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I love the Lord as much as a broken person can; love and loved by my husband; blessed by 5 amazing little people who have helped me to learn much about me; grateful to serve even more as God gives them to me; blessed every day to be a home school teacher; college student; I hope to change the world by loving as many people as possible, because there is nothing greater than loving another.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Teaching Paragraph Writing Organically (without a curricula)

When Diva was learning to write, there were not handy dandy writing curriculum for lower grammar students. Mainly, there was instruction via grammar study,  but because I love writing, I wanted to see paragraph formation in early years. We worked on sentences via Rod & Staff and simple dictation, then started building sandwiches (paragraphs).

The sandwich analogy is like this: bread, meat and yummy fixings (lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, etc -- whatever dc likes), more bread! We made our first tasty treat like this.

I had dd narate a bunch of facts on crabs after reading a crab book (Christian Science Nature Readers). Since in the 1st grade, everything was narrated in random order, it gave me the tool to show her how to design a great paragraph. I typed up her narrated sentences, then we cut out each sentence and made piles that had the same main idea. I helped her to "see" the main idea initially, but after a couple of examples, she was able to sort out: body, diet, and habitat.

Then I asked her the question, "What do each of these sentences have in common? Her answer was in a complete sentence and we "made it fun and fancy" to create a topic sentence. I typed the topic sentences up and we placed them on top of each group. I explained what main idea and topic sentence meant (she knew the definition of sentence and what "main" meant, so this was easy). We then started from top to bottom to show her order in paragraphs. In other words, how if you're describing the body, you start with the head and work down to the feet or start with the feet and work on up to the head; most common foods to least; sky to ground for habitat.

We glued her paragraphs on construction paper learning about indentation and she was a published author! We decorated the cover with her drawing of a crab and some fancy scrapbooking letters.

We followed this model several times, for a variety of subjects, including biography and she then had a solid foundation of paragraph writing.

From there, I simply assigned daily paragraphs to go along with our science or history, until she had built her way up to a 5-paragraph essay (3 paragraphs in 3rd grade; 4-5 in 4th grade). With plenty of practice, by 5th grade, 5 paragraph essays are a breeze. Then, we switch to Write Shop (or at least will switch after PR4). In the meantime, we used Writing Aids to fill in more genres, all related to history and science, so she had completed fables, astate notebook, news stories, etc.

I understand from a great friend that Write Shop's new materials for primary school are amazing. A lot of work, but amazing. From this juncture, I'm using The Phonics Road as my writing instruction, but for those who choose an organic route, this way works, it was fun, and it really was painless. Hope it helps you!

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