Writing is one of the foundation educational content areas along with reading and math. I have searched through and tried several writing curricula before finding one that was a perfect fit for my family. Once I found Writing with Ease, I could honestly say my search for a writing curriculum is over (at least for the primary grades). I will start with reviewing my top writing pick and then cover some of the other elementary writing curricula I have tried in no particular order.
My Top Elementary Writing Curriculum Pick
Writing with Ease clearly explains the prerequisite skills for creating original writing and then explains how to develop those skills in children. Children are guided step-by-step in the process. The children are taught to summarize content, to hold dictated sentences in their mind long enough to record them, and eventually write their own responses.
The lessons described are sequenced systematically and gradually increase in difficulty. The authors explain how to use the program with your own content. Additional open-and-go books are also available for purchase that have include the required passages and necessary content. I do use these “Complete Writer” workbooks and find them highly beneficial. The processes described in this book are the best explanation I have seen for developing writing skills. The lessons are short and I have not had to make any adaptations for my child with ADHD.
Without the additional “Complete Writer Workbooks” the program may require more preparation time than other programs. With these workbooks, this writing program is easy to implement.
Review of Other Elementary Writing Curricula
I came across this program while teaching school. Our school scored lower on the writing portion of on some standardized tests, and so there was a school-wide training on using the Four Square Writing Method. This method starts with a topic, and then has 3 details and 1 feeling sentence. The sentences are organized visually within a square graphic organizer. The sentences can then be copied into a paragraph format.
This system provides a visual basis for organizing paragraphs. A variety of topics can be used with this framework.
This program is limited to paragraph organization. It does not incrementally teach summarization or the other skills taught in the Writing with Ease Program.
Write shop is a writing program that can begin in the early years. It teaches children to discuss and formulate sentences regarding topics. Children can dictate their essays for an adult to write and gradually work up to writing their own original content.
Children can begin to create their own content before they have the necessary handwriting skills. The program is systematic and provides regular writing practice. Topics could be adjusted to fit within other content areas.
We made it through level A with great success. Once we got to Level B, my son started to resist the writing activities. He was not interested in the presented topics. In addition, the required editing and rewriting were just not going to happen with him. We may revisit Write Shop once he has sufficient typing skills to make the required editing and publishing parts of this program less painful.
Michael Clay Thompson (not an affiliate link) books are supposed to be a full language arts curriculum. The books cover grammar, vocabulary, poetry, and literature. They also claim to cover writing. I have used levels 1-3, so my review is limited to the levels I have used.
This curriculum explains the content it does cover through interesting narrative. The program is written for gifted children. It may or may not be appropriate for children who are not gifted or for children who are twice exceptional children.
For a curriculum that claims to cover writing, there is very limited writing practice. The only writing practice I found was related to the literature books. I was supposed to assign essays on certain topics. This is a huge jump from the information covered. The books do cover the parts of a sentence and the components of paragraphs; however, the books do not include systematic or even sequential exercises in creating original sentences and paragraphs.
This book is available in several grade levels. I have used the first and second grade daily writing books. The program covers a different writing convention each week.
The program provides age appropriate ways to practice writing. The books are systematic and provide a strong framework for learning and practicing writing conventions.
Similar to write shop, my son lost interest when the program moved on to topics that he was not interested in. In order to compensate for this challenge, which is not related to the quality of the program, I have recently reintroduced 6-trait writing and provided a simple modification. We change the topic to one that interests him. Problem solved. Now we can use this series to develop his writing skills.
Conclusion on Elementary Writing Curricula
I highly recommend the Writing with Ease program. Depending on your child’s attention and interest in writing, Evan-Moor and Write Shop may also be good options. I have seen a great benefit in using the Writing with Ease program and would recommend using this program as the base for learning to write content. Other elementary writing curricula, such as write shop, could be also included as supplemental sources for writing activities.
CLICK HERE to read my review of the Brave Writer’s book, “The Writer’s Jungle.”
CLICK HERE to read my article comparing the Brave Writer and Writing with Ease elementary level curricula.
CLICK HERE to read my review of the Sentence Composing for Elementary School worktext