Category Archives: Writing

Winners of PHB Homeschool Writing Contest 2015

Dear Fellow Homeschoolers,

I’m thrilled to announce that the winners of the PHB Homeschool Writing Contest have been selected!  The winning stories have been published on the Philadelphia Homeschool Blog.  You can check out the winning stories by clicking below:

All of the students did a fabulous job!  Thanks for participating!

Sincerely,

Gwen Fredette

Contest Coordinator

Posted by Gwen Fredette on December 16th, 2015

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2015 Homeschool Writing Contest

“PHB” Homeschool Writing Contest!!! 2015

phbwritinglogo

I’m thrilled to announce that I’m hosting my fourth annual Nationwide Homeschool Writing Contest on my “PHB” Philadelphia Homeschool Blog !  Here’s the details:

For Who:  Any child currently being homeschooled (either traditional or virtual charter school) in the U.S. in grades 3 through 8.

How to Enter:  

1)  Read and abide by the Contest Rules.  Please click here to obtain the rules: Writing Contest Rules

2.) Write a story of 1000 words or less, beginning with this starter:

“Run, ___(Character Name)____!”  I screamed.  “Run!”  But my little brother/sister wouldn’t move.  He/she just stood there, knees knocking, frozen in fear.  Slowly the creature approached, snarling with fangs bared …. 

What is your creature?  A wolf?  A monster?  An alien from outer space?  A fire-breathing dragon?  A silly neighborhood kid dressed in a Halloween costume?   Something worse?  Is your younger sibling really in trouble or is this a practical joke? Will you be a hero or is your sibling doomed to a fate worse than death?  Tell us about it!

3.)  Fill out and mail in your entry form and story.  Please click here to obtain the entry form2015 Entry Form Writing Contest

Deadline:  All entries must be post-marked by Saturday, November 21st.

Where to Send Story:  Please see “Writing Contest Rules” for details.

Categories:   Entries will be separated into 3 categories:

  • Grades 3 & 4
  • Grades 5 & 6
  • Grades 7 & 8

Prizes:  1st, 2nd, & 3rd prizes will be given for each category.

1) 1st prize:

2.) 2nd prize:

3.) 3rd prize:

All entrants: will receive a certificate for participating in the contest.

Winner Notification:  Winners will be notified by email in December, 2015

Judging:  See panel of judges listed below (following the sponsors).

Special Thanks to the Sponsors who helped make this contest possible!

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Institute for Excellence in Writing:  excellenceinwriting.comlogo

Whether you are teaching a kindergartener or high schooler, IEW’s enjoyable, effective, and simple-to-use method for teaching writing is guaranteed to work!

Here are the top five reasons families love IEW:

  1. It’s easy to use. We provide easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions for using our materials.
  2. It’s enjoyable. Through video instruction with Andrew Pudewa as your teacher, both you and your children will laugh as you learn.
  3. It’s flexible. Do you have a kindergartener? Do you teach elementary through high school students? IEW works with students spanning a wide range of ages and aptitudes.
  4. It’s a lifelong investment for your children. Structure & Style provides them skills in thinking, writing, and communication.
  5. There’s no risk. We offer a no-time-limit, 100% money-back guarantee.

Our special offer and drawing can be viewed here. http://www.excellenceinwriting.com/files/online_promo.html

Let this be the year your family experiences Excellence in Writing!

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Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Schoolhouse Teachers.com:  www.SchoolhouseTeachers.comST-new-small

Imagine the overwhelming frustration you would feel if you couldn’t access the right tools for a job you were expected to do.  Do you ever feel that kind of frustration with homeschooling?  Just as a carpenter needs tools, you need the proper equipment in your teaching toolbox. At www.SchoolhouseTeachers.com, you will find an abundance of inspiring lessons and helpful resources to fill your toolbox.  Do you need homeschool inspiration, support, encouragement, or advice?  Take time to discover www.TOSmagazine.com, a FREE digital magazine. On the go?  Read TOS on your mobile device with FREE apps at www.TOSApps.com.  Let TOS supply the tools you need to squelch your frustration and boost gratification!

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Peace Hill Press:  www.peacehillpress.com TwitterPHPLogo copy

For over a decade, Peace Hill Press has made classical education accessible to parents, teachers, and students. We create resources for teaching reading, history, geography, grammar, and writing, including books by our founders, Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise (authors of The Well-Trained Mind, a bestselling guide to education at home). Whether you’re a veteran educator or a nervous first-timer, Peace Hill Press will give you the tools and confidence you need to bring classical education to the next generation.

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Silver Lining Press: http://slphomeschool.wordpress.com/ gokoldschoolhouse

Glory of Kings Science Curriculum for Grades K – 3 (Created by Yours Truly!)

*Christian Curriculum

* Literature-Based

*Uses Popular Science Books

*For Multiple Ages

*Simple, Easy to Use!

*Fun, Hands-on

*Creative Projects

*Only $10 per E-copy; $20 per hard copy!

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Special Thanks also to the panel of judges who are helping to make this contest possible:

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Pam was a homeschooling mom for 9 years and is a  published picture book author.  For the last several years Pam has coordinated the “Teens Write” program for the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.  She lives in New Jersey, with her husband, Daryl, and daughters, Anna and Mary.
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Kim is a moderately crunchy-granola, homeschooling pastor’s wife who has spent the past 20 years of her life living in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.  She currently resides in a Lego minefield in Gilbertsville, PA with her husband, Carl, and their six Minions – four homemade and two adopted from foster care.  Kim has highlighted parts of their adoption quest on her blog – It’s a Vertical Life With a Bachelors and Masters Degree from Bucknell University, she has a knack for writing and editing and has shared her gift as the former editor and contributing author to the blog on All Things for Mom (https://www.allthingsformom.com/) and, most recently, as one of the editors of the newly released Simon & Schuster novel, Shifting Time.  In an effort to regenerate brain cells, Kim frequently attempts to lock herself in her bedroom with a good book and a white noise machine.
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Michelle Lofton:  Michelle L 2013 - Copy

Michelle is a Christian wife and mother of three who lives and homeschools in Philadelphia. Michelle began her writing career as an obituary writer in NJ.  Armed with a degree in English and Professional Communications from St. Joseph’s University, Michelle has also worked in communications at a Philadelphia independent school, where she served as assistant editor for the school’s semi-annual academic journal, and wrote press releases and articles for publication in area newspapers.  Michelle’s love of the written word has led her to her current part-time positions with a national handwriting curriculum company, and in the author events department of the Free Library of Philadelphia.  When she is not reading or writing, Michelle can often be found practicing with her church’s bell choir, knitting socks for her family, or working out in the swimming pool at her local community center.

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Rosario Cintron: www.thelatinalens.wordpress.com & www.mamimusings.wordpress.com.Guest Blog Profile Photo

Rosario currently lives in Langhorne, PA with her husband. Together they have a 3-year-old daughter and baby daughter.  She also has two stepchildren. Rosario is a Believer and stay-at-home mom who keeps busy managing two concurrent blogs: The Latina Lens, which explores the depth of the issues that affect and inform the Hispanic/Latino experience in the U.S.; and, Mami Musings—an honest look at the beautifully complex realities of wifedom and motherhood, with a little adventure thrown in as she tries to inject a little bit of style and beauty into her family’s everyday life as a novice DIYer.

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Theresa George: Profile pic (250x231)
Theresa is wife to Chris, mother of four, Classical homeschooler and part-time ultrasonographer who writes when nudged by the Spirit.
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Gwen Fredette:  http://phillyhomeschool.wordpress.com/ and https://ureadthru.wordpress.com/me

I am not a judge this year but will continue to act as the contest coordinator and liaison with the winners. Here’s a quick bio of me:

Gwen lives with her husband and four beautiful children in Philadelphia, PA, and has been homeschooling for over ten years.   In addition to writing weekly for her blogs, Philadelphia Homeschool and U READ Thru History (a free online homeschool history curriculum), Gwen has written three homeschool science curricula and has been busy at work on her first children’s novel.   A committed Christian, Gwen seeks to exalt Christ in all of her work.

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Homeschool Writing Contest Posted by Gwen Fredette on October 14th, 2015

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7th & 8th Grade Winners, Homeschool Writing Contest 2014

Writing Contest Winners 2014 — 7th and 8th Grades

Congratulations to the following 7th and 8th grade winners of the “PHB” Homeschool Writing Contest!!!

1st Place: Kayla, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 8 from Aurora, Illinois for the story entitled “Skye’s Star”.  Kayla’s wonderful winning story is reprinted below.

2nd Place: Becky, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 8 from Norristown, PA, for the story entitled “My Guardian Angel”.

3rd Place: Chloe, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 8 from Fredericksburg, VA, for the story entitled “No Way Out”.

The winners have been notified and will be receiving their prizes from the sponsors shortly.

Special thanks to all the students who participated!  You did a fantastic job!  We can tell that you all worked very hard.  I hope to host more writing contests in the future.  Please try again!

Special thanks to the following Sponsors who helped make this contest possible:

Special thanks also to the panel of judges who worked to select the winners:

  • Marlene Bagnull
  • Pam Halter
  • Michelle Lofton
  • Rosario Cintron
  • Julia Melone &
  • Kay Ben-Avraham

As promised, following is a reprint of Kayla’s fantastic winning story:

“Skye’s Star”

     Skye looked around but realized with a sudden dread there was no way out.  She was trapped!  She turned her head to the side, her cheek touching the cold floor, trying to see where she was, but a searing pain stopped her.  Her head hurt so badly, as well as her legs, but she couldn’t even remember what had happened.  She remembered some things:  the basement, the cold, Pieter sneaking down to see her.  Then bright lights and loud noises, and so much screaming.  Then everything started collapsing.  Everything began falling apart because …

     “Bombs.”  Skye whispered to herself as the realization hit her.  Bombs did this.

     She started to move.  She needed out.  She needed to find Pieter, to find her brothers.  She sat up carefully and brushed dust from her arms.  Something warm and sticky trickled down the back of her neck and into her night-gown.  Her eyes misted over for a moment as dizziness overtook her.  She was bleeding from her head, and by the feel of it, she was losing a lot of blood.

     As her eyes adjusted to the dark, she could see the outline of things around her.  Above her was a black mass of broken wood and darkness.  She carefully leaned forward, feeling for her legs, but all her fingers felt was the smoothness of wood.  Panic overtook her as she realized her legs were being crushed by a large cabinet.  No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t push it off.  It hurt.  It hurt more than anything she’d ever felt.  If she got out of this, would anyone be able to fix her legs?

     Tears sprung from her yes and rolled down her cheeks and neck.  She knew the answer to her question.  Her legs were damaged beyond repair.  She knew her legs were done, but she wouldn’t admit it to herself.

     As the pain and sorrow hit her, Skye screamed.  Ugly, choking screams.  She didn’t care who heard her, if anyone could.  She screamed for Pieter, her best friend.  He was the boy who hid her from the Nazis.  He was the one who comforted her when the dreams about her parents came.  He was the one who protected her.  He was a silly fifteen-year-old boy, and where was he now?  Buried beneath the wreckage of his house or possibly even dead.  All because he had snuck down to the basement to keep a fourteen-year-old girl company.

     She pushed the thought from her mind.  Pieter might not be dead.  She had to hold on to the small sliver of hope that he was alive.  That they would both make it out of this alive.

     As she inhaled to call for help again, she choked.  She could feel the dust in the air lodging in her throat every time she drew a breath.  She coughed even harder than she had when she’d been sick last year.  When she opened her mouth to cough again, she leaned over to the side, and instead of coughing, threw up.  She vomited until everything she’d eaten the day before reappeared.

     Skye laid back.  She wasn’t going anywhere.  She could feel her heart beating faster every second.  Blood was still seeping from her head and she was having trouble breathing.  She knew she had to relax.  As she lay in a puddle of her own blood, she thought of her brothers Tommy, Rudy, and Isaac.  She didn’t know where they were or even if they were alive, but somehow, picturing their faces in her mind made her feel calm.

     She thought about Hitler and how Germany wouldn’t be crumbling right now if it weren’t for him.  She thought about his hatred for Jews, and for people who had brown hair and brown eyes.  Hair and eyes like her own.  Hair and eyes like his own.  That sudden thought made her want to laugh.

     Searching her mind for something to think about, Skye suddenly remembered her book.  The night before, Pieter had asked her about her book of letters.  Over the last five years, she’d written hundreds of letters to God, her mama and papa, and Pieter, filling the blank book her mama had given her before sending her and her brothers to Pieter’s mama.

     She thought back to where the book had been.  If she was still in the same place she’d been standing last night, her book was probably somewhere off to her left.  She sat up again, ignoring the pain and dizziness, and reached out to start moving pieces of the collapsed house.  She moved as much as she could, but with her legs pinned under the cabinet, she couldn’t reach far.  After a few minutes of searching, she gave up and started to pull back to lay down again.  As she did, her eyes focused on a bright shape buried under splintered wood and dirt.  It was her star — the one that had been sewn into her clothes before coming here.  The one that  Pieter was supposed to burn when she had arrived, but he had saved it and hidden it.

     Coughing and breathing with great difficulty, she reached out to grab it.  Her fingers wrapped around it, and she pulled it close to her, holding it to her heart.  She could feel her heartbeat.  It was slow, but she wasn’t worried.  Not anymore.  She laid down again, closed her eyes, and smiled as a tear rolled down her cheek.

     “I love you.”  She whispered, sending her words out to everyone she’d ever loved: Mama, Papa, Pieter, her brothers, Pieter’s siblings and his parents.  She loved them all.

     As she took her last breath, she knew her fight was over.  She knew the people she left behind would hurt, and she hurt for them.  But she also knew that every time they smiled they would smile a little brighter than everyone else.  The saddest people always do.  They shine like all the stars in the sky.

THE END

Posted by Gwen Fredette on December 23rd, 2014

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5th & 6th Grade Winners, Homeschool Writing Contest 2014

Writing Contest Winners 2014 — 5th and 6th Grades

Congratulations to the following 5th and 6th grade winners of the “PHB” Homeschool Writing Contest!!!

1st Place: Kareem, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 6 from Norristown, PA for the story entitled “The Provider”.  Kareem’s wonderful winning story is reprinted below.

2nd Place: Jacob, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 6 from Newtown, PA, for the story entitled “The Most Amazing Adventure of Larry Hudson”.

3rd Place: Angeline, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 5 from Philadelphia, PA, for the story entitled “A Crumby Quandary”.

The winners have been notified and will be receiving their prizes from the sponsors shortly.

Special thanks to all the students who participated!  You did a fantastic job!  We can tell that you all worked very hard.  I hope to host more writing contests in the future.  Please try again!

Special thanks to the following Sponsors who helped make this contest possible:

Special thanks also to the panel of judges who worked to select the winners:

  • Marlene Bagnull
  • Pam Halter
  • Michelle Lofton
  • Rosario Cintron
  • Julia Melone &
  • Kay Ben-Avraham

As promised, following is a reprint of Kareem’s fantastic winning story:

“The Provider”

Hutzu looked around, but realized with a sudden dread, there was no way out.  He was trapped!  While he was working to build a massive pyramid, there was an earthquake.  The pyramid walls collapsed and Hutzu was separated from his group!  He could not see anything, not even his hands in front of his face.  The distinct smell of mummified bodies filled the air.  Just the thought of mummies made his skin crawl.

Hutzu lived in the plentiful country of Egypt in 1527 BC.  He was an Israelite slave, but a prudent and determined worker.  The Egyptians had the best of everything; top-notch clothes, food, and crops, yet Hutzu and his family’s belonging were shoddy and old, but they never complained.  They believed that the world they lived in as slaves and pyramid builders would eventually pass away, and they lived with an eternal hope.  Their hope did not come from money or jewelry, but rested in the one true God, the Alpha and Omega.

While trapped in the pyramid fear took over Hutzu’s heart, but in that moment he remembered to call out to God.  “Lord, show me your light.  I trust you alone to provide a path out of this darkness,” he silently prayed.  Hutzu waited patiently for the Lord’s answer.  Suddenly, a light appeared that filled the entire pyramid.  All of the stars in the universe combined could not match this pure brightness.  Then a voice louder than thunder, but still, calm, and smooth roared,  “Hutzu, because of your unbreakable faith that I will provide, I will lead you out of this darkness!”

Hutzu was amazed.  He followed the light as it guided him through the dangerous pyramid that was filled with deadly traps.  During this journey Hutzu saw multiple paths and became curious.  “Where do these paths lead?” he asked God.  “They all lead to destruction, but the path to which I lead you will lead to life!” answered God. Hutzu was extremely thankful that the Lord was there to guide him.  Although there were countless paths, it seemed as if the light kept moving forward.  Hutzu saw snakes, spiders, and rats, but he did not worry because he was with the Creator of these creatures.  The dread he had once felt scrambled away like birds that were startled by a gun shot.

Hutzu had been in the pyramid for over twelve hours, but he did not notice.  The presence of God was so satisfying.  The wonderful presence of God filled Hutzu’s heart with wisdom, love, patience, and kindness.  It was an incredible feeling, and he did not want it to go away.  Yet he had to continue along the path.  Further along the road was a tiny light ahead.  The loud voice of God boomed, “Follow that light my son, that is your exit!” Hutzu obeyed and exited the pyramid safely.  “All praise is to God the King of my soul; he has been my faithful provider all this time!” he yelled.  Hutzu dashed to his village; he told the people of Israel of his epic adventure with God.  All that heard the story were left in disbelief, except Hutzu’s friends, Miriam and Aaron.  They were righteous people who believed in the miracles of God.  After hearing the wonderful news Hutzu had shared, they explained to Hutzu and his family another miracle that was going to happen.  Their brother Moses, who was born an Israelite slave but raised as an Egyptian prince, returned to Egypt to lead his people, the Israelites to freedom.  God would cast ten terrible plagues upon Egypt because of Pharaoh’s stubbornness not to let the Israelites free.  After the tenth plague (when the first-born of every Egyptian household died) Pharaoh wold agree to let the Israelites free.  All of these events came to pass and all the Israelites were set free.  Hutzu and his family lived happily ever after, trusting God to be their ultimate provider.

Posted by Gwen Fredette on December 20th, 2014

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3rd & 4th Grade Winners, Homeschool Writing Contest 2014

Writing Contest Winners 2014 — 3rd and 4th Grades

Congratulations to the following 3rd and 4th grade winners of the “PHB” Homeschool Writing Contest!!!

1st Place: Vivian, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 3 from Lansdale, PA for the story entitled “Shelter Troubles”.  Vivian’s wonderful winning story is reprinted below.

2nd Place: Charlotte, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 4 from Thomasville, NC, for the story entitled “Grapple the Cat and Evil Catsten”.

3rd Place: Isabella, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 4 from Coppell, TX, for the story entitled “A Wonderful Secret”.

The winners have been notified and will be receiving their prizes from the sponsors shortly.

Special thanks to all the students who participated!  You did a fantastic job!  We can tell that you all worked very hard.  I hope to host more writing contests in the future.  Please try again!

Special thanks to the following Sponsors who helped make this contest possible:

Special thanks also to the panel of judges who worked to select the winners:

  • Marlene Bagnull
  • Pam Halter
  • Michelle Lofton
  • Rosario Cintron
  • Julia Melone &
  • Kay Ben-Avraham

As promised, following is a reprint of Vivian’s fantastic winning story:

“Shelter Troubles”

     I looked around, but I realized with a sudden dread there was no way out.  I was trapped!

     You see, it all started out when I was hunting in the woods one day.  It was my morning meal, and I was hungry.  It was snowing; birds were scarce.  I was looking for bugs or possibly a nest with chicks in it, but the only things I found were a few measly flies and millipedes.  Of course, it would hold me off for the morning.  I don’t have a big appetite; I can hunt fairly well without getting too skinny.  I have claws like needles and teeth like daggers — I am a wildcat.

     You might be wondering how I was raised.  Both my mother and my father were wildcats, but my father died right after my birth.  Yes, I do have siblings, but I do not need to mention their names right now.

     For a bed, my mother scraped leaves into a large, flattish pile on the ground, usually under a tree.  Dead leaves that had fallen from the trees were best for making beds like these, but they were not always available.  When we were old enough she taught us how to make these beds and how to hunt.  But she wasn’t like other mothers and widows that would be house pets.  She was tough.  She did mourn over my father’s death, but not for very long.

     Like I was saying before, the day was gloomy.  Everywhere I looked I saw white, white, and more white.  I learned to not mind walking through snow, rain, and dew.  All wildcats learned to do that.  I jumped onto a branch on a tree and climbed up.  I peeked into a bird’s nest, but it was empty.  I sighed.  Then I leaped down and sat in the snow.  Little did I know what was ahead of me and that it would change my life forever.

     As I trudged though the cold snow, I felt the presence of another creature behind me.  A car had driven up and screeched to a halt at the corner.  No cars ever drove in the winter time!  The streets were sheathed in ice.  As I sat wondering about this,  I felt arms grab me.

     I was shoved into a cage and driven away in the car.  Never had I experienced this before!  I clawed at my cage, meowing, but no one let me out.  I looked around, but I realized with a sudden dread there was no way out.  I was trapped!

     Soon the car stopped at a big shelter.  I could hear dogs barking and parakeets screeching as someone brought me into the shelter.  I was put into a different cage, one that was clear plastic.

     I was scared.  I didn’t know where I was.  Hours went by as I sat in my small cage.  There were two dogs next to me, barking and howling their heads off.  I tried asking them where I was.

     “Hey, you dog, over here!” I said.  The dog turned his head toward me.

     “What do you want?” the dog asked.

     “I want to know where I am!” I hissed.

     “Oh, you’re in a pet shelter.  People come and take you home.”

     “People?” I wondered aloud.  I didn’t know much about people.  But before the dog could explain to me why people were going to take me away, the lights were switched off.  I heard a bell ring and the sound of keys locking something.  I was locked in the shelter at night!

     I freaked out.  No one was going to bring me out of here!  I was stuck for a whole night with only little nuggets as food.  Did they expect me to eat these?  They didn’t have meat in them!  They were hard and unappetizing things.  I would rather starve than eat these!

     Soon all the barking ceased.  The tweeting and screeching stopped.  Everyone one was asleep!  How I longed for one of those colorful parakeets right across from my cage!  I soon found myself getting quite drowsy.  I yawned and fell asleep on my hard little carpet that was at the bottom of my cage.

     The next morning the whole shelter was alive again.  People swarmed the shelter.  Some people bought fish and parakeets, and occasionally a cat or a dog.  No one wanted me.  I wondered if it was because of the little sign that was stuck on my cage.  I soon found what it meant.

     A little kid and his mom came up to me.  The little kid pointed to me.  The mom read the sign aloud.  “Not up for adoption.  This cat is not neutered.”  She led the kid away from me.

     After a few days of waiting patiently in my cage, I was taken out of it and driven to a veterinary clinic.  They brought me in and set me on a while little desk.  The entire room was white!  There were scary machines all around.  It had a funny smell.  I was getting nervous.  So just as a vet walked in, off I zoomed!

     I leaped off the counter, skidded out the door, and stopped when I saw pets and people everywhere.  I ran down the stairs, under people’s legs, until I was at the bottom floor of the clinic.  I looked around frantically.  Where should I go? What should I do?  I spotted a door that led to outside. I crouched down and ran under the chairs that people were waiting in.  There were screams, and just as a person opened the door, I was out!

     I was free!  I am now more careful around cars and I rarely interact with people anymore.  Yes, sometimes I have to move from bed to bed, and yes, sometimes I have a struggle finding food, but for the most part, being a wildcat is better than being a house cat!

I am a wild cat, and the first cat ever to escape a visit to the vet!

Posted by Gwen Fredette on December 12th, 2014

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Creative Writing for a Year

Homeschoolers, I’m hosting a Nationwide Homeschool Writing Contest on my Philadelphia Homeschool Blog!  Click here to find out more about it and print out the entry form: http://phillyhomeschool.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/homeschool-writing-contest-2014/  phbwritinglogo

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A Year of Creative Writing

I enjoy writing, so naturally I make writing a regular part of our homeschool week.  Following is an outline that we use on a yearly basis, as well as tips for developing good writing habits.

WRITING TIPS:

  • Daily Journal: Those who write well, write a lot.  Consider having your child(ren) keep a daily journal.  Here your student(s) can write about daily occurrences or anything on their minds.  How much should they write in their journal?  A good rule of thumb is to have the number of sentences in their journals match the grade they are in.  (i.e. If they are in 2nd grade, they should write at least 2 sentences in their journals.  If they are in 7th grade, there should be at least 7 sentences in their journals.)
  • Use a Thesaurus: Teach kids at a young age how to use a thesaurus.  Good writers need to be able to use a variety of different words that convey similar meanings.  Kids as young as 8 can be taught to use a simple thesaurus.  Many thesauruses are available online for students.  http://www.thesaurus.com/ If you use Microsoft Word, a thesaurus comes as part of the software package.
  • Write with Pictures: A good way to teach writing to young children is to start with pictures.  Take a blank piece of paper and fold it in half; then fold it again.  Open it up and you will have 4 squares.  Ask your K – 3 grade child to draw a picture in each square.  Then have him write 1 – 3 sentences under each picture explaining what is happening.
  • Read & Write: Good writers are also good readers.  If your student needs to write an essay, have him read examples of good essays.  If he is writing fiction, have him read excellent fiction.  Newspaper article?  Have your student read a few columns in a newspaper or magazine.  Poetry?  Have him read poetry written by the best!
  • Think & Write:  Good writers are creative thinkers.  Most people cannot write immediately; they must sit and think first.  Encourage your student to think and let his imagination run wild a bit before he sits down to write.  The following questions can be considered: What will my topic be?  Who can I interview? Who will my hero be?  Who will be my villain?  Where will my story take place?  What “twists” can I include in my writing to entertain my readers?

1 YEAR PLAN:

September:  ESSAY MONTH.  Once a week have your student write an essay.  Five paragraph, three proof essays are a good place to start.  If you are unfamiliar with this type of essay, here a few links explaining how these essays should be written: http://www.brighthubeducation.com/help-with-writing/2999-how-to-write-a-good-five-paragraph-essay/  and http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Introducing_Five_Paragraph_Studies/.  Usually the introduction and conclusion are the hardest parts of the essay to write, so if your student is new to writing essays, consider having him write the three (middle) supporting paragraphs first.  Then have him go back and write the introduction and conclusion at the end.   In need of essay topics for your student?  Check out the following links for essay ideas:

October/November:  STORY MONTHS.  During these months students should be reading outstanding literature.  For a list of my own personal recommendations listed by grade level, click here: http://phillyhomeschool.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/literature-picks/ Once a week have your student work on a piece of fiction.  I have my students develop their stories over a period of four weeks.  Consequently, their stories are basically divided into “chapters”.  They are instructed to end each chapter with a cliff-hanger.  This link describes what cliff-hangers are: https://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+a+cliff+hanger&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=nts.  Every year I host a Nationwide “Homeschool Writing Contest” on my Philadelphia Homeschool blog, and I recently posted this year’s contest.  (To see this year’s contest link, please click here: http://phillyhomeschool.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/homeschool-writing-contest-2014/)  I’ve found my kids do well with stories if they are given a story-starter.  Here are ones we’ve used in the past:

  • I know.  I shouldn’t have been snooping around in my cousin’s room.  But I couldn’t believe it when I found _____________ hidden _______________.  What did you find?  A love letter?  A puppy?  Drugs?  A door to another planet?  Something else?  Tell us about it!
  • “Help!  Help!” my sister screamed frantically. I groaned.  What a drama queen!  What could it be this time?  Reluctantly, I followed the sounds of her cries …    What was wrong?  Did she break a nail?  Spy a cockroach?  Did her boyfriend dump her?  Was she kidnapped by bandits?  Abducted by aliens?  Cornered by a fire-breathing dragon?  Something worse?  Tell us about it!
  • (This year’s story starter!)   ___(Character Name)____  looked around, but realized with a sudden dread there was no way out.  He/She was trapped!  Where was your character trapped?  In a pit?  In a closet?  In a lie?  In medieval Europe surrounded by fire-breathing dragons?  What or who is your character?  Yourself?  A person?  A puppy?  A bug?  An alien from an alternate universe?  Tell us about it!  (Link to this year’s contest: http://phillyhomeschool.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/homeschool-writing-contest-2014/)
  • More story starter ideas:  http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/story-starters/
  • More story starter ideas: http://www.thestorystarter.com/jr.htm
  • More story starter ideas: http://www.brucevanpatter.com/storykitchen.html
  • More story starter ideas: http://journalbuddies.com/creative-writing-2/creative-writing-story-starters/

December/January: JOURNALISM MONTHS.  Once a week have your student pretend he is a newspaper reporter and must report on events occurring within your family, homeschool group, neighborhood, etc.  Your student must interview others for his article and include at least 2 quotes.  Our family often writes a newspaper called “The Daily Buggle”.  The kids report on some sort of insect or spider found outside (or more often inside!) the house.  They include quotes from family members who discovered the insect and from those who killed it, or set it loose outside, etc.  If your student has a flare for photography, he can make that part of his writing assignment.  The following other ideas often make good “Homeschool Newspaper” stories:

  • Sporting Events
  • Music/Drama/Creative Arts Events
  • Field Trips
  • Co-op Events
  • Interviews with relatives/friends on a variety of topics

February: POETRY MONTH:  Once a week have your student create their own poetry.  Spend at least two days a week reading works by famous poets.

March/April: REPORT MONTHS:  Kids hate writing reports, but they will have to do many of them in high school and college.  So it’s important to begin the report writing experience as early as possible.

  • Early Elementary (Grades 1 – 3) – Book Reports:  Book reports are one of the easiest ways to introduce report writing to young children.  The following sites have book report forms that make writing reports simple:  http://edhelper.com/book_report_forms.htm  and http://www.classroomjr.com/printable-book-report-forms/book-report-form/
  • Middle Elementary (Grades 4 – 6) – Research Reports:  At this age students can be introduced to simple research reports.  Possible topics include: favorite land creature, sea animal, insect, sport, country, etc.  Bibliographies should be included in final drafts.
  • Upper Elementary (Grades 7 – 8) – Research Reports :  Junior High students can include statistics, graphs and tables in their reports.  Reports should include subtopics.  Depending on the topic chosen, they can also include a final essay in their report, sharing their own perspectives about the chosen topic.  Possible report ideas include:                                          * Favorite author or artist: (subtopics: biography, short summaries of several works, why this is student’s favorite author/artist)                                * World Religion: (subtopics: overview, different religious branches and summaries of each, how it compares and contrasts to Christianity (or own religion)                                                                                                                         *  Today’s Issues (abortion, obesity in America, adoption, divorce in America, immigration, terrorism, etc.) [subtopics: overview, statistics nationwide and statewide, how it may affect future generations, student’s personal experience or opinions).

May/June: FREE WRITING:  The end of the school year is a great time to catch up on a variety of subjects and to experience great field trips.  Make writing a part of your weekly assignments if you can, otherwise, no worries.  During these months kids can write on topics of their own choosing.

Hope this outline is a help to you!

Copyright October 12th, 2014 by Gwen Fredette.   Reposted on October 26th, 2014 from Philadelphia Homeschool Blog.

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