Posts Tagged ‘writing’

  • Joshua’s Recent Writing

    Date: 2013.03.20 | Category: Life, as it happens, Opportunity Schooling | Response: 1

    I hear a lot of questions about inexpensive curriculum opportunities for kids. So I’m just going to start posting a few of the things that I’ve been doing with Anna and Joshua in the last month. Hopefully it sparks some ideas for people.

    If you have other ideas along similar notes, please feel free to add them in the comments! There is no reason homeschooling should be atrociously expensive.



    Lots of letters. Every time before we start, we review the basic parts of a letter (greeting, body, and closing) and talk to organize Joshua’s thoughts so he knows what he wants to dictate/write. Anna is included and usually has something of her own to dictate after. We have been sending e-mails and letters to family, but other places too. Joshua wanted some seeds, so we found a place offering some seed samples and he dictated his own seed request. When a company stopped using vegetable coloring in his favorite rainbow noodles and started making them all yellow instead, he asked to dictate a letter to them about it.

    One day in a storm of brilliance, I introduced Joshua to the word-correct function in MS Word – now he is typing short letters to family and friends for himself and selecting the (usually correct) spelling himself. This is getting typing in, too. The notes are shorter and take him longer, but there is a higher pride-value.

    We also created birthday cards for several family members, including writing the words from verbal spelling prompts and copying (we have a lot of birthdays this month). We had four birthdays, so Anna made two, Joshua made two, and they were encouraged to sign all of them.

    Mad Libs Jr. pages – Like Mad Libs, but includes lists of words at the top that can be used to fill categories (nouns, verbs, adjectives, and misc.). Every time he does a page, we review what each of these parts of speech are and figure out what kinds of words make up the “misc.” category for that page. Anna likes to listen in and participate and is starting to get these down, too. Joshua is now starting to substitute words of his own when he isn’t satisfied with what is on the list, which is strengthening his parts of speech.

    Sometime soon, I’m tempted to try Joshua on children’s crossword puzzles, if I can find a good source

    Anna is doing periodic lessons where we sit down and practice letters together, ten ‘O’s or five or so ‘Anna’s at a time. However long she can keep her attention on the activity. Though lately, she wants to do a lot of practicing number-writing, since Joshua has been practicing daily to improve speed and form.

    Anna also loves the “Little Writer” app. It allows her to practice drawing letters, numbers, and shapes on the phone. I customized the sound bytes for the letters she she hears the letter sounds and an associated word each time she practices the letter. Since then, Joshua figured out how to customize the bytes and likes to go back periodically put in his own word examples. Anna loves that, and it is good review for him as well.

    We write about our history and science lessons. Joshua has a “Book of Observations” (a simple, hardcover composition book). We write science questions there and answer them on science days, record experiments and results, and (lately) as we cover history items (Pilgrims, MLK, George Washington), he draws a picture of what we learned and writes important words on it. Then he helps dictate a summary for the back, so he can go back and read about what he learned before (which he does like to do). Recently, I’ve started a “Book of Observations” with Anna as well, though it is mostly pictures and name-writing practice right now.

  • Joshua, the Word Machine

    Date: 2011.11.07 | Category: Life, as it happens | Response: 0

    November is National Write a Novel Month. Some people have used this as an excuse to hound me about finishing my children’s book.

    So I went to write this afternoon when the kids were otherwise engaged. Joshua popped up next to me as soon as the computer came on. “What are you going to do, Mommy?” Write some of my story. “Oh! Can I write a story?” So for the next 20 minutes, he stood there and dictated five short stories. When he got stuck (which wasn’t too often) I offered assistance Socratic-ly.
    One ending was vetoed: sorry, but having the dragon eat the little boy was a little off… After reminding him about the goal of having a HAPPY ending, he found a way for the characters to compromise.

    At the end, we went back and he titled all of them. End result: Crabs (about a crab who has an adventure of unusual variety), The Dragon Story (in which the little boy does NOT get eaten, except as a do-not-read-aloud alternate ending), The Next Dragon Story (in which we learn about health habits), The Angry Bird (in which Joshua, who is a fan of the original game, provides his own take on the story), and I Love You So Much (the sweetest first person narrative ever; I’m so lucky to be Mommy to such a sweet boy).

    This was on top of his dictating two letters, today. (I have never been a letter writer; I don’t know where he gets that from.)

    We are now illustrating the stories. He draws, picks the colors, and then supervises me coloring in the drawings (at his insistence). We spent about an half an hour working on illustrations for The Angry Bird and talking about authors and illustrators, while Anna happily scribbled on a few rejects (mostly rejected when I didn’t follow Joshua’s instructions closely enough and messed up the coloring… :P ).

    When we finish or his interest peters out (whichever comes first, I plan to electronically compile what we have and combine the words and pictures together).  Anyone interested in a final copy is free to ping me.

    Joshua recently declared at the end of a very successful reading session, “I am a word machine!” He absolutely is.

  • Writing about Motherhood Is Hard

    Date: 2011.09.07 | Category: General | Response: 2

    Every time Chrome opens up, PeanutButterAndJellyHandprints stares at me from the opening page. With how long it has been since I posted anything, it’s begun to feel vaguely accusing. It’s difficult enough to drag myself out of bed and through the day, recently. I’m not sure why. And finding myself collapsing exhaustedly halfway through every day, I’ve been working to spend every other remaining minute with the children and Dear Husband. I cannot give myself to them and the page. So the page waits. And waits.

    Besides, it is difficult to write without honesty. Very often, I could label my writer’s block, if willing to do so: Honesty. Not to say that I am an untruthful person. Far from it; if it didn’t matter, it wouldn’t be a problem. It matters because I juggle my ability to convey what I mean with my limited capacities and worry that anyone who might read it (you are reading this, so somebody must!) might become worried or judgemental, either because life isn’t perfect today and I admit it, or because I mis-convey what I meant. Yes, I have been unusually tired, lately. Probably due to stress and lack of exercise. Minor depression? Maybe, considering repeated schedule changes, enduring job uncertainty, and a budget that’s been shoestring for the last five years. But best not mention the ‘D’ word, lest someone panic. Honesty, versus having a partially known audience (maybe?) with unknown possible reactions. Can I say what I mean and have it understood as meant? Two articles have already died quiet deaths, while countless others have remained unwritten. Despite my desire to reach out via open honest words and embrace other women, to say “it is alright to admit that motherhood, in the midst of it’s wonderfulness, is hard.”

    How much else in life goes unrealized because of these fears? Much, much, too much, I think.

    Thank you, Chaundra ( for having the courage to set the example and invite others to join.

    Motherhood is not easy. Neither is writing about it. If words should fail or personal imperfections come to light, may I ask you to offer the grace to

    “Take and sift them –
    Keep what is worth keeping –
    and with the breath of kindness
    Blow the rest away.”