The Art of the Journal.

As a teacher, I can tell you that the worst thing in a kid’s life is the moment your teacher says “Please take out your writing journal”. The groans I hear! You would think I was asking for a blood donation! I’m sure, as it is for many people, it is very difficult to look at a blank piece of paper and just start writing about a given topic.

eyeglasses on mapAnd it seems no matter how much I encourage or expect, kids struggle with this essential skill. Regardless of the prompt, my students’ first question is always: “how many sentences do we have to write?” because they are not writing one iota more than the expectation.

It amazes me that if I ask them what the definition of Pi is or what their favorite ice cream flavor is, I get the exact same response! What’s a teacher to do?! Perhaps writing is too subjective. Kids don’t see it as a black and white answer. We all know no matter what we ask them, they are more than happy to say their answers but writing? They think not.a woman sitting on the beach reading a book

I’ve worked hard over the years to hone my writing teacher skills and I have figured out a few tricks to secretly turn kids into journaling fools. One of them is bullet journaling. Haven’t heard of it? Check out Pinterest! It’s all the rage right now but teachers will tell you that we’ve been doing that to trick kids into writing for years. Bullet journaling uses text features and drawings to frame different topics to write about. For example, if you are visiting the Eiffel Tower, your journal entry can be in the shape of the tower itself. You can list, mind map, sketch, or free write. The possibilities are endless (as Pinterest will point out).

Let the journaling begin!

So, how do you take your junior traveler and get them writing about their adventures? There are two approaches that you can take to bullet journal your travel experiences. The first may be the easiest, choose a quality journal that is age appropriate and has clear framing on each page for your budding reporter. The framing is essential in helping young writers have a starting point that isn’t a blank page just staring right back at them.

Check out these two journals that I think are great starting points! Whether you choose a pre made journal or a self created one, there are a few “rules” to make journaling a valuable travel tool:

  1. Treasure your book: it’s not for scribbles or practice.
  2. It’s meant to be a memory, so make your memory your best.
  3. Plan your journal: take time to think about what could go on each page.
  4. There’s no need to box yourself into a specific order but planning- even for the unexpected this allows you to imagine what your final product will look like and produce better results.
  5. Use one journal per trip.
  6. Trying to produce an epic is too daunting but a chapter, that’s something we can all take on as a challenge.
  7. Create a sense of ownership: kids will tackle challenges when they feel that they have some say.

Happy Journaling!