Journaling with two little boys

I’ve started a journal communication this year with both of my boys.  Instead of giving them journal assignments or a journal to just write their thoughts their journals are a communication.  I write a sentence or two and my son writes to me.  We do this back and forth and talk about all sorts of things.  It is highly motivating for them to read responses to their statements or questions and it makes journaling time fly by.  We don’t do it a whole bunch since it is a supplement or just an informal way to practice writing.  My first and third graders have a journal time about once every 7-10 days.

With my first grader we are working on three issues only.  I ignore all other errors or misspellings.  We are currently working on capitalization, making sure letters are formed in the right direction, and spacing between words.  Here is a sample of his latest journal entry.

You can click on the picture to see it a little bigger.  Here is the play by play with my interpretation in parenthesis:
Mom: I want to play a tycoon.  How about you?
First grader:  Mmmm no becus you haf to wate (Mmm, no because you have to wait.)
Mom:  What do I have to wait for?
First grader:  Mane  But I want to go to Lago land.  (Money.  But I want to go to Legoland.)
Mom:  Okay, let’s go.  Where is it?
First grader:  In Kala foneu (In California)
Mom: How far away is California?
First grader: Aaaaa I dowt no  (Aaah, I don’t know.)
In 30 minutes we did three pages like this.  It gave him lots of practice with capitals, letter formation and spacing between words.
I am using journaling with my 3rd grader strictly for handwriting practice.  Handwriting detached from meaningful use is frustrating for my son.  This gives him a way to practice in a meaningful way.  I also use handwriting worksheets on topics of interest.  
Here is a page from my 3rd grader’s journal.  His responses are longer and we usually complete several pages like this in 30 minutes.
You would have to click on this one in order to see it, but here is the transcript:
Mom:  So maybe you will like microbiology just as much as astronomy.  My favorite planet is Earth, what is yours?
3rd grader: Saturn.  Did you know that Venus is so bright that it is oftenly mistaken for an UFO?
Mom:  Why would people think a planet is a UFO?  Does Venus move around?
3rd grader:  Yes, very slowly so slow you don’t even notice it.
Mom:  Then why do people think it is a UFO if it moves so slowly?
3rd grader: because everything in space moves.  so Venus moves slowly so they sometimes they mistake it for an UFO.
Mom:  Don’t UFOs move fast – hypothetically that is.  Do you believe in UFOs?
3rd grader:  No, and maybe they think it’s a new kind of traveling
With my 3rd grader I focus on handwriting only.  We are using a language arts program that deals with the mechanics of writing.
This is a new thing we are trying this school year and so far everyone seems to enjoy it.  

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