I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Encouraging Creative Writing: Publishing a Book

As is mentioned on The Unlikely Homeschool Curriculum page, Sweetie Pea has been working her way through BJU Press English 3 for her grammar/writing.  If you are not familiar with BJU English, it is set up so that one unit will focus on a particular grammar skill and the next unit will use that skill along with previously learned skills to focus on a particular kind of writing.  A writing assignment is given and then broken up into smaller increments over the course of a week or so, making a larger writing project much more manageable.  

English 3 is a fine example of how our "whys" of homeschooling spill out into our "hows".  Over the last few years, Sweetie Pea has shown such a passion for writing.  In an effort to cultivate that natural enthusiasm, I sought out a curriculum that would help develop her skills.  Although we've only been using BJU's English program for less than a year, I have been greatly impressed with its format and technic for developing not only good grammar skills, but also a working use of those skills with numerous writing projects.

  A few weeks ago, Sweetie Pea was introduced to the concept of quotation mark placement.  The very next week, the writing unit focused on creating a fictional story using dialogue...using quotation marks, of course.  

Each type of writing brings on a few different steps of implementation.  For a fictional story, Sweetie Pea first read an example story that featured some dialogue.  Then she brainstormed an idea, made a word web of her main character to help develop him/her, planned the main problem and resolution of the story, planned the setting, planned the plot using a plot pyramid, and then sat down to write a rough draft.  She, obviously, did not do all of this in one day.  Each one of these steps was done in a separate lesson.

As is our custom, after her rough draft was written, she called up an adult friend or relative to conduct a "writing conference."  She read the story out loud to them and then asked the following questions...
  • Did the story have a clear beginning, middle, and end?
  • Did the beginning sentences make you want to hear more?
  • Did the story have a satisfying ending?
  • Did the story use colorful words?
  • Do you have any additional thoughts about the story?

These simple "conferences" make for a great critique and evaluation from an outsider other than Mom.

Then came the revising/editing.  Her English 3 includes a very handy grammar/proofreading checklist for every type of writing.  She has to read through her rough draft and check off each element on the checklist or make edit marks on her draft (which she learned in one of the first writing units of the year).

Part of her revising process was to use a dictionary and a thesaurus to correct any spelling mistakes and add "color" words to replace commonly used words.

Although I certainly do not do this with every writing assignment...To encourage excellence in her writing, I told Sweetie Pea that once she was done with her final draft, I would type out her story and take it to Office Max to be bound into a book.  This "professional" quality definitely inspired her "best."  And as promised, her efforts were published.

At Office Max, a cover and back were printed on card stock, pages were made with plenty of space for pictures, and the entire thing was bound together with a strip of spiral rings.  The whole project was relatively inexpensive to produce and came to just under $5.

She is currently working on the illustrations and eagerly awaits an opportunity to share her "book" with family and friends.

That was one small attempt to fortify a love of writing.  Do you have any tricks up your sleeve to share?

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  1. Please tell Sweatie Pea to read it to me when I come to visit. Do you all do any "Squiggles"? I loved those as a kid and they inspired me to want to write more. If you don't remember what they are here is a quick discription: You (the teacher) creates and abstract design, that is not complete and it is the job of the writer to add onto the illustration to complete it and then write a story about the picture.

  2. that sounds like a really cool program! how fun to make it a "real book" too!!

  3. Hi Lisa! I have a 7th grader who doesn't like to write. We tried IEW last year and neither of us liked it. We haven't landed on a good curriculum yet and are just writing paragraph summaries from what he reads in his book everyday and going a couple of lessons in Fix It Grammar which just takes care of the grammar side of things. I wondered if you have used this for a child who doesn't like to write and had success with it? It is a pricey curriculum and I don't want to waste more money.