Today, I bring you the second half of my Language Arts post - Handwriting and Writing. Truth be told, this is my favorite area of teaching my children. Without further adieu......
I like to keep it simple when it comes to handwriting. For the beginner, I usually purchase a simple pack of Kindergarten paper and we practice the basic letter formation for each letter and number. I do the same process when they begin cursive (about 3rd grade). Once they know that, then I move on to other handwriting courses. When my big girls were small, we were given the A Beka kindergarten handwriting books and they were great. But with my younger 4, I have either used books I got at Barnes and Noble, the Dollar Tree, or printed for free online. Doing a quick Google search for free printable handwriting pages will give you loads to do.
Once I got past the beginner stage and they were ready for more meaty handwriting practice, I move on to Draw Write Now. There is both handwriting practice and drawing practice. The instructions are clear and very easy and fun to do. Each book is themed and extra learning about the topic they are writing takes place. We have enjoyed them immensely.
For cursive, once we get past the beginner stage, we move onto Draw and Write through History. Again, they get both handwriting and drawing practice. And, again the instructions are clear. We have enjoyed using these in the same timeline of the period of history we are studying. For both of these series, they need to be ready to progress to whole sentences. What I love the most is the fact that these can be used for many years and many children, my number one reason I purchased them. The second reason is that the drawing part can be referenced for years to come.
Learning to write a story or report are very important skills for a child to learn. It also helps I have a family full of children who love to write. Over the years, we have used a variety of methods to get the task done.
For non-fiction writing skills like writing a descriptive report, a narrative report, or whatever, our grammar courses have provided the needed instruction there on the how to. I have also had the children write about famous people as we studied a certain topic in either history or science, or pick a favorite topic to learn and write about. This has given them plenty of practice in the report area of writing. I also have found that giving them a check list to be sure they have all the parts they need for the report is very handy. I mostly just do these myself, but for the purpose of this post, I looked for a handy print and go checklist for you. This website has some really nice ones you could reference.
For story writing, I have alot of different things, we enjoy. First of all,
Story Starters by Karen Andreola. This book is divided up in content. The first half or so has stories that she has written but lets the child complete. She provides writing prompt questions, pictures (these are older in style but a treat to the eyes), and even extra grammar help to get the creative juices flowing. The second half is pictureless and requires more thinking on the child's part. We have loved this book so much. I also use it as a time to stress good grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc, just like I would any other report or writing assignment.
Another fun way to get the story writing process going is giving them art cards. I have a few different kinds - art collectors cards (think Charlie Brown's bubble gum cards), postcards, cards I found in a game - all of which have famous works of art on them. This not only allows them to learn about that particular work of art, but allows their imagination to flow at what could be happening in the art they are studying. I have read some very fun stories based on an art card they have chosen. A good source for art postcards is Dover. They have a large selection to choose from, if you would like to go this route.
Another way I have had them write stories is with word prompts. I have gotten my word prompt cards from Write Shop. In fact, as of the writing of this post, they are given away some free word prompt spinners on their website. Follow this link to get to them. With the word prompts, they pick 4 different words or phrases randomly and put them into a story of their own design. We've had both serious and comical stories based on these cards. My husband one time picked up StoryWorld cards. These have delightful picture prompts and my kids have picked a couple and written stories, even small novels based on these photos. Rory's Story Cubes are also great for story prompting. There are a variety of different Story Cubes and you can mix and match them to your heart's delight.
Last but not least, I want to share the Evan-Moor books. Pictured here are just a few of the different ones I own. They have been very handy to me in guiding the children through various parts of the writing process, whether it be stories, poetry, reports, or whatever. If you can ever get your hands on these goodies, you will have a gem of help.
That wraps it up for how I teach Language Arts. Next week, I will share my literature list and how I organize them as a final thought on the Language Arts part of my homeschooling. Until then.......