Have you ever heard of the “summer slide?” It’s not a fun piece of playground equipment. It’s actually this terrifying phenomenon where our children lose reading levels over the summer. When they start back at school the next year, they’re reading BELOW where they left school the prior year! This doesn’t happen at random – students that don’t exercise their brains during the school break will experience the summer slide. That’s why we encourage my stepdaughter to keep summer journals!
Avoid the Summer Slide while Having Fun with Summer Journals
My stepdaughter Krista loves to read – LOVES it. But my biggest challenge is keeping enough books in the house that she hasn’t read yet! Sometimes, if she likes a book enough, she’ll reread it, but often, she prefers a new story.
And because there’s just not enough time in the day, I can’t practically go to the library every day to keep her little mind engaged.
But what I can do—and have done since she was 6—is help her keep a journal each summer!
Each year, she keeps a journal of what’s going on in her life – what activities she did, who she did them with, and how she’s feeling! She often goes back through her older journals and reflects on the memories. Not only is this an incredible exercise for her to learn during the summer but it’s a handmade keepsake for the rest of her life!
Krista’s Beginner Summer Journal
When Krista was first learning how to write, we used a Primary Composition book for her journals. These journals were absolutely PERFECT because not only did they have the primary writing lines she needed to help guide her letter formation, but they also had a box for her drawing to accompany the journal entry.
Not only did this exercise help her master handwriting skills, but it helped maintain her reading level since she often wanted to go back and read through older entries.
At the end of the summer when she finished her journal, we rewarded her with a trip to Disneyland (and to visit her aunt who lived in SoCal)! How fun is that?!
In past summers, we have visited Great Wolf Lodge instead! Luckily, we live about 30 minutes from the Grapevine location, so it was easy for us to head over and back for a single night.
This Year’s More Advanced Summer Journal
I am so so so excited for this year’s journal! Now she’s an almost-3rd-grader and is a skillful writer and doesn’t need those pesky primary writing lines. So we’re combining her summer journal tradition with my love of all things Happy Planner.
This year, Krista is keeping her journal in a Happy Planner Big. She keeps track of what she’s currently reading, what she’s grateful for, and what she’s doing! Then, she either draws a picture or we use our Polaroid Zip to print pictures from the day on sticker paper the exact size of the box!
Krista gets to decorate with washi tape, stickers, and markers. She LOVES memory keeping in her Happy Planner, and as long as I can keep her happy while learning, I’m happy!
Benefits to us as a Blended Family
My favorite part about all of this? It’s not one-sided. She’s not just tracking memories from Mom’s house or Dad’s house. She’s putting all memories from all of her life in one keepsake journal. So often in blended families, children feel like they have to pick sides or as if when they’re at Mom’s house, they can’t talk about Dad (or vice versa) and that’s not the case with this journal!
Krista can keep track of all of her memories from Mom’s house in her journal. And Mom sends me all of their pictures so I can make sure to print them off for her! It’s just one more way we show her that we’re a united front, all dedicated to her happiness.
What You’ll Need to Get Started
You’ll want to grab:
Markers (Papermate Flair Pens are my favorite for planners!)
Stickers (we grab themed stickers like camping or beach from Hobby Lobby or Michael’s)
The Basic Process
Each day, K writes a little blurb in her summer journal and adds stickers. Then she’ll draw a picture and/or print a photo to accompany the entry.
Toward the end of the summer, we print out some of our favorite photos at the drug store and position them on a piece of paper that we’ve cut to the size of the book cover. We add stickers that say “Summer” and the year, and voila! Personalized cover!
There’s no right or wrong way to do this! Whatever works for you and your little student is PERFECT!
I can’t wait to hear what you do with your summer journals! Make sure to share in the comments how you liked the journal exercise!
P.S. Looking for more educational fun this summer? Give the Beyond the Classroom series a look-see. It’s full of fun games that make your littles think and learn!
Can’t wait to hear what you think about the summer journals! Share your thoughts with me below! And any tips you have for keeping your littles literate during the summer 🙂