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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.

2. Nature Journal

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

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

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.


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.

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Linda Sand

    I love the idea of topic journals! I think I need to start a health journal. A list of what I did today to improve/keep my health.

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      I’ve done one of those before. It really helped me keep on track!

  2. Jennifer

    I love these ideas! Thank you for the inspiration!

  3. Katie

    We don’t homeschool, but I love these ideas! I’d especially like to start a nature journal with my oldest. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      Nature journals are great fun. Hope you enjoy!

  4. Sarah M

    I love these ideas! I actually have an “idea” journal (a huge one) I’ve been using for years, and as an avid reader, my immediate thought was, “Why don’t *I* have a book journal?” right before you mentioned adults using it, too. 😉
    Sarah M

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      I wish I had a book journal from when I was a kid. Wouldn’t that be great? Never too late to start one though 🙂

  5. Tara

    Love the idea of starting the day with what you are grateful for…

    We try to do this at dinner time, and write it down in a huge journal we have. It’s a way the four of us can say what we are thankful for out loud, and record it also.

    Great ideas here – thank you!

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      I love the idea of a family gratitude journal. So great!

  6. sheri

    Fabulous idea. Welcome to homeschooling too. Where did you get the large sketch book. About what size is it? We have a story journal where we add one paragraph per lesson day. At the end of the month I read it back to the kids. Loads of laughter but I like the art one you have.

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      I got the sketchbooks at Hobby Lobby. The brand is “Master’s Touch” and they are 9.5″x6″

  7. Holly

    Great idea. We are preparing to homeschool our oldest two kids next year. This is going on my list. 🙂

  8. Missy Robinson

    We are not home schoolers, but in order to improve writing, I have my 10-year-old son write at least four sentences each day in his journal. Sometimes he reports about the day. Sometimes he makes up stories. Sometimes he complains or makes requests. I hope he adopts the concept for a lifetime.

    I started journaling when I was young as I emulated my own mother and now have more than 25 years worth of journals!

  9. Grace

    Love these ideas! How are your children?

  10. Charity

    Love these categories! We have added one more “timeline/history” category for our historical studies to include, places we visit as well as family genealogyamd some maps

  11. Charity

    Love these categories! We have added one more “timeline/history” category for our historical studies to include, places we visit as well as family genealogy and some maps of events.

  12. heather

    love, love, love the idea of a book journal! definitely need to do this with my kiddos! thanks for the lovely idea 🙂

  13. Lisa

    I really love these! My boys (4 & 3) both have spiral notebooks that they love to draw and “write” in. So far they’ve filled up two each. It’s their favorite creative thing to do and I love that I can hold on to these notebooks to look through how their drawings and writings have progressed. I really like the idea of having specific notebooks for different things though. We are reading the Boxcar series and the Narnia series now, and they are both huge nature lovers. We will definitely start those two soon!

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