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WriteShop Junior: Book E ~ Review

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WriteShop provides homeschool writing curriculum from students from Kindergarten through 12th grade. WriteShop Junior is written for students in approximately grades 3-5, and provides instruction in creative writing through step-by-step lesson plans and lots of hands-on student activities. Write Shop Junior is written in 2 levels, D for grades 3-4, and E for grades 4-5. Each level’s complete set includes a teacher’s guide, activity pack, time-saver pack, and junior writer’s notebook, and can be purchased in either printed ($106.95) or digital PDF ($78.50) form. We have recently been given the opportunity to use the digital form of WriteShop Junior: Book E, and are happy to share our review with you today.

About the Program

WriteShop Junior: Book E covers various forms of creative writing, which are divided into 10 lessons. Each lesson spans 2 to 3 weeks, depending upon what works best for your schedule. Topics covered include:

Lesson 1: Writing a Fable
Lesson 2: Writing with Humor
Lesson 3: Writing an Adventure
Lesson 4: Writing Science Fiction
Lesson 5: Writing a Mystery
Lesson 6: Concrete Poetry
Lesson 7: Writing a Personal Narrative
Lesson 8: Descriptive Narrative
Lesson 9: Writing a Book Report
Lesson 10: Writing a Nonfiction Report

Each of these 10 lessons is broken down into smaller parts, referred to as Activity Sets. Every lesson has 8 Activity Sets, which provide a way of organizing the activities so that material is presented to students in a consistent and familiar format from one lesson to the next.

Program Components

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The WriteShop Junior: Book E Teacher’s Guide provides everything you need to teach writing to your students. It begins with a brief overview of the program, and then gives examples of possible schedules so that you can see which one will work best for your situation. It even gives tips for teaching multiple students who are using different levels of WriteShop. A comprehensive list of materials and supplies is then given, which includes detailed explanations of the student components of the program. Following that is a breakdown of individual lesson activities, and the purpose and procedure for each one.

Following all of this background information is the main part of the teacher’s guide, which is the step-by-step explanation of the program’s 10 lessons. Not only does this program explain what you need to teach and why, but it literally does the teaching for you. Each lesson is completely scripted for you, which means you don’t have to be good at writing yourself in order to teach students to write well. Clear, thorough explanations are also given for the hands-on activities within each lesson, so there is absolutely no guess work when it comes to implementing this program.

 

graphic_ActivityPackThe WriteShop Junior: Book E Activity Pack includes the student worksheet and activity pages that correspond to each of the 10 lessons.

The Activity Pack includes worksheets for activities typically found in various writing programs, including brainstorming, the writing assignments themselves, and self-editing sheets. In addition to these, WriteShop expands upon the writing process by offering pre-writing worksheets, journal prompts, and hands-on, skill-building activities. The back of the Activity Pack includes additional forms for keeping a reading log, extra journal pages, and a writing skills evaluation chart so that students can keep track of their writing progress throughout the program.

Also included in the Activity Pack is the Fold-N-Go Grammar pack. This pack includes printable sheets with instructions explaining how to assemble them inside file folders in order to create a set of 10 grammar reference guides. These guides will then provide students with their own personal quick references for the following topics:

  • Sentences
  • Four Kinds of Sentences
  • Compound Sentences
  • Parts of Speech: Review
  • Dialogue
  • Homophones, Homonyms, and Homographs
  • Five Paragraphs
  • Prefixes and Suffixes
  • Compound Words
  • Synonyms and Antonyms

Construction of each of the guides is worked right into the lesson plan, with one guide completed per lesson.

graphic_Time-SaverEThe WriteShop Junior: Book E Time-Saver Pack contains all of the necessary printable components used in the hands-on games and activities featured throughout the program. The time-saver pack does just that. It saves time by giving you pre-designed game cards, spinners, and other game elements, which can be quickly printed on cardstock and used right away, rather than taking precious time away from the lesson to make everything by hand.

 

graphic_JrWritersNotebookThe WriteShop Junior: Book E Junior Writer’s Notebook is a convenient place for students to keep track of their planning activities from their writing processes. The 12 worksheets included provide students with a unique way of focusing on the specific elements of writing, such as setting, plot, and characters. The worksheets also offer student the means to improve their existing compositions by helping students with such things as word choices, creating interesting beginnings and endings in compositions, and conveying emotion to the reader. Students are able to print out these forms as they feel necessary.

How We Used it & Our Final Opinion

Because my youngest son is in the upper age range of this level, and my oldest is one grade above, we decided to use this program at the faster, 2-week-per-lesson recommended. I love the idea of this program, but for us, it was simply overwhelming as far as the number of elements involved with its implementation. That is not to say that there was too much work in the program. The program itself is well laid out, with what I would consider an age-appropriate amount of work and activities. The issue is only that the program simply did not fit with my children’s learning styles.

I think that this program is perfect for parents who do not enjoy writing themselves, or do not consider themselves particularly good at writing or teaching it to their students. In those cases, I am sure that parents would appreciate the detailed explanations, and would find the completely scripted lessons an absolute life-saver.

Furthermore, I am sure that completely tactile learners would find this the perfect curriculum. There is never a case of “take out a blank piece of paper and write”. Instead, everything is presented by way of fun, illustrated worksheets and activities that are mostly hands-on in nature. In other words, it is perfect for students who need a more stimulated, active way of learning the writing process.

Unfortunately, with a younger child who is easily overwhelmed by too much sensory input, and an older child who is a no-nonsense straight shooter, this program simply didn’t work for us. I can say, however, that the program is fantastic for what it is, and I can definitely see why I have heard so many people raving about it. I do wish it had been a better fit for our family, as there is nothing AT ALL flawed about the program. I am sure tactile learners, reluctant writers, and non-writer parents out there will absolutely adore this program.

For more information, please check out the WriteShop website, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. Please also click below to read the other Crew reviews!

 

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Moving Beyond The Page ~ Review

MBTP

Moving Beyond the Page provides literature-based homeschool curriculum, on a vast number of topics, in the areas of language arts, social studies, and science. Their curriculum is broken down into a series of units, organized by age level, from ages 4-5 all the way up through ages 14-15. Their unit style works particularly well for gifted and hands-on learners. My family has recently had the opportunity to use a couple of the units from their 10-12 age group, the language arts unit, Albert Einstein, and the accompanying science unit, Force and Motion. Today, we are happy to share our experience and review.

About the Curriculum

The Moving Beyond the Page curriculum is broken down into concepts covered over the course of the year. Each of these concepts is further broken down into a series of smaller units. These units each cover one particular theme relating to the main concept. The concepts and units can be studied in any order, however, allowing a very personalized learning experience for each child. The units can each be used independently, though some (like those my family has chosen) have also been written to work in conjunction with each other.

Each unit includes a Note For Parents page, which describes the structure of the curriculum, explains each component of the lessons, and provides a sample week’s schedule. It goes even further to explain the structure of each lesson, and finally, an example of a typical day, and time allotments for unit activities.

Each lesson is then clearly laid out in the curriculum guides, with checklists to ensure you have everything you need, ideas to think about, and things to know before you get started. The lesson then begins with the reading passage and accompanying questions, a series of corresponding activities, and finally a “wrapping up” section for reinforcement or further study.

Albert Einstein

einsteinThis language arts unit is available in either printed ($48.93) or online ($44.87) form, which includes the curriculum and all additional required materials. For the purpose of this review, we were given the online version. The unit is broken down into 8 lessons, plus a final project. It is made to accompany the biography, Albert Einstein by Kathleen Krull.

The lessons not only help guide students through the book through the use of lesson review questions, but also provide opportunities for activities such as mapping of various countries in which Einstein lived and worked, constructing a timeline of his life, research of other notable scientists that influenced Einstein, and much more. In the final project, students will use all that they have learned in order to construct a biography scrapbook of Einstein’s life and work.

Also included with this unit is a Rummy Roots card game, which is written right into the activities section of the unit. This game teaches children ages 8 and up 42 different Greek and Latin roots, providing an excellent vocabulary builder. The curriculum also includes a vocabulary list, as well as weekly spelling lists to correlate with the unit, making this an all-inclusive language arts curriculum.

 

Force and Motion

Force_motion_graphicThis science unit is also available either in printed ($50.07) or online ($46.01) form, which includes the curriculum, accompanying book, and experiment kit. The unit’s 8 lessons and final project are made to accompany the book The Quest for Personal Best: Individual Sports by Lisa Greathouse. Through the study of various sports and the athletes that participate in them, students are introduced to several physics concepts. Some of the fascinating topics covered include gymnastics and balance, bicycles and friction, skateboarding and gravity, and more.

Like the literature unit, this curriculum provides a series of review questions related to the required reading book, but then goes further by providing a variety of hands-on activities for reinforcement. In this unit, that includes a number of worksheets (included within the unit) plus simple experiments, which use the items from the experiment kit. Because this unit covers force and motion, the experiments involve simple activities such as using a spring scale to measure mass, using marbles to demonstrate Newton’s Laws of Acceleration, or a ball drop experiment to illustrate directional changes. The curriculum provides all necessary instructions for conducting these experiments, as well as forms for students to record their data and conclusions.

This unit also includes a list of vocabulary words covered in the study, as well as a unit review sheet to ensure understanding of the unit’s key concepts.

How We Used it & Our Final Opinion

We decided to follow the units as suggested in each of the curriculum guides, and I must say, the suggested schedule was very helpful in implementing the studies. I was admittedly overwhelmed at first receiving the curriculum, but after reading the introduction notes and suggestions, it was very easy to get up and running. I was also a bit nervous at first about the amount of hands-on work, as my youngest can sometimes get sensory overload by too many activities. However, this curriculum was extremely well balanced, providing plenty of reading and written work in addition to the fun experiments and activities. The hands-on activities are long enough to enforce the concept, but short enough to keep students focused and on task. Follow-up report forms are also helpful in ensuring students understand the purpose of the experiments, and how to interpret their findings.

As the parent, I loved the fact that everything was either included with the kit, or involved simple, household items. For activities that involved outside sources, such as online articles, everything was provided right in the curriculum, which saved a lot of time searching for resources. Having everything all in one place made teaching a breeze. It made it so easy, in fact, that older students could even use this curriculum independently, with minimal parent assistance.

This curriculum makes learning even difficult concepts easy and fun. I would definitely recommend this not only to typical hands-on learners, but to all homeschoolers. With the wide variety of subjects available, parents are sure to find something that appeals to every child. And, with the clear explanations and easy to follow instructions for each unit, it really takes the stress out of lesson planning. My boys definitely enjoyed this curriculum and are asking for more units from Moving Beyond the Page!

 

For more information, please check out the Moving Beyond The Page website, or follow them on FacebookPlease also click below to read the other Crew reviews!

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