Today I made my beginning kindergarten writing journals. It was kind of a no-brainer--I just stapled some blank typing paper together (although I did print a cute cover). I start the whole class out with blank paper until I can assess their writing and fine motor skills.
After a week or so, we move on to this paper that has a specific box for the picture.
Eventually, as their writing skills improve, we move on to paper that has wide lines. Some kids will get this paper earlier than others.
When we first start learning about organization and that stories have a beginning, middle and end, I give them paper that has a divided box to help them organize their thinking. I do not do this forever. Our writing can be organized in many different ways, and I do not want them to think that this is their only option.
And finally, I give them paper with a dotted middle line, to help get them ready for our Primary Journals. These are composition books that have a blank space at the top for pictures and dotted-middle-lines at the bottom.
Some kids are ready to move into these notebooks by November or December. My goal is to have the majority of kids in them by the start of the 2nd semester. I'm not going to lie--these notebooks are not perfect. I still think the lines are too small for most kindergartners. And we use the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum to teach handwriting, and their lines are completely different! But by mid-year, my kindergartners are very prolific--they can write pages and pages! My copies are very limited and it takes time to staple all those journals. These notebooks are practical.
I do stress with my kids, throughout the year, that it doesn't matter what kind of paper we write on. I model and give them opportunities to write on all kinds of paper. It's the words--not the paper--that matter!
I made a cute label for the writing journals if you want it. I'm going to steal an idea from one of my teamates and have kids and their families decorate the outside of the journals with pictures, so that the kids will have instant story ideas.
And here is the paper if you want it: