Photo Journal Fun

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Getting my soon-to-be fifth graders to pick up a pencil over the summer is about as easy as coaxing a claustrophobia sufferer into an elevator. But thanks to Caitlin's teacher, this year I have one strategy that makes it easier to keep the academic wheels turning while school's out.

Her idea? Keep a journal that chronicles the summer's activities. Not an entirely new venture, but her twist — a photo-driven format — keeps the emphasis on fun and the work relatively light. (Even if you haven't been photo-journaling since school got out, starting at the end of summer is a good way to ease back into writing as school starts.)

I keep the camera handy, snapping pictures of everything from belly flops to ferry rides to fairy-house building. As our writers-in-residence, Caitlin and Ellie are in charge of the captions. Aside from a two-sentence minimum with lots of description, I turn them loose with pencil, pen, or the computer keyboard.

To store our memories neatly, I dug up a spare binder and bought a bunch of plastic sleeves to fill it. The girls are in charge of cover creation. They get to be photo editors, too, deciding which make the cut and are worthy of description.

So far, a humorous tone is winning out. We've got Dad caught upside down in a mid-air dive off the neighbor's diving board, Ellie twirling as many sparklers as she can hold, and several goofy beach poses.

Labor Day is here now, and as we look through the journal, I know we've done more than prevent a major backslide of writing skills. We've preserved a summer full of memories, too.

How do you keep your kids writing? Click the comments link below to find and share ideas.

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Photo Journal Fun

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