Instagram story followers will know that Bean has taken another sudden and almighty leap forward with her reading and writing. It feels like it has happened overnight, which it obviously hasn't. When you are not formally teaching a subject, but your child is working hard to teach themselves the skills they need to move forward at their own pace, it can take you by surprise when they demonstrate what they have learned. She is now what I’d describe as a confident reader. She can read, or decipher, most words in context. She’s also deeply motivated to write.
You can read about our journey to reading, from birth to 9, in this blog post I wrote last July. You may find it a reassuring read if your child is 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years old (or even beyond) and is showing little or no interest in learning to read.
Anyway, all these books and learning materials that I have been gathering over the years will FINALLY come in handy now that I’m planning a Creative Writing Project. Affiliate links below are for Amazon. If you prefer to buy your books from an independent book seller then you'll find some of them linked in the Creative Writing section of my Bookshop here.
Brave Writer's 7 Day Writing Blitz
So, to start our project off with a bang, we are using the 7 Day Writing Blitz, which is a free resource from Julie Bogart at Brave Writer. The idea is to shelve any writing curriculum you might be working on (not an issue for us) to jumpstart your child's 'dead writing battery' by exploring what constitutes acceptable writing through 7 fun and practical writing projects. We're taking our time with this, as we don't have 7 days in a row when we are at home together, but you can read my post about our progress so far here. We're planning a doughnut celebration for finishing, hopefully later this week.
Creative Writing Prompts
While researching and gathering books and learning materials for the project, I reached out to my lovely community on Instagram for recommendations. I had lots of suggestions, but ultimately decided to go with the book Show Me a Story for the next part of our project, which I managed to source second hand. This book warrants a full review on the blog at some point, as it's an absolute gem and is the perfect fit for my creative and kinaesthetic learner. With instructions for 40 craft projects to spark children's storytelling, such as making story discs (our set is already in progress); a magnetic story board; a traveling puppet theatre and so many more. I anticipate us trying out many of the suggested projects over the coming weeks and months.
I also invested in some Magnetic Poetry for our fridge, which I haven't yet introduced, but hope will be fun for both of us. I have fond memories of playing with these myself as a teenager. We also already have a set of Build-a-Story Cards (there are lots of themed sets available) and a couple of sets of Story Dice, which we'll definitely be utilising. Both of these resources are perfect for taking out and about, now that the weather is warming up and we are soon to be free to meet friends outdoors. My plan is to record her oral storytelling using an app on my phone, then type them up to make a book for her to illustrate and share with family and friends.
In addition to these creative writing prompts I bought a Creative Writing Skills book, which had really good reviews, but I think on inspection might be a bit too 'workbook-y' for our needs. I may be wrong, and we'll definitely give some of the pages a try, perhaps by photocopying instead of writing inside. I'll keep you posted on how we find it in my April newsletter.
In addition to the creative writing prompts above I have gathered some of our favourite books from our home library for inspiring story telling, language and literacy skills. You can read a short review of The Story Path which I shared back in January 2020 here. Again, my plan is to record her oral storytelling and type them up for her.
I also sourced a small selection of short story books for me to read aloud to Bean for inspiration. We made a start on these this week and are still forming our opinions of them, but this is what we think so far. Short Stories: By the Children, For the Children is written by 6 year old twins, Eva and Amaira Deotale. The stories are very short and simple, but are not too dissimilar to the types of stories Bean is writing herself. How inspiring to have a book published at 6 years old!
Short: A Book of Very Short Stories is one of a series, with a wide variety of short stories included, and then Stories From Quarantine is another written by children. The children range in age from 10-16 years, so the stories are more sophisticated than the first collection I shared above. Many mention the pandemic, having been written and collected during the last year.
We'll be re-reading our collection of Kes Gray books too, which are a favourite here. Simple, clever, funny and great for word play and for reviewing rhyming words.
Other Useful Resources
I've gathered together a few other books and learning materials from our existing collection that I think we'll find useful for our project. All of these materials have been placed in our morning basket for ease of access, and we'll dip in and out of them as we see fit.
Storyteller's Illustrated Dictionary - this is another absolute gem for creative writing. The book is divided into themed sections, with illustrated 'wow' words for improving storytelling and writing.
A Language Arts Curriculum
Just this past week I have also taken the plunge and invested in a 'Language Arts' curriculum. We've never followed a structured curriculum here before, apart from very loosely following the Exploring Nature With Children weekly themes when Bean was around 4-7 years old. There are a couple of reasons why I have chosen to venture down this path. Firstly, I think Bean is ready for a bit of gentle tuition and, secondly, the appeal of an 'open and go' curriculum at this stage in our journey is strong. My business is growing. I'm already working evenings and weekends. I don't feel as confident in supporting her at this stage of her writing journey and would like to be investing my creative energy in planning other fun things for her.
I feel slightly apprehensive about it, but also quite excited. After a bit of research, I've gone for the Grade Three Language Arts only curriculum from Blossom and Root. It's a secular curriculum, with a lovely recommended booklist (see the stack in the photo below), and the theme for the year is COURAGE, which could not be more perfect for us! I've been waiting patiently for their 30% off sale, which is currently running until the 30th April. I'm not affiliated, and actually haven't tried any of their products before. I'll keep you posted on how we get on.
Do let me know if you have any questions, or suggestions for future blog posts that might interest you. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog post contains affiliate links. If you do click through, Bean and I will receive a small amount of commission which will contribute to new books and resources for her home education. You can, however, find all of these resources elsewhere, including other online retailers, second hand selling pages and your local library.
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