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Writing Tales Review by Tamara Dumont

Amy Hastings Olsen
52 Lincoln Ave.
Livingston, NJ 07039

Writing Tales Level 1 is a complete Language Arts program that includes reading aloud, copywork exercises, spelling, vocabulary, dictionary skills, grammar, and creative writing. This level is geared toward the third and fourth grader, and the author promises Level 2 soon.

The program consists of the teacher's manual and a consumable student text. In the teacher's manual, you will see two sets of lesson plans and a complete student text with the answers filled in. One set of lesson plans is for the home school environment, and the other is for a co-op situation. Both sets of lesson plans are thorough and well planned out.

Students will learn the requirements of a sentence, the different types of sentences, and rules of capitalization. They will work through punctuation, the parts of a sentence, nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. All of these topics are intertwined with writing projects using Aesop's Fables and other stories as patterns for the child to write from.

With a "day one . . . day two" format, lessons get quickly to the meat, and a cursory glance of the teacher's manual allows the teacher to know what will be covered and what materials are needed. Each story that is read is used for two weeks as the student perfects and embellishes his own writing. All the while, the student is also working on short concise grammar lessons.

The price of this program is $24.95 for the teacher's manual and $19.95 for the student workbook. As mentioned, the student workbook is consumable and will need to be purchased for every child, but the extra activities included in the teacher’s manual are reproducible for families. The Teacher’s manual will not need to be replaced with each child.

Classical educators would appreciate this program, which is based on the first level of the ancient Greek writing exercises, the progymnasmata. This program would lend itself to Unit Studies based on Aesop's Fables. The Charlotte Mason-style teacher would equally appreciate it because it quickly and effectively gets to the point without any "twaddle." We found the program helpful and to the point.

Product review by Tamara Dumont, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2007