Do your children like to tell stories? Would you like to encourage them to write on their own? We’ve been using WriteShop‘s WriteShop Primary Book A Set (for kindergarten to grade 3) over the past two months and we give it a thumbs up.
My son loves composing poetry and has had a poem published in an anthology. I asked him if he was interested in learning more about writing stories and he joyfully answered with an enthusiastic “Yes!”
Writeshop’s writing program spans the breadth of Kindergarten to grade 12. Books are available in both print copies or digital PDF formats. We have been using the digital downloads which currently cost $24.50 for the Primary Teacher’s Guide, Book A, and $4.50 for the Primary Activity Pack, Book A.
Tristan would have just been finishing up kindergarten if we were in Canada, and Kallista would be going into pre-kindergarten in the fall. I thought I was only going to use this curriculum with Tristan, but before I even had the paper out for our first lesson, Kallista insisted she wanted to be a part of it so we went with it. It turns out Kallista is very good at using WriteShop Primary A and she hasn’t had any trouble at all. Being able to use the same creative writing curriculum with both of my children at the same time certainly makes life so much easier for me, too! The only thing I need to do is ask her to compose her sentences first or else she will copy Tristan. She so wants to be like her big brother in every way.
In addition to the teacher’s guide and the student’s activity pack, you will need a few items, but most of them you will already have at home or should be easy to acquire. There is a handy comprehensive list at the back of the book that lists everything you could possibly need. At the start of each lesson the items needed for that particular lesson are also listed so you’ll always know ahead what you will need and when. The main thing we’ve had to source are themed books from our library, but these are very flexible and can also accommodate other subjects you are currently learning about, which is great.
It took a while to read through the teacher’s guide before starting this writing program, but it was easy to understand. Everything is laid out step by step. Each lesson has a theme and there are suggested picture books for each lesson but if you can’t source them then you can use other books.
Each lesson has 8 activity sets, and each lesson follows the same format with one focus for each activity set:
- guided writing practice (which is also included in each activity set below).
- Pre-writing activities.
- The writing project.
- Editing and revising the first draft.
- Activity set worksheet (from the student activity pack).
- Publishing the project.
- Optional activities and evaluating the student’s work using the included assessment forms.
Teaching is flexible; you can do anything from 3 to 8 activity sets a week, and each lesson will take 1 – 3 weeks to complete, depending on the age and ability of the child. We averaged about 4 activity sets a week as the kids really enjoy this curriculum and are keen to do more. I may have skipped ahead or combined a couple of the activity sets if only Tristan was working on this. But because Kallista wanted to work alongside Tristan I went at a slower pace.
WriteShop Primary Set A only takes about 5 – 15 minutes a day for the activity sets (plus a little prep-time), so it’s quick for the kids. We usually start our day off with this writing program to get the kids motivated for the day. It is also easy for us to take some paper with us and work on this at the library or on the train.
For younger children parents (or teachers) can do most of the writing. The children can dictate what they would like written. This program is more about the process of writing than the physical writing. This works as the pace is then faster and the kids don’t have time to get bored, and they don’t have to feel like they are being forced to print or write. This also means that younger children who cannot yet spell can also participate. Of course, if the child is older or would like to write their own stories, that’s great! We’ve done a little of both so far for both children. There are also extras at the end of each lesson that can be done with more advanced children, giving them a chance to stretch their abilities further.
We tend to use the paper that is lined on the bottom of the page and blank on the top of the page so that when the kids are finished their daily story they can draw a quick picture about their story while I’m getting the next subject ready or prepping snacks. Doing this has also led to extra learning. When they were drawing a giraffe, Tristan couldn’t remember exactly what they looked like so I found a photo online. Then they wanted to learn more about giraffes so we watched some video clips and talked about them.
The children really like the fun crafts included as part of the lessons. From the pictures above they were to make a kite and let their stories soar. They thought this was just the most fun thing; to combine writing stories with art and turning them into toys. It’s been 5 weeks since they made their kites and although they’re getting tattered they are still by the front door ready to go out for a run on a moment’s notice.
We’re going to take ‘schooling’ a little easier for the rest of the summer, but we’ll be bringing the WriteShop writing program out again in the autumn. It will help us get up and get going on the dark winter mornings when the kids enjoy a curriculum so much.
To read more reviews about WriteShop by the Schoolhouse Crew, click on the graphic below and follow the instructions, you will find lots of reviews for every age group. If you’d like to know more or would like to follow WriteShop, you can connect with them through their website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.