Easy Writing Journals for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Jan 20, 2016

Regardless of where children are in their writing development, they love showing off their skills. These writing journals for toddlers and preschoolers are easy to put together and are sure to keep young kids telling stories and practicing their writing skills in the most genuine and natural ways.

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Regardless of where they are in the phases of writing development, toddlers and preschoolers love to show off their newly discovered skills. These easy writing journals are so encouraging to those novice writers, which is one of the reasons they are a perfect way to showcase writing.

Getting Ready

To make each writing journal, I grabbed a few supplies:

  • several sheets of printer paper
  • a few sheets of construction paper
  • a variety of writing supplies (We used letter stamps, colored pencils, markers, and crayons.)

I cut the printer paper in half hamburger style so that each sheet measured 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches.

Then I cut the construction paper in half, also hamburger style, so that it measured nine inches by six inches. (The measurements here aren’t important, but I do prefer to have the construction paper slightly bigger so that it makes a nice cover.)

I folded the papers in half and placed several sheets of the folded printer paper inside the construction paper, stapling the pages together to make small booklets.

Setting Up a Writing Center

I placed the journals in our writing center during free choice time along with crayons and markers. While the skinny markers are always fun, my younger students chose crayons because they are thicker and easier for their little hands to handle.

I also added extra supplies like alphabet stamps, stickers and even small images cut out from magazines so the kids could glue them into the book. The wider variety of choices offered, the more likely kids will want to write in and use their journals. As a big bonus, the extras also help the children develop and practice their pincher grasp, a precursor to more mature pencil grasps.

During my free choice centers as preschool, the children could choose when they went to the center and how long they spent. Some of the children spent nearly all their free choice center time at the center, while others only spent ten minutes. Both choices were ok.

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I kept the journals for the children so they could work in them for several days if they chose. Allowing the preschoolers to have this choice actually increased their use of the center. The children worked in a more focused manner and completed more than if I had just designated a “writing time” for the class.

The content of what was put into the journals was also by choice of the children. Because of this, these writing journals were full of personal and special drawings. This preschooler practiced writing her name, sometimes writing it even two or three times on a page. She has the longest name in the class, so she was very proud of how many times she repeated it without looking at her name tag! That kind of gratification is not something that could be replaced by me assigning a topic to write about.
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Some students drew pictures of their families and then asked me to write their story for them while others colored whole pages in rainbows or flowers.

Although he can’t write his entire name yet, one of my toddlers practiced his first letter, E, over and over again.

There were many benefits to the writing journals but the best part was that the children ended up with a booklet of drawings or “stories” they were proud of. When parents arrived, they proudly showed off their completed journals, each page bursting with etchings that had special meaning to them. And that is one of the most authentic ways to encourage children to be writers.

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  1. Liz

    Sarah, these are a wonderful idea to help young children feel like real writers, and to give them confidence. Love it!

    • Sarah Goodsell Punkoney

      Thanks! It was so simple to put together, but my preschoolers were so proud of their journals! My toddler of 25 months still carries his around and adds to it from time to time.

  2. Marie

    This is such a great idea! I homeschool my preschooler & now I plan to add a writing center with journals to our learning area. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Winnie McNamara

    Hello Sarah! I love your journal idea too. I teach Toddler 2’s and 3’s. I just love that age.


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Hi, I’m Malia.

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