Friday, May 18, 2012

TOS Review: Write Shop Junior

I am always interested in great writing resources to strengthen the skills of my children and was happy as could be when I found out I would be reviewing WriteShop Junior.  WriteShop Junior is an incremental writing program that acts as a partnership between you and your child.  The key to its success is that you will be closely involved with your child's learning.  I like that idea!  The Princess and I have been using it this semester and we are having a great time TOGETHER.  The activities are fun and the teaching is sound.  This is one subject that she is excited for us to do each day.  She enjoys the one-on-one time with me and I enjoy the sparkle of excitement in her face with each new project.

Written by homeschool moms just like me, the WriteShop curriculum was developed to give parents hope that good writing skills could be taught.  Designed in a unit study format, WriteShop allows you to simply plant a seed of interest and let your child run with it.  This is exactly what my Princess needed. (You can read more of the story behind the program and get a real feel for the hearts of the authors.)

When my copy of WriteShop Junior arrived, I took a few days to thoroughly check it out and spent the weekend reading through the Welcome and Introduction to get a good feel for the layout.  I wanted to really understand the purpose and plan since I knew it was designed for parents to work closely with their students.  The princess is in 5th grade this year and was the perfect candidate for WriteShop Junior.  (It is written for students in 3rd-6th grades!)

There is a wealth of information to be taught through WriteShop.  Take a look at all that is included in the WriteShop Junior writing program:

  • Letter of Invitation
  • Humor
  • Adventure
  • Science Fiction
  • Mystery
  • Poetry/Haiku
  • Folktales
  • Historical Fiction
  • Personal Narrative
  • Expository Writing: Factual Article

Skills Introduced in Book D
  • Identify and use proper grammar and punctuation
  • Narrow a broad topic to a specific topic
  • Brainstorm before writing
  • Structure a sentence
  • Write a paragraph
  • Choose strong words instead of weak ones
  • Write sentences of different lengths
  • Use emotion words to develop voice
  • Use the five senses to add descriptive detail
  • Self-edit and revise their work
  • Creatively publish their final drafts

To be successful, you need the Teacher's Guide and the Activity Pack.  I had both -- and the optional Timesaver Pack -- so I was ready to get started.  I read through the entire first lesson (8 activity sets) and prepared the learning tools we'd be using as we worked the activities in the lesson.  These included a punctuation *Fold-N-Go, sample letters, a mix and match game, pages to make a journal, and a frame to decorate that would showcase her finished work.  Easy advance preparation made for smooth learning opportunities that my energetic Princess enjoyed.  

*From the Website (so you'll know!)  Level 1 Fold-N-GoTM Grammar offers simple yet effective exercises that introduce or review grammar rules and essential writing skills. Your child will make 10 lapbook-style folders, each devoted to a different skill such as Punctuation, Self-Editing, Nouns, Adjectives, and References.  {Bonus:  This can also be used as a stand-alone Grammar program.}

For purposes of review, I chose to follow the three-week schedule provided in my Teacher's Guide.  This meant that we would take three weeks to complete Lesson 1.  Now, remember, that's 8 Activities!  The three-week plan worked well for us.  There was enough work to keep us busy but not so much that the Princess felt overwhelmed or frustrated.  As you can tell from the picture below, she has thoroughly enjoyed the activities.  I realize more and more that she is a kinesthetic learner.  Constructing a robot out of the parts of a letter of invitation was right up her alley.  

And she gets it honest.  I'm a hands-on kind of girl, too.  I like to hold a book and touch it and feel it and turn the pages and wrap my brain around what it says.  {I went kicking and screaming into a Kindle but now I LOVE it!} I know that more and more companies are moving into the digital format with curriculums and WriteShop is no exception.  You can purchase a print copy or a digital version -- whichever suits your fancy.

The 266-page coil bound Teacher's Guide is $39.95 print and $34.95 e-book.  The Activity Pack is $39.95 print and $29.95 e-book.  (I would HIGHLY recommend purchasing the print copy of this. The textured papers and light cardstock allow easy manipulating as you tear out the ready-to-use activity pages each day.)  The Timesaver Pack is $13.95 for either print or e-book and I DEFINITELY recommend you purchasing the print version.  It is truly a TIMESAVER -- printed on colored cardstock -- for sturdy game pieces and ready-made props.  

Sample lessons from WriteShop Junior are available  as well as placement helps for any of your students in 1st - 6th grades.  Although my Crewmates and I reviewed the elementary levels of WriteShop, there are also High School levels available.  From what I've seen of the elementary level, I'm sure my high schooler would learn quite a bit with that level as well.

As a SPECIAL DISCOUNT, WriteShop is offering my readers (that's you!)  15% OFF of ANY WriteShop Primary and Junior products.  This offer includes e-books and is yours for the taking between now and June 15, 2012.  Simply use coupon code CREW15 when you checkout.  How COOL is that??


~~Disclaimer:  I was given the opportunity to use WriteShop Junior as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew.  The opinions stated are mine and mine alone.  I was not paid to share my thoughts and feelings with you.  I received the curriculum in exchange for my honest review. You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew thought of  Go Science from Library and Educational Services  HERE.~~
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