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by Alysa Bajenaru

Alysa is a freelance writer and dietitian who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and two kids - unless, of course, it's baseball season; then, they could be anywhere. You can follow her on Twitter and at her blog Inspired RD.

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Keeping journals: 5 ways your kids can start now

This year, we started homeschooling our kids, mostly as a way of sticking together as a family. Because of my husband’s job as a professional baseball coach, we move a few times a year.

As we began our homeschool journey, I decided pretty quickly that I didn’t want to have a million pieces of paper to organize or endless works of art that would end up in a shoebox (or the trash).

I also wanted them to have something they could hold onto, romantically hoping they will treasure these items as adults looking back over their childhood education.

So instead of loose papers, we have started the practice of keeping journals. Right now we have five separate notebooks, a few of which should last them their entire childhood.

1. Art Journal

We fill these with drawings, self-portraits, art studies, and more. Our favorite way to use them is for the kids to draw while I read them a story. They can’t look at the pictures in the book until they are finished drawing their own illustrations. They have so much fun with this, and the bonus is they retain much more from the story this way.
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2. Nature Journal

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We started these last summer when we lived in Montana. I’ve had friends tell me they wish they could do this with their kids, and I tell them they should! It’s so simple. We find something worth drawing (an animal, a leaf, a rock, a bug), we draw it, and we Google it to learn more. There are also some great local field guides you can find at Barnes & Noble. Keep one in your car and explore your surroundings!

3. Gratitude Journal

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I want my kids to learn an attitude of gratitude. So, every morning, they start the day by writing three things they are thankful for. They are also free to draw pictures if they want to. I teach them that we do this because there is always always always something to be thankful for, even on the bad days.

4. Book Journal

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This is a new one that I am especially excited about. Simply, when they are finished reading a book, they write the title in their journal. I started these as they dove into the exciting world of real chapter books, and my hope is that they will keep up with these as they grow older and one day have a journal filled with books. As an adult, wouldn’t you love to have one of these?

5. Idea Book

My son wants to be an inventor (and a policeman, and a professional baseball player, and…). My brother-in-law, an artist and designer, has a huge idea book full of sketches. My son was so inspired by his uncle’s idea book, that he asked for one of his own. This one is brand new, and I can’t wait to see what he fills it up with.

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I am loving these notebooks so much that I would do this whether we were homeschooling or not. I hope one or all of them have inspired you in some way. And I hope one day my kids look at these as romantically as I do. If not, I’m keeping them for myself.

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