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In my experience, sometimes it can be more difficult to teach your children something that comes naturally to you. I have found this to be true when teaching my children writing and composition. Building Writing Skills: Essential Tips & Techniques from The Critical Thinking Co. has been a HUGE help in this area!
I am a huge fan of The Critical Thinking Co. and the materials they publish. We have used a lot of their curriculum throughout the years and I have always been very impressed at how easy they are to include in our days while still making a huge impact on my children. Building Writing Skills is no exception!
An Overview of Building Writing Skills
Building Writing Skills is a supplemental workbook intended for children in grades 6-12. This workbook goes beyond the basics of writing, teaching techniques the student can use to make their writing more engaging. I have always emphasized to my kids that good writing paints a picture with words and BWS equips students to do just that.
The topics covered include:
- vivid verbs
- active and passive voice
- strong adjectives
- adjectives and analogies
- adjectives and anagrams
- specific nouns
- unnecessary adjectives
- unnecessary adverbs
- sensory details
- pronouns and antecedents
- show, not tell
- similies and metaphors
- personification and anthropomorphism
- complex and compound sentences
- varying sentence types
- beginning sentences
- point of view
As you can see from the above list, this 88 page book introduces just about every tool your child could ever need to improve their writing. Each skill or technique is taught and practiced over several pages using a variety of exercises. You will need a good dictionary and thesaurus available to complete some pages. We used an online version.
How we used Building Writing Skills
As with most of the books from this publisher we have used, Building Writing Skills is an open-and-go resource. For this review, we received a digital copy which was great, since I tend to use their materials over and over again. All I had to do was print the pages for my high-schooler that I wanted him to work on for the week and he was able to complete them independently without a problem. The directions and explanations are clear and consice. I have included examples below.
You can work through this book however you wish since it is supplemental and not a stand-alone writing program. We decided to cover one topic or skill a week whcih meant he completed 3-5 pages per week during our review period. Rather than completing every exercise in order, we chose to skip around and only complete the pages for the skills my son needed extra instruction and practice with.
For a younger child, I would start at the beginning and work my way through the book in order, which I plan on doing when my 11 year old is ready for this book. I would recommend using this workbook after your child has a strong grasp of grammar and mechanics, and is ready to build upon those basics.
One fun thing we decided to do in order to evaluate how these exercises impacted my teen’s writing was to take a writing sample before starting the book. I had him write a paragraph of 6-8 sentences describing an object or event. Once we have finished working through the book, he will then rewrite that paragraph, using the skills and techniques learned to improve upon it. I am excited to see the change!
Upon completion of all the exercises in Building Writing Skills, your child will have learned how to express his thoughts clearly and precisely, how to write more interesting sentences that make writing flow, and how to make their writing more appealing to readers.
This supplement was easy to incorporate into our daily schedule. It required little to no prep time on my part, and my son spent no more than 10-15 minutes daily, 3-4 days per week. Some of the techniques and concepts introduced we had just touched upon in previous grammar and writing instruction, so it was great to have something to fill in those gaps where he needed more practice. My 17 year old didn’t seem to mind completing the exercises and felt that he did get a lot out of them. I call that a win!
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The Crew all received a variety of books from The Critical Thinking Co. for this review, so head on over to the crew blog to read more reviews of this and other materials from this publisher.