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Creative Writing Made Easy: Ocean Adventures in Writing Review by Megan Russell

Jan May
New Millennium Girl Books
690 Laurel Drive
Aurora, IL 60506

Creative writing is something that I feel is very important for my children to learn, but it seems to get pushed to the back burner most of the time. That is why I was very excited to receive “Creative Writing Made Easy: Ocean Adventures in Writing” by Jan May. The cover sums up this book in one sentence, “Even the reluctant writer will dive in!”

I used this book with my nine-year-old daughter, Mercie. She has always loved to write stories, but her stories lack organization and structure. She eagerly began with “Ocean Adventures”, and as the cover says, she really dove in!

There are twelve chapters in this 88-page book, along with a cover template, ocean animal fact sheets, ocean report pages, and ocean border writing paper. The pages are black and white with large, readable font and black and white cartoon illustrations of ocean life. The book is very simple to use, with instructions that will fit a classroom or single student. There are lesson hand-outs that you can photocopy; we just wrote in the book since I had one student using it. There are activities for each lesson, but I felt that these worked best with a group of children. We skipped most of these, but there were a few she did. One of them was a matching game that she made with her favorite interjections and the other was a comic strip she made with her onomatopoeias.

In the beginning of this book, there are ideas for expanding this book into a unit study, like studying the Titanic or adding ocean snacks and crafts to the lessons. The author also includes “Five Tips to Help Your Child Succeed in Creative Writing”, which I found very helpful. It would be great to use with a co-op or homeschool group as a unit study, sneaking in the creative writing elements!

In the first lesson, Mercie created a character profile. She had fun reading the animal fact sheets in the back of the book, choosing an ocean animal, and researching that animal. She gave it a name and a personality. In the subsequent lessons, she created a setting, a plot, learned what onomatopoeias and interjections are, and wrote the beginning, middle, and end of her story.

Mercie’s story was about a leopard seal named Lily who entered a contest with her other sea friends. Lily and her friends ran into trouble and had a few accidents, but they wound up winning the contest!

I really think this book helped Mercie to organize her story better than she usually does. Since she wrote her character profile, setting and plot first, she got a good picture in her head of the main character. By writing the beginning, middle and end of her story separately, I feel like she could see the “big picture” of her story. She also included some onomatopoeias and interjections, along with plenty of adjectives, which made her story interesting to read.

I also liked the writing paper included in the back of the book. It’s always more fun to write on pretty paper, especially when you can color the fun ocean border!

I really liked how easy this book made creative writing for Mercie! There were plenty of examples and ideas for her to learn from. The writing is conversational and easy to read.

There are more titles in this series, including “Zany Zoo,” “Spies of the Revolutionary War,” and more. I look forward to using more of these books with Mercie, as she looked forward to completing her lesson each day!

“Ocean Adventures in Writing” is priced nicely at $14.95 for the e-Book and $16.95 for the print book. It is recommended for girls and boys ages 8-12.

-Product review by Megan Russell, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2017