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In this thread, members discussed the use of Journals, which is a form of creative writing sometimes used at the end of OTHER workshops, rather than, in a Creative Writing Workshop.



We began WoRM in January 2001 and it was a HUGE hit!


At first, we tried to use "Prayer Journals," but they only got used about 50% of the time. We have age group "shepherds" who were supposed to use the last 10 min. of workshop time to guide the kids in writing in their journal. Because of the lesson sometimes running over, the discussion not getting to the point of actually writing, etc., they often don't use the prepared journal papers which = wasted paper. 


My question is about how you construct your journals.

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm
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We are supposed to do journaling in the last 5-10 minutes of the workshop. I recently asked the shepherds about how it was going. We had mixed reviews. Most of the older boys rip through the exercise with little interest. Many girls are more thoughtful. We decided to keep at it because we feel it is an important skill to learn - it requires deeper understanding to articulate in words, the meaning of the lesson. We stress this reflection time in our lesson plans.





We have found that it helps to give the children some little thing from each workshop to paste in their journal: a ticket stub or popcorn kernel from Holywood, a rock (tomb), a wax seal was very popular when we did Daniel (King Darius' seal) a sticker or stamp - it helps to focus the children.


We also give the workshop leader specific questions to ask:


  • What important idea did you learn today?
  • Write down part of the bible verse you studied.
  • Write a short prayer for something you are happy or concerned about this week.



If all else fails, they write the memory verse for the lesson. or draw a picture - of someone praying, of an angel, etc.


Shepherds need to be alert for children who have difficulties in writing. They will help write the child's ideas.

We have blank sheets of paper in a 3 holed folder. The shepherds collect the folders and distribute them. We will give them to the children to keep at the end of the year.


Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm

We use journals every week. I write out a "spiritual reflection" for the rotation for every workshop and post it in the room.


The shepherds are responsible to make sure that things wind up so that the children get journaling time (5 minutes). Sometimes the workshop leaders are a little put out and sometimes it is hard to stop and journal when things are rolling along well. Everyone needs to be flexible.

One of the reasons that we use journaling is that it uses that intrapersonal intelligence. Some kids like it and some don't. Some of the best reflections on what they are learning have come out of journal writing.

To make it special, each group has a different type of journal and writing/drawing utensils.


To entice the older group, 6th-8th grade, we bought the black writing tablets and gel pens. Since the younger two groups like to draw a lot, their journals are blank page notebooks and they have special markers. The middle group has hologram type notebooks and colored pencils.

Just to share one great journaling moment - a 1st grader at the beginning of the year showed me his journal during the Jacob and Esau Rotation. The question was something like "How does God talk to you in dreams?" His picture was him in bed and a tall figure (God) standing next to the bed. The greatest thing about this picture was that both of them had the biggest smiles on their faces.

Thumbs up for journaling, do not give up!


Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm

Ah, journals... we too are trying to rethink our Faith Journals after doing WoRM for nearly one year. We are taking a break from them this summer.


After talking with shepherds and teachers, what we will try next year is to be more guided with our questions and set aside a 5 minute time at the close of the class when teacher and shepherd can sit down with children in smaller groups to discuss what they experienced. We will still include our memory verse as an option for children to illustrate or write down and we also use stickers to decorate.


One neat thing we are going to try is using gel pens and black paper. I found a really good deal on pads at Wal-mart and I'm going to tear the pads apart and put them into their journals. I think they will like that much better than white.


I think the journal is a really valuable tool for kids and adults to bring closure to a lesson. We'll see how it goes.

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm

I was the one who began this thread on journals when we were 1 month into rotation.

Since then, we have become very loose in our journaling time, practice and expectation.


While I agree with the idea that the act of writing something down encourages remembering something (like leaving your grocery list at home and remembering what's on it), our age group "shepherds" have said that sometimes discussion or prayer is what naturally occurs. And I'd rather see relationship building rather than being tied to journals. So we're very loose with it.

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm
We, too, tried journaling this year. While I really agree with the rationale for journaling, I met with a lot of resistance from teachers. They said it felt too much like school and that the kids don't like it, and they seldom had the time to do it. I'm not giving up yet, but think we need to revise our plan. I like your ideas of more attractive writing tools, stickers, memory verses etc. Those things could serve as a beginning point for those who are not writers.

We use journals in every unit but only in one center at a time.


I have color-coded file folders, one color per grade. The student gets their folder and a journal page to write on at a particular center: this center may change from unit to unit but normally it is in the Bible Skills and Games center. The journal page has directed questions and the leader includes journaling time in his/her lesson time. The kids keep their papers in their journals and get them at Confirmation.


Some kids will eventually have 6 years worth of journaling papers if it works out right! They have been well received and these folders they get at confirmation are pretty special (this is our third year of rotation).

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm
What we have done to make the journals eye appealing was at the beginning of the year we had the kids create their own with using notebook (you know the little ones they use in school. ) They had a spot for their picture plus their memory verse or their story on the lesson! They decorated them with construction paper folded over both covers then glued on those foamy characters and animals etc. They put their names on them with the sticky letters! They recognize them and have a great time with them knowing that as soon as the year is up they get to take them home to show them off! We purchased everything from Staples business depot. Don't forget to do extras for the visitors as they love them too. They don't take them home as we look back to how many visitors we had over the seasons! This is to see if and when we had growth in the childrens ministry
I'm preparing to start with WORM in September, but have given this topic a lot of thought. Right now I'm leaning toward having the kids make a trading card of sorts at the end of each session. Here's how: Provide them with a pre-cut (maybe 3X5") paper. On one side they illustrate the lesson (not elaborately - I don't want to take up too much time.) And on the other side they list a few salient points - the stats for the day. I'm looking into buying a laminator (is that the right thing?) so that when they're done they'll have a "permanent" reminder.

Has anyone tried this? Got any suggestions on how you think this might work? The hope is that they'll save the cards like baseball or Pokemon cards or whatever. . .

We don't do journaling every time, but oftentimes we do it in the computer lab. We use the Writing Blaster program and make little books about the topic. Our last series for this teaching year will be on the Lord's Prayer. We couldn't find much in the program we have, so decided to make the books with the prayer in it. Kids can then illustrate them as desired.

Julie Burton
1st Prez - Sapulpa, OK
I like the trading card idea, It would be nice if you kept them until the end of the year for each child though. We used the black paper and gel pens this year. Not good for the pre schoolers at all, they ended up gluing in white papers in their books. A lot of wasted paper but so much fun to look at. I can see growth in all of my kids over the course of the year. I also the like the guest book idea. I may do something similiar to the cards but make a book out of them at the end of the year for each student and keep a guest one too. We have a digital camera and I want to add everyone's picture to one card at the beginning and at the end.

Thanks for the great ideas.

Our latest update on journals...we are using them about 50% of the time most rotations. It's worked really well to have the gel pens and black paper for older grades this year. Younger kids have markers and pencils and blank paper. Each of our age groups has an assigned color portfolio/folder with the journal pages already inserted at the beginning of the year. We keep journals in a rubbermaid tote along with rolls, pencils/markers, etc. and shepherd needs. For each workshop we print out a specific journal question on a computer label so there's less writing involved. Some kids really enjoy them, some do minimal work. Another advantage is that while stuffing journals at the beginning of each rotation (we also put the memory verse on a label and I go ahead and stick that in journals before the rotation starts) I get to see what the kids have written. It helps me to evaluate how things are going. We plan to give our sixth graders their completed journals from all their years in Sunday school when they graduate to jr. high -- I think it will be a neat memento of their individual faith journeys.

We're taking the summer off though. We're doing a rotation on Paul -- Summer Adventures with Paul and we're going to make small passports which will serve as our journals for summer.

Originally, our ROAD Trip also started with journals. However, like most of us, halfway through the year we realized that journalling seemed to be a "show-stopping" time of the class. We have now comprised the last few minutes of each class with a reflection and discussion time. The students are gradually eased from a point of high activity into an intense discussion. Each rotation teacher has a perplexing introspective point of discussion to pose to the group each week. The questions are created to foster creative thinking and in some cases, creative problem solving. It's worked for us and seems to be a great solution and wrapup of the Sunday's activities.

Just thought I would add what we have done with journals even though it is our Kids in Worship program.


The kids when they first enter the program, answer some question prompters and draw a color picture of themselves. I then create personalized journal pages by scanning each child's drawing in and then in publisher I use the prompted question sheets with their very insightful and creative responses to create a border around the page. In the top left corner is the reduced scanned drawing of themselves. I use a variety of colors and kinds of papers to print these on.


You could add prompter questions for each unit on each page and it would take no more than 5 minutes each week to adjust and a bit longer to print depending on the number of kids you need these for.


We do not use the pages each week but probably twice a month. New children in the program get to create their images and answer their questions for the first two visits and then on the third visit they receive their own custom journal pages. This obviously is not the way to go if you have tons of children but for those under 50, it may be something that would help. They LOVE their sheets and we have include some black scratch pages as well as glow in the dark sheets. The journals are kept in the classroom.

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm

I have also been doing prayer journels with my kids. But we just got notebooks and hand them out the to kids. I have left it open for prayer request, praises, or even any questions they may have and are afraid to ask in front of anyone else. My husband and I will go through and write something back to each child. The kids beg us to write in them. I was schocked to see their desire to use them. I think it is a great outlet for kids.

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm
About writing back to kids in their journals... I began doing that as well several years ago as a way to encourage them to take it more seriously. It really worked! One cute story: one little girl answered the journal question then drew several lines with this note: "Mrs. Jaymie, write back here." For older kids I have been able to engage them in some dialogue about their answers and (hopefully) encourage them to continue thinking and reflecting on the question.

We use them to evaluate what the kids are learning and to keep a "record of their faith journey." It's a big hit with parents to have their kids' journals at confirmation.


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