Critical Thinking Journal Questions Kids

Back when I was in fifth grade, my best friend and I had an unofficial ongoing battle to see who had the neatest handwriting. We would practice writing our names over and over in our notebooks. We’d do some in regular handwriting and others in bubble font. I remember that it was a huge deal to have lots of different colored pens in our pencil boxes. I begged and begged my mom to buy me one of these:

I thought that my BIC 4 Color pen was the coolest thing ever. Did you ever have one? I loved how it could switch from blue to green to red or black ink with just a click.

Kids these days don’t write as much as we did. The art of handwriting is disappearing and it’s up to us to help save it. I recently took the BIC pledge to save handwriting at BICFightForYourWrite.com and think you should, too.

REASONS WE SHOULD PLEDGE TO SAVE HANDWRITING

  1. Handwriting fosters CREATIVITY.
  2. Writing improves CRITICAL THINKING skills.
  3. Writing improves SELF CONFIDENCE.
  4. Better writers make BETTER READERS
  5. For every pledge, BIC will DONATE ONE PEN OR PENCIL to AdoptAClassroom.org
  6. Everyone who takes the pledge will also be entered to win a $1200 BIC® Prize Pack! Contest ends on 9/14/15. No purchase necessary. Ages 18+. For details and full rules visit: BICFightForYourWrite.com.

Three Ways I Encourage My Kids To Write

If my kids ask for a particular writing pen or pencil, I get it for them. Remember how I have fond memories of my first 4 Color Pen? I know pens and pencils can be exciting. BIC X-tra Fun Pencils have colorful two-toned barrels that instantly got their attention. These #2 pencils should get an award for coolest school supplies of the year. Trying out new pens and pencils can make writing more fun for kids.

Keep writing tools and paper handy.

A small caddy holds pens, pencils and paper. If I set it out on a table or desk where my kids can see it, they are more likely to sit down and draw or write. I don’t know exactly why it works, but it does. One of my boys loves for me to put workbooks in there so he can do “homework.”

Encourage kids to write in a daily journal or diary.

Set aside a few minutes each day for kids to write in their journal. Right before bedtime usually works best for us. We talk about what happened that day and then the kids have a few minutes to write down anything they think is important. Even if a child is too young to write, give them a pencil and let them draw. It’s great pre-writing practice. TIP: If you go on a trip, be sure to bring their journals. Writing can help them pass the time and remember details about their travels.

Sometimes kids need a little nudge to help them get started on a journal entry. Download and print my free journal writing prompts for kids printable. Tuck it inside the pages of their journal so it is ready when they need an idea to write about.

Join BIC’s mission to save handwriting. Show kids how awesome handwriting can be, and how awesome they can be! Take the pledge at BIC Fight For Your Write.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Bic. The opinions and text are all mine.

Filed Under: CraftsTagged With: bic, BIC 4 Color Pen, BIC fight for your write, BIC Pencils, handwriting, journal writing, kids journals, writing prompts, writing prompts for kids

Getting children to write in their journals may not always be easy, but with some targeted journal writing exercises, you'll soon be able to get kids excited about writing.

Some teachers ask their students to go home from school and reflectively write about their experiences during the day. Some parents encourage their children to journal as a way to practice their writing skills. No matter the intent, journaling has a wealth of benefits.

Goals for Parents and Teachers

Journal writing encourages creative thinking, strengthens problem-solving skills, and offers moments of reflection. In this way, new teachings and observations can be fully absorbed.

Here are some of the most basic benefits of regular journaling:

  • It encourages kids to read and write with fluency and critical thinking skills.
  • It allows children to practice using new vocabulary words that'll enhance their writing skills.
  • It encourages children to formulate strong opinions. Through journaling, they'll have a chance to explore their thoughts and feelings, voicing their opinions in a controlled way.
  • It increases confidence. The children learn to take pride in their writing and reasoning skills, as they develop a creation that is purely their own.

You can foster these skills in your children or students today by introducing them to the power of journal writing. You might even want to keep your own journal in order to model good practices.

What Do I Need to Get Started?

Before you begin, make sure your child or students have the supplies they need, as well as a set routine. Take a moment to talk about the activity. Explain the benefits that will come from journaling, focusing on the creativity, self-awareness, storytelling, and opportunities for reflection.

Select the Right Supplies

Make sure your child or students have a notebook and appropriate writing tool. Some may like to use a laptop but you want to encourage them to keep their writing in a notebook — it's convenient and, importantly in a classroom setting, it’s cost effective. It may also be fun for them to decorate the notebook and make it more personal.

The writing tool will depend on the age group you're working with. The general progression will be crayons, pencils, pens. Whatever the tool, the goal is to encourage free writing. That is, it won't be restricted by perfect grammar, spelling, or penmanship.

Select the Right Time

Set a consistent time each day as the time for journaling. This will ingrain it into the daily routine and get the kids into the habit of writing without thinking about it.

If you're doing this at home with your kids, a good time might be immediately after dinner. You can ask your children to write about something new they learned today, or something surprising or frustrating.

If you're using journaling in the classroom, the start of class is generally a good time. Make it a concrete part of the routine so that students know to come in, take out their notebooks, and journal for a few, quiet minutes. Have a prompt written on the board to help beat writer’s block.

Journal Writing Exercises for Kids

Journaling exercises will vary, based on the age level you're working with. The goal is always the same though: encourage children to reflect, ask questions and get creative. Writing prompts are a good way to stop the kids becoming frustrated.

At any age they can describe their favorite thing about that day or write a short story to share with a parent or sibling at bedtime.

Here's a sampling of exercises that can be completed at each grade level.

Preschool

For preschoolers, a journal can be as simple as a few pieces of printer paper folded over. Encourage the children to draw with crayons, they’re best for those still developing fine-motor skills.

Offer prompts like:

  • We just read about a boy who planted a seed and watched a flower bloom. Draw your own story about seeds or plants.
  • It’s snowing today. What do you like to do in the snow?
  • Someone had a photo of their puppy at show and tell, what do you know about dogs?

When they’re done ask them to tell you about their drawing and write down the story using their own words.

K-2

For K-2 students, it might be nice to pre-prepare a journal. Instead of expecting them to pull out a blank notebook and start writing, you can prepare pages with pictures for prompts.

  • When summer is coming, you can present worksheets with pictures of the sun or beach. The children can draw pictures and write a few words about the season.
  • The students have music class today, use a picture of an instrument to steer them to draw and write about songs and music. 
  • The kids tried pumpkin pie. Did they love it or hate it? What’s their favorite dessert? What’s the strangest food you could put in a pie? In this exercise you can encourage them to express feelings or let their imagination run riot. 

3-5

Come third, fourth, and fifth grade, you can encourage the children to write more in-depth entries and try different styles of writing. Still, have plenty of prompts ready to guide them.

  • If you talked about the President yesterday, start the class with a prompt like, "If I were President, I would…”.
  • If they’re learning about the solar system the prompt could be “Life on another planet.”
  • For a creative writing exercise, ask them to write about something they wish would happen or something they’d hate to happen.

6-8

Middle school is a wonderful time to encourage journaling skills to flourish. Here, imaginations can soar with creative prompts. Critical thinking will also be fostered with contemplative prompts.

  • To encourage creative thinking, ask the kids to describe a dream where they rediscovered a favorite childhood toy, or the time they saved their friends from…
  • If you're reading a book as a class, ask students to reflect on a character and describe what they would do if they were in the character's shoes. Or did they like how the book ends, how could things have gone differently?
  • To develop strong reasoning skills ask the kids to write about a person they admire or an invention/innovation that has changed lives.

The Truth Is…

Often, the more children write, the more they seem to want to do it. Since reading and writing go hand in hand, it will also be rewarding to know you're encouraging strong vocabulary and grammar skills. Start your kids with short journal entries today and watch them become more eager to write over time.

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Journal Writing Exercises for Kids

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Getting children to write in their journals may not always be easy, but with some targeted journal writing exercises, you'll soon be able to get kids excited about writing.

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