But let me be honest, just because I love grammar memes does not mean I have the perfect grammar. I’m already worried about all the mistakes I’ll be making just writing an introduction to a grammar post!
(I’m sure my overuse of exclamation marks is a very big grammar no-no.)
Memes and funny grammar jokes are a great way to learn about grammar with your kids, it’s a way to make an otherwise boring subject like grammar fun.
Eats, Shoots and Leaves contains hilarious illustrations showing how a comma can make an incredible difference in a sentence. For example: Slow, children crossing. verses Slow children crossing. With the addition of great illustrations it gives children a great visual to the difference.
One thing I want to incorporate into our upcoming homeschool year that we have never done before is to add in some creative writing.
My daughter does some writing on her own here and there, a couple of years ago she was dictating her stories to me while I typed them out on the computer and now she’s switched over to writing her own stories out. Recently she was working on creating a list of characters for a story, it included a family tree and short descriptions of each of the characters, too cute.
And while I love that she chooses to write her own stories I wanted to be a little more intentional with our story writing this year and kept trying to remind myself to actually write the idea down so I didn’t forget when it came to planning our year out.
I’ve had the idea on my mind for awhile now and the other evening the kids and I were sitting around together so I came up with a couple of story starter ideas and the kids picked one and we began writing a story together, each adding about two sentences at a time until we had a decent (and silly) story.
My daughter was inspired and started writing her own story starter ideas, all ending on nice cliffhangers and I thought why not share our ideas here?
You can use these prompts in any way you want, give the full list to a kid to pick on to continue, give just one prompt for a child to work on or do what we did – work on one prompt as a group, each adding a few sentences at a time.
I’ve typed out ten of our story starter ideas for you to go ahead and use, in addition, I put them into a PDF in case you want to print them out and have them ready for when you need them.
FREE CREATIVE WRITING STORY PROMPTS
Macy knew the goblin was getting closer, she quickly glanced back and she turned back around only to see that she had entered . . .
Anthony was practicing his foul shots at the playground basketball court. He had been getting most of them in until . . .
Elliott enjoyed taking pictures and one afternoon decided to venture into the nearby woods to try to photograph some moss, but he wasn’t prepared to find . . .
Jane was writing her first book, she was just about to start another sentence when her mom called her and said . . .
One day Jill was practicing piano as was her normal afternoon routine when she heard a knock at the door . . .
It was close to the end of her soccer game when Olivia got the ball and she dribbled it up to the net, it was right there that . . .
Ben woke up excited, today was his twelfth birthday! He quickly went to the kitchen and said good morning to his parents, they let him open his presents right away and he was excited to find . . .
Bobby had spent the last hour cleaning up his room, he was just putting the last Lego in the bin when he heard a sound . . .
Andy was walking down the street when he saw something move in the trees ahead of him, he was sure it looked like a hairy purple tail, he got closer to the trees and found . . .
Ethan, Ellie and Emma were excited because their parents told them today they would be getting a surprise. They had waited all afternoon and were finally getting it . . .
I honestly have no idea how I learned to read. I don’t know who taught me or what kind of process they used but I know that I have been a voracious reader since I was young.
Since reading is such a big part of my life I want my kids to love reading as well.
I truly feel blessed to have taught/be teaching both of my kids to read.
So many people have told me that teaching their kids to read is one thing that scares them away from homeschooling, they just don’t know how to do it. To be honest, I didn’t either!
People often assume since I was educated as a teacher that means I know how to teach kids to read, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s just say, nothing I learned in university has helped me with homeschooling. (Other than realizing that the school system is not where I wanted my kids to be.)
When it was time for Raeca to start learning to read I picked up the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, I had come across it somewhere on the interwebs and since it was only $15 it seemed like a no-brainer. I’ve always maintained that this book is boring but it works. While this post may contradict that a bit, I guess now I would say the book is dry but it does teach phonics.
I used the book for both of my kids, with Raeca we did about 80 of the 100 lessons before she was reading on her own and I’ve done about 65 lessons with Ephraim and we are taking a break from TYCTR, we may come back to it but at this point he needed some supplementary reading.
Before I go any further, let me just mention that Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is a phonics based approach to reading. And I feel like I’ve now learned that just teaching phonics is enough for some kids but some kids need more.
But at the beginning I did not really know about different ways of teaching reading apart from phonics so that’s why I went with a phonics based approach.
WHOLE LANGUAGE LEARNING
It wasn’t until I read Reading Magic that I learned about whole language teaching. Even then, it wasn’t until a few years after reading the book for the first time and a few months after reading it a second that I really felt like I grasped what whole language teaching was.
I assumed that every child had to be taught to read through teaching phonics. And while I still do think that phonics is important to know, it wasn’t until Ephraim hit a bit of a wall with the phonics based approach that I began to consider something else.
HITTING THE PHONICS WALL
It took me quite a while to realize that Ephraim had hit a wall with phonics. I assumed he just needed more practice but it was frustrating to hear him sound out every single word, especially when he had just read that exact word four words ago.
I started to notice that he was still sounding out words like “it” and “is” but was catching on to the bigger, sight words, first with said, then little, etc.
I thought those short words would click after continuing through TYCTR but it just wasn’t happening, that’s when I knew we needed to do something different.
THROWING PHONICS OUT THE WINDOW, KINDA
Since Ephraim knew the phonics basics I was good with pretty much throwing it out the window. It’s the whole idea of knowing the rules and then breaking them. He knew how to sound things out and now he just needed to stop sounding everything out.
Thank you, Mo Willms, for making our reading so much more fun! These books are silly, have quite a few pages but not very many words on a page and are repetitive enough for practice but not so much so that they become boring. He really is the modern day Dr. Seuss (who we also love).
HOW WE INCREASE FLOW AND FLUENCY AND REDUCE DISCOURAGEMENT
The part where Elephant and Piggie books are different than Dr. Seuss is there are some big, non-phonics in each books, the Elephant’s name is Gerald after all. #phonicsnightmare
To help keep the flow and fluency and keep discouragement to a minimum I generally jump in when a new “big” word is introduced or if there are words that are a current struggle.
I thought it might be helpful to take you along while Ephraim read an Elephant and Piggie book to give an idea of how much sounding out is being done and how much I help. The book he’s reading in this video he had read one other time so he knew what was happening but he didn’t have it all memorized – that’s the sweet spot when learning to read.
I do wish I would have angled the camera down a bit more for this video so you could see the book as he was reading. Sorry about that. #learning
I would love to hear how you approach reading, do you gravitate more towards phonics or whole language? Have you noticed a difference from one child to the other?
I’m honestly not sure if one can be involved in the homeschool community in any way online without quickly hearing about Brave Writer. If you read around homeschool blogs for more than five minutes you are going to hear about someone raving about Julie and Brave Writer. And for good reason.
Remember when I was talking about Poetry Tea Time and how much my kids adore it (if I forget one week they are bound to remember)? Well, Poetry Tea Time is the brain child of Julie over at Brave Writer.
I recently received The Writer’s Jungle from Brave Writer after hearing so many people rave about it.
When people find out that I’m actually a teacher by education they always comment on how it must be so helpful for homeschooling. It’s not. Honestly, there were very limited courses that I took in university that were actually beneficial to me in the classroom (home economics and social studies to be exact), I came out with a degree in education with an English minor and had no idea how to teach kids to write.
After graduating university and before having kids I was covering a maternity leave and my main classes I taught were grade 7 & 8 English. Oh man, looking back now I feel so sorry for those kids. I had no idea what I was doing. As I was reading through The Writer’s Jungle I just kept thinking, if only I would have had this when I was teaching! It would have been so helpful.
And while I can’t go back and fix my mistakes as a teacher in the classroom I can make sure I don’t make those same mistakes as a homeschooling mom, and The Writer’s Jungle is definitely going to be a part of making sure that doesn’t happen!
so what is the writer’s jungle?
The Writer’s Jungle is a huge ebook (or binder if you buy that copy) that is designed to teach the homeschool parent howto teach writing. Julie includes a number of different ideas and activities that will help your child fall in love with writing. With The Writer’s Jungle it’s not about learning different techniques just to know them but to enrich a child’s writing.
While reading what Julie wrote about alliterations I was inspired to teach Raeca about them and now we like to make up silly alliterations about people, like: Robot Riding Raeca, Finger Fighting Phillip, Carrot Kicker Chloe, Bouncing Ball Billy, Jumbo Jumping Jilly, etc. It was a fun way for her to learn alliterations and we randomly shout out new ones as we think of them.
The book is large (over 260 pages!) but don’t let that intimidate you! You don’t need to read the whole thing before you can start implementing what Julie shares.
my child is 5 (or 6 or 7), do I need to purchase jot it down or would the writer’s jungle be better?
Honestly, I haven’t read Jot It Down so I can’t say for sure but my daughter is 6 and I’ve been implementing and adapting a number of the activities in The Writer’s Jungle with her, though I do most of the physical writing (or typing). If you want to purchase both Brave Writer has them together in a bundle along with your choice of The Wand or A Quiver of Arrows where you can save some money by purchasing them all together.
All in all, I’m really excited to implement so much of what I have learned from The Writer’s Jungle into our homeschool and while I wish I would have read this back when I was teaching in the classroom I’m glad to have come across it so early in our homeschooling journey!
Helpful Hint: I got the digital copy, which I love because I’m all about ebooks these days, if you get the digital copy you can send it to your Kindle (or Kindle app) and actually have it convert to the Kindle format. This is really helpful for when you want to highlight half the book like I did.
To send it to yourself you need to know your Kindle email address, you can find this by going to Amazon – Your Account – Manage My Content and Devices – Settings – Personal Document Settings. Under this heading they have your Kindle email listed.
Now all you need to do is email this address with the PDF attached, doing this will send the PDF version but if you type convert into the subject line it will convert it into a Kindle book. This has been so helpful for me, I now use this all the time.
While Ephraim isn’t doing any type of Brave Writer writing at this point he likes to sit beside Raeca and write letters, it’s pretty adorable.
Full disclosure: I received a free copy of The Writer’s Jungle in exchange for an honest review, but I actually contacted the lovely people over at Brave Writer about it because I had heard so many good things about The Writer’s Jungle!