Pre-K Crowd: For this group, start a journal made of pictures. Brainstorm with your little guy to imagine what you’d find in a jungle, a forest, a desert, or on an island. Talk about what you’d expect and give your child ideas of what to draw. Then you can add labels to the items and help to color them in. If things don’t look like much to you, that doesn’t matter. The main thing is that your child can look at the drawing and tell the story of what is on the page. When you’re done, combine it with the map you made–or make a map for the new places–and bind it with construction paper to make a book. Read a different page each day and vary the story of the adventure you have in that place each time. Remember! Beginning, middle, end.
Grades K-1: For this group, you can get a marble notebook at the office supply store. Some of them have a blank top of the page and lines for writing at the bottom. If you can’t find that, take looseleaf paper and glue plain paper at the top of several pages. Have your child draw a picture of what he/she expects to find in the place he/she will explore. Then help your child to write a bit about that place. It could be that you’ll take the map from a few weeks ago, create a picture of the place, then write a story in picture and words about what happens in that place. Write a bit each day so that it’s a sort of travel journal, even if the the travel is all in the imagination. Remember! At this point the spelling is not the point. The punctuation isn’t even the point. Just get it all down on paper. The rest will be addressed in a couple of months.
2nd Grade: For these guys, writing is the main form of communication. They can draw pictures, too, but most of them will be ready to write what they have to say and include a small picture if there is a picture at all. I personally like to see what they come up with, so I might encourage them to draw several pictures to go with their writing–sort of to make it like a travel journal with images from where they’ve been. Have your child write an entry each day. Explain that there are things called journals and people write in them. They write about the best thing, the worst thing, the most exciting thing — whatever — that happened that day. Their task is to write about what occurred on their exploration trip.
Grades 3-5: A journal may be just the thing for your child. Then again, he/she may have had it with journals. If that’s the case, get some blank 4×6 cards and have them write a series of postcards to you or a friend. On one side of each card, he/she can put the message. On the other, he/she can draw a picture of the place. Have the postcards tell about what’s happening each day. Keep them all together in a small manila envelope or with holes punched in the corners and held with a twist-tie or ring. Have them read the postcards to you and see if they give you a sense of what’s happening. If not, ask some questions that will lead to more descriptions. Questions like – what’s the weather? are there any animals there? what are you eating? is there fresh water? where are you sleeping? Anything to get those imaginations running!