Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Writing Tales 1

Hello everyone. Thought I would write another review for our favorite program Writing Tales. I enjoy writing them and I hope they are helpful to anyone out there contemplating the use of this program for their children. I can say that we've really enjoyed this simple program. It has brought a love of writing out in my daughters that I am very thankful for. Even in this day in age where typing on computers , emailing and text messaging is all the rage. Writing skills are still very important.

Without further adue , here is my very own review of Writing Tales 1.

What do you do when you have a reluctant writer that just doesn’t know where to start in the writing process? You purchase” Writing Tales” from Olsen Books of course. This wonderful program has been written by a homeschool mother who found that she loved writing curriculum, and had wanted to make classical writing easy to teach for other homeschoolers. Amy Olsen has taken and broken down the twelve steps of the ancient Greek progymnasmata which is the ancient levels of writing instruction by the Greeks into bite sized pieces to help those who are reluctant writers become successful.

“Writing Tales 1” is the first book of a two part series that consists of the teacher’s manual and student workbook which are both necessary to have. This program also would like you to either purchase or borrow from the library five books to go along with the program “Fables”, “Punctuation Takes a Vacation”,
“Squids Will Be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables”, “Where the Side Walk Ends “, and “Fantastic! Wow! And Unreal! A Book about Interjections and Conjunctions” which supplement the program.

“Writing Tales 1” is written for the student in 3rd or 4th grade in either a homeschool or co-op setting. This program was made for one student or a group of students wanting to have fun with learning the writing process. Amy Olsen has kept in mind that there are all different types of learners and has included many styles of activities for auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners. She has also added grammar and spelling which she feels is very important to the program.

The teacher’s manual is very well put together and includes lessons for both homeschool use and lessons for co-op settings. It also contains a copy of the student workbook with the answers, and everything you need for the activities for each lesson.

The program has very little preparation time requiring you to copy sentence strips for the next day, or preparing for a game to reinforce grammar concepts. These activities are all an integral and fun part of the program. The instructions for the home teacher are simple and set up in a way that all you have to do is read them. There is no need to study the program before using it as it is broken down step by step and lesson by lesson.

” Writing Tales” is broken up into thirty lessons, each lesson taking five days to complete. Fifteen fables, fairy tales, and legends are read, studied and rewritten, while there are fifteen grammar lessons taught simultaneously. Each lesson consists of two lessons per story. The first week students are reading the story, putting the story in its proper sequence, looking up unfamiliar vocabulary words, learning a new grammar concept, and writing their first rough draft.

By the second week they are ending their lesson with rewriting their final rough draft adding creative touches to make the story their own. The author of the program encourages the children to draw pictures of their stories and to type them out and create a story book of their finished work.

The author recommends the extra readers “Fables “, “Punctuation takes a Vacation”, “Squids will be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables”, “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, and “Fantastic! Wow! And Unreal: A Book about Interjections and Conjunctions”. She disperses these stories throughout the manual. These stories prove very useful as they introduce the student to poetry, more fables and tales, and enjoyable stories to help understand grammar concepts. If the parent is unable to obtain these books they are still able to use “Writing Tales 1” with success without them.

Of course there are positives and negatives to every product. I feel that there are very few negatives to” Writing Tales 1” though.
The positives to the program are:

1.The program is written for all types of learners in mind.

2. The manual is written for the parent to open and go. No reason to study the program before using it.

3.The manual has lessons written for both homeschoolers and those who co-op nicely separated so there is no switching back and forth trying to figure out which lesson is for which.

4.The price of both the teacher’s manual and student workbook is reasonable.

5.Writing Tales gives children the option to rewrite the story in their own words or to add their own creative touches to the final draft. The goal in this level is to just get the child to write.

6.The student book is spiral bound making it easy for young students to use as it lays out flat. As my daughters would say,” The grammar games are just awesome and fun!”

7. If your child likes fables, fairy tales and legends read to them and enjoys telling you the stories back this program works wonderfully.

8. The various games in the program for grammar though a lot of fun are not necessary if you have a student that doesn’t want to play them they don’t have to.

The negatives of the program are few and far between.
1.Some families find that this program just doesn’t work for their child as they don’t like to retell stories.

2.The first three stories in the program many children are able to work quickly through them they find that the stories and exercises get hard very quickly.

3.This is not a full series. Currently there are only two levels out” Writing Tales 1” and “Writing Tales 2” which is written for 4th through 6th graders. After completing these two levels the author recommends “Creative Writing: Homer.”

4. The program can look deceptively easy and some parents begin the child with the wrong level which in turns causes frustration for both parent and child.

5.If you are using the program with multiple students in your home the author does not allow reproduction of her student workbooks so the cost can be more then some homeschoolers would like.

In conclusion I highly recommend” Writing Tales 1”, and plan on using “Writing Tales 2 “when my daughters are ready. I find “Writing Tales 1” to be very thorough and engaging. It definitely helps reluctant writers to create a piece of writing they can be proud of.


Renelle said...

Very thorough review, thankyou. I know you wrote it a while back but it has been helpful. We have just bought Writing Tales and I'm really looking forward to using it with ds8.

Dee said...

I just found this review through a google search. This was a wonderful and thorough review. I am considering this for next year and now I know that even though my son will be in the fifth grade, I should start with the first level and save the 2nd level for the sixth grade. Thank you so much!

Dee :)

Lesli said...

I agree. My children love Writing Tales. We started out with Writing Strands and my girls HATED writing (actually to the point of tears) Then a friend recommended Writing Tales. The only part of it that I don't like is the spelling. My girls are not naturally good spellers, so we have had to purchase another spelling program.Other than that, we really like the program!!