Entries Tagged 'WriteShop' ↓
February 1st, 2010 — WriteShop Primary
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. The following lists identify specific skills within a range of ages, making it easier for you to choose the very best place to begin the program.
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.
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)
October 20th, 2009 — WriteShop Primary
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)
October 8th, 2009 — WriteShop
Marcia 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!”
July 5th, 2009 — WriteShop Primary
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.
February 26th, 2009 — WriteShop Primary, Writing Games & Activities
Reading and writing are intertwined—and reading picture books with simple story lines can contribute to helping your K-3rd grader become a better writer.
Every story has certain key elements:
Try tossing some pepperoni!
I’m not talking about a food fight, but a fun game 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:
- See if your child can identify the main character of the story.
- Ask her to describe the story’s setting—when and where the events took place.
- Ask her to identify the problem and solution.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
November 4th, 2008 — Brainstorming, WriteShop Primary
Brain freeze, blank paper syndrome, and fear of writing often have their roots in the early elementary grades. Unless a child is taught from a young age that writing is the process—and her story is, in fact, merely the end product of that process—she is well on her way to a lifetime of writing paralysis.
Brainstorming unlocks ideas
A key ingredient of the creative writing process, brainstorming is fundamental to preparing the child to write. With primary students, this is usually a shared experience, guided by mom or teacher. Make this a fun, low-key time for chatting about ideas for writing. And to take the pressure off, let the child talk while you jot down her thoughts.
Before beginning a writing project, brainstorm with your child for ideas related to that day’s topic. You and your child should use brainstorming to:
- Generate possible topic ideas for writing.
- Determine things to write about her chosen topic.
Whether your child wants to write about a favorite toy, yesterday’s visit to the fire station, or a make-believe flying car, brainstorm with her to help her unlock ideas. Even within her small world, she can talk about what she observes around her, what she knows in her head, or what her budding imagination can dream up. You’ll both appreciate this time of brainstorming and jotting down words and thoughts before actually beginning to write.
At the early elementary level, brainstorming:
- Helps your child focus her attention on the topic.
- Generates a number of different ideas.
- Encourages your child to share her ideas and opinions without fear of criticism.
- Shows your child that she will have more to say during writing time if she has already given her topic some thought.
Ways to brainstorm with primary children
List of Ideas. The most basic form of brainstorming is to make a list, writing ideas on a tablet or whiteboard. Keep this list handy throughout the rest of the lesson to help spark ideas during the writing stage and extended activities. Brainstorm to create a list of topic ideas, or brainstorm to make a list of things your child can write about her chosen topic.
Story Web. Draw a simple story web with a circle in the middle and five or six lines extending out from the circle to resemble a spider web. In the center of the circle, write the topic. On each of the lines, list the information that supports the topic. Click here to see an example of a story web variation.
Story Idea Card File. This tool helps you and your child brainstorm for topics. Using index cards, glue a small magazine or catalog picture to one side and write the topic on the opposite side. Store cards in a small file box labeled “Story Ideas.” Start by making about 10 cards.
During the brainstorming session, take out the index cards. Look at the cards together and read their labels. Ask your student to choose four cards (topics) she might like to write about. If she wants to write about a topic that isn’t in the box, help her make a new index card by gluing a picture on the front and writing the label on the back. Finally, encourage your child to choose one card as the topic for her next story.
Graphic Organizer. Graphic organizers come in many varieties. When your child is writing a story, it will help her to stay on task if you create a simple graphic organizer to list ideas for the introduction, body, and closing of her story. Label the graphic organizer as follows, leaving spaces for writing as you brainstorm together:
Ask your child to think of story ideas about her topic. Ask questions to help her come up with a beginning, middle, and end. Talk about possible titles and write these ideas on your graphic organizer.
. . . . .
Sound like fun? If so, you’ll find these and many, many more ideas in WriteShop Primary, our newest series targeting primary-aged children. The first book, WriteShop Primary Book A, is currently available for early learners in K-2nd grades. Visit www.writeshop.com to learn more!
October 30th, 2008 — Reluctant Writers, WriteShop
Here’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.
September 25th, 2008 — Publishing Project Ideas, WriteShop Primary, Writing Games & Activities
Publish Your Child’s Stories
ONE 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.
Short Pocket: Use 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.
- 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.
- Fold the story and store it inside the pocket.
- (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.
- 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.
- These pockets also make great holders for holiday greeting cards!
. . . . .
Copyright © 2008 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.
August 11th, 2008 — Reluctant Writers, Teaching Writing, WriteShop Primary
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.
. . . . .
This 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.
August 5th, 2008 — Teaching Writing, WriteShop Primary
IT’S NEVER too early to introduce your young children to the joy of writing.
Even during the early elementary years (K-3), there’s so much you can do to model and encourage pre-writing and writing skills, such as reading aloud from quality picture books or asking your child to tell you about a picture he drew while you write down his words.
Early Writing Skills
Bear in mind that children develop at different rates. Fine-motor skills, like other stages of development, vary from child to child. Some budding writers, especially boys, will struggle with writing on a line, copying and forming letters, and putting their words and thoughts on paper. These skills and more come with time and patience.
The development of a young child’s writing is best achieved through:
- Plenty of time spent on writing activities.
- Many opportunities to write during the school day.
- Focused instruction that builds from your child’s efforts.
Your Child Needs YOU
Clearly, young children cannot learn to write on their own. Even if you create an atmosphere rich with educational materials—picture books, lined paper, colored markers, crayons, and an alphabet chart—it’s not enough. To effectively develop basic writing skills, your child needs YOU—along with your example, encouragement, and daily guidance.
This season in your child’s educational development is an opportune time to teach and model writing within a warm, safe environment. As you teach your primary-aged child to write, you’ll find that repetition, routine, and consistency play a vital role in teaching basic skills. There’s no way around it—your involvement with your child during writing sessions is key to his success!
Consider WriteShop Primary
If your child is in kindergarten, first, or second grade and you need some help guiding her writing along, consider WriteShop Primary Book A. It encourages and reinforces this special parent-child partnership young learners depend on.
The beauty of WriteShop Primary is its adaptablity to meet your needs. If your child is older, yet behind in her writing, you can utilize many components of the program but not use the activities that have a “younger” feel. You can challenge your older child to write more each step of the way, according to her ability, especially taking advantage of the “Flying Higher” suggestions and optional activities at the end of each lesson.
And for beginning students, WriteShop Primary can be used as more of a “pre-writing” launch pad. You can use the discussion starters and activites to introduce your very young child to the wonderful and exciting world of writing. Your younger children will delight in the crafts and illustrations, and you can prompt them to tell you the stories and writing projects that you then write down for them until they are ready to start writing letters and words (and eventually sentences) on their own.