Entries from December 2011 ↓

12 Days of Christmas – A gift a day!

Twelve Days of Christmas

December 26, 2011 through January 6, 2012 mark the Twelve Days of Christmas. Celebrate with us by receiving a gift for the season!

Nutcracker ChristmasWriteShop is partnering with Homeschooling Today magazine to bring you a special gift on December 31, the Sixth Day of Christmas.

I can’t tell you what the gift is (don’t you love surprises?), but I can tell you that it’s something brand-new, and I promise you’ll be thrilled. Plus, we’re throwing in a terrific WriteShop discount coupon too.

How to Get Your Gifts

Go to www.HomeschoolingToday.com now to sign up on the home page for the Homeschooling Helper e-newsletter to receive our offer on the above date.

Homeschooling Today will send a special discount or gift from a different vendor each day of the Twelve Days of Christmas — that’s 12 different goodies — but only to their readers. Get your new year off right! Sign up now so you don’t miss a single one of these special offers.

And if you’re unfamiliar with the traditions of the Twelve Days of Christmas, check out Marilyn Rockett’s excellent article. It will help you make sense of what “four calling birds,” “six geese a-laying,” and “eight maids a-milking” really mean.

Wishing you the richest blessings of the season,

StoryBuilders Christmas writing prompts

StoryBuilders Christmas Writing Prompts - Fun, printable card decks from WriteShop

Write Christmas Stories with a Twist!

What’s this? A ragged fir tree helps a stranger on a cold night? A weary homeless man discovers a wallet full of money outside a bakery? A bad-tempered candy maker finds a magic candy cane and disappears into a snow globe?

What kid wouldn’t love to write a holiday story filled with such hope, whimsy, or intrigue?

Award-winning WriteShop StoryBuilders card decks help to jumpstart a creative writing project by providing children with the basic elements of a story—character, character trait, setting, and plot—laying a foundation for a joyful writing experience with some clever surprises thrown in along the way.

During the holidays, use the Christmas Mini-Builder to occupy bored or antsy kids and teens with these fun Christmas writing prompts. For only $3.95, you get 96 cards to download and print, along with lots of suggestions for writing games and activities.

A Mom’s Story

Don’t just take it from me! Here’s a snippet from an email I got just this morning!

I just wanted to write a quick thank-you note for the Christmas Mini-Builder! My daughter, who is 11, is dyslexic and she tends to write as little as she can get away with when assigned a task. I printed out the story cards today and let her loose and she has written three short stories so far — and it’s only 8:20 a.m.! ~Erin

So what are you waiting for? Enjoy some stress-free holiday writing! Gather the family around, pass out the Christmas StoryBuilders cards, and let the writing fun begin!


Anyone want to buy a vowel?

Hoping someone will buy that extra “e” so we can fix this thing.

Photo © tvindy, 2008. Used with permission.

. . . . .

Stop by every 1st, 3rd, and 5th Wednesday for a peek into the world of spelling, punctuation, or grammar gone wrong!

Writing a holiday “how-to” paragraph

Holiday how-to paragraphs are a great December writing activity! Describe a familiar process such as wrapping gifts or setting the table.

As holiday decorations come out and the tree or menorah takes center stage, children can become increasingly distracted, sidetracked, and fidgety in anticipation of upcoming seasonal celebrations.

Homeschooling doesn’t need to fall by the wayside during December! The holidays can be a great time to assign writing activities that focus on the festivities, allowing children to immerse themselves in the fun while encouraging productivity. This month, have your kids write a paragraph describing a holiday-themed process where they explain, in a step-by-step manner, how something is done.

Process Paragraph: Choosing a Topic

Help them pick a process that isn’t too involved or complicated. With younger or reluctant writers, it’s especially important to keep the number of steps to a minimum. Also, the more familiar children are with the process, the easier it will be to write about it.

Here are some ideas to get them started. They can explain how to:

  • Wrap a present
  • Make latkes
  • Decorate the tree
  • Bake gingerbread cookies
  • Build a snowman
  • Be a “Secret Santa”
  • Set the table for dinner
  • Create a handmade greeting card
  • Make a holiday craft project
  • Play the dreidel game
  • String popcorn
  • Make a paper “countdown” chain

Process Paragraph: Writing the Rough Draft

Once your kids have chosen a topic (and narrowed it down to a specific task, if necessary), walk them through a few simple steps to guide and direct them.

  1. If possible, have them go through the process themselves before beginning to write. Take digital photos of them as they complete each step.
  2. Provide a graphic organizer to help them break down the steps of the process and plan the composition. Here’s a simple one that’s especially good for elementary ages. Here’s one can be filled in on the computer. Or download a free lesson sample from WriteShop I (grades 6+) that includes a Process Planning Worksheet.
  3. Next, have them begin to write the rough draft, explaining the most important steps first.
  4. Teach them to use transition words such as first, second, third, next, then, finally, or last.
  5. If the paper isn’t too long, or if the steps are too vague, they can expand each step by adding sub-steps, more detail, or colorful description.

Process Paragraph: Making an Instruction Manual

Edit the rough draft together to ensure the steps are logical and easy to follow, and check for spelling and punctuation errors.

To publish their how-to composition in a fun way, have your children create an instruction manual. Here’s how:

  1. Invite them to choose the photos they want to use to illustrate the process. They will need to print out 4-6 pictures. Let them tape or glue each picture to the top half of a sheet of notebook paper, using a separate sheet for each photo.
  2. Next, have them copy their corrected composition onto the sheets of notebook paper, writing the sentence or sentences that each photo illustrates.
  3. Finally, encourage them to design and decorate a colorful cover, including a catchy title. Assemble the instruction manual and share with family members.

Activities like this will keep your children happily writing, even during the busiest time of year!

Copyright © 2010 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

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Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr.
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