Educators Publishing Service (or EPS) have long been respected for their simple but effective workbooks covering the essential school subjects for all grade levels. Incredibly versatile, these worktexts can be used as remedial work for older students, introductions for younger ones, or simply supplements to help ensure learners of any age have the knowledge they need for success and advancement.
The EPS writing programs are no exception, guiding kids (and adults!) through the stages of composition. One of the most foundational of these is Report Writing Books 1 & 2 by Marjorie Gann. For grades 1-3 and 4-7 respectively, Gann shows teachers how to give kids the requisite research and compositional skills necessary to complete a short written report on any subject.
Both books include text for kids to read and exercises, each exercise helping them choose a topic, form a thesis statement, conduct research, and ultimately draft the paper. A teacher's guide/answer key for each volume provides answers to all exercises, and provides useful helps for teachers to present to young writers throughout the process. The instructions are easy, and many of the exercises and activities can be student-directed.
All three of the Just Write workbooks take a more creative approach, walking kids through the elements of short biographical sketches, short stories, etc., by first having them analyze other work of the same kind. The series is intended for 2nd, 3rd and 4thgraders, and while some may balk at having kids that young learn creative writing before they've mastered other forms, the authors do a great job of introducing all the essential topics, from word placement to punctuation to choosing a topic. The teacher's guides for each volume include exercise answers and teaching tips.
Easily the best of the EPS writing resources is Diana Hanbury King's Writing Skills program. This can pretty much be used on its own to teach composition, but it's a good idea to use it in conjunction with something else, at the very least with a solid grammar program. If you decide to use these books on their own, you can still rest assured your students will be ahead of the game when it comes to composition.
King doesn't waste time with unnecessary instructions, information, or exercises. At all, ever. In the first book, Writing Skills Book A, she starts by explaining the concept of complete sentences, moves on to subjects and predicates, kinds of sentences, topic sentences, building paragraphs, etc. It's fairly elementary at this level, but it's an entry-level text (and can be used with anyone who needs it, from 2nd-12th grade).
In the next three books, Writing Skills 1-3, King takes basically the same approach as in Book A, always adding depth and new information to the same familiar topics. Students who pay attention can't help but learn to write effectively through this course, and to gain and appreciate a knowledge of the mechanics of the language.
There is a suggested grade level for each text: 2nd-4th for Book A; 5th-6th for Book 1; 7th-8th in Book 2; and for Book 3, 9th-12th. These are loose suggestions, however, since it's not so much a child's grade that's important, as their skill level. These are great as remedial texts, but they can be used with equal success by younger students who evidence a solid grasp of the concepts and an ability to execute them independently.
A concise teacher's handbook brings all the worktexts together, offering insight for presenting ideas and material, and guidelines for evaluating students' original written work; a number of age-appropriate writing prompts are included throughout. Two more books round out the series: Cursive Writing Skills (simply a D'Nealian-style penmanship book, available for left- and right-handed students) and Keyboarding Skills (a computer-based typing curriculum.
These are some of the best books available for teaching, or supplementing the teaching of, writing. The Writing Skills series can be used on its own; we'd strongly encourage you to supplement the other books, though they're no less excellent. The ability to write well is a skill you can't neglect to cultivate in your kids if you want them to be successful, and these trim volumes will help you do just that.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Did you find this review helpful?