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Growing Writers, Level 1 Review by Amanda Hopkins and Lisa Tanner

Writing Curriculum for K – 2
Sally Bergquist

Writing is an important skill to have. Not only the complete sentences and paragraphs, but the simple letters and making sure our written word is able to be understood. This is something I learned with my older boys. They write, but sometimes I don’t know the difference between an“h” and an“n.” This causes problems, and this is something I want to fix.

Sally Bergquist had taken writing to a new level with Growing Writers. This writing program is more than I have ever seen before, and it is one that actually works! This is not your common, written for a classroom full of kids on a short amount of time curriculum. This is written to help kids succeed in writing curriculum that not only works for our homeschool, but one that can work for any classroom out there.

We had the chance to check out Level One of Growing Writers. This is geared towards first grade, or remedial second grade. There are seven workbooks in this level; each one building off the last.

The first workbook focuses on the start of writing letters, pencil grip, and drawing. Yes, drawing. This is a great addition to each lesson! Not only are we working on our letters, and making them perfect, but we are getting creative with drawing at the same time! From here we build. We work on spacing, and word sounds. We start thinking about writing ideas and even more drawing.

Not only is this a writing program, but we also get to learn about grammar as well! We learn how to make our sentences longer and stay on topic. Not only are we working on our child’s handwriting skills, but their overall writing.

Each lesson is laid out perfectly in the Teacher’s Guide. We are told what to say to our students, whether that is one, five or more. The lessons are all written out so we know what we need to have on hand, what we plan to teach that day and how to help our student(s) as they work through the lesson. This is an open and go curriculum. You can plan ahead, but you don’t have to. You can open the Teacher’s Guide in the morning and teach that lesson that day without a problem.

One tip that I hold on to from Sally is that if the handwriting is not at their best, use the eraser and make them do it again. This is something that I use for the older boys as they learn cursive. I love that I am able to take tips from this and use if for all my kids.

Level One of Growing Writers focuses on the letters and how to write them, we progress from writing the simple letters to space between words and writing sentences. While we have fun with some drawing at the beginning of the curriculum we do some drawing, we slowly transition into more writing and less drawing. We learn about nouns, verbs, conjunctions and pronouns to help with our writing skills. Adding punctuation, writing letters and starting to add prepositional phrases finishes up our Level One learning.

My daughter is having a blast with this curriculum. When she used to fight me to work on writing skills, now she has no problem jumping right in and getting going. She has fallen in love with writing and spending time working on it. These lessons are not too overbearing, rather they are fun and interesting, yet simple. The simple part is what we love the most.

If you have a struggling writer, one who is fighting to learn the simple steps of writing their letters and sentences, you should check out Growing Writers. This is a curriculum that will get even the most reluctant writer to enjoy writing!

—Product review by Amanda Hopkins, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2017

Another Reviewer Perspective:

Growing Writers, Level 1
Writing Curriculum for K-2
Sally Bergquist

Building a solid foundation in writing is essential. Growing Writers, Level 1 has been helping my five-year-old do just that. This curriculum consists of a teacher’s guide, and seven workbooks. Printed on legal size paper, you can copy the workbooks for use with other students. I recommend stapling the workbooks once you’re done copying them, because otherwise the papers tend to fall out and get lost.

The teacher guide is an essential part. It includes the directions for each of the 101 lessons, and other suggestions for teaching. There are extension ideas for more capable students. In the teacher’s manual, you’ll also find a reproducible section of word and picture cards at the back. The complete Level 1 set with the teacher’s guide and workbooks is $95. You can buy another set of workbooks for $20 if you don’t want to copy them.

Written with a classroom setting in mind, the teacher’s manual has many tips about managing more than one student. However, the author has some notes available for adapting this curriculum for the homeschool setting, and you can just skip over the parts that you don’t need.

Each lesson has two pages of activity, a conventions page, and a creative page. The conventions pages focus on handwriting first, helping students gain confidence in their writing ability. Then it moves into writing words, identifying parts of speech, using punctuation, and mastering parts of grammar and writing.

The creative part helps the student learn to see herself as a writer. It helps to eliminate the feeling that writing is boring. It starts slowly, asking students to draw a response to a prompt, and write a simple word or caption. You can scribe this part until your child develops the confidence and skills. Sometimes they’re asked to draw a step-by-step drawing, so I had my student use a book we already had on hand. You can also find sample step-by-step guides online.

As you move through each workbook, the creative piece becomes a bit more challenging. Your student will gain writing stamina with this curriculum. It covers all the main elements of writing and language. For instance, students are asked to write an opinion, write a fact about a nonfiction topic, and write super sentences.

Working through this program took about fifteen minutes each day, a little more if my child became especially detailed in the creative piece. By having her stop and redo letters she formed incorrectly, she learned it was better to do work correctly the first time around. Her handwriting has improved since beginning to use Growing Writers Level 1, and she is more willing to write.

I appreciate how the two components of this curriculum work together. Students learn the essential components of writing, and are also encouraged to use their knowledge creatively. Designed for grades K-2, I believe it’s an age-appropriate curriculum. It’d be a good choice for a remedial second grader, an advanced kindergartener, or a first grader working at grade level. I will be continuing to work through this material with my child, and look forward to using it with my younger children in the future. Growing good writers is important, and this curriculum is designed to do just that!

-Product review by Lisa Tanner, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2017