Whether we are teaching handwriting readiness to our younger kids or how to form a coherent paragraph with our middle school or high school kids, writing is an essential skill to communicating.
Try explaining the value of this vital skill to a reluctant writer and normally the conversation just ends in moans and groans.
Unit studies have been a way to curb the fear of the writing process and blank paper syndrome in our house.
Today, in sharing 20 ideas for bringing writing alive through unit studies, I want to share ideas for writing assignments that not only make writing a joy but create value in the eyes of your budding writer.
As teachers sometimes we are all too eager to get our kids to meet our expectations of the mechanics of writing instead of instilling a passion for writing in the beginning.
The trigger for getting a writer to mind the details or mechanics of his writing is to get him to write something that is not only relevant to the subject he is learning about but to give him freedom to write about what stirs his soul.
Whining or Winning Your Way Through Writing
Writing is a subject where unit study topics are powerful motivators and where the unit study approach has an enormous edge over other homeschool learning approaches.
If you have included your children in the process of selecting a unit study, you already have a topic they eagerly want to know about.
Unlike boring workbooks or programs that focus first on the mechanics of writing and the subject or topic of writing is incidental, it is opposite with a unit study.
Choosing a topic for writing already has a palatable start because your child had a choice when planning your unit study theme. Your child’s freedom to choose a unit study topic gives you the necessary starting point to take a potentially stressful subject to teach and turn it into something they look forward to.
Instead of grouping writing ideas by grade level, from kindergarten to high school, I will leave that up to you. You know whether your young writer is doing more advanced work or if you need to have your highschooler focus on the basics of writing.
Too, from the list below, I want to encourage you to continue to give handwriting priority in your day instead of feeling defeated.
Look at this list of ideas as I use my unit study theme, Ancient Civilizations, as an example to plan related handwriting or composition topic.
Ancient Civilizations. Describe silkworms; explain the silk making process; explain the process of becoming a Samurai warrior; how would you compare the lives of Egyptian Pharaohs and Queens to the common people; list 3 facts that you learned from the life of Jonah; research about the animals of Africa and label the parts of an animal; write a quality paragraph about the art of mummy making; describe Hannibal’s trek across the Alps with elephants so that your reader can experience it and picture it; color an animal by number to strengthen fine motor skills or color an animal by letter recognition; write an essay about the Punic Wars so that each part of the essay is clearly distinguishable, which are an opening paragraph, three detailed body paragraphs and a closing paragraph; observe nature and write about the flora of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon; show the relationship between Shang script or Chinese writing to cuneiform and hieroglyphics; do Ancient Greece copywork; use reliable and quality resources to research about Egyptian Gods; use time order to explain the days of creation; outline how to build the pyramids of Egypt; describe pieces of art from Ancient Civilizations; have a younger child edit a paragraph written by an older sibling; choose scriptures to narrow down a topic about the pagan practices of Ancient Civilizations; creative writing by using If I lived back in the times of mummies . . . or If I traveled back to the ancient land of Greece … or What I would wear to be part of the high fashion society of Greece . . . or What my weapon would be if I were training to be a Roman Legionary Soldier and copy one sentence or quote like “All Roads Lead to Rome”.
From a Word Rookie to Word Wizard
Don’t be afraid to put aside composition assignments that are meaningless in favor of choosing a topic with a meaningful message to your child.
Also, setting aside laid out curriculum and grabbing helpful reference books will allow you to create writing assignments for your family.
One resource I have used over the years and still use is Great Source Write Source. Matter of fact I like all their books. It has been easy to assign written work we choose following the composition types in these books.
Also, for a teacher reference, I really like The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An Easy-to-Use Guide with Clear Rules, Real-World Examples, and Reproducible Quizzes and refer to this probably more often than some other references.
Another one that is timeless and has stood teaching all three of my sons with the fads of books coming in and out is If You’re Trying to Teach Kids How to Write . . . You’ve Gotta Have This Book.
Too, Mr. Senior 2013 preferred using the English handbook by Rod and Staff. It is a compact and very helpful tool at the high school level. If you have a highschooler who wants to quickly master some of the more important concepts of high school level writing, this is a no frills reference.
Writing topics are sparked from themes that make sense to your child because they are based on what topic you are learning about.
Smothering the Embers of Beginning Creativity
When emphasis is put first on the engaging process of the topic then a tool like grammar can be applied afterwards. Kids can feel crippled when they have to think about the mechanics of writing when thoughts should be flowing.
Working on the mechanics of grammar like the who and which clauses, studying nonessential and essential clauses, focusing on narrowing down topics, planning paragraphs and editing can be done after the child has composed what he finds entertaining.
Don’t stifle the love for writing by focusing first on the rules. Keep the teacher mom reined in for this subject.
Rules of grammar are important and you want them to be important to your children. The necessity of the rules can be seen when applied to something personal, which is their writing. Rules for the sake of rules without validity never made sense to anybody.
Does this list spark some creative ideas for writing on your present unit study? Do you want me to create lists like this for each unit study on my blog?
Hugs and love ya,
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