The WriteShop Primary series is a writing course for young children designed to guide them through the basics of creative writing. Activity-based lessons offer a variety of ways to present important material so your kids don't burn out from endless bland exercises. A manageable amount of materials make this a particularly easy-to-use course, and young kids should enjoy the hands-on approach.
How Does This Work?
The series was written for grades K-3. Book A can be used for K-2, though the author discourages using it for third graders as the content is geared for younger kids. For kindergartners it is suggested you follow a three week per lesson plan; with ten lessons this will take you through one year (with Tuesdays, Thursdays and every third Friday off). First graders should be able to complete lessons in two weeks each with Fridays off, and second graders can do one lesson per week (also with Fridays off). The material is very flexible, however, so you can move at your own pace.
This is a teacher-directed program: kids cannot work alone. The core is the teacher's guide; a supplementary Activity Set Worksheet Pack provides consumable activity pages for students. Teachers guide kids through the activities and exercises, usually overseeing their work as they complete it. Preparing lessons shouldn't be too much trouble since they are clearly outlined in the teacher's guide, though many of the activities will require you to prepare for them in advance (and gather extra materials like crayons, scissors, and construction paper).
Like WriteShop for high schoolers, this series employs the incremental method. Students are given digestible bits of information that, when put together, form a complete whole. Book A doesn't pay much attention to mechanics or technical skills (there is a lesson devoted to punctuation and capitalization), instead focusing on choosing topics and organizing ideas. Through scripted dialogue teachers guide students through each of the steps, helping young writers see the creation process from beginning to end.
Lessons are broken into eight activity sets, each beginning with a Guided Writing Practice in which students are given sentence starters to complete with their own thoughts. The author emphasizes discussing all assignments with your child so he gets plenty of review and important concepts really sink in. Each lesson has a theme, and activities in that lesson relate to the theme. Parents are to create Portable Word Banks (lists of words organized by theme) on manila folders to aid the development of children's vocabulary and spelling skills.
Our Honest Opinion:
This is a very good course for helping young students learn how to distill their (often chaotic) thoughts into written assignments. The activities are fun and the exercises follow a clear step-by-step approach that takes the uncertainty out of creative writing. There isn't a lot ofmechanics instructionhere (such as how to write a sentence), though the next books in the series begin to fill the gap. If you want your kids to overcome the fear of putting coherent words on a blank page beforethat fearever fully develops, this is a good place to start.
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