Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.
Writing – it can either bring excitement or dread, depending on experience and enjoyment. Dread used to be where Miss J lived on this one. She wanted to write but she didn’t enjoy the processes that we had been working through. We have tried several programs but this one just may stick longer than a semester. Creative Word Studio is just that – a way to deal with words creatively. Their creative writing program is simple yet productive and Miss J has been enjoying using Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 1.
Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 1 is aimed towards 5th and 6th graders. Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 2 is aimed at 7th and 8th graders. Miss J just completed 6th grade and, even if she won’t admit it, has been really enjoying Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 1. It is the first thing she chooses to do every day in her school work AND I don’t have to tell her to start her school. Now part of that is likely maturity but I attribute a good deal of it to the fact that she has found something she looks forward to doing.
Creative Word Studio is a family business. Andrew and Jennifer Yoder founded the company to develop a creative writing curriculum that they saw a significant need for. With an education background, there is a fresh approach to the writing processes found with the company. You can also find tips and ideas for all sorts of writing on their blog, such as this post about poetry.
Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 1 is the book that Miss J has been using (and secretly enjoying – just catching that smile she tries to hide when we talk about this is tons of fun for me). The consumable book is softback with laminated paper covers and a spiral binding. Each student needs their own book. The Introduction is written directly to the student and then there is a page of instructions, which are really just a heads-up for what the lessons will look like. The book contains 75 lessons. At about 2 lessons per week, this could take you through an entire school year. We have actually been doing one lesson a day, so four lessons per week. I told you she liked it! 🙂
So, what types of writing will the student do? It generally follows this order of lessons: free writing, mini writing lesson, reading response, mini writing lesson, mini writing lesson. Free writing is just that – writing freely for a period of time about whatever comes to mind. The reading responses are to excerpts from literature such as The Secret Garden, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Man-Eaters Don’t Knock, or poetry such as “Snow” by Lucy A Martin. The mini writing lessons may have them working on wording, paragraphs, onomatopoeia, or using a thesaurus. Lots of variety!
The lessons are unique and different. Many people would likely call them prompts but the format is different and instructive instead of completely open ended, as most prompts are. For example, one of the lessons is about writing a conversation. But it has to be a conversation between 2 inanimate objects. There is an example conversation written by a student and then some ideas of the objects that students might want to choose from. They can always choose their own but this way, they won’t get stuck on what to choose.
Another example was the question “What matters to you?” As with all assignments, there was a student sample to get an idea of the assignment. The student was given the instruction of selecting a shady circle of lawn and taking at least 5 minutes to think before starting to write. Well, it was rainy that day so Miss J chose a comfy place to sit and write. She then wrote about what she felt mattered most to her.
Each assignment page has the lesson number and type. There is a place for the student’s name and the date. The assignment and sample writing are given. This is followed by the page being lined. The back of every page is also lined so there is plenty of space for the student to write.
I love that Jennifer Yoder acknowledges for the students that sometimes you get stuck in your writing and that is okay. In the instructions, she actually tells them that if they get stuck to just keep writing “what shall I write next, what shall I write next . . . ” That is such a practical and helpful suggestions because all too often we tell the kids they can come up with something and maybe, just maybe, they truly can’t at the moment. This gives them permission to struggle a bit but to not quit. And honestly, it is what I do sometimes, so it really resonated with me.
Another bit of Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 1 that I like is the freedom to not finish out to perfection a piece of writing. As a writer, you don’t always love everything you write. Finishing a piece you don’t like is hard. Not every piece in this book is suggested as a “Gold Piece.” A Gold Piece is one that is suggested for editing, revising, and rewriting a final draft for grading. Even this is something that can be modified. But, again, I like the freedom of noting that just completing the first write is sometimes enough. The rubric for grading a Gold Piece is inside the back cover of the spiral.
I found this to be a fresh and unique feeling approach to creative writing. It is appealing to my reluctant writer. And I have already seen growth and change with this. Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read the reviews from other families who have been using Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 1 and Sparkling Bits of Writing Book 2 from Creative Word Studio.
Lori, At Home.