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My oldest is in 5th grade and is plugging along with written narration once a week, copywork twice a week, dictation once a week, and free writing twice a week. I also have 2nd and K daughters and was intrigued by the “Jot it Down” program from BraveWriter, especially for my almost 6yo. I know she doesn’t need formal lessons, but she really needs my attention (middle child syndrome, I also have a 2yo) and LOVES to talk and be heard. Obviously I am busy with 3 in school but right now set aside about 15 minutes a day for her. Will Jot it Down fit into a time slot like that? She has other time to do things independently, but I can only do that. Right now we’ve been doing things like handwork and board games, but mostly she wants to TALK, not do productive things. Any thoughts?
I also think my 2nd grader could potentially enjoy Jot it Down as well, though she is starting to write her own words down with invented spelling (though she doesn’t like knowing she hasn’t spelled things correctly).MichelleParticipant
Totally off topic: I would love to hear how you arrived where you are with your fifth grader. I have a fourth graders doing copywork twice a week and transcription twice a week with SW and ULW. I’m trying to start written narration but keep dropping the ball. 🙁
Okay, lots of thoughts and a question for you. I’ll go with the question first:
Why is your 5th grader doing both copywork and dictation? Typically they graduate to transcription or dictation, leaving copywork behind. Just curious!
Brave Writer I can speak a lot to! We use it and enjoy it. The Jot it Down basically takes a writing project and guides you into how to break it down into weekly work (done 1-2 times per week) so that at the end of the month your child has taken an idea from start to publication (typically a fun hands on presentation so they get some creative art in there). The entire idea in the Jot it Down stage is that they are talking and you are jotting down their words, talking with them, reading books, bouncing ideas around, etc. It could be perfect with your 6yo, maybe doing it more often in a week for short times. And the 2nd grader could do the same assignments, but you can let them do some of the writing themselves if they wish, and sometimes you jot parts down for them (in Brave Writer language this is called partnership writing).
Michelle, he started with written narration once a week last year in 4th grade. We used a literature book as I read stories are easier to narrate so a better thing to start with. This year he is doing a history biography and we may try to do 2 per week in 6th. There has been a lot of “too much detail” vs “not enough detail” process to work through. Now he reads for a set amount of time (we do 4 minutes because he’s a really fast reader!) and he spends the rest of the 30 minutes writing it up. The punctuation is fine, and most spelling is good, but a few issues (I try to ignore them to focus on the content right now though). Let me know if you want to know more.
Tristan, I didn’t hear of stopping copywork but I’d be totally fine with that! He really dislikes dictation, so that’s why it’s only once a week. He does really well with spelling, so I am OK with it. I was hoping you would pipe in about BraveWriter as in my searches your name came up a lot! So if your kids do it 1-2 times per week, how long do they spend at a time? Would Jot it Down be something my 5th grader could use at his level or would it be better to pick the 9-10 year old version and scale it down for my 6yo?
Copywork is learning to write neatly letter by letter, then it becomes transcription as they can look at the example and write 1 word or a couple words at a time without needing to look back at the example. Then they move to dictation where they can picture the words in their mind and write it (after studying the example) and hear someone read a phrase at a time and write it without needing to see the words. So it is a process and we can drop one as we move up to the next one. Or we can combine. I had one child who did copywork/transcription of his dictation passage two days a week and that helped in his studying so that he was ready for dictation at the end of the week to write it yet again just hearing me read it without seeing a copy in front of him.
My kids vary because I have such a wide age range (1-16). The younger ones tend to like 2 days a week of 20 minutes talking and creating with me doing the jotting down. The middles often prefer shorter sessions more often – writing for 8-10 minutes 4 or 5 days per week. Then they tend to hit an older stage where they stretch out the writing to 15 minutes or more (can be typing! some love it, some prefer handwritten) for 3 or 4 days per week. High schooler tends to be 4 days per week on writing for school but she is also a writer in her free time.
You could use Jot it Down with the 5th grader, but they may want to tweak the topics sometimes or do more. So if you are reading fairy tales and the younger ones will then work on rewriting a familiar fairy tale with their own twists, you jotting it down, the 5th grader may want to do a different fairy tale rewrite every week or every 2 weeks instead of 1 over the whole month.
Tristan, thanks for your comments. I have more questions! I have been considering things more, and trying some things on my own with my almost 6yo and I feel like I can kind of wing it with writing projects for her. As I have been looking at the stages of writing, I actually feel like my 10yo is in Faltering Ownership and my almost 8yo is starting into Partnership Writing. I am thinking it might be more useful to get Faltering Ownership for my oldest and trickle down from there. My other option is to get The Writer’s Jungle, but I am concerned it won’t be practical enough for an engineer (non creative writing) type like me. I obviously know about narration, copywork, dictation, etc, and it’s more the writing projects I am interested in. Do you think it would be better to get TWJ or FO? They are pricey so DH isn’t on board with getting both.
Also, I was wondering how you feel doing creative writing like this has been beneficial to your younger kids (10 and under) rather than just doing straight copywork, dictation and oral/written narrations?
I love your questions!
First, I would not do The Writer’s Jungle. It’s more the ‘theory course’ for you, more helpful to walk you through helping at each stage of writing but really isn’t a project book. I love the project books best. Good call on that one!
Your second question was how do I feel creative writing has been beneficial for my 10 and under group, rather than just doing straight copywork, dictation, and oral/written narrations. The answer is that we still do copywork during the Jot is Down stage (so my kids can master handwriting and get correct spelling in front of their eyes regularly). Then as they reach Partnership writing stage we move into Fix It Grammar where they’re getting copywork mixed with grammar, vocab, and spelling in short doses 4 days per week. For their creative writing I don’t worry about spelling at all, some of my kids ask for help and others ignore spelling. I work with their preference.
We also still do oral narrations for all ages (even my high schooler still does some).
Written narration doesn’t start until age 10, and we go with once a week that first year, increasing each year after that.
How has creative writing benefitted them? They enjoy it! They love sharing stories, changing stories, creating their own stories. I have had one child who was not a fan of creative writing, more analytical/fact minded. I simply let his writing more often be factual reports until he became more comfortable with creative writing. They all like sharing their stories, laughing together, etc. Again, we don’t do a ton of creative writing projects, usually the goal is 1 worked through in a month. My older middle kids (6th and 7th graders, turning 12 and 13 this year) do more creative writing by having a project and then doing a couple writing prompts that they can do in one day and be done with, just exercise for their creative muscles.
Today for example I offered up a stack of writing prompts to the kids, which could be a one or two day writing session or they could really dive in to it for a whole month. Up to them. Here are some of the prompts I offered this time:
– Write a paragraph to finish this: When I build the perfect tree house it will include four spectacular features.
– Which zoo animal would make the best pet? Describe how you would care for and play with it.
– Storybuilder: From the boxes below choose one character, one character trait, one setting, and one plot. (Each box had 4 options to mix and match.)
– Today’s medical engineers are developing nanobots small enough to travel through the bloodstream. These tiny robots can carry medicine to hard to reach areas like the brain. Imagine you are a medical nanobot and write a journal entry about a day in your life.
– If you could be friends with a character in one of you favorite books, whose friend would you be? Choose and experience from their book and rewrite it as if you had been there.
– Imagine you are a young person on the Mayflower. What is it like living on a ship in the winter? What do you miss most about England and Holland? What kind of life do you hope for in the New World? Write down your thoughts as if you were writing a journal entry. (we have recently read about the Mayflower so they have some background for this)
Wow, Tristan! Do you just think up the prompts for yourself?
Do you aim for “some” writing every day then? I am thinking of having 5th grader do Monday copywork (really transcription), Tuesday dictation, Wednesday free writing (he writes poems sometimes), and Thursday and Friday writing project from FO. Does that sound OK?
2nd grader: M, T, W copywork, Thurs, F writing project?
Obviously my almost 6yo will be working alongside me. She also has “one word” of copywork on her slate every day.
Yes, I aim for some sort of writing (including copywork) each day. My almost 6yo is still learning to write his letters. 🙂 I’m not worried about speed in learning to write, just consistent small efforts.
Some ideas I come up with but there are a lot of free ideas online (Pinterest). Write Shop and Brave Writer both have blogs with free writing prompts and ideas too.Wings2flyParticipant
Homeschool buyers co-op has Brave Writer pdf downloads at special pricing periodically. That is where I bought The Writer’s Jungle and The Arrow.
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