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WriteShop Primary Book A / Activity Pages Book A Review by Angelina Stanford McBride

Nancy I. Sanders
(909) 989-5576
5753 Klusman Avenue
Alta Loma, CA 91737

The very idea of teaching writing strikes fear in the hearts of many homeschoolers. How do I teach it? When do I teach it? How do I know if my child is writing well enough? These are the concerns that plague conscientious home teachers. Enter WriteShop Primary, a new gentle beginning writing program from the makers of WriteShop: An Incremental Approach to Writing.

The WriteShop Primary series teaches beginning writing through picture books, crafts, and activities. Ultimately the series will include three books for grades K-3. Currently only Book A is available. You will need both the scripted Teacher's Guide and the corresponding set of reproducible Activity Pages--available as worksheets or as an e-book. For a few dollars less, a digital version of the Teacher's Guide is available as well.

Book A assumes no previous reading or writing experience and is appropriate for pre-writers as well as beginning and developing writers. The makers of the program recommend kindergarteners, first graders, and second graders with no prior writing experience all start in Book A. A student in kindergarten or first grade would complete one lesson every three weeks, working three days a week. Older children will go through the program more quickly. Several alternate schedules are provided in the teacher text.

According to the Scope and Sequence provided on the website, children will:

• Be introduced to the writing process.
• Generate ideas for a story.
• Experience planning a story before writing it.
• Gather simple information about a topic.
• Use a story web to organize information.
• Identify beginning, middle, and end.
• Choose an appropriate title.
• Think of simple ways to improve a story.
• Publish stories through projects or crafts.

Other Key Writing Concepts

• Completing predictable sentence starters.
• Dictating a story.
• Using simple graphic organizers.
• Reading and writing color words.
• Recognizing words that rhyme.
• Identifying and using punctuation marks at the end of a sentence.
• Beginning a sentence with a capital letter.

Following is the breakdown of a typical three-week lesson:

Week One:

Day One: Guided Writing Practice. The teacher uses prompts to encourage the child to suggest simple sentences that are then written together by student and teacher on chart paper.

Day Two: More Guided Writing Practice. The teacher reads a picture book to the child.

Day Three: Guided Writing Practice and brainstorming ideas.

Week Two:

Day One: Guided Writing Practice. Begin the Writing Project, which is the central focus on each lesson. The child applies his newly learned skills by writing sentences and then stories. Beginning writers may dictate their sentences. The Writing Project also includes suggestions for adapting the project for younger students (Smaller Steps) and for more advanced students (Flying Higher).

Day Two: Guided Writing Practice and Editing and Revising.

Day Three: Guided Writing Practice and complete a worksheet that ties together and reinforces the skills taught in the lesson.

Week Three:

Day One: Guided Writing Practice and Publishing the Project, which involves making some craft in which to display the Writing Project.

The pre-writing activities are the primary focus of Book A and do require some advanced preparation and gathering of craft materials.

On the whole, WriteShop Primary lives up to its promise to be a fun and gentle introduction to writing. Charlotte Mason and Classical homeschoolers who teach writing in the early grades through the use of copywork and high quality literature will find nothing fundamentally different here. But WriteShop Primary will be an especially good fit for hands-on learners and teachers who love crafts.

Product review by Angelina McBride, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February, 2009