Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Enjoying Writing With the Homeschool Writing Program From Here to Help Learning {A TOS Review}

I love reading and I love writing. When I was a child I always dreamed of becoming an author. However, my writing skills were never what I needed them to be. This became a concern to me as the children have gotten older, because I want to make sure to give them the guidance they need when it comes to their writing. Tabitha has shown a distinct interest in writing stories, from quite an early age actually, and I want to be able to guide her properly. That is why I am so glad there are neat programs like Here to Help Learning available for homeschoolers. We have been spending the last several weeks using Here to Help Learning's Flight 1 Paragraph Writing, and I am so excited to be able to share about it with you today.

This online subscription writing program for homeschoolers is taught by veteran homeschooler Beth Mora. While we as reviewers received the online subscription, there are also physical sets that are available for purchase. 

All of the components of the physical set are available in the online subscription. We are able to watch the videos on the computer:

And we are able to view and print the student worksheets and teacher guide/scripted lesson, along with additional resources.

In this way, we can use the online subscription with as many children as we would like. We do have to print out the worksheets for each child, so in addition to having internet access, you will have to have a printer with a good amount of ink. A 1-inch binder with dividers is also required. Some other general supplies needed include: a pencil. notebook paper, timer, crayons, markers, scissors, tape, glue stick, stapler. As you go through the program you will also need some additional materials, such as construction paper to make essay folders. Fortunately, there is a master supply list which can be found under the resources tab.

As you can see, there are many resources to help you on your writing adventure. 

The Here to Help Writing Program has two levels: Paragraph and Essay writing. We started with Paragraph Writing as it is designed to be used by children in grades 1 through 3. Essay writing is meant for 4th through 6th graders. Each level also has 3 flights to choose from. It doesn't really matter which order you do the flights in, though it is recommended to complete Flight 1 or 2 of the Essay writing level before doing Flight 3 as Flight 3 is a "Write a Book" Project.  

I like that this curriculum can be used for a mixture of ages. The younger children can write less or dictate to the parent, while older children are to write more and they are to be more independent. I've done parts of the program with Hannah and Harold by having them dictate their story to me.  This program can also be used in a co-op setting. I would have loved to do this, but we don't have decent internet access at the camp where we attend co-op. 

Each Flight is meant to take 1 year. There are six projects in each Flight, and each project has several lessons, each of which is meant to take 1 week. During that week, there are 2 days worth of work. Here, let's take a closer look at what a lesson looks like:

  • Pre-flight checklist: Getting ready for the lesson, making sure all supplies are ready.
  • Flight check-in: Handing in "Flying Solo" work, receiving Discovery Tickets, adding new worksheets to binder. Reciting memory verse.
  • Take Off: Playing games that focus on English/writing skills, doing the Writing Warm Up, and going over the Writing Process.
  • Full Throttle: This is where the week's writing lesson for the project is taught.
  • Flying Solo: Working on the assignment.
We have actually been breaking the lessons up into 3 separate days of work instead of 2. The girls gather their binders and come to sit in the living room. I check over their "Flying Solo" work and hand out the Discovery Tickets. I then hand out the new worksheets for them to put in their binders. 

We then recite the memory verse.

We then move into the "Take Off" section of the lesson. During the duration of a project (which if you remember is several lessons long) there is a game that is played. For Project #1: All By Myself, we have been playing Sentence-No Sentence. When we move on to our next project, we will get a new game to play. 

The first time we are introduced to the game, we see it played by children on the video. However, during the remainder of the lessons we are expected to remember how to play, which is simple enough because one of the worksheets the girls put in their binder explains how to play.

Our final activity for the first day of a lesson is the Writing Warm Up. The girls really enjoy this section of this program, so I give them 10 minutes instead of 7 to finish their story. We are given a picture to write about and the girls take turns giving me relevant words for the word box, words that will help them write their story. 

They then need to determine if the picture takes place at the beginning, middle, or end of their story. Younger children could choose to just copy the words or add some more words about the picture. They could also write some sentences about the picture. I do expect my girls to write a story that includes a beginning, a middle, and an ending. I allow the older girls to work independently while I work with the younger children. This is a bit different than the instructions, as we are told to be there to write down correct spellings to unknown words. I have told the children to spell the words as best as they can, this way, when I look back I can see which words they were struggling with and I can then include them in their spelling word lists.

I have to admit, I have also enjoyed writing my own story for the Writing Warm Up. After everyone has finished writing their story we read them aloud.

On the second day of the lesson we watch the Full Throttle section of the video. We learn the part of the Writing Process that is being focused on in that lesson. Then on the third day of the lesson they finish their assignment. 

We learn the following steps as we make our way through the project:
  • Brainstorm
  • Make a List
  • Webbing
  • First Rough Draft
  • First Input: I Can Help (Content Focus)
  • Second Rough Draft
  • Second Input: I Can Help (Grammar and Spelling Focus)
  • Final Recopy
  • Publish
For this first project the children had to think of something they learned to do. We started with brainstorming different ideas. Then they needed to pick one they wanted to focus on. Tabitha chose to write about learning to cook an egg sandwich, while Amelia decided to write about learning to bake a cake. 

The second step, which would come the following week, is to list the steps it took to learn the skill. This was definitely harder for Amelia to do than Tabitha. 

They then needed to organize their thoughts by placing them in order on their webbing sheet. 

Because we are taking extra time for each lesson, we are just now getting to the steps where they need to write the draft of their paragraph. I think I may have to start having lessons 3 days out of the week so we can still finish a lesson in a week. Otherwise we won't finish the Flight in a year. 

We have very much enjoyed working on writing skills with Here to Help Learning. I am excited to continue through the year with the children. It is such a fun way to learn the different concepts. They learn with games and being able to write fun (and funny) stories. I think it is great to have so many opportunities to go through the writing process. Throughout the year, children will have the opportunity to explore different genres of writing such as: narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive, as well as working on poetry. Above all, I LOVE that there is a Christian focus. The children are constantly being reminded that their writing should be done for the glory of Christ and are being reminded about watching their attitudes. I highly recommend this writing curriculum. 

You can find out more about Here to Help Learning at their social media sites. 

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Don't forget to check out what my fellow Crew Mates have to say about this program. Just click on the banner below:

Here to Help Learning Review

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1 comment:

  1. Great review! We did Paragraph 1 also, and we are really enjoying it! Loved seeing all of your pictures!


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