Amy, what are your goals for writing? If you're following a WTM framework, it sounds like you are on track for 3rd grade. I've listened to SWB's writing audios, and she makes a compelling argument for the scope of writing that she recommends for the primary grades. However, having been an English/Language Arts teacher (don't let all the typos and errors in my posts color your opinion of my professional position too much ), I really do want my kiddos to practice many different modes of writing. I probably wouldn't "grade" creative pieces, but I would probably point out different features that are typical to different types of writing -- the conventions and discourse... I do agree with SWB that the emphasis on creative writing for young students is not at all necessary, but I wouldn't forget about it altogether.
We mix up "narrations" here quite a bit. I don't think I could stand having my ds do a strict CM-type narration for all the things we read. Simple discussion often works. Sometimes he likes to put on a puppet show. Sometimes he makes a cartoon panel. Lately, our favorite activity is to videotape him with our built-in video camera on the computer. Holy cow, he goes into a lot of detail for the camera! Sometimes he narrates to me, and I scribe a little book of what he has learned. Most recently we did that with a space science unit. We now have a bound, hand-illustrated book about the planets, moons and other space stuff sitting proudly in our science bookshelf. He will still occasionally pull it out to read his book.
Now for all these activities, the emphasis is mostly on comprehension (which I thought was mostly the point of narration???), but I also sometimes ask for complete sentences, and sometimes I ask ds to write out some of his narration as copywork. My ds is young (just 6) and a very, very reluctant writer (that word "reluctant" is such a euphemism here). However, his oral language is very expressive, he has a rich vocabulary, and already he seems to have a good intuitive grasp of grammar. We'll see...
Honestly, I have never seen a writing program for elementary-aged kids that I like much. If you can find a detailed language arts scope and sequence that syncs with your own goals, the writing prompts that you come up with will probably work so much better for your family. By third grade, I imagine I would want my kids to know the features and conventions of an informal letter, be able to write an organized paragraph or two, be able to write a descriptive passage, know how to write a short "report," understand enough of the writing process to utilize the appropriate steps when necessary, and probably write a short story, a cartoon, and a poem, just for fun. I'd want them to know enough grammar that they are not writing fragments or run-on sentences, and I'd want them to be punctuating and capitalizing appropriately most of the time.
I personally have assigned writing journals, and looking back on that experience, I don't think I would require it of my children ( major teacher guilt here). But I can think of a lot of journal-type activities that my son would love. The added bonus is that he'd be writing across the different disciplines too. Making little folded books seems to be really fun for younger kids. We did a chicken story last year, where ds described a little incident that happened to our chickens (since bird behavior was involved here, I count this as a science lesson too ). We're going to do a folded book weather journal this winter. I'm also going to have him help me write captions for our blog. Actually, writing captions for any pictures that document your activities is a pretty great way to keep a journal, and I bet most kids would really get into it. (I should add that for my 6yo, I would scribe most of his "writing" for him, and he would copy or trace a few select passages unless he was really into doing it all by himself).
Anyway, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I'll be very interested to see what other ideas come up here. Thanks for bringing up the topic!
[edited for typos...]
Edited by yllek - 11/21/10 at 5:31pm