What skills do I want the kids to have in order to become successful writers? For this post, I shared a list of some of the language and literary skills I want the kids to build in elementary and middle school. These are topics and terms I want the kids to be familiar with. As they get older I hope they are able to use and incorporate these naturally into their own writing.
How will we cover all this? In our family we use a writing workshop. We often have mini-lessons on a topic and point out examples from a piece of literature we’ve read that day. You can find out more about our Homeschool Writing Workshop on the blog. I’ll link to some of those posts below.
Often before we begin our writing workshop (in lieu of a mini-lesson) the kids will read books about writing. Some of the books the kids have read so far include:
DD and LD have both read one of the Write Source student textbooks. It covered some of the fundamentals of writing. The kids read from this text for 20 minutes several times a week at the beginning of our Writing Workshop. I think it took them a couple of months to read the whole book. They had no issues with it, though the will not read through the next grade level because the style is similar and the kids felt it covered exactly the same thing (just with different wording). Here is a link to the 4th grade level: Write Source: Student Edition Hardcover Grade 4 . (affiliate link)
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!: Adventures in Creative Writing and Unjournaling: Daily Writing Exercises That Are Not Personal, Not Introspective, Not Boring! to come up with ideas. DD picks up Unjournaling about once a week for ideas. Again, if I had to recommend just one book, I’d probably suggest Writing Magic to start with.
This next year, we will probably use a traditional literature textbook that goes over many of the elements listed on the following pages. Again, we’ll incorporate that into our Writing Workshop time; the kids will read the Lit book for 20-25 minutes or so on their own before we start the timer for writing. DD will be using Literature by McDougal Littell — Yellow Level and LD will be using a different edition. They read the first section and seemed just fine with it, but I’ll let you know how it goes. Again, it covers some of the basics about literary analysis and some of the fundamentals of writing. We’ll use this in the same way as the other books we’ve used up to this point… The kids will set the timer and read for about 20 minutes or so. I just want to add that I consider this part of their writing time, but that for “literature” itself, the kids will continue to read novels.
What kinds of skills do I want the kids to build and what terms do I want them to know as they move through elementary and middle school? I came up with a basic checklist. I keep that in mind (mentally) as we move through out Homeschool Writing Workshop and often circle back around to terms/skills that I feel they need to review. I do not require them to actually use these when they write (or might occasionally, but often the point of their writing is to work on their own stories and projects). Though of course, I encourage them to think to keep these devices in mind and to consider how they can make their writing better and stronger.
If you can think of things I’ve left off the list, I’d love to hear from you so I can add them to the list. Many minds are stronger than one! If you are interested, just click on the link below. It’s free to download.
Another recent Language Arts post that might be of interest:
Mini-Lessons to Use in a Writing Workshop (in any order):
- What makes a good book or story?
- Make your story come alive with details and description.
- Creating Interesting Characters
- Story Openings: Set the mood or feeling of your story
- Gathering story ideas from your own life
- Alliteration and more
- Adding Details Exercise (Don’t miss this one, the kids LOVED this activity!!)
- Writing Workshop: Conflict in Literature (Man vs. Man, Man vs. Self, etc)
- Writing Activity to Spark Kids’ Imagination!
How and Why We Started Using a Homeschool Writing Workshop
- Creating a Homeschool Writing Workshop – Post #1 — How/Why we needed a change in our writing program
- Creating a Homeschool Writing Workshop – Post #2: Creating a Writing Workshop Area and Materials to Have on Hand
- Creating a Writing Workshop Post #3: This post is about Mini-Lessons during writing time, mentor texts and includes reviews of 8 or 9 writing books that you might find helpful.
- Writing Resource Pack: This is a post about the 30-page pack I made for our writing workshop. Reference pages on the 6 +1 Wri ting Traits, Mini-Lessons, the types of writing, creating a powerful beginning, techniques for ending a story/paper, and so forth. (These writing resources are free to download.)
- Writing Workshop: Dr. Seuss Style: The kids and I had fun writing in the style of Dr. Seuss!
- Biography Research Paper Resource Pack
- Practical Pointers for Working with a Reluctant Writer (or any Writer)
- Writing Activity to Spark Kids’ Imagination! My girls really loved this activity!
- 40 Journal Writing Prompts (Free Printable)
- Animal Portfolio Project: writing, art and geography activities that go with any animals… With many activities to choose from. Writing activities include both fiction and non-fiction suggestions such as
- Write a speech or a letter to the president on why your animal needs protection in the wild.
- Menu: Create a humorous menu at a restaurant where your animals would like to eat.
- WWII Portfolio Project
- Writing Workshop: What we’re doing for writing this fall
- Writing Workshop Rules! Why the Writing Workshop continues to work so well in our homeschool.
That’s about it for now! Tomorrow, I’ll have another Writing Workshop post to share with you! See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page.
P.S. Don’t forget to leave a comment if you can think of things I left off the checklist!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.