Entries Tagged 'WriteShop' ↓

We’ve got (more) mail!

It’s always so encouraging to open up my inbox each day and find a glowing review or happy testimonial from a homeschooling mom who’s been using WriteShop with her children. It’s been nearly ten years since we first published WriteShop I and II, and believe me, I never dreamed the results would be so far-reaching.

I’d love to share some of these comments with you. Be blessed!

WriteShop I and II

“Thank you so much for a fabulous two years!” ~Mindy

“Kudos to WriteShop! I have found your program to be the most clearly laid out program that I have ever used. My son and his friends went from whining about a writing project to being capable of producing a great essay in a short period of time. Best of all, they now see themselves as writers. I simply cannot believe the difference.” ~Kristel

Write Shop has been a wonderful program for us. I don’t think my dyslexic daughter would have ever learned to write without it!” ~Dena

“I’m using this program with my 13-year old son. I used it with my freshman-in-college son also. I believe WriteShop gave my oldest son amazing writing skills; in fact, he aspires to be a writer. Thanks for putting out an amazing curriculum!” ~Roseann

“We have used your products for three years and love them!” ~Lisa

“Let me tell you what a wonderful writing program you’ve created in WriteShop I & II. I used it with my son, who received a journalism scholarship to Samford University in Birmingham, AL … Your material covered every reasonable thing he needed to know about sound, solid writing and enabled me to objectively assess his work. I recommend WriteShop to everyone who talks to me about writing skills.” ~Mary

“WriteShop is a Godsend to us…Thank you so much!” ~Linda

“I love your program! I have taught in the public schools, and I have also homeschooled, so I have seen my fair share of writing curriculum, but this is the best. It’s not hard to teach from the teacher’s point of view, it’s not hard to learn from the student’s point of view, and—it’s fun! Plus, thank you for the twenty-two pages of word lists—they’re fabulous! …Your program has answered many prayers.” ~Sharon

“You should call this program Writing for Children Who Have Mothers Who Didn’t Pay Attention in High School. It’s just so easy to teach!” ~Becky

WriteShop Primary

Book A

“My son and I have already dived right into Book A—he’ll be starting Gr. 1 in the fall. I have been very impressed so far at the fun we’re having and how well this has been put together.” ~Dianne

“I am working through your WriteShop Primary Book A with my 2nd grader. He loves this program. He told me that it is his favorite subject. He loves the creative part of dictating the story and illustrating it each day.” ~Tami,

“This is the best writing experience my kids and I have ever had. They are writing!!! My little one (Kindergarten) is writing as well as my 2nd grader and both are doing so much better than I ever expected.” ~Mia

Book B

“A special thanks to the dedicated staff at WriteShop for a wonderful curriculum! We really enjoyed using WriteShop [Primary] together. It was challenging and rewarding, and also held his interest because of the subject matter and creative way that it was presented.” ~Julia

“My son progressed in his ability to organize his thoughts before starting to write, and he learned the importance of choosing the right words to express his thoughts…. I love the way the curriculum guided him through the writing process in small steps, and the way it offered me lots of options to tailor it to him.” ~Debbie

Book C

“My daughter, who has always loved to write, feels like she has gotten much better at writing paragraphs. I would agree with her! She’s never lacked confidence, but just needed some guidance and this program has helped her tremendously…. She loved this program so much that she has been writing paragraphs on her own during her free time!” ~Beth

“I am thrilled with my 10 yo’s progress…. This last project was so encouraging!! It was a ‘Yes! This is why I am homeschooling’ moment…. Now he is much more OK with writing on blank page—once we stop and do the brainstorming! Since I’ve used your other products I must say—you do such a great job of breaking it all down—making the end project attainable. It’s fun to see kids even at this level able to make so much progress!” ~Sharie

Read more testimonials here.

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Visit our website at writeshop.com to learn more about WriteShop I, WriteShop II, and WriteShop Primary.

Photo of boy © 2009 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved. 

FAQ: Teaching spelling

Another question from the WriteShop mailbag . . . 

Q:  I am very interested in WriteShop Primary. I love the layout of the lessons and the help you offer the parent. I see that it has a spelling component, but would I need to supplement that?

A:  Spelling is taught in both WriteShop Primary Book B and Book C. WriteShop Primary encourages individualized spelling. Instead of focusing on a prescribed list of words from a spelling book, your child will learn to spell the words he tends to use in his own writing. This is a more natural, practical approach to spelling. You don’t need a separate spelling curriculum when using Books B and C.

Young children often spell “by ear” as they try to write phonetically. Books B and C introduce them to simple reference tools and spelling games they can use to check and practice spelling.

Here are a few examples:

Super Speller!

The Super Speller! helps your child become more aware of familiar sight words and other words he uses frequently. You can think of it as his own personal spelling reference. As you work closely with him, you’ll spot the words he can and can’t spell correctly. When you note a misspelled word, you can add it to the Super Speller! To reinforce the importance of using standard spelling, your child will be directed to use his Super Speller! throughout Books B and C.

Can of Words

This is a fun Book B activity that helps the child practice his spelling words.

Labeling Household Objects

In Book B, you’re encouraged to write common words on index cards and tape them around the house: door, lamp, floor, rug, desk, book, etc. This helps your child become familiar with the spelling of these everyday objects.

Spinner Spelling Game

Introduced in Book C, this is an engaging game with variations that gives children spelling practice.  

Spelling Dictionary

The child will make a personal spelling dictionary in Book C. This is yet another tool we use to reinforce standard spelling.

.  .  .  .  .

Spelling tools and games are among the many fun and creative activities WriteShop Primary uses to reinforce simple writing skills at the primary level. Learn more by visiting www.writeshop.com.

WriteShop Primary: How to choose a starting level

When placing a 5 to 8 year old in WriteShop Primary, consider thinking skills, maturity, experience, and ability to express ideas orally

No matter the curriculum, whether math, penmanship, or writing, picking the best starting level for your child can challenge the most seasoned homeschooler—especially when said child doesn’t exactly fit a grade-specific mold.

WriteShop Primary is no exception—you may need more help picking a starting level than the placement chart offers.

Don’t Choose a Level That’s Too Young

Each WriteShop Primary level teaches specific skills within a range of ages, making it easier for you to choose the very best place to begin the program.

However, these are not the only factors. Your child’s reasoning skills, emotional maturity, and ability to express ideas orally are also important considerations. So before you decide on a level, make sure you look at the big picture!

  • Start at the level that best fits your child’s thinking skills, not his writing skills. A child’s ability to physically write things down often lags behind his intellect and vocabulary.
  • Key concepts are carried over into future books, so don’t worry about “missing” something.
  • If you place older children in Book A, you run the risk of losing their interest. Even if they haven’t had any prior writing experience, Books B and C are a better fit for most 7- and 8-year-olds.

What Is Covered in Each Level?

Start with Book A if your 5- to 7-year-old is not yet able to:

  • Identify beginning, middle, and end in a story.
  • Complete predictable sentence starters.
  • Identify and use punctuation marks at the end of a sentence.
  • Begin a sentence with a capital letter.
  • Choose an appropriate title.
  • Think of simple ways to improve a story.
  • Read and write color words.
  • Recognize words that rhyme.

NOTE: Reading and writing skills are NOT required for Book A students. All work may be done orally.

WriteShop Primary Book A (print version)
WriteShop Primary Book A (e-book version)

Start with Book B if your 6- to 8-year-old is not yet able to:

  • Identify or use paragraph form and indentation.
  • Use graphic organizers to plan a story.
  • Include a beginning, middle, and end in his story.
  • Figure out how to add more details to a story.
  • Organize a story to include a problem and its solution.
  • Choose story endings.
  • Write or dictate a friendly letter.
  • Write or dictate about something that has happened to him.
  • Retell nursery rhymes and fairy tales in his own words.
  • Identify the parts of a friendly letter.
  • Identify words that rhyme.
  • Use standard spelling tools such as a dictionary.

NOTE: Children can dictate ideas and stories to you if their physical writing skills are still emerging. As long as they have ideas in their head and can share them orally, that’s all the skill they need to begin Book B.

WriteShop Primary Book B (print version)
WriteShop Primary Book B (e-book version)

Start with Book C if your 7- to 9-year-old is not yet able to:

  • Plan the main ingredients of a story before beginning to write.
  • Ask who, what, when, where, and why? in order to add story details.
  • Organize story details.
  • Write entries in a personal journal.
  • Use descriptive words in his writing.
  • Write a short nonfiction article.
  • Summarize the contents of familiar books.
  • Collect research facts about a specific topic.
  • Write a simple, short report with introduction, body, and closing.
  • Use standard spelling.
  • Check his own work for correct spelling and punctuation.

WriteShop Primary Book C (print version)
WriteShop Primary Book C (e-book version)

Introducing WriteShop Primary Book C

WriteShop Primary Book C

At long last, we’re excited to announce the release of the final book of our WriteShop Primary series. Yes—WriteShop Primary Book C has arrived!

About WriteShop Primary

WriteShop Primary introduces young children to the steps of the writing process using engaging activities, crafts, and picture books. The program creates an environment that promotes a joy of learning in young students and helps them experience success as they develop the ability to write. Whether you have a more advanced child or one who is just beginning, this program is flexible so children can work at their own level.

Who can use Book C?

Book C is recommended for second and third grade, but many of our test families also used it successfully with reluctant fourth, fifth, and even sixth graders. Parents also appreciated being able to use the book with children who learn with difficulty.

In Book C, children learn to:

  • Plan, create, and publish simple stories, articles, and reports with parent help.
  • Choose the main ingredients of a story before beginning to write.
  • Learn to ask who, what, when, where, why?
  • Use different graphic organizers to plan a story.
  • Write entries in a personal journal.
  • Describe an object, a person, and a place.
  • Write a nonfiction article.
  • Write a book report.
  • Learn to use research to write a short report.
  • “Publish” stories through projects or crafts.

Other skills introduced in Book C

  • Using standard spelling
  • Identifying describing words
  • Using a simple self-editing checklist
  • Summarizing contents of familiar books
  • Collecting research facts about a specific topic
  • Using computer publishing software

Here’s what parents have been saying about Book C

“The lessons were simple enough to build my son’s confidence,
yet challenging enough that he was always learning something new.” –
Tammy, Florida

“I appreciate that I could teach three of my children at the same time and see each one’s writing improve. It’s beneficial for students with a wide variety of writing skills—non-writers, reluctant writers, disorganized writers—even enthusiastically prolific writers!” –Beth, South Carolina

“I am amazed at the progress my son made in such a short time. His ability to put his thoughts together in an organized way has improved dramatically. WriteShop Primary was very easy to teach. I loved that the lessons were easy to adapt to different learning styles.” –Bonnie, TX

Exclusive Introductory Offer for Blog Readers Only

Between October 20-31, you can order Book C, purchasing either a physical copy or the e-book version—and get 10% off!

Just leave a comment below and we’ll send you a coupon code by email entitling you to a 10% discount on Book C and the accompanying Activity Pack for Book C! (Good only at WriteShop. Offer ends October 31. )

Buy the physical book (print version)
Buy the e-book (PDF download)

From the mouths of babes…

boyMarcia in California wrote:

“My seventh grader started a two-day-a-week school this year. He has a fabulous English teacher. I asked him if the things we did last year [in WriteShop I] have helped. He said, ‘Oh yeah, mom, they’re teaching me all the same stuff. She just hasn’t gotten to paired adjectives yet.’  That made me smile. Thought you should know we are happy WriteShop customers!”

Last day to get 10% off Writeshop Primary B

Today is the last day to pre-order WriteShop Primary Book B and get a 10% discount. Offer ends at midnight Pacific time. Hurry!

Get your coupon code here.

Writing game: Toss the pepperoni!

Toss the Pepperoni! Fun writing game for primary kids that reinforces the elements of a story using paper "pepperoni" pieces.

Reading books with simple story lines can help your K-3rd grader become a better writer. Every story has certain key elements: character, setting, problem, solution, beginning, middle, end. But how can you help your child remember these elements and translate them to her writing?

Try tossing some pepperoni!

I’m not talking about a food fight, but a fun writing game for primary kids you can play with two or more players. Here’s how.

Toss the Pepperoni

Prepare the Game

Make the game board: Decorate a large piece of poster board with paint or markers to look like a giant pizza. Cut out the round pizza.

Make the game pieces: Prepare “pepperoni slices” as game pieces to toss onto the pizza. For each player, cut out seven 4-inch circles from sturdy cardboard. To keep the pepperoni pieces separate, use a different color cardboard for each player. (Alternatively, each player can color one side of his game pieces or mark them with a sticker. )Label each set of pieces with the following words, one word per piece: character, setting, problem, solution, beginning, middle, end.

Read a Picture Book

Choose a picture book to read to your child. Make sure there’s a storyline, not merely words or phrases. When finished:

  1. See if your child can identify the main character of the story.
  2. Ask her to describe the story’s setting—when and where the events took place.
  3. Ask her to identify the problem and solution.
  4. Discuss the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story.

Play the Game

Play a game together with your child to help her remember the important parts of the picture book you just read: character, setting, problem, solution, beginning, middle, and end.

  1. Place the giant pizza game board on the floor. Use a jump rope or piece of yarn to mark a line where players must stand when attempting to toss their game pieces onto the pizza.
  2. Take turns tossing game pieces like Frisbees. Before tossing a “pepperoni,” the player must read the word on the circle and give an example from the picture book that corresponds with the word. For instance, before your child tosses her game piece that is labeled “character,” she must name one of the characters in the story.
  3. The player with the most pepperoni slices on the pizza at the end wins the game.

 .  .  .  .  .

“Toss the Pepperoni” is just one of the many fun and creative activities WriteShop Primary uses to reinforce simple writing skills at the primary level. This game appears in Book B.

WriteShop I

teen girlHere’s something almost everyone can agree on: writing is one of the most intimidating, scary, overwhelming subjects to teach.

You struggle with your own inadequacy of never having been taught to write. Or perhaps you’re an intuitive writer who has no clue how to teach your children. Plus, writing just seems so stinkin’ subjective? How do you grade a composition effectively without making random stabs in the dark?

Then there are the kids. So many of us have children who live in terror of the blank page. Even if they’re verbal and always seem to have a lot to talk about, it just never manages to translates to their writing. It’s as though they’re crossing a bridge between Brain and Paper, but along the way, half of their ideas tumble off the bridge and into the canyon below (along with everything you ever taught them about spelling and grammar).

Our twofold goal at WriteShop is to equip parents to teach with confidence and to encourage students that writing doesn’t have to be scary or hard. Though we carry materials for a variety of ages, today I’m going to zero in on our flagship program, WriteShop I.

Who Can Use WriteShop I?

The beauty of the program is its flexibility and ability to encourage success in a wide range of students, whether they’re struggling seventh graders or articulate, motivated sophomores.

Each student improves according to his or her own ability, depending on factors such as age, vocabulary, maturity, and life experience. Students are not measured against one another; rather, their work is evaluated based on each lesson’s expectations.

Working with Different Levels

A tenth grader with a mature writing style and broad command of language may easily earn an A on a given paper. But an eighth grader with a limited vocabulary and little writing experience can also pull off an A on the exact same composition. Why? Because working at their own level, both students can follow the directions and meet the lesson’s expectations! Sure, one paper may be stronger—more interesting, descriptive, or stylistically mature. But it doesn’t make the other paper bad.

Both types of student will grow in their writing abilities. Both will learn to brainstorm effectively, organize their writing, self-edit and revise, and submit to parent feedback. Through this process, the tenth grader will hone her style, learn to write more concisely, and develop a stronger vocabulary. The eighth grader will begin to write longer, more concrete sentences, and discover some new sentence variations that make his writing sound fuller, richer, and more alive.

Help for Parents

For parents, we’ve tried our best to make WriteShop user-friendly. If you start with our Basic Set, it includes a wonderfully resourceful Teacher’s Manual as well as a student workbook. Where editing and grading writing has always seemed so subjective, we’ve made it as measurable and quantifiable as possible so that you can really, truly offer objective input—regardless of your own confidence or experience. And you can always email us or give us a call if you have questions or need encouragement.

Suggested Placement for WriteShop I

  • 5th grade or below: It’s best to wait a year or more before beginning WriteShop I. For 4th-6th graders, consider Wordsmith Apprentice or WriteShop Primary Book C.
  • 6th grade: Proceed into WriteShop I with caution, holding off another year if the student is reluctant (and try the above resources instead). However, for a strong 6th grader who loves to write, is pretty motivated, and has good basic writing skills. WriteShop I should be a good choice, especially if you take two years to go through the program.
  • 7th-10th grade: The average student in these grades can launch right into WriteShop I regardless of past writing experience or skill level. The program works for almost every learner in this age range.
  • 11th-12th grade: Older students can certainly benefit from WriteShop I, but we usually recommend starting them directly in WriteShop II. Or, you can use WriteShop I during the first semester and WriteShop II during the second. However, if your student plans to take the SAT at the end of the junior year, you’ll probably want to use WriteShop II, which teaches both standard and timed essays.

I hope this sheds a little more light for those of you who are deliberating about a writing program. There’s a lot to think about, and I know it always helps to go into a new situation with as much information as possible.

Make a story pocket

Publish Your Child’s Stories 

ColoringONE OF the most encouraging and rewarding experiences for a young author is to see her work published. As a second and third grader, I remember how much I loved to find my own little stories and poems published in our school’s newsletter.

WriteShop Primary gives your student the opportunity to publish her writing project as a book or other art form that she can share with others.

She might make a story kite to fly around the house as she “reads” it to Daddy; create a paper-plate face book; or turn her story into an accordian-folded train. (Visit our website for more info about WriteShop Primary, our delightful parent-guided writing program for K-3rd graders. It’s filled with fun, engaging activities to promote a love for writing!)

Make a Story Pocket

Featured in Book A, story pockets make wonderful publishing tools, and they’re perfect for storing and displaying a child’s early stories and drawings. Here’s how to make one.

Advance Prep

Short Pocket: Paper plateUse one paper plate. Cut it in half. Place both pieces face to face and staple together around the curved edges. The top straight edges remain open to form a pocket.

Tall Pocket: Use two paper plates. Leave one plate whole. Cut the second plate in two, discarding one of the halves. Staple the half plate to the full-size plate to create a tall pocket with a high back.

Directions

  1. Allow time for the child to use crayons, markers, paint, or stickers to decorate the paper plate so it matches the theme of the story.
  2. Fold the story and store it inside the pocket.
  3. (Optional) Have your child draw a picture of each object in the story on cardboard, poster board, or tagboard. Cut out the tagboard pieces and store them in the pocket along with the story.
  4. Encourage your child to read her story to family members or a friend, pulling out the corresponding pieces from the pocket and placing them on the table as she shares.
  5. These pockets also make great holders for holiday greeting cards!

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Copyright © 2008 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Introducing writing through narration

Young children in grades K-2 are usually considered “pre-writers”—just learning to write letters, words, and groups of words. Their writing experience should be fun! After all, isn’t our goal is to help our primary-age children build confidence as they gain the ability to write?

Daily Guided Writing 

Because children learn best by example, take time to model good writing techniques to your child. Let her narrate her words to you through a daily time of guided writing. This gives her that predictable, shared writing experience that’s so important to her development.

For beginning readers, the predictable patterns and easy sight words build confidence. For more confident readers, narration gives daily practice in reading and writing harder words and sentences.

Most importantly, this time of guided writing gives kids the freedom to put together ideas and create word patterns without the limitations and fear of having to write them down. So even if your child already knows how to write simple sentences, you can often get more from him if he is allowed to dictate his words to you rather than write on his own.

How to Elicit Narration from Young Children

Together, you and your child can write several short sentences about simple, familiar topics such as animals, friends, the weather, or upcoming events. Sounds easy, right? But if you ask your son to tell you all about friends, for example, he’ll probably say, “I don’t know.” It’s an awfully broad topic, after all, and his little mind may be all a-jumble. Most kids need direction, but some will need more help than others to formulate their thoughts into simple words.

So how do you get your child to dictate to you? It’s all about asking questions! For the youngest or most reluctant kids, begin by writing three to five predictable sentence starters, such as:

    A friend is
    Friends like to
    Friends are special because

Next, discuss various options for ideas on how to complete each of the three sentences. Ask questions to lead and prompt your little one and to keep the dialog on track. Here’s one idea:

    You:  Let’s think of some words that tell us about friends. I’ll go first. A friend is funny. Now it’s your turn.
    Child: A friend is happy.
    You:  A friend is important.
    Child: A friend is kind.
    You:  These are all great. Which one should we choose for today?
    Child: A friend is kind.
    You:  Let’s write that. A friend is kind. Here’s the marker. Can you help me write the word kind?
    You:  What do friends like to do together?
    Child: Play games.
    You:  Let’s use complete thoughts. Friends like to play games together. Say that. “Friends like to play games together.”
    Child: Friends like to play games together.
    You:  Great. Let’s write it down. Friends like to play games together. Can you help me with the marker?
    You:  Tell me—why are friends special?
    Child: Because they share their toys?
    You:  Yes, that’s a very important reason. Can you finish this sentence to make a complete thought? Friends are special because ____.
    Child: Friends are special because they share their toys.
    You:  Good job. Now let’s write that down. Friends are special because they share their toys.

When you’re done, you might end up with something like this:

    A friend is kind.
    Friends like to play games together.
    Friends are special because they share their toys.

Not only have you modeled thinking skills to your child (by asking questions like who, what, and why), but you’ve also demonstrated simple techniques of beginning with a capital letter, ending with a period, and using a complete thought. See how a simple five-minute dialog can go a long way in teaching basic writing skills?

Copyright © 2008 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

. . . . .

WriteShop Primary Book AThis dialog comes from Lesson 4 of WriteShop Primary Book A. WriteShop Primary is filled with dialog examples to help you prompt your child during daily guided writing times. Book A is now available in our store. Book B should be released later this year.

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