Saturday, May 19, 2012

WriteShop Primary ~ TOS Review


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Teaching writing techniques is something I had not yet started with Brynne, who is 6 years old and in the 2nd grade. She does lots of writing, especially copywork, but no formal instruction. I have just been kind of letting her write when she wants to write. So when an opportunity came up to review a formal writing program called WriteShop Primary, I jumped at the chance.

"Developed for students in grades K-3, WriteShop Primary is designed for parents to work closely with their young children. As you interact with your child, you help him explore the world of words through a variety of colorful and meaningful activities."

I wasn't sure which level to request. Brynne is only 6, but she is advanced so does all 2nd grade work. But because she had not had any formal writing experience or instruction, I decided to start with Book A ... the very beginning. Here is what the publisher has to say about that:

"Each WriteShop Primary book can be used independently, but the incremental nature of the program encourages you to take your child through all three levels ... Although the parent of a more advanced child may decide to skip Book A and jump right into Book B or C, most find value in starting at the beginning."

And that is how I felt.

At first when we were doing the daily activities of Lesson 1, which focuses on Getting Started, I wished that I would have gone ahead and skipped to Book B. However, what I found was that Brynne did just a little more than the lessons required (on her own) and she gained CONFIDENCE in her writing! In fact, she found that by writing three independent sentences, that she had made a paragraph. She did this for 8 days in a row and each day would read all of the "chapters" she had written. She absolutely LOVED it and was SO PROUD of her work!

For an assessment to determine what level you should purchase you can go HERE.

I looked ahead to the rest of the lessons in Book A and was excited to see that she will be learning the following techniques:
  • Personal Writing
  • Thinking of Ideas to Write About
  • Selecting a Title
  • Constructing a Beginning, Middle and End
  • Using a Period at the End of a Sentence
  • Using Word Families to Write Stories with Rhyming Words
  • Using a Story Web to Organize Ideas
  • Introducing the Personal Narrative Story
  • Writing About Events in the Order They Happen
Here is a sample of one of the lessons:

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Other positive aspects of the curriculum:
  •  You can do each of the lesson sets in either one week, two weeks, or three weeks
  • There are "Smaller Steps" prompts if you are wanting to use the lessons with a younger child than recommended for the book and "Flying Higher" prompts if you want to use the lessons with an older child. 
  • Each lesson set has an Activity Set Worksheet for concept reinforcement.
  • There are fun projects at the end of each lesson set, including: making a story kite, making a paper plate face, making a story clothesline, and more.
  • All supplies needed for the lesson sets are clearly set out at the beginning of each set.
One thing I really liked about WriteShop Primary was that we just sat side-by-side on the couch and did this together. It involved a lot of discussion and brainstorming. 

The only negative I found with the curriculum was that I felt that the Teacher's Guide was a little overwhelming at first. It took me some time to figure out how to schedule our lessons, and what we should be doing. But once I put in the time required in the beginning (which really just amounted to about a half hour of concentrated time), then we were ready to go.

I am actually planning to use this curriculum next year as part of our regular studies. If all goes well, we can move onto Book B for second semester.

WriteShop has writing programs for all ages, including elementary and junior high levels. You can view all of the materials at their website. The Primary Book A Teacher's Guide (that we used) is $26.95, and as an e-book is $24.95. The corresponding Activity Set Worksheet Pack for Book A is $4.95, and as an e-book is $4.50.

And here's some great news! WriteShop is offering 15% off any WriteShop Primary and Junior products in the WriteShop store (including e-books). All you have to do is use coupon code CREW15 at checkout. This offer is good through June 15, 2012.

You can also read what other TOS Crew members have to say about the Primary and Junior products by going HERE.

{Disclaimer: As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I was provided this product free in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.}

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