DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this program in exchange for an honest review.
*** Edited to correct factual data concerning number of units and time to cover. Next time I will triple check instead of going off what I THOUGHT I remembered :). ***
I am a writer. Obviously. I have a blog right? But I have been a writer since I can remember. While fiction is NOT my thing, I’ve always excelled at research papers, essays and such. How can you teach what is as natural to you as breathing? As a business owner & writer, I wanted to teach my children to write early. Luckily, the opportunity to review WriteShop came up through the review crew.
WriteShop Primary B
I was thrilled to receive WriteShop Primary B. In order to facilitate the review, I received a digital copy of the WriteShop Primary: Book B Set which consists of the teacher’s guide and the Student Activity Set Worksheet Pack. The WriteShop Primary series consists of 3 levels aimed at grades K-3. Each lesson consists of 8 activities that go through the building blocks of the writing process–brainstorming, pre-writing, editing, revising, publishing and more.
The teacher’s manual explains how to teach and why the activities were chosen–in other subjects, it looks an awful lot like “busy work.” In addition, it also provides 1, 2, and 3 week plans for each activity and there are 6 projects per book. The teachers manual is $35.95 ($29.50 for digital) and the student activity pack is $5.95 ($4.50 for the digital) at the time of review. WriteShop Primary B in particular is intended for 1st-2nd grade or reluctant 3rd graders.
Likes and Dislikes
As far as the teaching goes, the teacher’s manual is really well done. I read through the beginning of the manual before starting the program. I’m really glad I read it thoroughly because I would have eliminated a bunch of practice to “save time.” I liked that it explained the how and why for each activity, gave tips & tricks from other parents and even examples of conversations you might have with the child.
This is not a no-prep course but I don’t know how you could teach writing without, you know, teaching. There is some prep. Each unit/project has a story/book element. In addition, level B required a child’s dictionary and thesaurus. You also had to prepare a few items that if you did Level A, you had already started. Or not :). One was a flower word family thing and instead of spending a ton of time cutting & gluing a bunch of flower petals, we drew them in a book instead. My little artist decorated the pages. Ditto for the star brainstorming.
When we looked at the WriteShop placement information, I decided to put her in Level B. Lil’ Bit is 6-1/2 but going into 2nd grade in the fall. The level A activities seemed a little…young.
When we requested the book, I anticipated that we would do a new project every two weeks. We did not. We followed the 3 week plan on school days (which is only 3-4 days a week). We spent about 15-20 minutes a day at that pace. Going through the material at 3 weeks per project would give you about a one year class, BTW. Two weeks would put you at about a semester.
Our first lesson was letter writing. I really like that they give alternatives for physically writing; they were necessary adjustments for us. The large pads and markers were a hit (though she was mad about “doing school in the hot sun.”). She easily got the projects and loved composing the letters. For the publishing piece, the student was to write & mail a letter. I ran across a post about writing letters to Disney characters and getting a post card from them back. Lil’ Bit wrote to Tinkerbell and we are still waiting for the postcard :). She was so excited about writing letters that as I was writing thank you notes for her brothers birthday, I told her she needed to write hers (from January. Oops.). She was so excited she wrote all but 2 in one afternoon! Major change for my little one who hates the physical act of writing.
The next lesson was composing a space story and we had a blast with that one, too. She loves space and our favorite activity was the stars where you outlined a story. She had such great ideas for those once she got rolling. She told me it was so fun that it didn’t feel like school. It was one of those moments in time, you know? The ones that keep you going on hard days? Yeah. It was good.
Anyway. There was one thing I felt was missing and it may be something they wait to address until later–the concept of beginning, middle, end. In a letter, I would expect there to be some sort of “hello, how are you.” And something to close the letter like ” hope to see you soon.” They are just working the basics at this point. I tried to mention it sideways at the end, but she didn’t seem to get it so maybe it’s for later.
When I first read the manual, I felt overwhelmed. They suggested cool pads of paper (bought those on Amazon), easels, books, binders, idea files and more and it was all too much. I had an easel, bought the pads, found my smelly magic markers and figured I’d wing the rest. We’ve been fine.
Overall, WriteShop Primary B is a great way to introduce your children to a variety of writing projects at the level they are at without a large time commitment. They have ways to adapt for kids who don’t like to physically write, which is great at this age. It also has them being very creative and brainstorming, which is awesome. Even my daughter, who isn’t a fan of the physical act of writing has really enjoyed doing it. We will be resuming this course, probably in November, as the weather gets icky. Very well put together course and I’m glad we had the opportunity to try it!
Click here to see reviews of WriteShop’s Primary & Junior level writing curriculum!