Miss J loves to tell stories but writing them down is not her favorite thing. When we were offered the opportunity to use How to Write a Paragraph from The Crafty Classroom, I felt like it would be a very good thing for us to do. The product is cheerful (colorful if you can print in color) and fun looking, drawing us in right away.
The Crafty Classroom is a resource for tons of ideas, printables, and crafts. Visit the site and you immediately see plenty to go exploring. Looking for Bible information? Perhaps the Bible ABC Curriculum Notebook will work for you. Geography needed? Check out USA Activity Bundle. Have a preschooler? Alphabet Curriculum Notebook might work but if you have one a tad bit older check out Learn to R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook and R.E.A.D. Review Pack. And these are just the things the Homeschool Review Crew is reviewing right now. There are tons more. (I have my list to check out!)
But, on to what we worked with: How to Write a Paragraph. I have let Miss J (8 years old and entering 3rd) skip over a lot of her writing because the physical part was getting in the way of her actually being able to express what she wanted to say. When I saw the samples of the paragraph writing curriculum, I thought it looked really doable, something that would be thorough yet easy enough that she wouldn’t get too frustrated. It works gradually up to the whole paragraph thing and I really liked how it gently moved the student forward. This program is a 12 week, day-by-day curriculum that includes little prep. (I hate saying no prep because you do have to print it and know what you need poster-wise for that week.) It is very easy to follow.
It arrived as a PDF, which was easy to download and save. I read the introductory materials and began printing the first week’s materials. The overall program is simple: there is a page of discussion ideas and activity suggestions for the teacher, a daily work page for the student four days a week, and a “poster” to print that has the week’s topic or theme. For example, in week one, I printed off the poster that reviews what a sentence needs, the teacher page and four work pages for Miss J. In week 3, the posters (there were two) were about types of paragraphs and the other printed pages were about that.
Each day, I would start by reviewing the posters from previous lessons. Then we would do the activity from the teacher’s page for that day. It might be writing example sentences or having the student find what was wrong with an example. It is always interactive with the student. Next we worked on that day’s work page. There is a little box in the top left corner reminding the student of important things to remember about her writing and a list of directions in the top right corner for completing the page. This generally took only about 15 minutes (unless she took a long time with her drawings). Quick and easy.
By the time the student gets to week 5, it is time to begin writing complete paragraphs. The program walks the student through brainstorming on the topic and has gentle reminders to create a topic sentence and good supporting sentences. The posters help the student remember what kind of paragraph they are working on and how to write a good paragraph. There is also an editing checklist for older students who are ready to begin editing and writing final drafts of their work.
The PDF contained a visual schedule of each week, showing exactly what to print for each week. (I think week 3 should have shown both pages of the types of paragraphs, though. I had to make a quick computer run once we got started because I had not looked ahead to make sure I had it all and had only printed the first poster.) This visual schedule was easy to use, which makes this program appealing to the teacher who has limited prep time. All I needed was the printed pages and I was ready to go. If I wanted to be on top of it, I could print the whole file all at once and then not have to worry about whether I had printed everything I needed for that week’s lessons.
I am pleased to continue on with this curriculum as we are beginning to build more complex sentences and complete paragraphs. I like that Miss J is writing, reviewing the things she needs to write well, and getting more skilled at putting her thoughts on paper. Miss J likes that there are a variety of activities – we have written on the white board, drawn pictures, cut and pasted, colored, and more – while she is working on something she isn’t crazy about. She doesn’t balk at doing this program because she knows it is not going to be too hard and she can take baby steps to get it done. Win-win.
Read more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew about the other products we are reviewing, as well as other families who have been using How to Write a Paragraph.