Writing Tales is a classical writing program designed for use with students in the 3rd-5th grades (although you could probably use it with struggling older writers as well). Some background on my particular 4th grade boy: HE HATES WRITING! I mean that. He hates everything from actual handwriting, to written narrations, to writing stories, paragraphs etc. Writing is a real battle in my house with this child. Therefore, I was VERY pleased to find a gentle writing program that we could use that was thorough, but did not push him to the point of tears!!
I received both Level 1 (designed for 3rd-4th grades) and Level 2 (designed for 4th-5th grades) of Writing Tales for this review. Because my son struggles so much with writing, I decided to start with Level 1, and I am very glad I did. The curriculum comes with both a student workbook, and a teachers guide. I got really excited when I saw how well laid-out the lessons were!
There are 30 lessons in both books, designed to take about 5 days each, so each book is pretty-much a 1-year curriculum. A schedule is included for both homeschoolers and those using the program in a co-op setting. The schedule is easy to follow, and adjust, which I did because we usually spend about two days a week working on writing. I simply did two days worth of lessons in one sitting. Because you spend each day doing different things (grammar, spelling, vocabulary etc.), and it wasn’t JUST writing every day, this was fine for my son.
Writing Tales is based on the Greek approach to writing called Progymnasmata. The idea behind it is that students learn to write best by copying well-written models first. The lessons in Level 1 start out with some of Aesop’s fables, and move into other familiar fables/fairy tales. You actually start out just reading the story and focusing on discussing the main idea/characters/moral etc., so this program even includes some comprehension activities!! 🙂 Students also work on grammar within the context of the story, and spelling as well, so it could be used as a complete language arts program if you wanted to do it that way.
In looking through Level 2 (which we will definitely be using next year!), the fables and fairy tales continue, but the lessons are more advanced, with some longer stories and students doing activities like outlining. Both levels include copywork, and checklists for writing rough and final drafts (I find these very helpful for my son, he needs something concrete to look at to guide his writing). When students write their rough draft, they are encouraged to retell the original story as they heard it. However, in the final draft, students are allowed to add their own “personal” touches to the story by adding in more details, character names, etc. which allows for a little creative writing too! The teachers guide includes an appendix with pages you would need to complete the lessons (i.e. sentence strips to cut out for sequencing, games etc) as well as answers to student lessons.
I cannot tell you how very HAPPY we are with this program. It is, by far, the best writing program I have found for my non-writing-inclined son. I feel that after we finish both levels, he will have a solid foundation in writing coherent sentences, paragraphs etc. and will hopefully have a lot more confidence in his writing. I only wish there were more levels to this program!!
The cost for Writing Tales Level 1 is: $19.95 for the student workbook, and $24.95 for the teachers guide. Level 2 costs $24.95 for the student workbook, and $32.95 for the teachers guide. As you can see, these prices are pretty similar to many language arts programs out there, so if I could tell you to pick only one, Writing Tales would be it. You can get more information, and also check out samples, and the Writing Tales website here:
**Note: I was given a free copy of this curriculum for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed are my own.