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Idea Journals

Over the years I have found an important tool in using a journal for children to work through their ideas. When paired with the provisions of time and a space, an “idea journal” allows children to consider their artistic pursuits with more thought and intention. When we approach art for the benefits of learning for creative behavior, this concept of a journal becomes even more significant.





The concept of an idea journal can begin as early as Pre-Kindergarten by encouraging children to draw their ideas. An official journal for each child can be introduced by first making a special cover of the child’s choice on a separate piece of paper. Drawing, collage, paint, and tape are all ideas that a teacher can have available for creating a cover. Older grades can begin by using the first page in their journal for drawing (or writing) ideas for their cover—this can send home the purpose of the journal from the very beginning. Transparent sticky contact paper or large transparent shipping tape both work well to attach the cover.

For children who are challenged with writing and associate a journal with the difficult task, it is crucial to emphasize on the different qualities of this journal. Access to tools other than pencils will be crucial to get some of these children on board.


Idea journals are simply a jumping off point for ideas. Ideas that the artist decides are worth pursuing further can then be investigated with other materials deemed necessary by the artist. As children become more familiar with using their idea journals, and with guidance from the teacher, children will learn the process of making art with more purpose.
























Idea journals provide opportunities for children to be more intentional with their work; to learn that the process of art and making requires thought and attention; that their ideas are important, valid, and valued. Idea journals allow for these objectives to be met while also providing an assessment tool for teachers over the span of a year.

Children working on ideas for the

finger paints in their idea journals.

An idea in the idea journal for a bird made with the hands and using finger paints comes to life.

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