I love writing! Yes, there I admit it. I was the kid in school who loved getting a fresh new notebook and fancy pencils to jot notes and create little stories in (in truth I still do) so when we were provided with an ebook copy of Building Writing Skills – Essential Tips & Techniques from The Critical Thinking Co. to review I was eager to get started.
How many of you have children who would prefer to do most anything else but write? Our EJ loves doing math and science and even enjoys history (as long as he can make verbal reports on what he has learned). Don’t get me wrong, he has a great imagination and loves narrating stories but he becomes frustrated when he has to put pencil to paper and create paragraphs that are complete.
Having used products from The Critical Thinking Co. in the past I had high hopes that Building Writing Skills would be a good fit to help him get past his reluctance to write. Looking at the table of contents I saw there was a good variety of writing techniques that would help him improve his writing and, perhaps, make him enjoy it more.
How We Used It
After printing the ebook and setting it up in a folder we started right into a section called Vivid Verbs. In this area, EJ was asked to identify common and vivid verbs and understand the difference. There are lots of examples provided and the difficulty increased as he worked through the section.
It started with simple definitions and moved on to using a thesaurus to find more vivid verbs to improve sentences. There was even a crossword puzzle where, again, EJ was instructed to choose the best verb for telling a story.
Most of the activities are a page long so it is easy to assign them as a supplement to your regular language arts curriculum. I found that one or two activities a week were just about right for adding them into our regular days. (It depended on whether they were longer ones like the crossword puzzle or rewriting entire passages.)
The Vivid Verbs section was the largest in the book so we really only had time to work through it during the review period but we decided to look ahead and try an activity from near the back. This was on using Repetition to create a rhythm in your writing. It was a fun activity that showed how repetition is used in songs and commercials as well as other kinds of writing. He had a good time figuring out which word would fit and realizing that repeating made the writing easier to remember.
“I didn’t used to like crossword puzzles much but the ones in this book are fun. The clues are easier because all you have to do is figure out the meaning of the word and pick one that fits but is better.”
He also liked that there were word scrambles and other activities that felt more like games than schoolwork.
Any program that can have EJ writing and not complaining about it is a good start. One like Building Writing Skills – Essential Tips & Techniques that has him learning how to make writing more interesting is a plus in my book. I found that he was smiling a lot as he achieved success in each of the activities and enjoyed using the online thesaurus to look up word choices to improve the sentences and passages. The only caution I would add is to not let your student rush through the activities. EJ will often do that and then misunderstand or sometimes completely miss a question. A simple reminder to slow down a bit seemed to help.
Overall I was very pleased with this supplemental writing course. It kept EJ interested and made him think about how different words can change your writing in such a positive way. (He even asked me for a new notebook so he could try writing some stories in it!)
I would absolutely recommend Building Writing Skills – Essential Tips & Techniques from The Critical Thinking Co. to other families with students in grades 6 through 12. EJ is at the young end of this range but he is working through it well and hasn’t needed a lot of help with it so far.
I do have to say I like the way The Critical Thinking Co. we have tried so far are laid out and would certainly consider trying others as well. I reviewed another of their books last year, you can read my review here.
The generous folks at The Critical Thinking Co. have provided this coupon code for my readers for their next order. What a great way to try out some of their curriculums.
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Several crew families have been reviewing a variety of The Critical Thinking Co. products. Be sure to click on the image below and check out what they have to say.