WriteShop Junior Level E {Review}

WriteShop is not just about your child putting pencil to paper. It teaches students how to write using a variety of pre-writing activities and games, graphic organizers, and kid-friendly methods so that writing is easy and fun - even for reluctant writers.

I'm excited to share my review of WriteShop Junior: Book E Set, but even more excited to add it to our curriculum line up this coming school year.

Components and cost of the program:

  • Book E Teacher's Guide: Spiral-bound ($45.95) or e-book version (digital PDF) ($35.50) ~ The Teacher's Guide walks you through step by step how to implement the program and teach 10 writing lessons, each over the course of 2 or 3 weeks.

  • Activity Pack: Print version (1 per child) ($45.95) or e-book version (1 per family) (35.50) ~ The Activity Pack contains both the Student Worksheets (87 activity pages used in the lessons) and the Level 2 Fold-N-Go Grammar Pack (10 grammar and writing guides each with a different skill).

  • Optional Time-Saver Pack: Print version ($14.94) or e-book version ($6.50) ~ The Time-Saver Pack is exactly that - a time saver! Everything in it is included in the Activity Pack, but offered in this set for ease of use.

  • Optional Junior Writer's Notebook 1: Available only in digital PDF format ($3.50) ~ This is a set of 12 planning and writing printables. We have been using the Reading Log from the Junior Writer's notebook.

I received a combination of physical and digital products. I received a physical Spiral bound Teacher's Guide, the Optional Time-Saver printed pack, a digital Activity Pack, and  a digital Optional Junior Writer's Notebook. I was real happy with this combination, though if I were spending the money, I would be tempted to only get the required materials to save money.

When I read the Book E Sample on Writing an Adventure Story, I thought that Malachi would really enjoy this level. He is ready for more formal writing instruction and he is already writing his own adventure stories.

In Book E, he will learn how to write:

  • Fables

  • Humor

  • Adventure

  • Science Fiction

  • Mystery

  • Poetry/Shape Poems

  • Personal Narrative

  • Descriptive Narrative

  • Book Report/Responding to Literature

  • Expository Writing: Nonfiction Report

How to get started:

The Teacher's Guide walks you step by step how to get ready. I spent the first week printing, locating materials and supplies, assembling the Fold-N-Go Grammar folders, setting up a writing center, and setting up a "Said It, Read It, Edit" bag.

Activity Pack printed and ready to go in a binder and the Teacher's Guide:

Junior Writer's Notebook printed and ready to go:

Fold-N-Go Grammar folders printed and assembled:

Time Saver Pack printed for me and ready to go:

Our Writing Center:

Contains writing materials and supplies - items my student may need to plan, write, edit, and publish his writing.

Said It, Read It, Edit Bag - everything my student needs to edit his writing.

Then I spent time familiarizing myself with how WriteShop works. The Teacher's Guide is very interactive and informative. It guides you through how to use the guide, what the lesson objectives are, how to help your student not only succeed but to enjoy the process, and also how to enjoy the process as a teacher!

The Teacher's Guide not only guides, it answers my questions and encourages.

What if I feel overwhelmed? I am given the freedom to tweak, modify or even skip activities that overwhelm me. Knowing this gives me courage to try, with permission to move on if something isn't working. But so far, everything is working!

How much help should I give my student? It's in the guide. I really was able to relax and be encouraged, but was also challenged to create a learning environment that would help my child succeed.

This is all in the Introduction which also explains the components of the program. After the Introduction, we dive right into the lessons, but am referred back to page numbers in the Introduction to remind me how the process works. This was very helpful!

After getting ready and familiarizing myself with the program, we were ready to begin lessons.

Overview of the Writing Process:

  • Pre-Writing

  • Model and Teach

  • Skill Builder

  • Brainstorming

  • Writing Project

  • Editing and Revising

  • Parent Editing

  • Publishing the Project

What's unique about WriteShop is that many steps in the process are done orally with the parent writing if needed.

Our experience: 

We followed the suggested 3 week per lesson schedule, so we completed Lessons 1 and 2: Writing a Fable and Writing with Humor for this review. It was a nice, easy pace to follow. I didn't feel stressed or pressured and that made our writing time more enjoyable.

Writing a Fable

The objective of the lesson was for my child to learn to write a fable, develop a unique voice by giving characters strong character traits, and learn the parts of a sentence.

Activity Set 1:1 We started our lesson by reading and completing some of the activities on sentences in the Fold-N-Go Grammar Folder. We spread these activities out over 3 days. Malachi also started recording books he read in the Reading Log.

Activity Set 1:2 Pre-Writing: Today, we did a pre-writing activity to become familiar with fables. We reviewed the Fables Character Chart in the Student Worksheet Pack. Then we played a game called the Great Fable Race.

We rolled a dice to assemble pieces of a fable. The first person to collect all the parts of the fable won and we read the completed fable together.

Malachi likes competitive games, so he enjoyed this. But, if your child is not competitive, there is a tip to simply take turns and build the fable together. I loved this!

We also did a Model and Teach activity this day. I read aloud a fable called The Wind and the Sun and dialogued with my child using the suggested script. I really like that WriteShop is gently scripted and that it offers possible answers while I am guiding and prompting my child through the elements of a fable.

Activity Set 1:3 Skill Builder ~ First, I love that I am sent back to page 23 of the Introduction to be reminded of what the purpose of the Skill Builder is. Those reminders are helpful while I am learning the program. The purpose of the Skill Builder is to teach a new writing skill. Today, we are learning how to Choose-a-Voice. We analyzed traits of characters in fables and how we can develop voice by giving each character unique personality traits and a unique way of talking and acting.

Malachi did a Journal Writing activity in which he chose an animal that might make an interesting character for a fable.

Activity Set 1:4 Brainstorming ~ We generated ideas and ingredients he will need to include in his fable.

Activity Sets 1:5 The Writing Project ~ Malachi wrote the "sloppy copy" of his fable (his rough draft). He loved calling it his sloppy copy, because he knew it didn't have to be perfect.

In Activity Set 1:6, he edited and revised his copy.

I guided Malachi to use his "Said It, Read It, Edit Bag" to self-edit his own work. I invited him to choose a highlighter from the bag so he could do a "Job Well Done" search. He looked over the fable and highlighted a difficult word he spelled correctly. Then highlighted a sentence he wrote correctly by starting it with a capital letter and ending with the correct punctuation. I loved how positive and encouraging this is! Then he applied the grammar he learned by choosing one sentence and highlighting the subject and predicate in two different colors.

Then we read the proofreading marks together and used them on his rough draft. I helped him by placing the proofreading mark by the beginning of the line as a clue and having him search for the mistake. Then we followed a checklist to determine if he used correct grammar and formatting, read the fable together to make sure it has all the necessary elements of a fable, and then I did a final "Parent Editing" check.

Activity Set 1:7 Publishing the Project ~

Malachi wanted to type his final copy (which I called his "fancy copy," since he loved "sloppy copy" so much), and then he created a stamp to decorate his page. I had already planned to do a printmaking lesson with him for art, so we tied this lesson in with the lesson in the guide.

What if the Final Copy Has New Mistakes?

It's okay! The Teacher's Guide says not to worry about these mistakes or even point them out. Learning to write is a process that takes time. Thank you, WriteShop! I have perfectionist tendencies so this really helped me relax! Instead of being critical of my son's final work, I was able to be proud with him over what he accomplished.

I thought Malachi's fable was short, but had all the elements of a fable and even a surprise ending.
                                                The Cat and the Mouse

The mouse is boasting to the cat that he's much faster and can swiftly maneuver.

Mouse says in a squeaky voice, "You'll never catch me!" and starts running through the tall grass.  But, cat is sly and quick. And cat starts the chase.

Mouse says, "I'm so fast and know lots of tunnels to hide in."

A hole! Chomp! Out slithers a snake.

Moral of the story: Don't be boastful.

Haha! I wasn't expecting the mouse to get caught by a snake, and thought it was a clever surprise ending to his fable.

A Note About Age Range of Level E:

Level E is geared towards:

  • 4th graders writing at or above grade level

  • 5th graders with limited writing experience, or writing at or above grade level

  • 6th graders with no prior writing experience, or limited writing experience

  • 7th or 8th graders with no prior writing experience

Malachi is at the beginning end of the age range for Level E. He is entering the 4th grade, but I'm honestly not sure if he is writing at grade level. I chose this level because of how much he loves to write. After the first lesson, I wondered if I should have chosen level D because he fit into all 4 categories for that level. I think he would do just fine with Level E, but I may back up and do Level D first to give him more experience.

Lesson 2 ~ Writing with Humor

In this lesson, we:

  • rewrote a familiar story adding silly words and touches of humor

  • learned how to write dialogue

  • made our writing stronger by avoiding commonly used words

  • identified the four kinds of sentences

For Model and Teach we are rewriting Goldilocks and the Three Bears into Goldilocks and the Three Monkeys and learning about dialogue.

To learn how to describe something without using commonly associated words, we played a game called "Watch Out!" (much like the game of Taboo).

For a Journal Prompt, Malachi rewrote Little Miss Muffet to practice writing with humor.

He chose to use the story we started earlier in the week for his final Writing with Humor story: Goldilocks and the Three Monkeys, so we brainstormed and wrote an outline for his story.

His final story was written in a little book that comes in the Student Activity Book.

I really like that if I need to slow down, I can take Smaller Steps, or if I want to take our learning to new heights, I can do the Flying Higher activities with my child. These are options to slow down or accelerate learning to suit your child.

Final Thoughts:

I really like WriteShop and think it will make a great addition to our homeschool. It is a progressive writing program that feels very organized and structured. Because it is scripted with prompts, the lessons flow smoothly and I feel confident teaching my child. This is a program that you do teach - the lessons are written to you, the parent. While, I do love to be able to give my students as much independent work as possible, every now and then a program comes along that is worth taking the time to teach myself, and WriteShop is worth it. It is not only very easy to teach once you get started, but it is enjoyable to teach, and I enjoyed the quality time spent with my child.

It was also enjoyable for my child. The activities are fun and varied, and Malachi didn't mind them once we got started. There were a few times that I had a hard time motivating him to want to do a lesson, but after it rained here for almost a month, the sunshine was hard to compete with. On that particular day, we played "Watch Out!" and he enjoyed it. It was fun, only took 15 minutes, and he learned a valuable skill. Then he was free to go play, and it wasn't so bad after all. He told me he likes the program, but wants to wait until school starts in the fall to do more. As much as I love WriteShop, I agree. I'm ready for a summer break too. But, I can take a break rest assured that I have a great program to look forward to this fall, and we already have a head start!

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  1. Thank you! For posting this....I've been looking for something other than a very popular writing program that seems too difficult for my child. I'm going to do this for the Fall as well!

  2. I so appreciate your Book E review, Michelle. In particular, thanks for taking time to post photos of each step of the writing process. Seeing Malachi participating in the different activities made me smile. He looks like he really did have fun playing the games. :) Plus, his stories and projects look super cute. I'm delighted that WriteShop Junior was such a good fit for your family!

    Kim Kautzer

  3. Oops! I forgot to mention how much I love your portable writing center. I've seen others use those Thirty-One totes for their writing centers as well. It's a brilliant idea--practical and pretty at the same time!

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Kim! I'm thankful to have had the chance to review Book E and am considering Book B for my daughter. I've seen the Thirty-One totes used for writing centers, but had no idea they were inspired by WriteShop! I bought mine to use as a planner/organization system for unit studies, but thought it would be a perfect writing center, too. :)

  5. Those bags are so versatile. They'd also be great for those times when moms need to take school on the road!

  6. […] You can check out this awesome BOOK E review at DELIGHTFUL LEARNING […]

  7. […] “I really like that WriteShop is gently scripted and that it offers possible answers while I am guiding and prompting my child.” Michelle, Delightful Learning […]

  8. I need to do some more writing with Sophia. http://www.newmillenniumgirlbooks.com/ We started this, but are taking a break. I might see what Evan Moor has for grade 4....
    Is Malichi still doing WriteShop?

  9. Whoops I found your 2014-15 curriculum and see that he is doing Writeshop D so I answered my own question:)