Tuesday, March 19, 2013

TOS Crew - Essentials In Writing

When we were part of a homeschool co-op George was in a writing club which gave him monthly assignments but beyond that he enjoyed making up stories to write. It is hard to keep up with writing ideas when you are doing it on your own and so we are sporadic in this area depending on what is assigned in our unit study. I have been looking into various writing programs to be more consistent and wanted to give Essentials In Writing a try.

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We reviewed Essentials In Writing for grade 5 which includes a DVD with the video instruction lessons and a CD to print out the corresponding worksheets in pdf form. But if you are like me and would rather not take the time to print them they also have a pre-printed workbook available.
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How it worked in our family

I chose to have George join Pete and Re-Pete in this as a review. The lessons are divided into two parts, the grammar and the writing. We began with grammar and they watched Mr. Stephens present a lesson at least twice a week. The lessons are short, typically only 5 - 10 minutes at the most. I suppose they could watch more at a time but I prefer to take it slow and let the information sink in. If they already know it then move on. Then they go on to complete a few assignment sheets for each lesson and it was just the right amount of work for my guys. Not one of them enjoyed the grammar portion but not because of anything in the program, it was just because it is grammar and how fun is it to learn about subjects and predicates? Here is a sample lesson that they have yet to complete.

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We then began using the writing portion and this is where the boys began to enjoy their lessons. They all got into writing a story about a day in their life. I liked how each lesson was broken up so that they took it slowly. First formulating ideas, the next lesson was putting the ideas to paper followed by revising and then editing and that was done over a week's time. They now know the process and writing a story won't be as overwhelming.

They are non-committal in giving me an answer about how they liked the DVD instruction. "It's okay" is about all I can get on this one.

My Thoughts

I am finding that I like programs that have a DVD instructor for some things and writing is one of them. Especially now that we have so many various levels of learning. I like to do as much as we can together but when we can't it is helpful to have another "teacher". I did like the short lessons as it wasn't overwhelming in any way which is helpful with my boys. And Mr. Stephens does have a sense of humor and is not boring to listen to.

I also appreciate the fact that the kids can work on this mainly on their own. They occasionally had questions for me but they were self-motivated most of the time.

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While I liked the writing portion, personally I would rather the grammar be incorporated along with the writing to make it a bit more relevant. I am not typically a fan of grammar learned on it's own with worksheets because it seems harder to comprehend when not related to anything they are doing. Sure, we'll learn parts of a sentence. But what does that have to do with anything until they apply it? If they study grammar while they are writing their own stories I think it would be more likely to be absorbed. But, that is my opinion and I know people on the opposite spectrum. That's okay because we all have different styles of learning.

How to Purchase

Essentials in Writing is available for 1st through 12th grade. And you can't beat the price for a writing program like this.

-- Essentials in Writing Fifth Grade (DVD & Printable Worksheets on CD-ROM) -- $40.00
-- Optional pre-printed worksheets -- $20.00

To see more reviews on the various grade levels check out what others on the Review Crew have to say.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

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