Writing - Extra practice

Copywork, Cursive, Dictation, Grammar, Handwriting, Letter Writing, Memory Work, Narration, Read-Alouds, Spelling, Vocabulary, & Writing (many of these topics apply to other subjects such as Bible, History, and Science)
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Writing - Extra practice

Unread post by MJP »

Posted: Sun Mar 26, 2006 9:57 pm
Here is a simple, cheap way to add writing. We have journals. The children have to pick something interesting they have done or seen and write about it.

Then I will go back through it with them and ask simple questions like, "Can you show me how I could combine these two sentences? Can you add two descriptive words to this sentence to make it more exciting? Walk in not a very thrilling word, let's look it up in the thesaurus and pick something else."

When they are younger I sit beside them and help them as they go always asking questions. "You sat on a log. Was it thick or skinny? Smooth or rough? Why did you pick that log?" I also look the words up for them in the thesaurus at the beginning and let them choose an alternative word.

We have varied on how often we completed journals. This year we have chosen once a week, as there are so many fun topics to write about in MFW Creation to the Greeks. We have found these journals to be very fun to read back through over the years. It is my husband's favorite thing that we do besides morning devotions. You could always just pick one of the MFW subjects for the week, write about it, and add it to their history notebooks.

Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:42 pm
My seven year old keeps a journal. We just started. For example, he wrote: Elaine gave me four pieces of bubble gum for a quarter. It tasted like cotton candy.

In another couple of weeks when he is comfortable with two sentences, I will ask for three. I might ask a leading question, "What did it feel like when you bit down on it?" I remind him that sentences begin with a capital letter and end with an end mark if he forgets. We sound out any words he needs help with, and if he wants to use a word that is especially difficult, I would just write it on a piece of paper and hand it to him as copywork. My goal is to work up to a five, six or seven sentence paragraph as he is able. When he is better I will ask him to include another describing word, or I might ask him how he chewed the gum, looking for an adverb.

This is how I always work with my beginning writers. It definitely isn't a polished curriculum, but it works for us and makes a great keepsake. Remember, your eight-year-old is also getting writing practice with the notebook pages scheduled in MFW. For the eleven year old MFW would recommend Writing Strands.
Wife of 1 for 18 yrs. Mom of 7--ages 1-15--1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th and 9th grades & (one on the way)
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Is journaling useful for extra writing practice?

Unread post by Toni@homezcool4us »

NHMom wrote:I've been using MFWK and Adventures this year and have LOVED IT! The kids are learning so much. I can't wait to do MFW 1st and ECC.

My question is about having the kids keep a journal... like the ones kept at school where they write on an assigned topic every day. I've not ever done this with my kids, but my sister (who recently started homeschooling) mentioned to me that she had her daughter do that every day to help her with creative writing.

I've been pleased with the narrating and copy work we've done, but I figured I'd ask for some opinions on whether journaling really is a useful thing or not.

Thank you!
Writing practice is a good thing. If it's forced though (ie. having to write every day), there's that risk of squelching the joy.

We buy one of those cheap 69 cent black writing journals from the dollar store. My dd makes a cover out of construction paper and cutouts, etc. and we glue it on. Then, when we do decide to practice our writing, we have a neat place to put it.

A few times a week is working well (considering the other writing we already do with MFW). My dd likes horses. I might cut a picture out of a magazine, let her glue it at the top of a page and then ask, "What is that horse about to do? Write it down for me, please." She loves the subject and is motivated by the image in front of her. Win-win.

Another great way to encourage writing (the mechanics of it) would be to do an occasional lapbook. She could include a creative writing piece, but would also "own" the information she includes on a given subject. There is a good aricle at TheHomeschoolShop.
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Unread post by melinda »

With my oldest, we have a pretty small girlie notebook and once, maybe twice, a week I write about something we've done recently and end my entry with a question. She writes back her response and asks me a question. And back and forth we go. I don't edit her writing and correct her in any way--it's really just to get her thinking and exercising her writing skills. And to have record of her thoughts about 7-year-old life.

Another approach would be to use LetterOfTheWeek
for some journaling ideas.
Melinda & Co.
Girls (ages 8 and 7, 7 (ID twins))
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Unread post by Melissa5 »

Hi! MFW1 suggests journaling at the end of the year.

One year the boys and I journaled to each other. Kind of like writing a letter to each other. I love this! It's a great keepsake! My youngest boy was really into this and always had to find out what mom wrote in his journal first.

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Unread post by kellybell »

I agree that forced things do squelch the joy sometimes.

Anyway, I have my older two girls (grades 5 and 7) write each day. On Friday, it's a letter to someone. On the other four days, it's a paragraph. If we write a paragraph for another subject (Language Lessons or perhaps science), then I look it over and count that. Otherwise, I have a piece of paper with lots of writing ideas on our bulletin board.

Just an idea.
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Unread post by mout »

I have my kids journal frequently - at the beginning of the day
(usually as I try to get my makeup on/hair done :) ) On days we get
started late we skip it.

My son was very hesitant at first and balked (MFW 1st), because he didn't want to draw the picture to go with it (I get the notebooks from Lakeshore). So he just wrote - usually one sentence to start with.
If he really didn't want to do it I wouldn't make him that day. My girls
love doing theirs - they usually write about their day or some fun thing that is coming up or that they did and draw a picture. My son now LOVES it and has started drawing pictures on his own! We LOVE looking back
and reading thru them, and seeing their pictures, and so do they!
The grandparents love it too!

My suggestion is not to force it but provide it several times a week and see how it goes. As they get older, I will probably give them topics, but right now, I am happy with what they are doing.
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Unread post by blessedmom2 »

I bought each of my boys a notebook and each child and I write back and forth to each other. It is a lot of fun and does not seem like "school" to them at all. We write about all kinds of things...what we are going to do that day or week, what they are learning, I praise them in the journal when I see they are growing in character, etc. My 6 year old will draw pictures and write, and my 8 year old just writes. They get really excited on the mornings when I tell them that I wrote to them and they run and go see what Mommy wrote to them!
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Unread post by Julie in MN »

I had my high school daughter try journaling & I was not pleased with the resulting focus on herself. But maybe that was because she was in the midst of teenage angst?!

For my youngest son, I decided he would write about specific things (rather than just focus on himself). So every week I have him write/type about what he learned in co-op (which is a field trip one week & the classroom the next). It has been a good mechanism for helping him realize things he has learned, and helping to review them later.

This writing, along with MFW notebooking and Writing Strands and letter writing, has forged a very creative avenue for him. He has become so good at typing these up that he often creates a unique "style" for the week -- one week it might look like a newspaper article, and another a PowerPoint presentation.

HTH, Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
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Christina in MN
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Unread post by Christina in MN »


Well, this is about extra writing practice. I felt for my older two that we should be doing some extra writing. To make it fun I purchased a Hold That Thought History vol. 1 CD. We are doing RtR right now and this CD provides us with nice quality notebooking pages for writing about whatever event we are studying. Some are set up like newspaper articles, others are biographies of historical people, and others are events. They usually have beautiful black and white lithograph type pictures.

My girls (4th and 7th grade) have really enjoyed doing these and adding them to their notebooks. I plan on getting Vol 2 for next year when we start Explorations.

Have fun with your journey!

Christina, wife to Peter (1992) Mama to Rebecca (13), Sarah (9), Hannah (7), Noah (4), Jonah (2) and ?[/quote]

How much time to allow for child who loves to write?!

Unread post by cbollin »

Jenn in NC wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:14 am
Just curious, how long do you all let your kids spend on the writing lessons in Language Lessons?

My ds11 will spend well past the allotted 15 or 20 minutes for any given lesson if it has anything to do with writing. I originally allowed 15-20 min. in our schedule b/c that is what is given in the TM under the "How do I fit it all in?" section. And I have read over and over that a big part of making MFW work the way is it "supposed" to work has to do with using their time-efficient LA recommendations.

I know I should be glad that ds likes to write (and I am) -- but it takes days and days to get through one lesson this way. At this rate he will never finish the book by the end of 6th grade. Does this matter?

I should mention that we are both loving Language Lessons -- he has really blossomed with it. This time issue is our only problem. And maybe I am looking at it in the wrong way to call it a problem... ??

Should I limit his time? Or is this a situation where his creative bent should rule the day? Thoughts, anyone?

one opinion.... It's ok on those writing days to move Language Lessons to be the last subject and let him enjoy it as part of his afternoon time.

I do that with book basket for my oldest. She'll read all day if I let her and never do anything else. So I move basket time to a point in the day when she has the most time available.

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Unread post by Lucy »


I would add too that you can let him work on a writing assignment for several days, but also have him continue to do other non-writing assignments so that he does not get behind. If his lesson is a composition assignment one day,then the next day if he is still working on it still have him do another lesson from Language Lessons. I would give him a daily time limit during school hours on the writing and then give him so many days to complete it. Like Crystal said if he likes doing it he can finish later after his other work is completed.

Is he doing another writing program such as Writing Strands?

wife to Lee and mom to Twila 18 (girl) and Noel 16(boy). Happy MFW user since 2002.
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Unread post by MJ in IL »

I have two opinions/ideas here depending on what your goals are. Does he need more time in meeting the goals of that particular lesson in that LA time or does he need work in being concise?

I have one son in Language Lessons and he really wishes I would be fine with what he finishes in the LA time slot in our morning! However, I usually need a bit more information from him or have editing helps. I have designated a slot after lunch "table time" in which the kids can finish up any topics they didn't in the am (often writing or math) or work on an extra topic like a logic puzzle or 4H papers/planning.

I also have a dd who loves to write...and write...and rewrite. Although she has not done LL assignments, I did do a fun activity (the kids even thought so) after some of our Aesop's readings to help her in being more concise. I set the timer for 7-10 minutes and they had to summarize one of the fables from beginning to end. My goals were to have my 3rd grader write several pertinent sentences with capital letters and periods; for my 6th ds, to write a more complete paragraph; and for dd13 to be succinct! The first few times, she got a beautifully elaborate introduction written...she is now learning to write what she considers a very brief summary of the fable.

Writing creatively is a good skill, but being concise is another necessary skill. I get to work on both depending on the child I'm working with!

Another thought would be to have him put the topics/subjcts he enjoyed writing about into a journal of some type. During free time, he could elaborate on his choice.
dd14 enjoying AHL; ds12 & ds10 in RtR & dd5 working through K!
have done K (2X), 1 (2X), ECC, CtG, & 1850MT
Jenn in NC
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Unread post by Jenn in NC »

Thank you very much for all the great ideas, ladies! I knew I could count on you all to help me see things from a different angle.

Crystal, moving ILL to the last subject of the day is such a good idea. Then he is on his own time and he can choose how to spend it, and I don't have to pressure him to finish.

Lucy I don't know why it never occurred to me to just require him to go on with the other lessons while he is working on finishing up his writing! We already do that with the poetry memorization sections. Yes he is doing Writing Strands too. For some reason he doesn't enjoy that as much, and therefore doesn't linger over it. I think it has something to do with the fact that in WS he has stricter instructions to follow :) (which I personally think is probably good for him even though he enjoys it less)

MJ -- well, I guess that is exactly the question I am trying to answer. Does he need to learn to be concise? He does write well... but he writes a lot... maybe he needs a mix of sometimes being allowed to just go on and on if he wants to, and at other times perhaps I should require him to be able to say what he wants to say within a certain time limit. I really liked your ideas about individualizing the lesson for each of your kids.

Thank you for helping me think this through. :)
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Unread post by niki »

Posted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 9:24 am

We have a creative writing notebook. I do not grade or correct it :) It's their work "personal notebook" or journal if you will.

They either write something of their choice, or I'll give them a topic or a question. They love it, they write lots (and I must say I was shocked, because writing for other subjects is like pulling teeth).

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Unread post by mamanamadee »

Threelittleangels wrote:Does anyone have their children do this daily? We have not (yet) but I'm thinking this would be a good habit for dd8 to start. I can already hear her telling me "I don't know what to write about," so I thought I'd be prepared with some prompts. I googled journaling prompts, and there are many out there, but would like non-secular thoughts to give her. Any ideas?
I have my dd11 write a page a week in two different journals. The first is a sort of continuing dialogue where I ask her a question and she writes about a page in answer. For the second one, I made up a list of prompts and glued them in the front and back covers of a composition book. The prompts are just a bunch of random things that I made up, but if you would like to see them, feel free to email me. I'd be glad to share.

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Unread post by Mom2MnS »

Hi Christa :) Do you journal? I read a WONDERFUL idea they other day (but I don't remember where, so please forgive me for not providing a source)...

The mom and daughter sat down together and made a list of questions and topics together (and they continually add to it). When the child is to write, they choose a topic from the list and both write on that topic for the day. They share what they have written with each other sometimes, other times just enjoy that they are writing "together".

Another idea would be to actually use the same journal book. Have your dd write and then you add your thoughts - what a wonderful keepsake and a great way to know each other more and more :)
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Unread post by lyntley »

RJ's Momma wrote:I'm needing a little help with teaching/encouraging writing for my 4th grade dd.

She doesn't have a problem with copy work. She isn't having problems with the writing in Language Lessons, but the lessons are usually shorter. It is only when she has come up with things to write for herself, she doesn't like to write at all.

This is really the first year I've required much writing from her, and I don't know if I'm expecting too much from her now, if she is really having a problem, or if she is just being lazy about this. I guess I just want someone to say, it'll get better.
It'll get better...and then there are some that are just not writers.

Have you thought about just having her keep a journal? Not to correct it or anything but just to help her in getting words on paper in a non-stressful way. You can do a mom/daughter journal where she writes one day and puts in in your room then you write some and put it in her room. It can be a little or a lot. a poem a story, a message, or her thoughts...
Especially at her age it could turn into a real special mother/daughter time
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Unread post by Cyndi (AZ) »

rtlmom wrote:Do any of you encourage your children to keep a journal? I mean more creative writing (with or without topic suggestions) - not a diary type journal. If so, how often? Is it structured, or whenever he wants to do it?
My dd is *very* into journaling. For sanity's sake, she uses spiral bound notepads and a black pen. When one is full, she starts the next one. She rarely even leaves home without it. It's just things she makes up; stories, poems, ideas for a play, character's costumes, etc. She works on it at her own schedule, but she willingly writes everyday. Buying a stack of 20 notebooks at the beginning of the year when they were $0.20 apiece was awesome! It really is a comfort to her to know that there's notebooks available for her to use whenever she wants.
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Re: Journaling

Unread post by jasntas »

Last year I purchased inexpensive journals for both my dc. My ds really, really dislikes writing so I thought it might be good for him. I don't require my dc to write in them and they only occasionally use them. I usually suggest to my dc to use them after we have gone on trips or done something fun. They both have small mementos in them such as post cards, used tickets, etc. Then they will write (with help and encouragement from mom) a little about their experience. They enjoy doing this after something fun. Maybe one day they will pick it up and want to write in it on their own. They do enjoy looking through them and remembering. Anyway, that's what we do. HTH
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Re: Journaling

Unread post by NCJessieRN »

I had a different opinion on this topic until I heard Susan Wise Bauer's talk on writing in the Elementary years. She explained that writing is a complicated skill and creative writing is something a child either has a gift for or doesn't. She elaborated on the topic but that is the summary of it. I'm not sure everyone's position on SWB and writing but what she said made complete sense to me. I would say if a child likes to write, then I would encourage journaling but I would not force it upon one who does not.
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After Writing Strands 4?

Unread post by 1974girl »

Jamie wrote:My 11 yo son is just about ready to finish up Writing Strands 4. I feel like we've been diligent with it this year, but I'm hoping that we're where we need to be with the actual writing. Writing isn't a huge love of mine, but I know that it is so important...

Any ideas out there on how to encourage a love for good, creative writing when it isn't a natural gifting of my own?
I bought "If Your Trying to Teach Kids How to Write...You've gotta Have This Book!" By Marjorie Frank. (Yes-that is the whole long title) It is chocked full of fun stuff! It tells how to romance the writer. Once example (out of hundreds) is have your child go outside and roll in the grass, smell the flowers, look at the trees, and then come back to write about Spring. Or...wear green all day long and write a poem about green. (She gave examples from teens that were great!) It isn't as much about mechanics as it is writing for the LOVE of writing.

I also use Writing Strands...but I still use this book, too. Oh, and it has a good section about evaluation writing. I bet Ebay has them used.
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dd finished Writing Strands...

Unread post by MelissaB »

Joyhomeschool wrote:She's just kept going. She really like WS. Also, I've not been very thorough with her in teaching WS. Just let her so it on her own. So had I been more involved I could have slowed her pace a bit. Life, babies, ect got on the way of that. Lol. She's done well despite me. :-D
This year, we asked our daughter to write one paragraph on Fridays a/b the history learned that week.

We've checked the papers for grammar & spelling (misspelled words were placed on her Spelling Power list. ;) ). She's corrected the errors, and put both copies in her notebook. By mid-year, she voluntarily was writing 2-page papers. The smoothness of her writing and the grammar have improved tremendously.

We're going to do that next year, during 1850-Mod as well.

Melissa B. (Arkansas)
Girls ages 16 & 13
Completed K, 1st, and Investigate {ECC; CTG; RTR; Expl.-1850; and 1850-Mod. Times}
"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,.." Titus 2:4
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