In this post, I wanted to talk about writing in our homeschool this fall. Last year, we shifted to a writing workshop model. I had a reluctant writer and up until that point, writing was a chore for my son. Well, after switching to a writing workshop… writing became one of his favorite subjects!
So, what do I mean by a writing workshop? In brief this means:
So what are the kids up to? ED is writing a series of Halloween stories. Today DD wrote a story about a girl who makes a casserole. 🙂 And LD is finishing up research on Ebola and his writing a brochure about the Ebola virus and how to protect yourself. And what do I do? Sometimes I write future blog posts. Sometimes I write stories. Sometimes I write about the kids (they LOVE when I do that!). And this fall, I even wrote a couple of poems… one of which I polished and read in public not too long ago!
The kids sometimes have trouble finding a topic, but encouraging them to find their own topics (and sympathizing with them when they feel stuck) ensures that they are writing things that are important and relevant to them.
That said, I do have resources available to them when they are stuck. First, I always tell them that *all* writers feel stuck from time to time. The important thing is to keep at it consistently each day. On days that I’ve felt stuck, I share my scribbles, cross outs, and faltered attempts… and explain that sometimes it doesn’t go smoothly. I also have a number of resources on hand:
For ED (age 6), I have the Start Writing… (Adventures in Literacy) books that someone once recommended. They are out of print now, but I bought them used. If I had to recommend just one, I’d suggest the Start Writing Adventure Stories because ED likes the large colorful pictures (the open book in the photo below). That’s her favorite of the 4 we have.
Meanwhile, we’ve slowly added to our collection of resources for my older two. DD and LD have both read one of the Write Source student textbooks. They also have both read Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly and Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook. These are books that encourage and give helpful pointers to young writers. (We set the timer for 10 minutes and read one of these writing resource books prior to writing.) We have other books that help when they’re feeling stuck. They’ve thumbed through Rip the Page and Unjournaling to come up with ideas. In fact, DD’s story about the casserole was from an idea she found in Unjournaling. Again, if I had to recommend just one book, I’d probably suggest Writing Magic to start with.
We also still regularly use the packet I made last year for our Writing Workshop. You’ll find more about that in our post Writing Workshop Resource Pack. That entire packet is free to download.
As you may recall, about this time last year I had the kids do a biography research paper. (I shared our Biography Research Paper Resource Pack here.) This year, the kids will do another research paper of some sort, but I haven’t quite decided when we’ll start in on that.
One last thing before I go, I’ve now talked about why we use the writing workshop and how it works. But this year, I also added in Journal Prompt Writing as part of their checklist of things to do. Here’s why. ED started writing with us right from the start (even before she officially started kindergarten.) She enjoys writing, but her “stories” are always about a cat (or dog or bat…) going on various adventures. I love that she is so invested in her stories, but there’s no variation on that theme!!
I wrote up a series of journal prompts to have her branch out to other topics. I have DD also answer the prompt of the day because she *loves* to write. And, I have LD answer these to have him practice writing on a given topic (now that he doesn’t object so strenuously to this type of assignment… It used to be that something like this would shut him down and he would have absolutely nothing to write about.)
I’ll try to get those ready to share with you all in the next few days, but I thought I’d mention that here while I was on the general topic of writing!
Do you want to learn more about starting your own Homeschool Writing Workshop? Here are some related posts:
Mini-Lessons to Use in a Writing Workshop:
Come visit us over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! I’d love to hear how writing works in your home!