The following is a post from contributing writer Roan of Joyful Always.
I am currently teaching my “second set” of elementary students. I have a first and third grader. But I also have an eighth, tenth, and twelfth grader, and these creative writing and spelling ideas have served our family well for almost twelve years now. These ideas can work for anyone, regardless of the language arts curriculum being used.
At the beginning of the school year I create a Monday-Friday checklist for each child. I list each subject that the child must complete each day, and in the boxes for Writing and Spelling, I also include a daily assignment. I laminate the checklist, and the child checks off each box with a wet erase marker as he completes his work. At the end of the week I wash off the chart and use it again.
The Writing Assignments are:
- Monday: Write (or draw for younger children) in your journal. We use scrapbooking paper, fabric, or duck tape to cover one of those inexpensive composition books and use it as a journal. I usually ask the younger child to tell me about his picture, and then I will write a couple of sentences on the journal page.
- Tuesday: Doodle Loops. This phrase and idea was shared with me by a friend many, many years ago. I simply draw a few shapes, lines, dots, scribbles, etc. on a page in the child’s journal with a colorful marker, and then he finishes the picture however he wants. Normally I draw the same doodle loop on each of my children’s page. I like to see how their ideas differ. Older children also write about the picture they created, while I take dictation from a younger child.
- Wednesday: Story Cards or Story Starter. I have a box of cards with one picture on each card. These are items like animals, vehicles, household objects, food, etc. The child randomly draws 3 cards and then writes a sentence or short story (depending on the age of the child) using all three cards as subject matter. I have lists of Story Starters that I have collected from Google searches on the internet. I will write the story starter at the top of the page and then the child completes the story.
- Thursday: Write in your journal again.
- Friday: Write a letter or make a card for someone. Some of my children have pen pals. They also write thank you letters for gifts and friendly letters to their grandparents or elderly people from our church. Other days they make cards for people who are sick or just need encouragement.
I continue this routine through the 4th grade. At that point I begin using IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing), but I only do those lessons three days each week. I save the other days for journal writing and letter writing/card making.
The Spelling Assignments are:
- Monday: Copy the spelling words from the board into their spelling notebook
- Tuesday: Write the words in ABC order
- Wednesday: Use magnets or puzzle letters to practice spelling the words (younger children) or write sentences with the words (older children). My children are really creative, and they try to see how many spelling words they can put in one sentence!
- Thursday: Pre-test on the words. Any missed words are practiced by writing on the marker board.
- Friday: Test on any missed words from Thursday.
I have found that no matter which Spelling curriculum you are using, you can implement these simple ideas to help your children practice and learn their spelling words. I continue this routine until late elementary grades–5th or 6th, depending on the child and his need for weekly spelling words.
Roan is both ending and beginning her homeschooling career since she has a 12th and a 1st grader this year. Roan writes regularly at her personal blog, Joyful Always, about homeschooling her five children, marathon training, and her homemaking adventures. She frequently shares recipes and descriptions of her daily life.
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Leah Mae says
I was wondering specifically which curriculum you purchase/use with IEW, I’ve looked at their stuff a few times and have been thinking about starting using some of their curriculum.
Tara Ziegmont says
Thanks so much for sharing these tips. I’m always on the lookout for more ways to get my first grader writing (without it feeling tedious).