everyday journals: creative, thoughtful daily activities for kids

everyday journals make learning fresh and fun coveThis week, we officially began our Smart Summer 2012, a summer filled with fun learning, focused and free days, and a whole lot of flexibility–everything I think families need if they want a plan to work. We have an outline for our days.

If we get to everything, awesome; if not, that’s totally cool too.

Maddy, Owen, and Cora were totally psyched to some of their old faves on the calendar, along with some new and exciting activities as well.

They were also over the moon to learn about why these beautiful books and journals were sitting in our dining room for the last few days. Fun, inexpensive blank journals that were theirs for the choosing to use for their Everyday Journals–the happy cousin of their Everyday Name Books from years past.

So awesome.  I wanted to dance because I spent a lot of time creating them with my kids in mind–trying to come up with reading and writing activities that would be engaging and that I could adapt for Cora.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Everyday Journals: I loved the idea of having something regular to do every day that would include reading, writing, creative thinking, and all that digital literacy greatness that I’ve been reading about and trying to include for my kiddos.

I also loved doing the Everyday Name Books with the kids for the past few summers because, well, kids (and parents!) like consistency.  And it was awesome for Maddy, Owen, and Cora to have something to look back on so they could see their progress and improvement.


everyday journals

 Maddy chooses her Everyday Journal

So when I sat down to create the Everyday Journals, I had those same things in mind.  But I also knew that the kids would have to want to do the activities or the whole thing would be a bust.

And I also knew that the kids would need to have some ownership of the whole thing in order for it to work.

So Cora and I picked up a bunch of blank journals at the store the other day–ones with cool designs, jewels (for Cora), gold edges (for Maddy), and huge (for Owen).  They were totally inexpensive–from two to four dollars each–but well worth the investment.  And we brought them home, gave them some room to choose, and they did.  They love their journals.


everyday journals

The Everyday Journal Topic cards. . .

everyday journals

. . . and the way we’re organizing them–new cards and old cards.

everyday journals


But the journal itself is only a piece of the pie; the other piece is the Everyday Journal Topics–creative, thoughtful daily activities for kids.

You can download the Everyday Journal Topics here, as a pdf if you’d like.  If you use them, awesome! Please let me know what you think.
The idea is that each day, whomever’s day it is will choose a card from the Everyday Journal Topics, and during work time that day, we’ll do it!

The Everyday Journal topics include reading, writing, and thinking activities that begin with:

  • Photo Inspiration;
  • Nature Inspiration;
  • Poem Inspiration;
  • Techy Inspiration;
  • Artsy Inspiration.

And specifically, the activities involve everything from getting outside, staying inside, reading, watching, listening, computer time, you name it.

I incorporated some of my favorite websites–ones that I want my kids to start trying and experimenting with–under my watch, of course, as well as some of my favorite teaching materials and learning tools from some fabulous companies.

I am totally psyched to share our adventures each day and look forward to hearing how these work for your kiddos.

Tomorrow, I’ll share how we will organize our day–or try to!–so that we manage to fit all that we have planned. Woot!

Here’s to happy, creative, thoughtful fun with our kids!




  1. says

    Thank you so much for this idea and for the resource. We’re about to embark on something similar and so I found this – via Pinterest – at a very opportune moment! Thanks so much!

  2. says

    My little writer bought a journal the first day of summer, but I’ve been having a hard time encouraging him to write each day. This is a fun way to keep him at it. Thanks, as always, for your wonderful idea!

  3. Laura says

    Could you pretty-please get the county to pay YOU to make the summer writing calendar for our kids? Like this x1000!!! :)

    • amy says

      HA! Laura you are a riot! I’d only do it if YOU wrote it with me!! YOU’re the expert, girlfriend!! xoxo

  4. christine says

    Intriguing. Especially since one of my going-into-2nd G son’s challenges is writing…he has the ideas in his head, but grows easily frustrated when trying to get it all down on paper. And then the spelling, legibility and spacing go out the window, or he truncates his ideas – puts down one simple sentence, and then calls it done just to be done. Or daydreaming takes over because its more fun for him to be in his head than “working” and then a chunk of time later, he’s sitting there with nothing and then get’s mad at himself that he can’t concentrate. I was looking for ways to give journaling a “hook,” figuring the only way to get him to improve on any of it is just to keep him doing it AND have him feel a sense of ownership of it. But how do I resolve the issue of what naturally comes out and school expectations of “these are the the words we are supposed to know how to spell correctly now?”…hm…

    • amy says

      Christine–great questions. Let him write, write, write with NO worries about punctuation, spelling, mechanics. Early readers and writers need to grow their confidence in idea creation before we focus on getting it all down correctly. For the summer–especially–I’d encourage him to write, talk about his ideas and let him expand upon them during your conversations/ sharing, and then work on specific word-study issues (sight words, etc) through separate games another time. Let me know how it goes!

  5. says

    Such a nice way to get kids writing that is so respectful of the child and appropriate! You are right that children need confidence when writing. As a first grade teacher, I say two positives about a writing piece and one gentle suggestion! Carolyn

  6. cheryl says

    ok, I am printing the topics right now. so excited to try this. I think I will even get my kindergarten-bound daughter in on it.
    thanks for your help!!!

    • amy says

      Cheryl! YAY!! Many thanks for writing–thank you so much for reading, and please let me know how it goes for you, my friend!!

  7. says

    Amy, I noticed that some of the cards say to choose one of the photos from the story starter cards or the imagery cards. I’ve combed your site, and I haven’t been able to find these cards or a description of them. Can you point me in the right direction?

    Thanks, friend!


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