Review: Home School Adventure Co., Creative Freewriting Adventure

Review: Home School Adventure Co., Creative Freewriting AdventureCreative writing is an active portion of our learning routine. Blank paper, pens, and books of any kind are an addiction. So, you can imagine, when we had the opportunity to review Home School Adventure Co.‘s Creative Freewriting Adventure, which also includes Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Editionwe were just a tad bit excited to get started.

Home School Adventure Co. was founded several years ago by a homeschool mom whose passion is to help children think, speak and write well. Their goal is to give children a better understanding of a Biblical worldview so they may be able to go forth into the world with a ready defense of the truth. Creative Freewriting Adventure, in particular, takes children on a journey exploring historical philosophers including Thales and Pythagoras, and use their imaginations on several writing adventures.

For our review, our family was given a PDF download of Creative Freewriting Adventure, which also includes Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition. These books are essentially the same, with the added element of a coloring page for each selection. While we did not make use of the coloring pages themselves during creative writing sessions, we do plan to go back and use them sometime in the near future as a review of what was covered.

While all our children are avid writers, I was particular in handing Creative Freewriting Adventure to my oldest daughter, a high school sophomore. My girl is fond of trying new curriculum and anything relating to creative writing. She was given selections three days a week, after which we would discuss and share ideas on the writing suggestions.

We found Creative Freewriting Adventure very thorough. Each selection included history on the chosen philosopher followed by a brief background on “Your Journey”, establishing the groundwork for your writing assignment. The writing assignment itself included several questions for the student to consider while writing, hinting at directions one might take during the session.

Mom appreciated the historical sections covering each philosopher. I found this interesting and of benefit. The questions posed in the “Your Assignment” portion of each selection were well thought out and helpful. Our daughter enjoyed reading the historical selections as well.

For those looking for a creative writing curriculum, Creative Freewriting Adventure would be of most benefit to children in middle school or higher. While the historical portions of each selection would be acceptable for children in younger grades, most writing assignments might be too structured for littles. Instead, this might be a perfect opportunity to make use of the Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition, having littles orally dictate a loosely based story while using their imaginations to color.

Creative Freewriting Adventure is a well-organized curriculum, encouraging creativity and inspiring further study of philosophy. We look forward to reviewing each selection and making use of the lovely coloring pages included in Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition.

If you’d like to learn more about Home School Adventure Co. and Creative Freewriting Adventureor the Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition, please visit them at their website and on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube. To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Homeschool Adventure Co. has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: How often is creative writing introduced in your learning routine?

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A Family Adventure in Creative Writing

family_writing_adventureAn online friend recently posted about a creative writing endeavor her family has begun. This reminded us of our own adventures, and all the fun we’ve had over the years. It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed Dante’s Wardrobe. But it looks like it might be time to take it out of the homeschooling closet, brush it off, and embark upon a new journey.

If you are looking for an exciting way to encourage creative writing, might I make a suggestion?

Part I: Introduction (A Writing Adventure)
Part III: My Alter Ego
Part IV: Mail Call
Part V: Head Games
Part VII: RSVP

Part VIII: Epilogue (Because You Asked)

I confess, we’ve put this on the back burner for the last few seasons. We’ve found other ways to incorporate creative writing in our learning routine. However, our friend has inspired us to give this another go.

This should be fun!

📢 Chime In!: Are you inspired by other homeschoolers? We’d love to hear what you’ve learned from online friends and how you incorporate their ideas into your homeschooling.

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Creative Writing: Exploring Fun!

Creative_Writing“First, I would disarm my opponent by sending in a herd of kittens. The distraction of abundant cuteness would allow me to slip into their city, filling their bread bowls with Nerds. After receiving my lovely gifts, the people would gladly lay down their weapons and surrender to me; their supreme ruler.”

Who says creative writing has to be serious? Who says it has to correspond to reality? Creative writing should be exactly that. Creative.

Creative writing has been a journey in our home. Af first, I would simply pick a topic out of thin air and have our children write a short essay. Needless to say, that didn’t work well. The kids were unmotivated by my choice of topics and, frankly, I had a hard time coming up with topics of interest.

This year, everything changed and we’re loving it!

What are we doing differently this year? We added creative writing as part of our history lesson! And, Mommy set a few guidelines. We each have a creative writing journal, mommy included. Instead of our writing assignments being open-ended, we are given five minutes to write; no more, no less.

By tying in our creative writing to our history lesson, mom no longer has to go searching for fun topics to explore; we are practically tripping over them. By mommy being involved, this becomes a fun, family activity (even a competition at times). By limiting our time, our children see this as a challenge and not a chore.

Here are some of the exciting assignments we’ve given:

  • Pretend you are a Persian stained glass window, describe yourself.
  • You are king of Upper Egypt, with plans to conquer your pesky neighbors to the North. Give me your battle plan.
  • You’re a nomad child, experiencing her first bath in the Nile River. Tell me how this feels.

Creative writing usually takes place after our history reading and map work, but before activities and projects. Our routine calls for writing assignments at least once a week, but often we do more. (This stuff is downright fun!) There are no limits. We’ve had everything from flying unicorns, Nerds, and Jedi knights make an appearance.

I should also point out: These are exercises in creative writing, not grammar lessons. I do not check their work for punctuation, grammar, spelling, or anything else. Our creative writing sessions are to encourage imagination and a love of writing.

This year, creative writing has taken on a whole new face. Our children love these exercises and can’t wait to hear what fun topic they’ll be exploring next. And, you know what? I’m having fun, too.

But, let me warn you. Look out for those flying unicorns. They definitely cause a lot of trouble!

🔔Time to Chime In: What part of your routine is dedicated to creative writing?

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5 Ways to Incorporate Creative Writing

5_Ways_To_Incorporate_Creative_WritingYou’d think, really you would, with all the books I read, I would enjoy writing. Well, truth be told, I like sharing; that’s why I blog. But, writing, writing for the sake of writing; writing to tell a story? Yeah… that’s a little more intimidating.

The mere idea of sitting down to flesh out an entire novel scares me. I can usually come up with a basic plot, that’s fairly simple. Fleshing it out? Not so much. All those details, plot twists, and unearthing a satisfying ending? (sigh) I’m tired just thinking about it.

As I’ve started to encourage creative writing in my children, I’ve come to realize perhaps I am thinking a little too hard. I need to start off with something small and work my way up to ‘bigger’ projects. Take one moment at a time and simply enjoy the process.

Our family has begun to incorporate a few creative ideas to encourage a love of writing in our home. Some you’ve already heard of; some you might already be doing; and others will be fun to explore!

Family Mailboxes

Who doesn’t like to receive mail? Each of our children has their own ‘mailbox’. We’ve taught our kids how to write letters, post mail, and to respond within a reasonable amount of time to keep the fun going.
As a bonus, we’ve helped each of our children create their own letterhead, bought them rubber postage stamp sets (to use in place of real stamps), and boxes of envelopes. Seeing our children become excited to both give and receive letters has been such a blessing. It’s great to see them look for ways to bless the other members of the family.

Letters to Friends

Pen pals are fun, too! In the past, we’ve written letters to family members, friends, and online acquaintances. There are even websites you can work through to help your children get connected with others who are looking for a pen pal.

Dante’s Wardrobe

A few years back we ran a series on this fun, creative writing technique. Dante’s Wardrobe consisted of having our children create an ‘alternate’ personality for themselves; each person in our family picked a character they wanted to be. For the next learning year, we wrote to each other, left clues for each other, and made presents for each other, based on the character we had chosen.
This helped our children think outside the box and find imaginative ways to tell about themselves. Each year we did this, we picked an entirely new character and explored new options.

Journaling

Journaling allows my children to write down their personal stories, poems, and thoughts without the fear of anyone else reading. We usually have scads of notebooks strewn about the house for them to use. However, we’ve also begun to have dedicated writing journals.
One creative way we’re encouraging our kids to journal is by setting them up with their own blog! We coax them into posting several times a week, on whatever topic they like. Writing in this manner is especially fun for our kids and they love the feedback from the few readers they have, besides mom and pop.

Writing Prompts

Occasionally, I have been known to throw out a writing prompt as part of our homeschool lessons. I try to make the topics something our children will want to write about.
During this coming school year (and here I’m going to spoil the fun for my own kiddos, who didn’t know this yet, and read my blog), we are going to be doing a lot more writing prompts. Our prompts will be based on our history lessons. Each of us, mom included, will have a personalized journal to write in. The idea is to use the prompt given (which are planned to be silly, yet thoughtful) and write for only three minutes; no more! Then, we will each take a moment to read our prompt and see whose is the funniest, cutest, or most heartfelt. Perhaps we will even do an occasional exercise of ‘Round Robin’, finishing off each others work.

Using these five, easy writing ideas, we are trying to encourage a love of writing in our home. It’s important to point out, while doing these activities, we parents aren’t checking for errors. The purpose of these exercises is to increase their love of writing, not to make sure they are writing correctly; that is where formal practice comes in. Enjoy the ideas and go with the flow, this should be fun!

“And he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs…”
Exodus 35:31-32

🔔Time to Chime In: Which of the five ideas above would your family use most and why? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

We’d love to see your creative writing projects! Instagram your homeschool inspired ideas & projects with the hashtag #A_HomeschoolMom & you might find your picture featured on AHM’s Instagram!

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The Three R’s – Revisted

Within the world of homeschooling, there are many different ways to approach your children’s learning. Should we go with a classical method or perhaps a more unschooled approach? Do we use only textbooks or do we use unit studies? There are so many decisions to be made and so many areas to choose from, it can sometimes be overwhelming and daunting to even think about it.

When we first began to homeschool, I made sure that I had a long talk with my husband about what he expected to see in our children’s education. I knew that if we were together on what they were learning and if the Lord was at the center of it all, I couldn’t go wrong. I would have the peace of knowing that the two most important men in my life were behind me 100%.

When we talked about what we wanted from our children’s education is came down to three basic things:

Reading – If our children could read well, there was no end to the possibilities of what they could learn. Now when I say reading, it is not as simple as reading words on a page. Reading well, meant that they would not only be able to pronounce the words on the page, but understand them. In order to do this, we started our children reading at a very young age, about 3 years old. We would sit daily, for short periods of time, teaching them to read basic words and then advancing them at their own pace. As they began to read on their own, we made sure they knew where the Dictionary and Thesaurus were. They were taught to look up words for themselves and learn their meanings. We also steered them toward books that would increase their vocabulary and advance them in their comprehension. After a book was read, would we talk about it. Did they understand the book? Did they understand the message (if there was one) that the author was trying to get across?

‘Riting- Good writing skills go far beyond penmanship and the ability to write several paragraphs. We wanted our children to be able to write in such a way, that they not only could get their point across but make it interesting and compelling while doing so. In order to help them learn to write better, we not only give them lessons in grammar and penmanship, we also have creative writing exercises that force them to look at common, every objects in a new light. Previous topics have included trees, cats, birds, the art of cards, and more. Our children have been encouraged to take these basic topics and find a way to make them interesting. They are free to explore all topics at any angle that they choose. Cats have been explained not only as household pets with factual information about them, but instead as emotional creatures seeking to give comfort and perhaps at times being snobbish and aloof. Trees are not simply deciduous or evergreen, but as symbols of life and death. If they can learn to make even the most common items appealing and interesting, writing more in-depth papers will be much easier.

I am sure she is thinking she should have picked a smaller pumpkin.

Reasoning –  I am sure you were all thinking that I was going to write, ‘Rithmetic; weren’t you? Nope! To us, reasoning is the other (and perhaps the most important) skill we wanted our children to learn. All of their education would be for naught, if they didn’t know how to use their minds to think things through and come to logical conclusions about life. Our worldview is not only important to us, but is essential. It is why we do what we do! Our children need to know why they believe what they believe. They need to understand other people’s worldviews and how to break down arguments to their basic principles. They need to be able to assess a situation, make a wise decision, and then know how to act upon it. There are many ways to teach our children how to reason well. We have chosen to teach our children logic, apologetics, and (yes) arithmetic. Logic will teach them to think well, Apologetics to know why they believe what they believe, and Arithmetic to work through basic day-to-day life. Each has a functional purpose and is a necessity. Think logic and apologetics need to wait until high school? Think again! There are great ways to start teaching these now! A couple of great resources are Kids4Truth and Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door. These resources can be used for kids as young as six and seven.

The truth is that every education will have “gaps”. There is always going to be a subject that wasn’t covered perfectly or thoroughly. While I am sure there are a number of ways to approach home education, we felt that if these basic areas were taught and taught well, our children would be prepared for life. If our children can read, write and think well; they would be fully capable of doing whatever the Lord called them to. The rest is just details.

Dante Revisited

Dante Revisited #1Last year, the family embarked on a new adventure in our learning: alter egos. Were we all going crazy? Perhaps all those rumors about homeschoolers are true! Calm your nerves… we were simply exploring the fun world of creative writing, along with some help from Dante’s Wardrobe.

We enjoyed our adventure so well we thought we’d give it another whirl. We have updated our personalities, received new mailboxes (well, some of us), and begun a new chapter in our literary adventure.

So… who are we this timeAllow me to introduce our latest cast of characters:

  • Calaena (Me) – I am a French mademoiselle who travels with a famous circus. I train cats, not the small ones mind you, but the large kitties. I adore all who adore my cats and treat them with the utmost respect and care. I very much enjoy traveling the world and adding to my collection of tea cups.
  • Jake Brodie (hubby) – A classic noir detective who solves the most baffling of riddles. His latest caper: Trying to discover who stole the cookies from the cookie jar.
  • Bess Hay (Trinity) – Time traveler extraordinaire; she searches through time looking for new adventures and mysteries to solve. She likes all things steam punk.
  • Chloe (Noel) – The owner of an amazing menagerie of creatures; each more fantastical than the next. Looking for a flying hippogriff? She’s got it!
  • Emma (Angelina) – An animal fairy; she guards all her little creatures and experiments with fun recipes to offer her furry friends.
  • Red Bird (JAG) – Charging through our universe with the intent of ridding the world of evil pigs; Red Bird likes attacking tall buildings and is attempting to become the first Jedi bird.

As you can see, we have quite a range of characters in our little “club”. There is nothing too far-fetched and nothing that can’t be done.

Dante Revisited #2

Our goal: One contribution to a mailbox per week. We usually go well beyond this though; sometimes it’s hard to keep up with six people exchanging letters all week. My mailbox is full minutes after I empty it!

Many thanks to Judith Jablonski over at Dante’s Wardrobe. Her ideas are fantastic; truly an inspiration. (To read all about how we started our adventure in creative writing, take a look at our series, DANTE’S WARDROBE, for details and ideas.)

Dante Revisited #3Now for additional fun… How would you like to participate? Pick an alter ego and “build your character”, then send me a private message about wanting to join in the fun. Our people will get in contact with your people.

The Bare Essentials

My children really enjoy writing. I think this is a natural phenomena in children who read a lot. Add learning at home on top and the creativity just begins to flow. Rather than hand our children a stack of paper (although we have been known to do that), we have found a special way to encourage their writing endeavors… bare books!

I can imagine what you are thinking, “What in the world is a bare book?” Wonder no longer; I am here to enlighten you. (laughing)

Bare BooksHard covered books filled with blank pages, bare books are available in several sizes. They come with covers in ready to be colored designs or with a blank cover for your own creativity. Have a youngster who isn’t quite ready for paper yet? They have board books too! For those of us who haven’t mastered the writing process, helpful line guides are available for purchase.

So, what do we do with bare books? Well; write, of course!

When our children were much younger, they had a hard time “plotting out” their stories. How many words should be on each page? What happens if I run out of room or, heaven forbid, have left over pages? To make things easier on them, we used to sit at the computer and type out their stories. Once they were typed out, we would configure how to break down the sentences to the many pages that filled our books; this taught them spacial awareness and layout. Formatting complete, we would print the pages and glue them into our bare book. The only thing that remained was for the kids to illustrate their wonderful story.

For the past several years, we have taken out the typing process and the children do the writing on their own. This not only encourages them to improve their penmanship (after all, these book are being kept), but allows us to have a memory of their progress and handwriting.

While creative writing has always been encouraged and, on occasion, a mandatory part of our routine, bare books have always been left as an optional activity. We buy them by the box (usually twenty at a time) and keep them readily available for all who wish to try their hand.

Bare Book Collection

What started out as a one time project, has turned into a mini library! Our oldest daughter, “T”,  has written about twenty all on her own.

Our girls have taken to using them as gifts. When prepping for Christmas (yes, my kids prep; they learned it from their crazy mom), they start digging into the box and writing stories to use as presents. If a friend or family member has a birthday, it warrants a book!

Being the organized person that she is, “T” has decided to take things to the limit. She not only writes lovely stories and illustrates them herself, she goes the extra mile. Back covers are cleverly filled with “reviews” from noted newspapers and magazines. On the inside, front cover you will find her “publishing logo” and copyright information. What this girl won’t think of!

We have been so blessed to come across these neat little books. They have added so much to our learning and creativity. It has been such a blessing to see them pouring over them, learning so much in the process. These have been one of the best investments we have ever made.

So, the next time your children ask to do some creative writing, consider pulling out one of these and see where it leads. You just might not go back!

Because You Asked

On the beachOur creative writing project is fully under way and I had intended on blogging about a completely new topic. (Really, I did!) However, over the last few days I have been asked which characters my family has chosen. I thought it might be fun to put it out there for all the world to see and let the fun begin!

There are six of us in our family, even our little man is joining in on the fun. We have all chosen different characters, some based on books and others on pure imagination.

My husband has chosen to be Jake Brody, private investigator. He types all his messages on a vintage 1930’s manual typewriter and sends all his notes in small, brown envelopes.

I am Aria Homos, daughter of Aristides and Cristobel. My father was the first spy for The Commonweath and is now lead advisor for all potential candidates. We live on the island of Altruria, in the capital city of Evo, which is known for its large universities and the training of ambassadors. Our country was founded when a group of Christians were seeking refuge from the persecution in Rome. Their ship was crushed on the surrounding rocks and the survivors washed up on shore. Our country was weak in its beginning, at one point being taken over by man-eating machines created by our own government, but after a strong rebellion our country has finally settled into more peaceful times.

Our oldest daughter is Ivy, one of six DHI (Disney Host Interactive or Daylight Hologram Imaging) at the Magic Kingdom. Her primary job is to help people tour the five kingdoms of the Disney resort. When the parks close, she helps battle the forces of evil who are trying to take over. Led by Malificent and the Cruella, the dark side will stop at nothing to gain control; the DHI are all that hold them back.

Our second daughter is Ella, a flower fairy. She lives on Bunny Hill under a large oak tree. She lives to help make things grow and to use her herbs helping other people heal.

Our third daughter is Emma, an animal fairy. She uses her gifts to talk to animals and to help them when they are in need.

Our son is Red, an angry bird. (Yes, you read that right!) He is from Angry Bird Planet. He likes to get angry and blow things up. He has no real goal in life, he just likes playing games and attacking pigs.Picture Day

So… now you know a little bit more about our wild alter egos. We are having a blast exploring all that our characters know and do. We look forward to seeing where our project leads us.

Did you pick a character yet? Who are you?

 

Répondez S’il Vous Plaît

InvitationThe term RSVP comes from the French expression “répondez s’il vous plaît”, meaning “please respond”. If RSVP is written on an invitation it means the invited guest must tell the host whether or not they plan to attend the party.

While participation in our creative writing project isn’t optional for our immediate family, after all it is part of our schooling this year, we think it might be fun to get more people in on the project!

It is exciting inviting other people to join us. The kids talked to my mother, I sent an email to my sister-in-law, and my husband has even suggested we ask our homeschooling friends if they would like to connect.Harry Potter Invite

The more people involved in this project, the more adventurous it will become. Our children will have a greater opportunity to write and delve into their imaginations.

We plan to send out RSVP’s to several of our friends and see how many we can get in on the game. It would be awesome to see this generation of kids get excited about writing!

InvitationsDo you think your kids would be more likely to write if their friends were involved? Do you think that inviting grandparents and other extended family would add to the fun?

The Conversation

Faerie NotesIt seems such a lost art these days; letter writing. We text, we email, we IM, and we Facebook; we don’t really take the time to compose a meaningful letter though, do we?

Now that school has begun and we are back to our regular routine, the creative writing project is in full swing! Every few days, I don my alter ego and write a slew of letters to the other characters.

Through our letters to each other, we are learning to be creative and imaginative. We are exploring each other’s worlds and having an adventure on paper.

I have not demanded that my children write at certain intervals, as I was afraid that this might hinder them from wanting to write. I did, however, suggest that at least one note be written per week. Note

What has surprised me the most is that I don’t have to constantly remind them to write their one letter, but rather they are complaining that don’t respond fast enough! I can compose my notes, place them in their mailboxes, and by the next morning another stack of notes awaits me!

Talk about being inspired! My children are constantly hunting up ideas to write on, questions to ask, and thoughtful insights into my character’s problems. They are eager to sit down and respond to whatever thoughts I might have had in return.

Note2This has been the best and most efficient form of encouraging our children to explore creative writing. To see their joyful faces when they have mail and their giggles when they leave it, has brought me much happiness.

Now… I had better go check my box and get busy. I am afraid I have been a little negligent. Who knew this might become a full time job?

Do you like to receive mail? What is the most memorable letter you ever received?