Recently Joseph(just turned 7) and Emma(about to turn 6) began using WriteShop Primary Level A. We went that route for several reasons, which generally boiled down to “they asked and God nudged”. The curriculum mixes hands-on fun with guided writing (step by step help from mommy) that results in their own stories to use for copywork. The final product is finished off with a crafty way to publish their work, which we’ll begin next week for the first time. Here is a sample of Emma’s work so far: There are several suggested schedules when using Write Shop Primary that have you completing a lesson in 1, 2, or 3 weeks based on the age/ability of your child . There are 10 lessons per level, so one level may last 30 weeks for younger children while you may be able to complete the first 3 levels in a single year if beginning with a child on the older end of the range. They even share scheduling possibilities for using more than one WriteShop level in the family. Joseph and Emma both fit Level A, another plus for me.
- Has a theme, such as animals or trains, with book suggestions to go along for reading together.
- Teaches a new writing skill, for example constructing a beginning, middle, and end.
- Is broken into 8 activity sets, which we generally do at a pace of 1 per day, 3-4 days per week. The activity sets give a predictable routine to the entire unit. Some examples are Guided Writing, Pre-writing Activities, and Publishing. These include games as well.
- Gives suggestions to adapt the material to fit your child’s abilities.
Both children seem to enjoy the process with WriteShop. We simply take a few minutes to sit together at the table, with one child on either side of me and do the activity. For writing days I have a lined dry erase board, they each have lined paper printed with our StartWrite software. Here is a sample of Joseph’s work:The first theme is animals and we have had fun writing about pets we’ve had, animals that would make strange pets, our favorite animals, and more. We’ve read books about animals at the suggestion of the lesson to get more ideas rolling. Best of all it makes writing seem like play.
The only drawback to WriteShop is also one of it’s benefits. It takes mom’s time. You are a key part of the lessons and must be able to sit down and have this special time with your writers. The perk on the flip side is that once I’ve prepared all the activity sets for a lesson writing really is grab-and-go for a few weeks (depending on the schedule we choose). Not only that, the creativity and crafty fun is already planned in for me. That’s a great help because in all honesty I’m not that creative/crafty on a day to day basis.
Some of you may remember me mention that this year Makayla, my 10 year old, has decided that math is not so bad while writing is ‘the worst subject ever’. It’s a great trade off for me because I was really tired of the math battles. We did IEW’s Story Quest over the summer with some friends and lately have been using IEW’s All Things Fun and Fascinating. Makayla likes the predictable aspect of having a checklist to know exactly what she had to do to get writing over with. Sadly writing was still drudgery to be endured, not enjoyed. Last week I got an email that WriteShop was ready to release the first level of their WriteShop Junior program (Level D, for 3rd-5th graders). I downloaded the free sample lesson, poured through it, prayed about it, counseled with my husband, and even checked with Makayla. While it requires more of my time it is full of games, projects, and fun – everything that her current program is missing.
The verdict: Buy it. We even got the special pre-order price with a free Time Saver Pack being mailed to us and no shipping costs, saving us about $30.00 for the level. Oh, and I chose e-book format, which means it’s reusable for the rest of my kiddos when they’re ready.
Here is a project she’s already done this week, while learning about the parts of a letter of invitation: WriteShop Junior is laid out similarly to the Primary level with 8 activity sets in each lesson. It incorporates grammar for each lesson, and offers specific ideas for tweaking the writing project difficulty to fit your child. Here is a peek at the punctuation Fold-N-Learn for this lesson’s grammar:Level D’s lessons cover the following writing styles/forms:
- Letter of Invitation
- Science Fiction
- Historical Fiction
- Personal Narrative
- Expository Writing: Factual Article
Again there are several schedule possibilities included in the teacher’s manual to complete each lesson in varying amounts of time, as well as schedules to combine children in multiple levels. For the moment we’re simply doing one activity set per day, getting into the swing of things. The first lesson is on writing a letter of invitation. Here are some pre-writing and journal activities she’s done so far:
What does Makayla think after looking through the upcoming lessons and activities?
“I like that I spend time writing with you mom and I like the activities and games. I think writing is more fun this way.”
Yay! I’m hoping that new attitude sticks around for a while.
What do you use for writing with your children? Have you got any reluctant writers like my Makayla? Have you ever tried WriteShop’s products?