Tag Archives: writing

Paragraph Writing Program From The Crafty Classroom ~ a Crew review

types of paragraphs

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.

How To Write A ParagraphThe 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.

writing

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.

weekly schedule

part of the week 1 visual schedule – I like this.

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.

opinion paragraphI 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.

At Home.

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.

Crafty Classroom {Reviews}Crew Disclaimer 

Tell a Fairy Tale – Middle School Monday

Recently, our library hosted a contest for Tell a Fairy Tale Day. The actual day was Feb 26 this year. The older two giggly girls decided to enter a fairy tale into a contest that was held. We utilized that as  writing lessons for part of that week. This was a fun and simple way to engage the girls in some creative writing. The instructions were simple: write your own fairy tale in the space provided and turn it in. They were encouraged to add an image to go along with tale.

I enjoyed their fairy tales and both of them were awarded honorable mentions. I thought I would share their entries, since they were pretty short.

Miss L, age 10

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived a king and queen, whom were named King William and Queen Adalaide. Together, they ruled wisely, and were fair and just in every needed advisement. They were rich in all but one thing, which was a child, which they wanted very much. Then one day, the Queen had a healthy, pretty little girl, and the whole kingdom erupted into celebration that stayed on for a week. The princess had skin like porcelain, hair like the midnight sky, eyes like sapphires, and lips like rubies. And only grew fairer every passing day. But then came the day she turned sixteen, which was the age the crown was handed down to the heir. Before the princess could become Queen, she needed to have a husband. So she set off on a quest to find a prince but none she visited seemed right. Finally, she came to a little island called Lilitia. There she met a girl named Lewana, who was looking for her brother who had run away from home. The two girls quickly become best friends and decided to quest together. The next day, the two friends came upon a large town and agreed to hail one another if they found what either was looking for. And so they set off. Soon the princess came upon a large inn, with many inside. One man in particular caught her eye and they fell in love on first sight. He said he was a prince, and the princess summoned Lewana. Lewana took one look at the prince and ran to embrace him because the prince was also Lewana’s brother. They all went back to the princess’s castle and lived happily every after.

Miss E, age 12

Once upon a time, just past the sparkling waterfall and the shining rainbow was a city of pixies. They were led by a single brave pixie named Joyce. Joyce was a curious pixie and one day she wandered out of the forest and into a house where a little girl sat reading a book outside.

Joyce flew up to the girl and said, “Hi! My name is Joyce. What is yours?”

The girl dropped her book in surprise. “C-C-Crystal. Are you a fairy?”

Joyce frowned. “Why do people always think that? No. I am a pixie. Do you need a friend?”

Crystal’s mouth dropped open. “How did you know? I do need a friend. It is just me and my mom here.”

“My mom and I,” Joyce corrected. “Why don’t you come to my city? Humans used to visit us. Not anymore though. But we have a human-sized house.”

“Oh, Oh, Thank you so much!” Crystal yelled, jumping up and down. She and her mom went to live with the pixies and they all lived happily ever after!

Such a fun way to incorporate creativity and writing into our week! I love it when things come out so simply and the girls are able to participate in community activities like this. Did your library have a Tell a Fairy Tale Day? Do they often do fun activities to get involved with? I highly recommend friending a librarian and making visiting a library part of your regular homeschooling activities if it is at all possible. Our librarians are fantastic and definitely add so much to our unit studies.

At Home.

Creative Freewriting Adventure ~ a Crew review

Creative Freewriting Adventure review

Two of the three giggly girls are tremendous writers and seem to really enjoy finding creative outlets for their writing. This continuous search for various writing outlets was one of the reason we were interested in the Creative Freewriting Adventure from Home School Adventure Co. We also received a copy of the Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition.

Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book EditionCreative Freewriting Adenture

 Stacy Ferrell is the author of this writing supplement. She has written various curriculums published through Home School Adventure Co, including Philosophy Adventure, Walking with the Waodani, Celebrating Manhood: a rite of passage guide, and I’d Rather Be Your Mommy.

Creative Freewriting Adventure was developed as a supplemental writing program to complement various other programs published by the company, including The Wise Woman with Analysis Journal, Philosophy Adventure, and Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal. The idea was to give the students some opportunities for fun, creative writing in the midst of a longer-term, more intensive writing project.writing about Thales

This program contains 10 exercises, some of which actually have two writing activities. Each exercise begins with some background information, a descriptive scene (titled Your Journey), and Your Assignment. The exercises include the philosophers Thales, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, and Democritus. There are four exercises on The Wise Woman. The final two exercises are centered a bit more on themes from Mere Christianity.

After the student has read the information and Your Journey, the Your Assignment part takes them into the writing. These are a series of questions designed to jog the student’s memory, give them ideas and help them find ways to increase the descriptiveness of their writing. Then, a timer is set for 15 minutes and the writing begins. At 15 minutes, the exercise is over. If the girls were on a roll, I never stopped them at 15 minutes. They wanted to finish the story that was running in their heads, so I let them.

This quick but creative process is what I thought would appeal greatly to my girls. I was mistaken here. While some of the prompts worked really well (Thales falling in a well and the one with talking animals), others were complete dead ends for the girls. We tried several of them more than once with a break in between. It was just a no-go.

I believe that these did not work as well for the girls because they like to write and they write often. They are so creative that they felt boxed in by the prompts and they felt like  many of the exercises ended the story rather than giving them an opening for continuing the story.

The background information was where we got the most joy from these lessons. Miss E has been studying Ancient Greece and the first four exercises include some information on some of the Greek philosophers. This was pretty fascinating for her (and me). It was also writing about talking animalsfun for us to revisit some of the story of The Wise Woman, which we reviewed a couple of years ago.

We received PDF downloads of both the Creative Freewriting Adventure and the Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition. There is very little difference between the two. They both include the same written information and printable pages for doing the creative writing assignment on. The coloring book edition also includes a coloring page for each of the exercises.

If you have an older student who needs some ideas for writing, some prompts, or some questions to help them get more creative and descriptive in their writing, this might be a good supplement for you to look at.

At Home.

 

Homeschool Review Crew families have been using the Creative Freewriting Adventure, Walking with the Waodani, Celebrating Manhood, and I’d Rather Be Your Mommy. Click the banner below to read more reviews.

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Creativity Encouraged

creativity-encouraged-thinking-tree-journals-review

We love to encourage the girls to be creative. Whether it is through crafts, arts, or other means, creativity strengthens the brain and allows personal expression and out of the box thinking. These are extremely important in healthy development and critical thinking ability.

Because we believe so strongly in encouraging creativity, I was thrilled when we received an unexpected review product in the mail – Thinking Tree Journals! I had hoped to receive one but nope. We were given six to review. I am going to talk about three of them today and the others will be in an additional post next week.

These journals are just a few of the many products created by Sarah Janisse Brown and her family through their company Thinking Tree Publishing. This homeschooling family has created these journals that can be easily adapted to fit whatever need your family has. Today, I’ll be discussing the Poetry Writing Journal, the Creative Writing Journal, and the Big Sister and Little Sister Coloring Book.

poetry-journal

Poetry Writing Journal

The official title of this one is Poetry Writing Journal- Color, Draw & Doodle: Do-It-Yourself Homeschooling. It is a soft back journal with laminated paper covers that are very study. It is approximately 9 x 12, so just bigger than a piece of notebook paper. It has white pages with black print. Each two-page spread has a page with an image to color or draw and a page with lines for writing poetry to go along with the image. There are 38 two-page spreads so quite a bit of opportunity for poetry creation and coloring/drawing.

poetry-example

Upon arrival at the house, this one was grabbed up by Miss L. She is 10 and absolutely adores poetry. Creating poetry is one of her very favorite things to do. She immediately sat down and wrote a poem based off of one of the images in the book. She has not colored it the image yet but the poem is just a joy to read. She has since created some others but here is her first one in the book.

creative-writing-journal

Creative Writing Journal

This journal is similar in physical aspects to the poetry journal. It is just bigger than a notebook page and has a soft cover. It includes over 40 two-page spreads for writing stories. One page is an image or a place to draw and doodle images and the other is a lined page for writing a story to accompany the image. The images can be colored and so make a nice combination of image and story. This encourages creativity by giving a prompt that is still somewhat specific but yet very open to interpretation.

creative-writing-sample

Miss E, age 12, grabbed this book upon opening the box of journals and immediately chose an image to spin her story off of. Her story was a joy to read and definitely reflects her personality. She wrote it and enjoyed sharing the story with the family. There are many more images to prompt stories or other writings from and I can’t wait to see what all will come of this style of writing prompts.

big-sister-little-sister

Big Sister and Little Sister – a Coloring Book for Two

This is one I really expected to be snapped up. The girls were really excited about it when they saw it but it has only been used once or twice since it arrived. Perhaps with all the excitement about the other journals, this one has been kind of buried. Yet, I think it will be lots of fun for the girls to enjoy together since Miss E and Miss J enjoy listening to audio books together.

coloring-pages

This coloring books is also approximately 9×12 and is a soft cover journal. The book has plenty of two-page spreads to keep the sisters coloring together for a while, even if they did one every single day. There are over 30 sets of coloring pages with dulpicate images on both sides of the spread. Some are labeled as big sister and little sister, while others are not. Some of them are printed on both the front and back of pages but there are a number of the image sets that are printed on one side of the page only so that the sisters can color with markers if they choose to without ruining another picture that was colored. I love that thoughtfulness of detail!

My thoughts:

I truly am thankful to have these journals. They came just a couple of days before At Home Dad has shoulder surgery so they provided an easy way to continue schooling when we needed to be busy and away from home a bit more. They could easily be taken to grandma’s house during those first few days of recovery and grandma could encourage school without having to push math or science.

Creative engagement of the brain strengthens it in so many ways and it definitely encourages stretching of thinking and ideas. Allowing the girls to think differently and to express it in a variety of ways is so helpful to them and their development. Thinking differently is a definite advantage and I believe that these Thinking Tree journals are another tool that encourages the giggly girls to think in whatever way they desire. Stronger thinkers are stronger people. Thank you, Thinking Tree, for allowing us to experience some of your wonderful tools for training strong thinkers.

The next Thinking Tree post will include Travel Dreams Journal, Spelling Time, and Mom’s Fun-Schooling Handbook.

At Home.

 

Story Cubes Story Time

 

Miss J was given a new set of story cubes the other day and decided to use them this afternoon to create a new story. Here is her fun story:

story-cubes-titles

There was a little girl and she was using a map to find treasure in a cave. Her name was Ezil and she saw the treasure. It was a key. She was puzzled. Then she saw a door. But it was locked. Then she saw that there were two pictures that were the same on the door and on the key and unlocked the door. There was a new world with planes that were always full! And apples with notes in them! And canes that were made out of sugar cane! And clocks that were just on time to tick-tock! And it snowed there but it never did get cold! And the best thing of all is that there are NO LOCKS!

 

Hope you enjoyed reading about her new land! Story Cubes are a fantastic way to prompt some creative writing and allow tons of freedom for the student. This is not a post that is sponsored. It is a product we love. We have three or four sets of story cubes, as each set has different characters. If you don’t have any, I highly recommend them.

At Home.

The Rhetoric Companion ~ a review

the-rhetoric-companion

Rhetoric is something that I believe is highly misunderstood. Maybe just by me, but especially by me. I found this book to be interesting but extremely challenging.

Timberdoodle sent me The Rhetoric Companion set which includes both the student book and the answer key. This is a high school level course to guide students to become skilled in the power of persuasion.

If you are like me, you tend to expect rhetoric to be an attempt to persuade you to believe someone else’s version of the truth. I tend to think of it as carefully crafted statements made by politicians to make you believe something without knowing any of the truth or having any kind of support. I am happy to tell you that true rhetoric is not that at all. Turns out, I could really benefit from this course.

rhetoric-companion-coverThe Rhetoric Companion is written to teach high schoolers so it is on a bit higher reading and comprehension level than most books you will pick up. Expect to be challenged with your reading and don’t be surprised when you have to go back and reread paragraphs to get the entire meaning. I have had to work at memorizing words that I have heard but not really understood before due to the fact that they are used quite often in the teaching of rhetoric. This is quite the challenge.

Presented in a logical manner, the lessons in The Rhetoric Companion are classical education from a Christian standpoint. Carefully thought out statements are the crux of the teachings in each lesson. From understanding the history of true rhetoric to how to incorporate the five canons, these lessons guide the students through true training in crafting a presentation that is arranged correctly and worded strongly. By the completion of the course, the student’s ability will have grown by enormous bounds.

rhetoric-companion-quote-and-lessonWith 31 lessons and an appendix on language study, this book is a full year’s study. Each lesson includes approximately four pages of reading followed by a listing of suggested readings, several exercises to complete, and review questions. The answer key is simply that and gives the suggested answers for the review questions. Throughout each of the lessons, there are tidbits of wisdom and quotes of great authors sprinkled at the edges of the page. I have gotten almost as much out of these little snippets as I have from reading the lessons.

Expect challenges. Expect hard work. Expect the exercises to stretch and push you. Expect growth. If you are expecting those things, The Rhetoric Companion set will be of great benefit to you.

Timberdoodle has provided a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. They have The Rhetoric Companion as part of their 12th Grade complete curriculum package. Timberdoodle has also generously offered to send two (2) readers each one (1) copy of The Rhetoric Companion. This is open to US mailing addresses only. This softback book will be a grand addition to your own learning or that of your student. Please click on the following link to be taken to the Rafflecopter entry form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Disclosure general

Path – Five Minute Friday

Today’s post prompt is “path” so here goes . . .

Path Five Min Fri

START
A path is a way. A way through something. I think of the path that my dad has worn around their property. He used it in the past for cycling, to get ready to ride the Great Divide ride from Canada to Mexico. He used it to rehab from an accident. He then used it to prep for hiking around Mt. Rainier. Since then, it has been his and my mom’s exercise path.

It used to be full of trees and lots of cactus and wind through some of the easier ways. Since the fire went through, the path is less of a way “through” and a way to go from here to there.

But when I look at it, I see it as so much more.

This path is an example of perseverance. This path is an example of not giving up. This path is an example of trying hard and then trying even harder. This path is an example of bringing people together, because when we go visit, at least one of the girls wants to walk the “mail trail” with Papa.

This path is a reminder that things change. Sometimes that change is simple, like stepping over the beautiful sunflower that popped up in the middle of the path, and sometimes the change is much, much harder, such as when the fire came through and the path had to be redone almost from nothing.

Along the way, there are beautiful signs of prosperity. Not physical prosperity but rather that prosperity that comes from God – beauty, strength, hope, and moving forward. Most of the time, it is not the way forward we would have chosen or foreseen. But this path – it is our way forward now and God’s fingerprints are all over it. Look closely. That path? It is a way forward and, just maybe, a way through at the same time. END

 

Well, that was harder to actually put into words than I thought it would be. Don’t forget to check out the others who are linking up over at the host blog: heading Home.

At Home.

 

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