Tag Archive | writing resources elementary age

Read Aloud Books about Animals

Summer is such a great time to read and relax on the porch with a glass of your favorite cold beverage. I have had several requests from homeschool moms this summer for books about critters to read aloud to their children. I aim to please (if I can) and have some nonfiction books that I have loved or heard about.

Sam Campbell wrote books about all of the creatures he either observed or adopted while living in the wilderness in northern Wisconsin where he lived with his wife. His books are entertaining as he describes the antics of these creatures.


All Creatures Great and Small is one in a series of books written by James Herriot. Telling the stories of a country vet in Great Britain, Dr. Herriot’s  are funny, sad, and heart-warming. One time we listened to CD’s while we were in the car and the boys were not happy with just one story. They begged for more and more to the point that I thought we would run out of stories before we arrived at our destination. PBS also dramatized his stories if you want to see the countryside where he worked and lived. Some of Dr. Herriot’s stories have been made into children’s books too, such as Moses the Kitten.

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The Institute for Excellence in Writing has a program for students in grades 3-5 that would correlate nicely with Dr. Herriot’s books called All Things Fun and Fascinating. It includes outlining, grammar, source texts, and creative writing. Here is a description of the program CLICK HERE

A video review of the product by a homeschool mom may prove beneficial to you as well. CLICK HERE

Unlikely Heroes, by author Jennifer Holland, is a compilation of 37 animal stories. Tales of heroic deeds done by all sorts of animals will be sure to be of interest to your animal-loving children. If this title sounds interesting, she also has written a book called Unlikely Friendships.


Help with Writing

imagesHaving used a variety of writing curricula over the years,  I am inclined to believe you have to find an author who most closely aligns with your style of teaching and philosophy since people approach writing through a variety of avenues.

Some authors prefer to be formal and have specific elements that are to be present in each of the piece that is written. If that is your style and thinking, then here are a few programs to research:

Institute for Excellence in Writing, Andrew Pudewa This program is tried and true with a DVD set to help you understand and teach writing. Areas of study include: outlining, summarizing, research papers, essay writing, and creative writing. Multi -age and multi-grade level, beginning in elementary and continuing through senior high school, this program will serve your student well in communicating in a clear and concise manner. Essay writing will be a breeze and research papers will not be a daunting task since students are taught how to do this easily with this program.

Writing Strands, Dave Marks, is a veteran teacher and home school dad created a multi-grade program for students. The four strands of writing (argumentative, explanatory, creative, and report writing) are explained and modeled for students. Short lessons for students to practice after each lesson with humor are sprinkled throughout the  lessons.

Are you interested in an incremental writing program? Two that I recommend are Jump In and Write Shop.

Jump In is a writing program from Apologia that can walk your writer through a step-by-step process of even the most daunting writing tasks.  The writing steps are small with a practice section for the students after each skill is taught.  The process is explained in a conversational manner that a junior high student could read it on their own and you, the teacher, can  discuss  and monitor the work that is being produced. Students of various writing levels and grades will enjoy using this curriculum.

Write Shop has programs beginning in kindergarten. The nice thing about the primary books is that you can do them orally with your beginning writers. Having used the middle school program,  students enjoy the topics they are given to explore. Giving students the opportunity each time to write about something they enjoy enhances the program and involves the student even more in the writing process.

Are you looking for online programs?

The Potter’s School has classes for writing beginning with 5th grade and continuing through 12th grade. Not only can your student take a writing class, but they have a wide selection of classes in every academic area. There are summer and year round classes from which to choose. In the past have worked with several of the outstanding tutors and I highly recommend this program.

Write at Home can either be used as an a la carte program that your student submits individual papers to be read and graded by a teacher, or your child may enroll in a full-time class beginning in the fall. Their classes begin with middle school (5th grade) and continue through 12th grade. One of my friends used it exclusively for their a la cart program and her daughter loved it.

Home2teach offers high quality, challenging, college-prep online writing classes to homeschoolers ages 8 to 18 world-wide.  While I have not used this program, it does look like a terrific option for students.

If you have found a program that I have not discussed here, please leave a comment.


How can I Say that? synonyms

When working with your student in regards to writing it can be difficult to think of a word to replace the overused ones such as nice, pretty, and said. When this choice of words is used, sentences are not as powerful and don’t convey the meaning as well as specific, imaginative words do for a sentence. Here is an example: I fell off my bike and cried because I got hurt.  This does not convey much of a word picture for the reader. How about this instead? I was catapulted off my bike and screamed  loudly because I was in pain (replacement words are in italics). Don’t you have more sympathy and can “see” the accident better in the second sentence than in the first one?

I have found some resources that will help you and your student. Isn’t it wonderful  terrific, amazing, stupendous, that we have resources available to us? I love, adore, admire, appreciate websites that do this for me.

Lay the groundwork first

Does your scholar even know what synonyms and antonyms are before you go looking for replacements? Here are some websites that have worksheets that cover this topic.

Cut and Glue Synonyms click here

Here is a basic list of synonyms for young writers. click here

Synonyms for commonly used words in student’s writing has a list that will prove helpful. This can be used for younger writers with some help from you or you can have your older students use it on their own.


Play a game where you practice using synonyms and then play a game practicing antonyms. Be sure you have a thesaurus, or an online resource , or use a downloaded list such as this one: Make three columns on a piece of notebook paper or if you prefer, a whiteboard. In the first column heading write Word, the middle column write Synonym, and the last column write Antonym. With younger students have them come up with just one synonym and one antonym. With older students set the number you want (3-5 or more).

Here are some words to help you get started:

pretty, said, ask, nice,every, great, like, hate, get, take, buy, see, ugly

If you wanted more reinforcement by practicing here is a website that has synonym/antonym games for grade levels 3-12.

Find a paragraph or create your own in which your scholar replaces words to make powerful sentences. Here are some simple sentences to use for reinforcement. synonym sentences elementary and synonym sentences (middle school students) I have also written a story for middle school students and older for you to use. synonym story You may use this for both synonyms and antonyms. Since you are currently teaching synonyms do it that way first and then retell the story using antonyms.


Now that you have had practice it’s time to have your student(s) write a story using their own powerful words. Start small, choosing a few words to replace. As they progress in their writing you can increase the number of words.