My 9-year-old daughter, Audrey and I have been having fun with
This is an incredibly detailed, comprehensive writing program. As I mentioned in my previous post, it most reminds me of my experience with All About Reading. I say this because everything is here. The program is completely laid out in the high quality Teacher’s Guide and comes with everything you could possibly need to successfully teach/experience the curriculum. (Don’t you love that...?)
So, let’s take a look at this program…
Upon opening up a box of
curriculum, I immediately noticed the very high quality of the books- solid paper, good binding, bright, fun colours, and a highly organized nature to the books and resources.
I received three main components when I ordered WriteShop Junior Book D Set:
1. The Teacher’s Guide
The guide gives details about the purpose of the program, the motivation behind the methods presented, possible schedules, materials and supplies needed for each lesson, how to create a Writing Center in your home, setting up a reading log, and information about Skill Builders, Journal Writing, and the various components/steps of each Lesson.
The guide then breaks off into a full instructional section for each Lesson. There are 10 Lessons in total. In my next post, I plan to talk through a lesson with you, but for the purposes of this review, I’ll highlight what you can expect to find in the Lesson plans.
You’ll find: Objectives, Advance Prep (what you will need to prepare in advance to do the lesson), Materials Needed, followed by very detailed Step-by-step Lesson Plans.
The Lesson Plans are broken down into Activity Sets. I find this really helpful as I can easily look through and decide how I will implement the activities and steps in the process of finishing a complete assignment. For example, Lesson 1 started with the Grammar Pack and Fold-and-Go Grammar for Punctuation Marks (Activity Set 1:1). Then we move on to the next part which is discussing the parts of a letter by reading through an example (Activity Set 1:2). You could choose to do more than one set in a day or you could stretch an Activity Set out for two days if you want or need to – it’s really up to you to decide what pacing works for your child.
We moved along at a slower pace because we have lots of other things in our days and our language arts also consists of Copywork, Dictation, Spelling, and Reading.
A look inside the layout of the Teacher’s Guide.
2. The Time-Saver Pack
This is a set of super colorful print-outs that go along with the Activity Sets in each of the lessons. Basically, WriteShop has done all the hard work for us. Everything you need for the games and activities is already printed out and ready to go. All you have to do is cut out some of the components and store them so they are ready for use (or re-use!).
These are printed on high-quality, colorful card stock (for those dorky paper nerds like myself…).
3. The Activity Packs with Fold-N-Go Grammar
This includes all 10 of the Fold-N-Go Grammar Packs as well as the Student Worksheets. The Fold-N-Go Grammar is engaging but requires you to purchase the folders (I used dollar store stuff and it worked just fine), and also assemble them in the proper way. They do cascade in a lovely fashion though – super appealing to tactile learners and very colorful.
The grammar covered includes: Punctuation Marks, Adjectives, Self-Editing, Prepositions, Nouns, Adverbs, Capitalization, Verbs, Pronouns, and References. There are examples of uses, some work-sheet style fill in the blanks, as well as an Answer Key.
I will be completely transparent here and state that the Fold-N-Go Grammar Packs are not my favorite. We don’t tend to gravitate towards fill in the blank/worksheet style stuff in our home, so these feel a little foreign to me. We also don’t tend to cover a ton of formal grammar in this way. However, my school-loving daughter actually enjoyed filling in the blanks and circling answers. (Go figure!)
The Activity Pack is basically Notebooking, Journaling, and writing prompt pages. White sheets with black ink. Great quality as well. These go along with the lessons and are a required component to properly do the program, in my opinion. Some are cut-outs, some are just basic lined journaling pages and brainstorming layouts.
Our pack – top left, the Teacher’s Guide, bottom left, the Activity Pack folder, to the right – all the Fold-N-Go folders I put together for Grammar.
We (as many of you already know) lean towards a
inspired homeschool philosophy. Within this philosophy, children are often not introduced to written narratives until age 9 or 10 and sometimes later. So, we approach writing with a gentle touch. I don’t push my children to write in the same way I don’t push them to read. My primary goal is to preserve the LOVE of reading and writing.
How the Lessons flow:
The writing projects in Junior, Book D include:
Some more stuff we really liked…
- Something I think is pretty awesome is that each Lesson has extension options that they call, “Want to Do More?” This gives kids looking for something more related to the lesson another option or an extra challenge. They also have a “Smaller Steps” option for a younger or more reluctant writer.
- I love that this program encourages kids to read and to keep a book log. We do this already, but I love how a writing program is including and acknowledging the importance of reading great books in the process of writing well. Amen!
- We also really enjoy all the interesting games and activities in this program (which I also wrote about right here). There are so many great ideas for engaging kids in the thinking and writing process.
Let me tell you about two of the activities we did:
The Incredible Shrinking Machine- this is a great one for practicing narrowing down a topic. This is often called the topic funnel! We started with a broad topic – Pets. Then, we would put that piece of paper in the “Incredible Shrinking Machine” and pull out a sheet of paper slightly smaller to narrow down our focus. So, next, we would put “bunnies”. We kept doing this until we had a much more narrowed writing focus of a story about two pet bunnies we had adopted names Peter and Cottontail.
My (very basic) Incredible Shrinking Machine. This was a simple but effective way to help children learn how to narrow their topic and/or writing focus.
Storage was fairly easy once I cut out the activities from the Time-Saver Packs. I love the variety of activities available.
More examples of some of the activities and games used in the Lessons: Where in the World? Problem Cards, Funny Sentence/Character Cards, and fun with Punctuation as well.
An example of some more of the Activities and Games that go along with the Lessons.
More games and activities.
Working on her Personal Narrative for Lesson 9.
Playing a game to encourage personal oral narratives with prompts.