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Time Travel: Writing Historical Fiction Review by Amanda Hopkins and Lisa McClanahan

Creative Writing For Children
An 8 DVD Course
Susan Evans

Have you ever studied something in history and thought how it would be fun to take this over to your language arts lessons and complete two things at once? We have joined in with Susan Evans in a fun writing journey that takes our learning of history into a fun new level.

Time Travel: Writing Historical Fiction can be used in one of two ways. You can use this as an 8-week unit study, or you can take it up a step and use it for a full year finishing up the year with a novel written by your child. This video course is great for ages 6-18. We used it in our house with an 8-year-old and a 16-year-old. They both worked at their own levels set by me, but worked on the same videos together.

This program covers 7 different time periods including Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Middle Ages, Vikings, Piligrims and Revolutionary War. The final disc in the set is the Grand Finale Day.

We decided to use this program as the full year and end up with a novel at the end of the year. This fit in perfect with our history curriculum and we could space the writing out to go along with the schedule of that.

After the first video, we fell in love with this style of creative writing. Susan is fully dressed in time period appropriate clothing in each video and we watch in as she is discussing the lesson with a small group of children. They talk about the time, what we might see, or place we might go. Susan writes down topics and ideas on a small posterboard and we are able to use these as starting points and helpers as we work on our writing.

Susan is so full of energy while working on the presentation of each time period, it is just what my boys needed to help get them interested in writing. We would watch the video, talk about what they were going to do and get some ideas written down. We would than work on researching the time period and learning about in with our current history curriculum. Each Time period is turning out to be a chapter in our ever growing novel.

The nice thing about this creative writing program is that it is adaptable for many ages and many styles of using it. We saw how simple it was to be able to use it with an 8-year-old and a 16-year-old and all I had to do was to change my expectations of what they had to do. I set word requirements for each of the boys since we would be working on typing each chapter before moving on to the next.

Susan also includes a nice section for the parents with tips and ideas to help us make the most of this program. I loved that she would give grading and critique tips for us to help our young ones grow as writers even better.

Overall, we enjoyed this program. We had no issues, other than it wouldn’t work in my computer, but no issues in the DVD player. This worked better as we had more room, bigger screen and could turn it up louder. We would come back and use the idea and topics screen each time we needed it, but after the first two or three days, the boys knew what they were writing about and just worked on building it all together.

The boys have been learning a lot about the process of writing a story. I love that we are working on their creative writing skills while we study these same topics in our history class. There are some fun ways to teach some of these writing skills and working on traveling through time in a time machine is definitely one of them!

—Product review by Amanda Hopkins, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December, 2016

Another Reviewer’s Perspective:

One of my daughters loves to write. She is always writing in her journal, working on a short story, or creating characters for a future story. I want to help her develop her writing to the best of her abilities by providing for her curriculum that will push her to do better and for the past couple of months she has been using Time Travel: Writing Historical Fiction.

Susan Evans teaches creative writing for children in the 8-DVD course Time Travel: Writing Historical Fiction. It can be completed in eight weeks or can be used as a full year curriculum for students ages 6-18. She takes students back in time to help them become better writers and explains how to make their writing stronger. Susan dresses up and uses time period scenery to bring all seven time periods to life while she teaches the course to a group of students. On seven of the DVDs she transports us to Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Middle Ages, Vikings, Pilgrims, and the Revolutionary War. The eighth disc covers the Grand Finale Day where the students in her class read their finished papers. Once the stories are completed they can be bound to have their own book of time travel.

Before traveling back in time with one of the discs Susan recommends that the students be a little familiar with that time period. If you are unfamiliar with it the student should do some research before beginning to make their historical fiction as realistic as possible. Each time period class starts with an introduction. Susan talks to the class about the time period and the students have time to discuss things they also know. Next Susan walks around the classroom and answers any questions the students may have. After watching both of those segments on the DVD it is time for the viewer to write their own paper. This is a rough draft and students are encouraged to just write and not worry about spelling and punctuation. Next there is a Revision section where Susan sits down and reads the students stories and points out the strengths and weakness of each one. On the first three discs there are pictures of Egypt, Greece, and Rome because Susan has been there and she wanted to share her photos to help students feel they are there.

My fourteen year old daughter, Delaney, has been using this DVD course. She is my child that loves creative writing. She hasn't written a lot of historical fiction, so I thought this would be a great course for her. She loves how this is set up, it is very easy for her to use by herself and she has gotten some great pointers from watching Susan revise the stories. She did feel like she was being talked down to. The group of children that Susan is teaching are younger and Delaney feels she would get more from the course if there were older students included. She feels their writing mistakes would be more like hers than the younger students.

This course would be great for any homeschool family especially with multiple grade levels. It is very adaptable on how little or much time you spend on it and students can write as little or as much as they want for each time period.

-Product review by Lisa McClanahan, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December, 2016