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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"How to Write a Paragraph" Review

I like to keep my children's brains busy during the summer so they don't look at me like a deer caught in the headlights when we start school again in the fall. How to Write a Paragraph from The Crafty Classroom sounded like a good homeschool writing program to review over the summer with my two youngest children.

How To Write A Paragraph

What is How to Write a Paragraph?

This is a PDF file to download and use in your homeschool or it can be used in the classroom as an elementary writing curriculum. It is a 12 week, 4 day per week curriculum that breaks down sentence and paragraph structure into small parts. This makes it easy for early elementary age children to understand. There are 12 teacher pages, many student pages, and 10 colorful charts and checklists.

The PDF is 78 pages. Five of the pages help the teacher understand how to use the book, though most of those pages are thumbnails of each week so you can see which pages you need each time you teach. It is easy to tell what you need to do each day and I consider it an "open and go" text book.

Learn from my mistake:

The pages in the PDF are in order by week, with the charts at the back. I did not understand the difference between teacher pages and student pages when I printed it. I should have looked closer because I printed the teacher pages right in with the student pages. I wish they were separated in the file so I could have printed, say, pages 3-14 for me, and the rest for my girls. Instead, they have copies of the teacher pages and I had to try again and tell the printer to print pages 8, 13, 18, 23, etc. Not the easiest way to do it.. I also didn't realize that in week 3 there was a cut and paste activity. Since I printed all pages double sided, I had to reprint that page once we got to it.

You could print the pages each week as you need them OR print one day of pages at a time and avoid wasting paper like I did!

How is it laid out?

The teacher pages are set up with a goal section and a list of additional items needed (which colorful charts to use). The verbal reminders are great, using that box every day helped my girls recall what they had learned. Each day has a Suggested Outline. The teacher often writes examples on a white board (we usually used a blank paper) and asks the students to help add more descriptive words or build a sentence or paragraph before the child works on their own papers.

The student pages also contain a reminder box and instructions. Many pages have fun graphics. The areas for writing have 1/2" spaced lines. The book can be printed in black and white (these are actual screenshots from the file), but I printed the colorful checklist pages on my color printer.

How did we use this?

This program is suggested for kindergarten to second grade. At this age my children learn with copywork, narration, and dictation. I have found that asking them to come up with things to write about causes frustration. This program seemed gentle enough that I could teach early writing skills to  N, who is between kindergarten and first grade this summer. I also thought it would be fun for E who is between 3rd and 4th grade to use too, and teach E a writing method that is a bit different from what she is used to doing.

A chart to remember how to build a paragraph

The curriculum begins with sentence structure. It teaches to include strong verbs and adjectives. Students begin writing sentences right away and learn to make them exciting. This first portion was right on target for N's skill level. The very first day we worked on this, N was able to tell me all the parts needed to structure a sentence, AND she was able to tell me that "is" is a verb, even though we didn't discuss being verbs yet. As the weeks passed, she has been able to remember what nouns, verbs, and adjectives are with prompting. That's okay, that's what I expect from her age.

Once we got to week 5, the curriculum changed from sentence structure to writing complete paragraphs. This was a little more difficult. I don't think N completely understood everything, but with prompting and plenty of help, she was able to do it! Having E do it with N was very helpful. E was able to do everything we worked on rather easily, but that allowed her to help N a lot. There were a few days that I asked E to be the teacher. That was fun for both girls, and E gained some teaching skills!

I like that a topic is presented each week and the children brainstorm ideas about that topic. By week 9 the topic is an animal, and students get to choose and research one for their writing. We aren't this far yet, but there is a graphic organizer with items like "unique features, where it lives, what it eats" that will be helpful.

I feel like N struggled a little more than I liked once we got to the paragraph writing, but perhaps with practice she'll do better. She is not used to doing "creative writing", if she wants to write a letter or something longer, she dictates it to someone. I feel like kindergarten is too early for the paragraph portion of How to Write a Paragraph, it is better for 1st and 2nd graders. Some 3rd graders would probably do well with this too. The book is well designed, cute, and full of helpful ways for children to learn to write. My girls have been excited to use this every day, so I know it is something most children will enjoy!

Be sure to check out the other reviews by clicking the Homeschool Review Crew banner below. Crew members received different products for the alphabet, reading, a USA Activity Bundle, and the one I reviewed, How to Write a Paragraph.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your review Deann! It was great to read that your daughters were excited to use the program each day. Blessings, Valerie