8 starter ideas to get your kids to keep a journal

I still have my diary, circa 1983, from the summer I was 12yo, in which I wrote about the trip to the east coast I made with my mom to visit family. During that trip, I explored my feelings about God and about my grandmother who was dying of cancer. My grandmother died less than three weeks after we returned home.

That little orange diary, even today, holds secrets, dreams, and memories - good and bad - I will always hold close in my heart.

Perhaps your kid, tween, or teen would like to start a journal or diary this summer? We have some great ideas to get them started.

My son's kindergarten teacher told me I could have my 6yo continue to keep a journal over the summer so he could stay in practice with handwriting and word-making in the months before first grade begins. "Let him write about anything he wants." Keeping it fun, personal, and free seems to be the key.

Of course, this idea won't work for every kid, but some kids can really get into it.

Here are eight creative ideas (but there are hundreds more!) to get your kids started with journal-writing or keeping:

  1. Travel Journal: If you're going on a trip this summer, even a short one, encourage your child to "journal" each day you're gone. This is fun closed-ended project that may get them excited about chronicling their daily lives.
  2. Art Journal: If your child is more artistic that writerly, have him keep a journal of drawings and collages. A page a day or a few pages a week is fun. Offer new stickers, glue sticks, colored pens and pencils, and other crafty supplies to entice her.
  3. Happy List: Each night before bed, have your kid write a "happy list" - all the things that made him happy that day. Tell him he has to put down at least three things every time. This is a great exercise in finding gratitude, especially if you have a moper who believes "summer is SO-OO-OO BORING."
  4. Gaming Secrets Guide: If your son likes gaming rather than writing, have him write a tips and secrets book about his favorite video game. I mean, you never know when Nintendo is going to come looking for the next gaming kid genius with a book. ;)
  5. Field Notes: If your daughter is a nature lover, have her keep pressed flowers and leaves and some "field notes" or drawings of the rocks, plants, birds, and animals she encounters over the summer.
  6. Photo-a-Day Book: Or maybe you have a budding photographer who wants to do a "photo a day" project.
  7. Food Critic: Maybe your child loves eating out and fine-tuning her palate. Urge her write "reviews" of everything she eats this summer - from ice cream cones and BBQ hot dogs to s'mores and corn on the cob. Get her some gold stars to go with each entry.
  8. Dear Diary: Teens might be more interested in the idea of keeping a lock-and-key diary of their personal feelings and secrets. This is a healthy way to let them explore and express their, often intense, private feelings.

I really love the blank book selection at Bare Books (and the price!).

Journals can be simple or more elaborate. It'll either be good writing and penmanship practice this summer or a great way to practice staying on task - taking a project from start to finish.

Keep it fun. Let them take on the type of journaling project that interests them.

Do your kids take an interest in journaling or keeping a diary? What creative prompts work for them?

Written by Sheri Reed for CafeMom's Big Kid Buzz