I started a new “class” with my 4th grader this year for writing. In the past, to be quite honest, we haven’t done much in the way of writing training besides grammar, spelling, and handwriting. I’ve heard, even, that kids younger than 4th grade shouldn’t be expected to write anything creatively anyway, although I can’t remember exactly what the logic behind that was.
Anyway, my husband bought me the first semester of books from Classical Academic Press’s Writing and Rhetoric series. They encourage you start at 3rd or 4th grade, too. So far (you know, 2 weeks into school) my 4th grader LOVES this!! Which means I love it too. It has been a pain in my rear to get him to write down anything – as in sometimes he doesn’t even want to write down his math answers and that can be as easy as one single digit. Writing just isn’t as fast as talking, I guess.
He is very much enjoying this course. Semester one has the children focusing on fables and using those fables to jumpstart their own writing. Instead of being overwhelmed by having to create brand new material, they get to learn from the master storyteller himself, Aesop, and play around with plots and characters that already have proven the test of time.
The last section of each chapter (at least through chapter 2) has the student read aloud to the class, or into a recording device of some kind, their writing for that week. The only recording device I have is the video on my phone, so that is what you are going to get.
Video number one is an adaptation of “The Lion and the Mouse.” His assignment was to use the mouse as the character of strength and power and pick something smaller and weaker than a mouse to play the mouse’s traditional role. He decided to write “The Mouse and the Spider.” The idea is the students are supposed to keep the same general plot and moral of the original fable.
Video number two is an amplification of a Native American fable called “The Hunter and The Doves.” Earlier in the chapter we compared it to “The Lion and the Three Young Bulls.” Both fables’ morals declare that unity is strength. We spent our writing time practicing writing summaries and amplifications, which meant at first we took out extraneous material but kept the key concepts, and then second we added detail, adjectives, and more flavor to a summary provided from the book – in this case “The Hunter and the Doves.”
I’m not sure he was as successful keeping the moral really strong in this one, but he certainly did add some fun detail that the original summary didn’t have. We didn’t have any toy hunters or doves for the set, so he decided to go with a pretzel theme. Sorry about that. He’s decided it is his production company, Pretzel Productions, and he is going to add the little intro on every video from now on. That is either kind of annoying or awesome creative juices at work. I’ll let you decide for yourself. And if you picked “creative” you might change your mind after the 12th video of pretzels, but we won’t tell him that 🙂