Wednesday, 9 July 2014


Teaching writing is something that I find difficult, to say the least, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to review a writing curriculum from WriteShop.

WriteShop Review
WriteShop produces materials for children throughout their education but I reviewed Primary Book B. This includes the Primary B Teacher's Guide
WriteShop Review
 and WriteShop Primary Book B Activity pack.
WriteShop Review
WriteShop B is designed for students in first and second grade (UK years two and three) and reluctant students in grade three (year four). There is a placement advice and a placement chart on the WriteShop website.

I used WriteShop with my five and seven year old. Like many other home educators, I often don't bother with teacher books. Usually, it seems, they just list the answers but this isn't the case with WriteShop. The teacher guide is really important and contains the crux of the programme. In my opinion, it really needs to be read before the programme is started and then used frequently throughout. It would not be possible to use the programme properly with only the Activity Guide.

There are several suggested lesson plans so that each of the ten lessons can be covered in either three weeks, two weeks or one week. We chose to use the one week lesson plan where some writing activity takes place daily. What was also helpful were the lesson plans for teaching children at different levels-just right for us!

The Teacher's Guide describes how to make a writing centre. We chose to have a portable writing centre but having new writing paper and stickers available, in itself, precipitated my seven year old into some spontaneous letter writing.
The Guide then goes onto outline the way to teach the lessons. One thing that I love about this programme is that it is so flexible. For example, it suggests that the lesson theme can be altered to fit in with other learning. This suited us well when we came to the lesson about nursery rhymes. My seven year old has learned and loves the Eleanor Farjeon poem Cats sleep anywhere. She used this as the basis for her writing rather than a nursery rhyme. 
Each chapter has 
  • lesson objectives
  • materials needed-it was so helpful to have this at the start. Each chapter also has a suggested type of story book, for example, a book about space. An appendix has a list of suggested titles. Many of these are well known books but other books on the suggested theme can be used.
  • advance preparation needed
  • activity sets: there are eight of these per chapter. These are not done all on one day but usually one per day.
  • advice for customising the programme for children who need to be stretched and for those who need something rather easier.
What components are there in the activity sets?
  • initial worksheet. This might be making a mini-book of a nursery rhyme,
    an acrostic
    or writing words connected with space travel.
  • The back of the worksheet has lines for the child's independent writing. WriteShop suggests that this can be used either on the same day as the initial worksheet or later in the lesson.
  • Pre-writing activities. These usually include reading a picture book and another activity such as making Word Family Flowers. These are flowers made of card with words belonging to one sound group e.g.-at endings, on the petals. My five year old is interested in rockets so his words were placed on the flames coming from a rocket. Another activity was making a Super Speller which is a book or poster with important words for writing and spellings which cause difficulty.
  • Brainstorming about the writing topic.
  • The actual writing project for example writing a letter or an anagram.
  • Editing and revising
  • Publishing the project.
  • Assessing the child's work. Charts are provided to aid with this. I've always found assessing writing challenging so this is valuable for me.
How did the programme work for us?
I think that one of the chief benefits of WriteShop, particularly for my seven year old, was to encourage a culture of writing. The Writing Centre encouraged spontaneous writing and some of the projects particularly caught her imagination.
My five year old was slightly young for level B but he learned from this and particularly from the Guided Writing Practice. 
We used the programme daily. Part of most days was Guided Writing Practice when the parent models writing for the child. The child supplies the words but generally the parent writes. The child might add in a word or so but the purpose is to model how to write. I find that taking away the physical effort of writing helps the child to put ideas together. The Parent Guide has helpful suggestions to encourage children who find putting together some sentences for the parent to write, difficult.
Most of the projects went well. The letter presented some difficulty when it came to publishing the project: one child wrote a letter which was only relevant for the day in which it was written. Not correcting spelling on the day of the actual writing can lead to difficulties if no one can read the spelling the next day-just saying!
Overall, the children enjoyed this programme. The space theme for the second chapter caught the imagination of my youngest and the anagram chapter led to making a special birthday card for Grandma.
We plan to continue using this useful and flexible curriculum.


  • Flexible primary writing curriculum.
  • Does need parent input to set up lessons.
  • Can be used with more than one child.
  • Includes evaluation charts for the child's writing.
  • Can be used with children who have done very little writing before.

The Teacher's Guide costs $29.50 (around £17.19) as an ebook (pdf) and $35.95 (around £20.95) as a print book. I received the ebook but suspect that it would be much easier to have the Teacher's Guide in book format particularly in terms of flicking through different sections. The Activity Set workbook worked well as an ebook as it was easy to print off individual pages. This costs $4.50 (around £2.62). The print version costs $5.95 (around £3.47).

Highly recommended.

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  1. I'm glad WriteShop Primary was a good fit for your family. Thank you so much for your lovely review.

    (On a side note, it was fun to see that you live in the UK. My son and his wife live in Oxford!)

    Kim Kautzer

    1. Thank you. We have loved using WriteShop and look forward to continuing writing lessons with the programme. Oxford is a great place although my eldest might not approve of me saying this as he is studying in Cambridge!

  2. They love Oxford! It looks lovely. Looking forward to visiting them next year.

  3. I enjoyed reading your review. :) I reviewed Book E, but am considering Book B for my second grader.