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writing?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Out of all subjects we informally study (6 and 8 yr old dd's) guiding them in writing is the one subject I am really struggling with. We went to a fantastic educational supply store the other day. They had shelves of writing work books and games. Most I thumbed trough looked valuable and semi interesting. Unfortunately most of the workbooks were over $20 and a one time use thing. I was overwhelmed with the choices and ended up not buying anything. What I think I need is  " how to" info on writing essays, creative writing, reports etc. I feel that my dc can come up with topics just fine. Its the format, style, structure of writing that I'm not sure about. Any suggestions?

post #2 of 14
6 and 8 seem too young to worry about essays and the like. At that age, I didn't do much writing in school. I didn't have my son do any at that age, either. Around 9 you should start practicing summarizing practice. More formal writing can wait.
post #3 of 14

First, assess what their physical writing skills are.  Writing down, or even typing, a story or an essay can be frustratingly difficult if you struggle with putting words down in the first place.  

 

Consider storytelling, show-and-tell type activities for this age group.  Show-and-tell at schools fell by the wayside (because of the potential for hard feelings?) but I feel it is incredibly valuable.

 

Listen to them talk about their discoveries to you.  They are creating an impromptu essay for you.  Can they repeat that when the working parent comes home for the night?

 

I give this advice not out of experience getting kids past that hump, but by noticing how entirely separate the skills of writing and creating can be at this young age (my girls are 7.5 and nearly-6).  They create their own songs, talk about their discoveries (recently their collection of woolly bear caterpillars), tell us about their day when dh or I come home from work, or back from errands.  They are "writing" creatively and giving scientific synopses, they are just not putting them to screen or paper.

 

So, I encourage the words-to-paper separately.  For now.  Sorry for not having the advice closer to what you are looking for.

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

First, assess what their physical writing skills are.  Writing down, or even typing, a story or an essay can be frustratingly difficult if you struggle with putting words down in the first place.  

 

Consider storytelling, show-and-tell type activities for this age group.  Show-and-tell at schools fell by the wayside (because of the potential for hard feelings?) but I feel it is incredibly valuable.

 

Listen to them talk about their discoveries to you.  They are creating an impromptu essay for you.  Can they repeat that when the working parent comes home for the night?

 

I give this advice not out of experience getting kids past that hump, but by noticing how entirely separate the skills of writing and creating can be at this young age (my girls are 7.5 and nearly-6).  They create their own songs, talk about their discoveries (recently their collection of woolly bear caterpillars), tell us about their day when dh or I come home from work, or back from errands.  They are "writing" creatively and giving scientific synopses, they are just not putting them to screen or paper.

 

So, I encourage the words-to-paper separately.  For now.  Sorry for not having the advice closer to what you are looking for.

That all makes sense. They do love to talk and tell. But I can talk and tell as well, but even though I trudged though my college english classes OK, I still feel very unskilled at being able to WRITE down, well anything other than grocery lists. So where as for most subjects I feel OK with not having a set curriculum, writing is a subject I as their guide need to have some back up help. Not that I will make them sit down at age 8 and write an essay or report, I just need to educate myself on writing skill children should know.

post #5 of 14
Then buy yourself a workbook, so that, when the time is right, you will have more confidence.
post #6 of 14

I know I loved--and my girls love-- when I can write down what they are saying, and it still becomes harder, slowing themselves down word for word without losing the whole idea.  I think that is a hump many of us don't get over and can thwart our efforts to put our thoughts on paper, organized and succinct.

 

In school, I did fine with my writing but I didn't like working with the system in the way they wanted me to, and so my final work was graded well, but my notes and outlines were graded poorly because they were either very basic or practically a first draft.  It was a really disorganized "system" by comparison and was thrilled when, in college, they stopped caring *how* I got there and simply wanted the finished work.  

 

Hm.  I guess I'm just rambling and thinking out loud.  I really don't have any curriculum suggestions or other helpful teaching ideas, so I'll probably just quit now.

 

I'm also thinking about what would be an appropriate intermediary between the oral and the written for kids, since mine are just that age, that would really help the whole process along.  Hope I don't come off as preachy......

post #7 of 14
One option is to let them record their thoughts, and write leisurely later.
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeteaa View Post

Out of all subjects we informally study (6 and 8 yr old dd's) guiding them in writing is the one subject I am really struggling with. We went to a fantastic educational supply store the other day. They had shelves of writing work books and games. Most I thumbed trough looked valuable and semi interesting. Unfortunately most of the workbooks were over $20 and a one time use thing. I was overwhelmed with the choices and ended up not buying anything. What I think I need is  " how to" info on writing essays, creative writing, reports etc. I feel that my dc can come up with topics just fine. Its the format, style, structure of writing that I'm not sure about. Any suggestions?

 

DD is 7.5. For creative writing, I just googled "short story structure" and similar terms, then made up my own general outline, which looks like this:

 

1. Tell us about the the main character.

2. The main character has a problem. Tell us about the main character's problem.

3. Now the main character's problem gets WORSE! Tell us how it gets worse.

4. How does the main character solve the problem?

5. Now make a title for your story.

 

I record the answers to each step. Together we revise each part until it's succinct and tight, sounds good, flows well (that's mostly me. I'll give suggestions that take her loose floppy all-over-the place descriptions and turn it into something grammatically correct and pleasing, and she chooses the sentence she likes. As she gets older she'll be able to revise more and more on her own). One thing about short story structure that I'm trying to emphasize is that the main character has to do something that resolves the problem... it can't just be "and then a magic fairy waved her wand and made everything all right" which does not make for a satisfying story.

 

After I've got the story jotted down for her, she transcribes the sentences and draws the pictures to illustrate. Sometimes I use this free handwriting program: http://www.handwritingworksheets.com/flash/printdots/index.htm because DD really dislikes the physical act of putting words to paper. If you use this site, which is really pretty cool, be careful that you're clicking the actual handwriting part and not the google ads, which are bolder and more pronounced than the handwriting application itself, which is towards the bottom. 

 

P.S. did you go to L.S. on Prince? I could spend a million dollars in that store...

post #9 of 14

At that age, I would focus more on sentence structure and then a paragraph or two.  (If you get formal at all.)  Teach them to start each sentence with a capital letter and use an appropriate endmark.  If they are beyond that, make sure that each sentence has a noun AND a verb.  Then, have them draw a picture or give them a prompt and let them write sentences about it.  It doesn't need to be a "paragraph" yet, but this way they will get used to writing more than one sentence about the same topic/idea.  Ask them to expand their thoughts.  If you prompt is "favorite family activity" and your child writes "I like to go to the park with my family."  Encourage them to tell why.  Eventually, this will transistion easily into a paragraph.  At some point in my children's writing, their paragraphs became to lengthy and started covering more than one paragraph should.  At that point, we started learning about "essays".  We first just focused on body paragraphs.  Then, together we would do a intro and conclusion.  

 

If you want a basic workbook, the spectrum writing workbook isn't half bad and it isn't too pricy.  We liked that it went through different types of writing. . . friendly letter, how-to, informational, persuassive, etc.  It also introduced a graphic organizer or two.  We never stuck strictly to the workbook.  Often, I used it as a way to give me another idea or smaller concept to cover vs jumping into a five paragraph essay.  I could easily see someone buying one workbook and using for several kids--use it more as a teacher's guide.  

 

Letters, journals, and little stories are the best (imo) for that age.  

 

Amy 

post #10 of 14

I reviewed Create Better Writers a while back, and we really liked it.  You can read my review here if you want.  It taught my kids a lot, because I sure didn't!!  I packed it away, but we're looking forward to pulling it back out when we get moved and settled, and going back through it.  It taught them tips for writing good paragraphs, and goes all the way through the 5 paragraph essay.  Really super easy to teach, too.  I hate teaching writing.  Hate it, hate it, hate it.  With a passion.  We even put my oldest in an online course so that she actually learns something ('cause I really don't want to teach it, so I probably won't!).  The online course is more for content than mechanics, though.  For mechanics, we really liked Create Better Writers. 
 

post #11 of 14

Excellence in Writing is a wonderful curriculum that teaches writing.  There are parent cd's and student cd's.  I found the parent cd's very helpful for me, and my kids enjoyed the student cd's.

 

My 10 year old ds is using Essentials in Writing this year.  So far it is going well.  

 

I think both of these are worth considering.

post #12 of 14

a couple of things we've used along the way and liked.

 

games for writing by peggy kaye. it's about $4 used.

 

how to write a simple paragraph (her other articles are great too for the essay and research papers...but those are for when your kids are older). my kids do not have special needs, but i love the way she teaches this. so simple!

 

currently, i'm using comprehensive composition and we are just writing across the curriculum (it was a couple of bucks from amazon). my daughter is 11, so i expect more from her than my son (he's 8 1/2).  anyway. these are all things we have used and liked. hope it helps.

post #13 of 14

Whoops. Didn't read yer whole post! My 2 cents were completely invalid ;)

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by momtokea View Post

Excellence in Writing is a wonderful curriculum that teaches writing.  There are parent cd's and student cd's.  I found the parent cd's very helpful for me, and my kids enjoyed the student cd's.

 

yeahthat.gif  IEW is the first program I found that I can actually tolerate for my 8yo (would be 3rd grade this year).  We just started using it this summer and I really like it.  Prior to this, we didn't do much in the way of Language Arts or writing.  For one, my son's physical handwriting is below age level and we needed to work on that.  For another, I felt like the programs generally introduce stuff at an age when the kids don't generally grasp it.  IEW starts with reading, learning to keyword, and then building stories from those keyword outlines and it incorporates public speaking.  Love all of that.

 

We use Handwriting Without Tears for physical handwriting.

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