As I was searching around the Internet for some ideas on how to get Tay more interested in writing, I came across a great site and a great product. Story Starters: Helping Children Write Like They've Never Written Before by Karen Andreola. I read about Story Starters on her website, and after a little bit of time, I decided to give it a try. I received in the mail last Friday, and started using it last week with Tay. It is amazing! I have noticed a difference, not only in Tay's writing but in her attitude as well. Prior to this week, getting Tay to apply herself to the writing process was like pulling teeth. There was always an argument surrounding this subject. I was starting to think she was never going to get it. I knew she could write well, but she would only apply herself if it was something she wanted to write about. This was usually done outside of lesson time, on her own, writing and illustrating stories. I thought, well at least she is writing. Then would come a lesson where writing something specific was necessary. This is where I would lose her. Tay is very creative, sometimes she is a little too creative. She likes to write and even draw things that come into her own mind, or from her heart. I think this is great, but she needs to learn that we sometimes need to write, or draw something specific for others. Story Starters allows for the best of both worlds.
With Story Starters ,you the parent begin the lesson by reading a brief introduction to a story out loud to the child. Depending on age, as this program goes from about 4th grade to 12th grade, the child may be able to read the story on their own. Tay is capable of doing this part on her own, but I have decided I would begin with me reading the story to her and then I would gradually let her take over. After the story is read, there is a picture that the child looks at to go along with the story. The picture shows what is happening in the story as well. The child is then given direction on how to continue this story in writing. Day one, is a short description on how the story should be completed. At this point you are to give the direction and then the child begins writing. The importance is placed on the content of the writing, not the spelling, grammar, ext, ext. I allowed Tay to use the computer for her writing, because when her hand starts hurting from use she loses focus. This way she was able to stay focused the entire lesson. In the book, Karen states that the kids will begin writing right away and they will stay quiet until they are done. I thought to myself, we will see, Tay always has something to say. I was proven wrong. Tay wrote quietly until her story was completed. Amazing! This is the end of the lesson for day 1. I pushed this lesson into 3 days, as not overwhelm Tay and myself to start.
Day 2 began with a discussion on writing help, the next set of directions in the book. Writing help is a set of more specific directions/suggestions to add to the story. Tay went point by point and added to her story. Again, she did this quietly without any complaining. Not only was she not complaining, she was telling me how much she liked doing this lesson. When she was finished I told her to print out both copies for me to look at. Remember, we are still not concerned with grammar and spelling, we are only looking for details and good writing content. Now, that 2 drafts have been complete, it is my turn to correct the paper. I read through her first 2 drafts, completely amazed. She had done a wonderful job. I only needed to correct spelling and grammar, as she included all the points needed from the writing help. I made all corrections and gave the paper back to Tay on day 3. She then needed to write out her final draft, being sure to me mindful of the corrections on her rough draft. At the end of the lesson, we put all 3 copies into her new Story Starter binder. I am so proud of her.
Story Starters is a great way to get the reluctant writer more excited about writing. I am so happy with this addition to our curriculum. I plan on using story starters every other week, since it does take about 3 days to complete one lesson. Tay can't wait to get her next assignment, and I can't wait to see her finished product. I hope this post has been informative to all of you. You can learn more about Story Starters at Homeschool Highlights.
Disclosure: The opinions in this post are my own, and my own only. I was not compensated in any way for writing about this product. I just wanted to pass along a great resource.