20 Best Tips
Teaching Textbooks

Spin a Story StoryBuilders – Free Printable

WriteShop

WriteShop is a writing program our family has been using for years and currently they have a FUN freebie for their subscribers: Spin a Story StoryBuilders

I’ll tell you something I love about their StoryBuilders: we used a freebie like this many years ago (after nearly killing our girls’ joy for writing with another program) and it is what kick-started our girls back into creative writing and ENJOYING the writing process. One of them even wrote her own short book based on the StoryBuilder prompts. 

It was something simple, but made a HUGE change for our girls, and for that I am so very thankful. 

WriteShop

This freebie includes 4 printable story prompt spinners in both full color and grayscale options (8 spinners total) plus directions.

  • Exciting Adventures Spinner
  • Animal Adventures Spinner
  • Fantasy & Fairy Tales Spinner
  • Historical Adventures Spinner

Children will spin to choose CHARACTER, SETTING, and a SITUATION. Once the three elements are chosen, it’s up to them to create the whole story!

Spinners may be used by students of various ages. Though they are designed for grades 3-8, younger children and even teens can enjoy them too. This freebie is a special gift for subscribers of the WriteShop site (and you’ll get other great tips and freebies along the way!). 

*NEW* WriteShop Junior Level F (Preorder Special)

WriteShop Junior Book F | Value Pack (Pre-order)

Our family has been using and loving WriteShop for years. One of the things we have been waiting for is Level F of their Junior program (for grades 5/6). And it’s finally available for pre-order!! 

WriteShop Junior Book F

WriteShop Junior is a creative writing program that appeals to many learning styles. As with all WriteShop products, Book F helps you guide students through the steps of the writing process. To keep the experience fun, each lesson includes games and activities that teach and review important writing and self-editing skills.

BOOK F VALUE PACK INCLUDES:

  • Book F Teacher’s Guide
  • Activity Pack F
  • Time-Saver Pack F
  • Junior Writer’s Notebook 2 (digital only)

To celebrate the release of the program, they have a few special deals for those pre-ordering by August 15th. 

WriteShop Junior Book F | Value Pack Pre-order Details

Story Detective Printable – Identifying Parts of a Story

Story Detective printables for learning the parts of a story

 

This year we are using WriteShop Primary C as a part of Kaleb’s 3rd grade curriculum. Right now we are learning about the parts of a story: the who, what, where, when, why, and story details.

Because I didn’t want to take 20 minutes to cut out and create the suggested magnifying glasses (heaven forbid I should pull out the construction paper and scissors – every one of them would be a different shape and that would bother me), I spent an hour creating the Story Detective printables instead. (In my defense, there are more than magnifying glasses in the pack.)

Story Detective Printables

Story detective worksheets at a glance

Inside the Story Detective printable set you will find:

  • Story Part magnifying glasses: who, what, where, when, why/how, and story details
  • Story detective worksheet: use this to go along with stories your child creates or reads
  • Take-along cards: quick notecards to hang up or use as a reference
  • Story sheets: write and illustrate your own story

Download button

Draw and Journal Pages

Draw and Journal Pages

If you like the story sheets that are in the pack you can find additional Draw and Journal pages here.

Essay Outline For Older Children

Hamburger essay outline for literature

If you have older children that are at the essay stage of writing, download a free copy of the Hamburger Essay Outline to help organize the writing process.

Hamburger Essay Outline – Free Writing Printable

Hamburger essay outline for literature



This year we’ve been working on essay writing in one of our co-op classes. A lot. The kids are at different points with their writing skills: a few of them are all about writing out a detailed outline, complete with color coded paragraphs, while a few others need a more visual approach to grasping the concept of outlining.

Just for fun, I asked Laurianna to help me create a visual outline that would give everyone a little start on writing  and completing a five paragraph essay. Their essays and the outline needed to include:

  • a thesis
  • three key points/paragraphs
  • a conclusion

One of the things that I continually stress to our kids is the importance of being able to write a strong thesis and/or introduction, make valid points that support and prove their thesis, and then end with a strong concluding paragraph to tie it all together. Sometimes a simple visual can help them map their thoughts, make sure things flow together properly, and ensure they aren’t getting off topic.

The kids can start with the hamburger essay outline to map out their initial thoughts, and eventually they build a more detailed essay outline like below:

  • Thesis and ‘hook’ sentence
  • Main paragraph idea #1: sub-points 1, 2, and 3
  • Main paragraph idea #2: sub-points 1, 2, and 3
  • Main paragraph idea #3: sub-points 1, 2, and 3
  • Conclusion

The hamburger essay outline is just a simple pencil/pen sketch that we had fun coloring in, but it has been a help to several of our kids and the kids in co-op – and we wanted to share it with you all as well!

p.s. on a completely unrelated note to anything, it just makes me giggle saying ‘hamburger’ because then I picture Steve Martin as the Pink Panther trying to say the word hamburger… and I get completely sidetracked.

When Your Child Hates Writing – Tip for a Reluctant Writer

A few weeks ago on Facebook, I shared this writing tip from Kim Kautzer of WriteShop and apparently it struck a cord with many of you, as it did me.

reluctant writer tip

 

Don’t be afraid to be your child’s scribe. Writing is more about the ideas than about who writes them down. – Kim Kautzer, WriteShop

Both of our boys have a strong dislike for anything that involves them physically writing. The moment a piece of paper comes out, the whining starts and my frustration begins to mount.

For quite some time I personally struggled with this – because weren’t they SUPPOSED to be writing so many sentences and journaling gobs a day? Other moms were sharing their first graders daily journaling, which far surpassed my third grader’s attempts.

I put my kid in a box and expected him to do it just like everyone else did, and it caused months and months of frustrations for both of us. Inside that boy there were creative ideas ready to pour out, but I was squelching it by expecting him to fit into a certain mold and do it a specific way.

(You’d think that I would know better. I didn’t).

Sometimes it’s really easy to get caught up in all that is around us, what we believe our kids should be doing, and ignore what really needs to be done. Or sometimes we’re scared to talk about our struggles, afraid of what others might think of us or our child.

Last year, in what seemed like a moment of caving (because again – keeping up with what the ‘expectations’ are), I asked him if he could just tell me his story and I would write it for him.

And the words poured out.

Writing as quickly as I could, he dictated and I became that boy’s scribe. The frustration began to leave both of us, even though there were moments that I still struggled with my decision. He began to flourish and look at writing differently. The writing process became easier, and we fell into a good pattern of dictation and copying. Sometimes I would have him finish a sentence or two, but for the most part he talked while I wrote.

Fast forward to this year – he’s a week shy of age 10, and there is a new child in front of me. He suddenly doesn’t mind writing on his own and has even started typing his own stories on the computer. Just last week I found two full typed pages of stories that he wrote (non school related!!) sitting on his desk. My heart may have done a happy dance.

While our youngest (age 8) is still in the same writing dilemma at the moment, he’ll have a little bit more of a jump on his brother because I’m not going to push the writing issue, but rather scribe for him as well. When I’ve done that already this year, the words begin to flow quickly and there is a noticeable change in attitude (for both of us!).

Can I encourage you to think outside the box if you have a child who is struggling with writing (or any other area for that matter)? Let go of the expectations that you feel in that area and look at it a little differently. Do not let yourself get stuck in a comparison of what someone else’s child is doing that yours is not. (Trust me on this).

Yes, there are times that we may need to be concerned with our child’s learning progress, but sometimes a little creativity or bending of the rules may make a huge difference – and turn into a learning experience for both of you!

A Few More Helps for Moms

If you have a child any age that is struggling with writing, here are a few blog posts that I would HIGHLY recommend you take a few minutes to read:

Are YOU struggling with a reluctant writer? Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.