebooks with wide lines.
Best Kindergarten Writing Journals
You can easily make your own journals, but if you prefer something premade and bound, these are some great primary notebooks you can order online:
If you are in Australia...
Student Notebook - these landscape pages have large handwriting lines for students to write on.
Salmon Exercise Books - these landscape pages are blank - perfect for very beginning writers and for drawing pictures.
My Big Writing Book - this book has both handwriting lines and room to draw pictures!
Ground Grass Sky Exercise Books - these are great for scaffolding handwriting!
If you are in the USA...
Mead Primary Notebook - This journal has colour-coded blue and red lines with plenty of space between them. They're a great basic option, but there is no room for drawing.
Mintra Notebook Bundle - The great thing about these daily writing journals is that the top portion of the journal has space for drawings. This is ideal for students who may not be ready to write full sentences right away and need to rely on images to support their writing.
Oxford Jr Primary Notebooks - These small journals are about the size of half of a regular journal. Since they are smaller and positioned horizontally, they are ideal for younger kids. The spiral also makes it easy to open the notebook to lay completely flat on the desk. Oxford Jr also makes full-sized primary notebooks which are not spiral-bound.
Free Kindergarten Journal Writing Prompts
I created a list of over 100 journal prompts for kids you can use, and they're all completely free! Add these to your lesson plans, and you'll have over half a year's prompts to use anytime.
How to Use Kindergarten Writing Journals
There are several ways to incorporate journals into your instruction. The best method is to use them daily, starting at the beginning of the year, although it will take time to scaffold your students to independence!
How to Start a Daily Writing Routine
Let's help your students start writing complete sentences every single day, starting at the beginning of kindergarten. Since it's much less cognitively demanding for students to share information about themselves or their lives, this is a natural place to start developing their writing skills. There are several ways to do this, though!
I'm a big fan of recount writing and have a free guide to help you implement this practice in your classroom.
The basic idea of recount writing is to have students share something that happened to them recently.
This type of writing can become formulaic, which is a good thing for beginners. The repetition makes it easier for your students to internalise the process, making it faster and easier each time.
By following the same familiar scaffold each week, it reduces the cognitive load for beginning writers.
I love using this method with The Hive because you can pull up these kindergarten journal prompts and recount sentence starters automatically, saving plenty of time in the morning!
Question of the Day
This option is more open-ended, so it can be more challenging for students who are just learning to write. This is best used as an extension or for the end of the year. It's also great with older elementary grades!
To do this, post a question on the board every day. Ask about their favourite book, their favourite subject in school, their favourite season, what they want to be when they grow up, their favourite food, etc.
You could also use The Hive's Sharing Question discussion prompts:
You could also incorporate your Kindergarten writing journals with a Writing Station.
This will further free up the cognitive load for students, by providing them with loads of sentence stems and writing prompts!
You can download my Kindergarten Writing Station here.
These sentence writing worksheets can be used in a variety of ways to introduce early sentence writing skills. You could staple the pages together to create a kindergarten writing journal.
1. Read the simple sentence
2. Cut and paste the words to build the sentence,
3. Write the sentence.
Tips for Using Kindergarten Journals
1. Give it an authentic purpose.
Your students will work more intentionally when there is a purpose for their work. They will be much more engaged and take responsibility for the work they produce.
How can your students share their writing in a meaningful way? Have them read off their response during the morning meeting, place their student workbook under the document camera, or share their writing with their classmates.
2. Make it a daily routine.
Think of writing as a muscle. If you only flex it every once in a while, the muscle will be weak and get tired quickly. If you flex it every day, it'll become faster, stronger, and more capable.
Find a way to incorporate these writing activities into your classroom routine. They're a great way to help kids settle in each morning, or you can use them as part of your independent writing centers.
3. Change it up.
Repetition can be powerful, but not if it gets boring. The brain loves things that are new and novel. If you don't want to ask the same questions or use the same writing prompts each day, generate a list of different prompts or questions or incorporate a free writing session to give your students a chance to show off their creative writing.
4. Have a separate morning journal.
If you incorporate daily journal writing, use two separate journals: one for journaling and one for writing lessons. Add bookmarks to help kids find their place quickly, too!
5. Set expectations.
Like any assignment, your students need to understand why they're completing a task and how to assess their work. Talk to them honestly about the purpose for writing. Explain that writing is like a muscle, and it gets easier the more you do it. Explain how their hands are changing and developing right now and that they must strengthen those muscles!
To develop metacognition, talk about how to assess the quality of their writing. For recount writing, you're likely looking for just one complete sentence, or perhaps two sentences. In 1st Grade or 2nd Grade, you may start looking for more sentences, as well as more accurate spelling, and more descriptive words.
Here's an example of a Kindergarten writing checklist that you could create and display in The Hive:
Show examples of what high quality writing looks like and help them set goals to improve their writing over time. Let them know they'll be amazed to see their growth over the entire year - is a great goal in itself!
For more writing goal ideas, you might like to take a look at my editable Writing Goals.
6. Offer writing supports.
If you want your students to be independent writers, they need to know how to write independently. Start by teaching the process explicitly several times. Do the writing exercise together to model the process, and offer various charts or supports for them to use on their own. Break it down by every step!
Young students won't know how to hold, use, or organise their kindergarten notebook properly, let alone a pencil, a checklist, or an anchor chart. Teach every step of the process and keep your instructions consistent over time. If you need to change an approach or expectation, state it explicitly to avoid confusing them.
Build these supports together or model them:
- A writing checklist (try this free sentence editing checklist to assess complete sentences, punctuation, and capitalisation)
You can see this sentence checklist in action here:
Other writing scaffolds or supports could include:
- Letter formation anchor chart (show how to use the lines and make appropriate line spaces)
- Make an interactive writing center to show common spellings
- Clarify the steps or expectations for your routine
The more clearly you can define expectations and offer your students tools to be independent, the more peaceful and productive your kindergarten classroom will be. Students feel good when they know what to do and how to solve a problem. You'll feel good not having to hop from student to student, solving basic issues!
More Writing Resources
- Kindergarten Name Writing Activities
- Imaginary Animal Informative Writing
- Fairy Tales Narrative Writing Activities
- Kindergarten Term 1 Writing Unit
- Handwriting Handout for Parents
Writing needs to become a daily routine if you want to help your students develop their writing abilities. Many older students avoid this task as much as possible, usually because they think they're a bad writer. This usually goes back to not being taught explicitly. They get confused about how to convey their thoughts in writing and also struggle with letter formation, spacing, and even using their materials.
If you can teach writing incrementally in a developmentally appropriate way, you will demystify this important process for them and develop strong neural pathways and muscle memory that will help them for a very long time. These early writing lessons can make a huge difference!
Ready to take your instruction to the next level?
The Hive's interactive learning tools, videos & resources make it so much easier to explicitly teach writing to your students, without spending hours searching for resources or having to re-invent the wheel yourself. It's a game-changer!