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The Five Finger Paragraph Review by Christine Hindle and Tina Rice

Johnnie W. Lewis
Fax 770-973-4128
1860 Sandy Plains Road
Suite 204, PMB #150
Marietta, GA 30066

The Five Finger Paragraph
The Five Finger Essay
The Writing Police and The Case of The Missing Commas
The Writing Police and The Point of the Perplexing Periods

The Five Finger Paragraph and The Five Finger Essay provide a kinesthetic method for learning how to write a good paragraph and a good essay. The author states in the introduction that “no attempt is made here to teach anything but the basic structure of paragraphs and essays.” This may sound simple, but the author points out that it is not, as evidenced by the struggle many people have with this task. In this method, each finger on the hand is a sentence in the paragraph or a paragraph in the essay. The first finger is the topic sentence, which tells what you are writing about. The three fingers in the middle represent sentences that describe the topic, the “say it” portion. The last finger summarizes what you have said. The lessons teach listing, grouping, patterning, and construction of the paragraph. The fingers on the hand provide a visual reminder of the elements needed in a paragraph or essay. Ms. Lewis uses cartoon characters to further illustrate and provide examples.

This resource can be used for grades K-12. The instructions tell where to start in the material depending on the grade level of your student, but it is also recommended that you review the basics if you are starting later on in your child’s school career.

Both the hard-copy and the e-book versions of The Five Finger Paragraph and The Five Finger Essay contain a Parent Edition, a Student Edition, and Wall Charts. Bonus items include bookmarks and quick guide cards The hard-copy kit I received had 1 spiral-bound Parent’s Edition, 1 spiral-bound Student’s Edition (additional copies can be purchased), 1 Five Finger Paragraph Format Wall Chart (laminated), 1 Five Finger Essay Format Wall Chart (laminated), 1 Grading Checklist for Paragraphs (laminated), 1 Grading Checklist for Essays (laminated), 1 fine-tip dry erase marker, 2 bookmarks, and 2 quick guide cards.

Some additional resources you can purchase are The Case of the Missing Commas and The Point of the Perplexing Periods. These little spiral-bound books are fun illustrated stories that show in an amusing way what our writing would be like without periods and/or commas.

This course has been wonderful for my granddaughter. She was struggling with writing book reports and essays. This provided a tool for her that simplified the process tremendously. I’m very pleased with this product and would recommend it to all homeschool parents. The process of writing is essential to a good education and will be a major part of many future careers. Therefore, it cannot be taken lightly as we formulate education plans for our students. The additional resources were also very helpful and a good supplement for the lessons.

Product review by Christine Hindle, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2009

Another review:

The Five Finger Paragraph© (5 Finger) Homeschool Kit contains: 1 Parents' Edition, 1 Student Edition, 2 Quick Guide Cards™, 2 Bookmarkers, 5 Wall Charts, and 1 Dry Erase marker. Parents' edition (8 1/2 x 11) contains the student edition on every page, as well as teaching aids and helpful hints. Student editions are 5 x 8 inches. Both editions are coil-bound. Purchase of the Home School Kit prepares you to teach The Five Finger Paragraph and Essay without any additional items needed.

5 Finger books are designed to introduction to the Five Finger Paragraph© Methods for kindergarten through twelfth grade students. The 5 Finger method is basically a simple paragraph and essay structure using the hand as a memory device for paragraph and essay construction. The materials introduce paragraphs and give clear instructions for two methods of essay writing. The 5 Finger method can be used as remedial instruction material for students who function below grade level. 5 Finger is also useful in helping students prepare for the PSAT/SAT/ACT exams. 5 Finger was written for public school students, but has been revised for use in a homeschool program. With the exception of unschoolers, all types of educators can benefit from this program.

I have to admit, that at first glance 5 Finger looks simplistic. My 16 year old totally balked at having to read the student book and do the exercises. Despite her resistance, I continued and am so glad that I did! After a week, I saw a definite improvement in her paragraph writing. We used 5 Finger as preparation for taking an essay test and she did great. The program information suggests 5 Finger as PSAT/SAT preparation, and I can second this recommendation. My fourth grader enjoyed the program. She found the drawings to be funny and this encouraged her to move through the writing process.

5 Finger is a non consumable curriculum that a family can use over and over. I think that the ideal age to start would be 2nd grade, once the mechanics of writing are easy for a child. Use before 2nd grade will require a "secretary" for most students. I plan to use 5 Finger next year with my children at the beginning of the school year as a review before we start in on their regular writing program. If you are looking for a creative way to teach paragraph and essay writing that is easy to use and remember, check out The Five Finger Paragraph©.

Product Review by: Tina Rice, Contributing Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2005