Help Kids Create a Vacation Keepsake … and Work on Writing

I have to admit it, this was a really great idea. I mean, I’ve had good ideas before. But this might have been one of my best.

It started with spring break. I teach part-time, and my spring break happened to be different than the kids’. My mother-in-law had been wanting to have the kids for a longer period, anyway. It seemed like the perfect time. So, they headed down south several hours to Evansville, Ind. There were going to be gone for the entire break.

Don’t get me wrong — they’ve been away from us before. But not for awhile. Not since they’ve been older. And only once for this long (actually, longer the other time). I wanted to have a way to for them to remember everything they did and be able to tell me about it. So I came up with the idea of Week-at-Grandma’s Journals. And I now plan to adapt the idea for Vacation Journals.

The kids LOVED this idea. Even my kindergartener was super excited to fill his out each night. And at the end of the week, they took turns crawling onto my lap and talking me through everything. They love to look through their journals to remember all the fun they had. And I loved that they spend 20 minutes or so each day writing.

Like the idea? Here’s how to make your own Vacation Journals:

Make a Vacation Journal for your kids

  1. First, buy a journal for each kid. I found great deals at Walmart, and bought them for less than $2 a piece. I took my time to find the perfect journal for each kid.
  2. While you’re at Walmart, buy some other goodies to go with it. I got a brand-new pack of colored pencils, a few new fun-colored pens, and several pages of stickers that pictured things I knew the kids would be doing. In all, I spent less than $10.
  3. This is optional, but I printed out some photos to put in a small pocket that each journal had. I chose pictures of the kids with us, but for a Vacation Journal, I would chose pictures of home, the kids with their friends, etc.
  4. Create the journal! For each day, I made a check list for the kids. The check list contained some of the following:
  • A spot for a “sticker-of-the-day,” along with space to write a sentence explaining why it was picked. (I actually did this every day for both kids. It was fun to have a sticker that represented each day.)
  • A place for the child to write about the day. For my 9-year-old, I just left a blank page with instructions to write a paragraph about the day. For my kindergartener, I would create a form with spots for him to fill in words.
  • Pages for drawing a picture of the day.
  • Questions with check-box answers. For example, today was -fun, -scary, -long, -exhausting, -exciting. They would check all that applied.

5. Wrap it up! Put your extra goodies in a small supply box and put it, along with the journals, in a pretty bag and wrap it up as a surprise. Let them unwrap it after you set off for the trip.
6. Customize! What other ideas do you have for Vacation Journals?

Let the kids unwrap the journals after you set off on the trip. In addition to creating a keepsake, the kids will have something to keep them busy during car time and will also be sharpening writing and reading skills. Below are photos of various pages in the kids’ journals.

About Kendra
  • trusse21

    Great idea!  When my kids were little, we did journals too especially on long trips.  I will always treasure those journals.  Another thing that we did that we all loved was keeping a Nature Journal.  We kept these over a period of several years, and you could really see both their writing skills and their artistic abilities improve over the years.  Living close to the Smokies is a real asset for Nature Journaling, but you can just as easily Nature Journal right in your own backyard.  Another thing you might consider in the technology age is encouraging kids and teens to blog as a way of keeping a Nature Journal. You can always make the settings Private so only certain folks have access.  That’s what my Nature Journaling has progressed into.  http://hikingtotheheights.blogspot.com/ 

  • Kendra Beutler

    Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it! I’m planning to make a “Park Journal” for each of my kids this summer. We’re going to visit every park in our county, then I’ll have the kids journal about each of them. We’ll draw pictures, rate them on different aspects, and find nature keepsakes from each. 

    I love the idea of the blog, too! Thanks for your thoughts!