Easy-to-use Writing Curriculum by Common Sense Press- Wordsmith Apprentice Review
Do your kids enjoy writing? I know a lot of homeschoolers are struggling with this subject, us included. That’s why I am constantly testing out programs and looking out for a writing curriculum that would encourage, hone, and teach proper writing skills to M. And hopefully not make him shed any tears of frustration.
Writing is hard! I will say it again for everyone. It’s a skill that takes time and practice. Composition writing is even harder for some kids and again, it takes patience and practice. For some kids, it just comes naturally, but it’s a learned skill for most.
My hope is to find just the right combination to make composition writing click for M because he is one reluctant writer.
This is a sponsored post. I was given the product to review and I might have been compensated for my time. I would never endorse or recommend programs we wouldn’t use ourselves. Read more about it in my Disclosure.
- About Common Sense Press
- Wordsmith series – writing curriculum
- Wordsmith Apprentice
- What we ❤️ about this writing curriculum
- ❤️ Affordable and accessible writing curriculum
- ❤️ Engaging and fun
- ❤️ Independence and confidence
- ❤️ Real-world applications
- Freebies, Discounts & a Giveaway
About Common Sense Press
I found out about Common Sense Press recently, while looking for a literature curriculum. That’s when I discovered they’ve been around for quite a while (since 1989) and they already have a tried and tested curricula (language arts and more subjects) that generations of homeschoolers used and appreciated. Additionally, they started this journey as a large homeschool family, so they understand the homeschool needs.
Their hands-on, integrative approach to language arts drew me in. Their materials are both easy to implement by the parent and engaging for the student. o busywork.
I love that all the products Common Sense Press offer abide by the same common-sense principles: they are easy to implement, accessible, and affordable.
Moreover, Common Sense Press also offers help for homeschoolers from choosing curriculum to essay assessment and they also provide homeschoolers with free book studies!
Common Sense Press are known for their language arts curriculum, notably their literature, and I am already testing their 6th-grade literature The Tan Book (a review coming soon).
Wordsmith series – writing curriculum
The Wordsmith series is an open-and-go writing curriculum* designed to make teaching and learning creative writing simple and easy.
This series covers grades 4-12 and it’s made up of 3 books that you can purchase in both print and ebook formats.
*Please note that this is not a complete language arts program, but a supplement or introduction to writing.
We received the Wordsmith Apprentice– the first book in this curriculum that is aimed at 9-12-year-olds. I thought it was a perfect place to start for M since he is struggling with composition writing.
This book covers 36 weeks of school. The student and parent are supposed to work together even though the format is suitable for independent, self-driven work. There are answers at the back for some exercises.
The assignments are engaging and short. The kids don’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of writing there is to be done. They can fill in the book as they go, but there is also a requirement for a separate notebook for more in-depth work assignments.
You will need some local newspapers to discuss some assignments. I printed some online newspapers for this.
Parents and teachers get a free lesson plan they can use for pacing and implementation ideas. I appreciated reading what the author has to say about writing and younger kids because it’s exactly what I feel about the subject.
“[…] many children are not ready for extensive writing before the age of 10 or 11. In my opinion, no useful purpose is served by making a fidgety boy or girl compose three-point essays or short stories when they hate it. Of course they must be taught to write, but there will be plenty of time for that later. At this age, encourage independent reading and reading aloud. The formal structure and word patterns lodged in their brains through extensive reading will do far more for their writing skills than workbook exercises and essays written under pressure.”Wordsmith Apprentice, Lesson plan
The format of Wordsmith Apprentice is attractive and fun: kids find out that they will work for the local newspaper (for free) and so they have to fill in a job application. On their rookie journalist journey, they are guided by a friendly editor that takes them through the ins and outs of language starting with the basics of grammar and writing.
This is all done within comic book-style tutorials, easing the kids into writing by applying it to real life, drawing them in, and making them want to find out more.
The book consists 4 parts:
- Intro – where kids find out they will work for an unnamed local newspaper and have to fill in a job application while studying the various parts of a newspaper.
- One – a part dealing with nouns, verbs, and simple sentence structure, and kids learn how to make lists, and write poetry, invitations, or headlines.
- Two – covering modifiers and complex sentences and dealing with writing for traveling, reviews, and advertising.
- Three – dealing with paragraphs, recipes, news briefs, stories, dialogues, investigations, and more.
Each lesson starts with a comic book page with the necessary information on grammar or writing structure. There are examples and very simple instructions that kids can follow independently to solve the exercises.
The pages are split into smaller sections by headlines that will cover a small portion of the concept presented.
I love that the exercises grow in depth progressively and at the end of each section kids have imagination stretchers – this is the actual part they will write down in their notebook. There is no busy work and no overwhelm because the exercises are short and to the point.
A fun writing curriculum
Since we already have a structured and formal writing curriculum, Wordsmith Apprentice was the perfect supplement for us to use over the summer to break the monotony of a formal curriculum.
We found that we greatly enjoy working through the lessons. M didn’t complain once that he has to write because he loves discovering the next funny thing in the book.
From the very first page, Wordsmith Apprentice captivated M through the playful comic-book layout and silly/fun assignments. Even the titles sound like newspaper headlines that draw you in to find out more!
On the first assignment, kids have to fill in a job application for the newspaper where they can add in their Social Security Number (if they have one) but they shouldn’t worry too much about it since this job doesn’t pay them anything. M found this hilarious, and he is eagerly awaiting the next fun thing to do.
This was the perfect opportunity to check if M knows his full address, parents’ names, and even his personal ID number. Then we discussed nouns and verbs, and made lists and classified ads; let me tell you, this was the most fun I’ve seen him have while writing!
I love how Wordsmith Apprentice manages to entertainingly combine practicality, writing, editing, and structure. It’s something I haven’t found in any other writing curricula so far.
And to offer you another example, a few pages later, M had to write classified ads to sell items from his surroundings. He chose to sell my laptop, mouse, and water bottle. The notebook assignment was to sell the Space Station, a puppet theatre, and the British royal crown.
We both ended up laughing a lot and I loved reading what he came up with. Keep in mind this is a kid that complains about every writing assignment – even if it’s one sentence long! It was unbelievable seeing him enjoying writing so much.
What we ❤️ about this writing curriculum
Wordsmith Apprentice is an engaging writing curriculum that develops writing skills from the bottom up. It’s starting with grammar and sentence basics and progressively goes up to more complex matters like paragraphs and headlines.
The kids are trained directly on the job by a friendly, energetic editor who shows them the details of the written word in fun, engaging ways.
❤️ Affordable and accessible writing curriculum
Wordsmith Apprentice is available in both print and ebook formats and the fact that you only need one book makes it very affordable and accessible.
I appreciate the simplicity of this book and the way it’s been designed to be so easy for the parent! The assignments have simple directions and examples and the explanations are to the point.
❤️ Engaging and fun
This book is the perfect example of what a fun writing curriculum should look like. I just love how it manages to combine the playfulness of role-playing with serious writing assignments.
Kids learn practical writing like ads, job applications, and paragraph structure while giggling at the assignments.
Writing doesn’t have to be tedious and dull! It can be fun, engaging, and practical.
❤️ Independence and confidence
I love the set-up of Wordsmith Apprentice. Kids can definitely tackle this on their own, especially if they are in the upper age range of this book.
Kids that are confident writers and like writing would find it an amusing way of brushing on their writing skills or even finding something new about the format and requirements of a real newspaper.
Reluctant writers will get confident in their writing skills through the short and engaging assignments. No busy work and no overwhelm.
❤️ Real-world applications
Not only do kids learn writing skills, they learn them in context. This is an important aspect and one I greatly appreciate about Wordsmith Apprentice.
We didn’t take enough time to study a local newspaper before, fill forms, write ads, think about headlines, or what makes a good synopsis. We skipped most poetry assignments because he never understood how it’s done and got frustratedwith it. But this time, Wordsmith Apprentice held his hand through it all. And he is so proud of his poems!
I really enjoy working from this little gem. I think it’s the excellent break we needed between two years of formal writing instruction and a perfect supplement to cover those areas that our main curriculum doesn’t cover. It’s so fun and engaging, unlike any other writing curriculum I’ve tried so far.
For those of you that find watching a video easier, I made one on my YouTube channel that you can watch here:
Freebies, Discounts & a Giveaway
Common Sense Press is offering my readers a 15% off discount until August 31st, 2022! Just use the code Summer2022 . Take advantage of this offer to stock up on their curricula.
There’s also a freebie worth grabbing called Short Story Reading Guide-Hans Christian Andersen. It’s an ebook with 3 short fairytales peppered with discussion questions right in the middle of the text. I think this is great for parents that aren’t sure how to initiate discussions while reading.
“These stories are intended to be read aloud and enjoyed, and to encourage family interaction. You will find thoughtful discussion questions, suggestions to broaden your knowledge, and ways to develop your children’s creativity and writing skills.”Short Story Reading Guide– Hans Christian Andersen
And finally, here’s a giveaway opportunity for my readers – ships to USA addresses only*. This giveaway is open through June 27th, 2022 and the winner can choose a mix of these awesome books worth $100.
- 1 Teacher/Student set from Learning Language Arts Through Literature
- 1 Wordsmith textbook
- 1 Teacher/Student set of How to Teach Any Child to Spell
*If you are outside USA, make use of a free shipping forward service to enter with a USA address- you will pay the shipping from USA to your location.
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