Prep: None / Activity Time: 15-20 Minutes

Children at this age love to talk about themselves. Keeping a journal is one way to tap into your child’s world and special interests. Making writing a part of your child’s daily routine builds an important foundation for beginning writing skills needed for school.

  • notebooks
  • drawing pads
  • pencils
  • crayons
  • markers

Step 1:  Provide a notebook or drawing pad for your child to record his ideas, experiences and feelings. Set aside specific times each day when your child can draw and/or write about his adventures, thoughts or feelings. You might make this part of your child’s nighttime routine by having him talk about the day and then draw a picture or write about what he shared with you.

Step 2: Draw a line across the center of the journal page. In the top half of the page, encourage your child to draw a picture in his journal about something that happened that day. Ask questions to clarify his thoughts and encourage him to add details to the pictures he draws.  

Step 3: Encourage your child to add words to his drawings. For example, if your child drew a picture of a bike, you might encourage him to identify the beginning sound of the word “bike” and write the letter that makes that sound. You might say:

I see you drew a bike on your picture. You rode on your bike with your sister today. When I say the word bike, the first sound I hear is /b/. Let’s say /b/ together. What letter makes the /b/ sound? Show me how you write the letter b next to the bike.  

Step 4: You can use the bottom half of the page to write the words your child tells you about the story. Ask your child to dictate something that she wants to say about the picture and write the dictation on the page.     


To make it easier, give your child extra support by offering suggestions and providing visual prompts.  You might help to organize his thoughts by asking questions like,

What do you want to write about? You rode your bike, played with the ball and helped me bake cookies. Do you want to draw a picture about one of those things?

Encourage your child to talk out loud as he is drawing and writing. You can even have your own journal to show your child how you use drawing and writing to remember your day.

Provide magnetic letters, an alphabet book or some other alphabet item that your child can use to help him identify and write the letters in words. For example, you might say: 

I see you drew a bike on your picture. When I say the word bike, the first sound I hear is /b/. Let’s say /b/ together. Look at the letters. Which letter makes the /b/ sound? Show me how you write the letter b.


To add some challenge, ask your child to label his drawings with words.  You might say:

I see you drew a bike, a bird and a tree. Show me how you write the word for bike, bird or tree.

Your child may spell bike like “BK”, tree like “chre” and bird like “brd.” That’s great! It shows that he is starting to associate letter names with their sounds. Don’t worry about the spelling yet. That will come later.  Children who are just beginning the writing process will not spell words correctly. Most often the vowels in words are left out. This is called “inventive spelling” and is a stage of writing that all children go through as they learn to connect the letter sounds, letter names and letter shapes. You can see if your child is in this stage of writing by observing how he labels the pictures on the page.  

Learn more about reading readiness milestones for five-year-olds here.