You and Your Family are Writing History

I don’t know what I mean until I write it down.

-E. M. Forester
 
 
Your journal is a record of your experiences since the day the world shut down. The day that time stopped. The day you began to complete your classwork at home. The day you could not visit your friends. What did you feel? What did you think? How have you and your family overcome fears? Your journal will be a historical document, a primary source. Historians know much about the Civil War that took place in the United States (1861-1865) because they can read the personal journals kept by soldiers. What will future historians learn about how you were affected by the COVID-19?
 
As you participate in Fun Family Activities, one of the first positive steps you can take as a family is to create individual journals. Journals are the notebooks of your mind. A journal is a place where you can file ideas, experiment, ideate, pose questions, and commune with your deeper self. Journals have a long and rich history. Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, John Quincy Adams, Lewis and Clark, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Anne Frank are just a few luminous names of people who have enlightened the world by penning their thoughts, hopes, desires, ideas, observations, and imaginings in journals. 
 
Journals encourage writing. Children who write in journals on a daily basis develop both greater thinking and writing fluency skills. Journal writing helps young writers establish and trust their own writing voice. Journal writing is exceptionally useful and habit-forming. Journals should also be recognized for the positive role they play in the conservation of ideas. Infant ideas are endangered; fledgling ideas that are not noted in journals for later consideration and elaboration are most likely lost forever. The journal is to authors and inventors what sketch books are to artists. 
 
Journals are where you brainstorm lists of possibilities for science and history projects, note your thoughts about books you are reading, and critique films you have viewed. Journals are where your drawings are kept for invention ideas. Indeed, more than a few patent lawsuits have been settled when one of the principals was able to produce dated sketches and journal entries that established a rightful claim!
 
Journals make excellent file folders where you can enter new words, character sketches for future creative fictional writing, pieces of dialogue overheard or imagined, and small gems of verbal imagery. Drawings enrich journal keeping. Journals are places for lists of good books to read, sample words or phrases for poems as yet unwritten, wish lists, personal goals, and a fine place to map out new project ideas. 
 
Journals can become personal time capsules. Years hence, you can revisit your personal development as documented in your own journal. If you keep and preserve your journals and possess the wisdom to consult them in the future, you may have greater appreciation and empathy for the struggles your own children or grandchildren face. 
 
Many of the Fun Family Activities can begin with journaling. Can a creative recipe be first entered in a personal journal? Can your daydreams be listed in your journals? You might copy provocative and eloquent quotations into your journals and append your own reflection upon the words of others. For example, you could enter the following words penned by author Vladimir Nabokov, “Genius is an African who thinks up snow,” and then incorporate your own impression of his meaning. 
 
Journal prompts may be a fun way to start a day as well. Your children may limber up their still sleepy brains at the beginning of a brand new day when they use their journals to reply to creative questions such as these:
 
Would you rather be the wind or a river?
Would you rather be a snow shovel or a lawn mower?
Would you rather be a leaf or a rock?
 
Other clever prompts induce mind challenges. A member of your family may offer a morning prompt starter, such as the following: 
 
Print your first and last name in your journal.
How many of the first letters of the names of the 50 states in the USA are found in your name? 
How many of the first letters of nations are found in your name? 
 
After you do warm-up activities for a few days, try using journaling to express feelings and experiences, such as the following:
 
Write down how you spent the day yesterday.
What do you miss about school?
What do you like about being at home?
What creative ways have you found to connect with your friends?
 
What other creative ideas do you have for your journal?
 
Begin one today!