A Guide for Teachers

 1) Teacher Dictation

2) Dictation and Labeling

3) Independently Working

Stages of Journaling

Scroll through these four videos on: 

  • Supporting Dual Language Learners

  • Invented Spelling with Teacher Scaffolding

  • Labeling 

  • Story Dictation

A journal can be a small teacher made booklet with a few pages stapled together, a blank composition book, or a small spiral notebook.  The journal is presented as a place where children can write stories about themselves, things that happened in their lives, their families, experiences, etc.  Some children will want to also write stories about fictional events. Labeling and dictation are at the heart of young children’s early journaling experiences.  Initially the child may begin with a drawing and teachers can label the drawing with a few words.  Eventually children will tell longer stories and may need gentle scaffolding to expand their narrative.  In any case the teacher takes great care to write clearly. Eventually children begin to do their own writing. Begin by asking the child to write one of the words in the story to label a picture, or have the child writing the first letter of a word.  But whether a child is drawing a picture or dictating a story, the “Details” web can help children to expand their narratives.


We recommend a careful Guided Discovery of the journal explaining that children will use one page at a time.  Think about how often you want children to use these journals. They are a wonderful way to show progress in drawing and story telling over time. Many teachers have children write at least once a week and then children can also choose to journal as part of choice time.  

Think about ways for children to share their stories. Try a pair share at the end of the day, an author’s circle at meeting where a child sits in a special chair and reads (or has the teacher) read their story.  Peers can comment, appreciate, and ask questions.