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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!

 

Click to read Crew Reviews

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New Copywork Resources from Homeschool Encouragement

As a big fan of handwriting practice and copywork, I just wanted to take a few moments to share some new copywork resources from Homeschool Encouragement with all of you. This time, there are plenty of options, and some that might especially appeal to the young boys in your homeschools.

Are you all watching the Olympic games? Homeschool Encouragement has the perfect accompaniment, an 18-page Olympic-themed copywork book, available in both manuscript and cursive.

OlympicsCopyworkMANUSCRIPT_Page_01  OlympicsCopyworkCursive_Page_01

And, of course, Valentine’s Day is almost here, so Homeschool Encouragement also has a 13 page copywork book based on 1 Corinthians 13.  These are also available in both manuscript and cursive.

1Corinthians13CopyworkManuscript_Page_01 1Corinthians13copywork_Page_01

All of these, as well as other copywork options, can be found on the Homeschool Encouragement product page. I also encourage you to subscribe to the page for all the latest news, as well as additional freebies!

Last Week’s Wrap-Up

A nasty stomach bug hit our family at the end of the week, so once again, our wrap-up post has been delayed. I didn’t want to skip it all together, though, since we had an excellent week in our homeschool.

We had originally intended to start a new Bible study this week, but as we were finishing our review of the Mere Christianity Journal, (review post coming soon) the boys REALLY started getting into the material, which spurred some pretty deep discussions and scripture studies. So, that more than covered Bible study for this week.

 photo trisms_graphic_zps0ff8bad7.jpgAs far as our other subjects, we revamped a LOT this past week. We implemented a curriculum called TRISMS, which is a chronological, history-based, research-focused curriculum. It incorporates several subjects all together, giving it an almost unit study feel.

We actually used TRISMS in conjunction with the Classical History we were already doing, which has worked out extremely well. For writing, we were already using IEW, which is the writing program integrated into the TRISMS curriculum, so the kids already had a good feel for what would be expected in their writing, with the added benefit of the writing assignments woven right into the curriculum.

Science and math are a part of the curriculum as well, but only to the extent of noting developments or important persons in the field. So, we will continue with our Apologia for science and Life of Fred for math.

Overall, the boys are really loving the way everything is woven together. It makes each subject more meaningful, since they can see how it all fits together. The curriculum also allows them to further research areas that are especially interesting to each of them. Another thing they really love is that, overall, school takes a LOT less time, since there is a lot less skipping from one subject to the next. I am also seeing a great increase in their amount and length of focus.

In other words, we are all loving this curriculum, and we had a pretty fantastic homeschool week.

Christmas Freewriting Freebie

Can you believe it is only 8 days until Christmas? Ack!! In our homeschool, we are finishing up this last week before we take our Christmas break. Keeping focus is difficult, of course, and we are taking a more relaxed and fun approach, with most of our activities focusing on the upcoming holiday. I am so thankful that there are some ready-made resources out there to help us during busy times like this! Today I would like to share with you all a great resource we have found for Christmas-themed writing activities, the Christmas Freewriting Freebie now available from Homeschool Adventure Co.
Writing can be hard work. Good writing most often results from much rewriting, and much rewriting can make a writer weary. 

BecausePhilosophy Adventure™ students create and refine a biographical narrative speech over the course of several weeks, (supported by clear step-by-step guidance and seven writing checklists), we created several freewriting exercises to offset that hard work with play, and simply encourage students to have fun writing. 

We soon discovered that students—even those who considered themselves “non-writers”—produced surprising results using these exercises. Both students and parents were amazed. (Some parents even joined in the fun!) 
We are delighted to share with you this “Christmas Freewriting.”
To download your own copy of the Christmas Freewriting Freebie, visit Home School Adventure Co.

Notebooking Binding

We love notebooking. Even before we became familiar with the term notebooking as it applies to homeschooling, my kids had always enjoyed making their own little books about whatever interested them at the time. In those days, their books were made from stapled pieces of paper. Well, now that we notebook for many of their school subjects, we are becoming 3 ring binder hoarders. And honestly, I hate the mount of extra space those bulky things can occupy.

So, I researched possible binding alternatives until finally settling on a traditional comb binding. Ease of use, multiple size options, and availability of supplies were among the deciding factors. After researching many machines, I settled on the Combbind c75 manual binding machine

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This thing is really a snap to use. All you do is load your paper, then push down the ginormous handle to punch the holes.

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Then you put one of the plastic combs in the top prongs. Then, pull the handle down again and lock into place so it stays open. Then, you load the paper into the comb.

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Then just release the lock to close the comb and voila! An awesome custom notebook without the bulk of a binder.

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This appeals not only to our creative sides, but to our “organization fanatic” sides as well. Definitely the best non-curriculum purchase for our homeschool EVER!

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