Writing, like reading, is a life skill and something most people use every single day. We write reports, letters, notes, emails, and facebook updates. Many people must use writing at work, no matter what they choose as a career. The way one writes offers a snapshot into our identity. Our grammar, word choice, syntax, and proofreading skills are on display for all to critique. Even children who do not plan to go to college must learn to write in order to communicate with others, even if that is only through emails, facebook, or a new form of social networking.
Penpals are an old tradition and often used as a way to encourage children to practice writing skills. A twist on the standard pen pal exchange is the Circle Journal. You can find a journaling partner for your child far away or close by. Even a neighbor will work (and no need to use stamps) or a grandparent, a cousin, or a friend that has moved away from your neighborhood.
What is a circle journal? It is a journal in which two people write and respond to each other. The first person writes a journal entry and gives it to the second person. The second person responds to the first person’s entry and then writes her own entry. She then gives it back to the first person to respond and create. The goal is to fill the journal while practicing writing skills.
What do you need? My family moves often and we like to give circle journals to friends as a good-bye present. We include:
- A paperback journal with blank pages,
- 10 manila envelopes that are already addressed,
- A book of stamps,
- Several packets of stickers,
- Two nice pens,
- A packet of markers,
- A stamp set,
- A list of journaling ideas that are specific to the friendship.
The Common Core Standards encourage writing as a discipline and also throughout the other subjects. A child should be able to express their ideas, thought processes, and rationals in writing. This is one way to practice those skills while also learning to love to write.
The Common Core Standards, Writing:
The following standards for K–5 offer a focus for instruction each year to help ensure that students gain adequate mastery of a range of skills and applications. Each year in their writing, students should demonstrate increasing sophistication in all aspects of language use, from vocabulary and syntax to the development and organization of ideas, and they should address increasingly demanding content and sources. Students advancing through the grades are expected to meet each year’s grade-specific standards and retain or further develop skills and understandings mastered in preceding grades. The expected growth in student writing ability is reflected both in the standards themselves and in the collection of annotated student writing samples in Appendix C.