Favorite Writing Resource

One of the most used resources for writing for my three oldest children when they were growing up is called Read! Write! Publish! Making Books in the Classroom”, by Creative Teaching Press.

I got it early in our homeschooling journey (of 15 years!) so I didn’t think it was still purchasable, but I found it here!

Basically, it is a book about making books, and the format is SO easy for the children to do on their own. Each type of book has a two page layout. The first page shows visually how to make the book and if you need to have a “blank formatting page” (found at the back of the book). The second page shows visual samples of how others created diverse books from the foundation. So, all I did was provide a stack of the various blank pages available for the books provided in the back of the book as well as other materials needed such as regular blank paper, tagboard, and other such items.

This is an especially useful tool for the right-brained learner. These children tend to develop traditionally valued writing (words to paper) later, not to mention they often dislike handwriting while young as well. Many of the books to be made in this resource capitalize on the right-brained learner’s assets: visual, three-dimensional, pictorial, creative.

Some of the more popular books for my creative learners to make were: Pop-Up Book (makes sense, since it is three-dimensional!), Video Book (again, makes sense . . . it’s a picture slide show), Flip Book (again, humor mixed with pictures with minimal words), Wheel Book (making a visual with a wheel that turns), etc.

What I think this resource showed my creative learners was that books are fun, and making books are fun . . . the words and writing were secondary for many of these book ideas, so the focus was on expressing their ideas in the way that works for them, and then appreciating that they were “writing books”. There was no “writing phobia” or “dysgraphia” that surfaced because of this approach šŸ™‚

I’m so excited that the resource is still out there . . . I highly recommend it. Of course, if you want the potential benefits of what happened with my diverse children, you would want to use it as a resource they can use anyway they want. šŸ™‚ For instance, here are some of the “books” that I pulled out of my oldest son’s 8-year-old files that I know were “inspired” after using this resource as well as interrelating with various types of books:

Notice that he still wrote certain letters backward, particularly “S” and “J”. He told his story more in his drawing than in the writing. In this “book” (10 pages total), which he had stapled together on plain paper, were simply labels of each picture, although as you go through the pictures, there is a story there. The last page has the declaration, “What a fliat” (flight), so there is also “invented spelling” still.

This one I was able to give as a complete sample. This is when he was really into penguins. My focus on admiring his work was on the overall representation of a story, not the parts that made each up, such as the continued backward letters, invented spelling, or that there were minimal words, let alone basically labeling or putting phrases versus “complete sentences”. It was all a process, and I was amazed by how the pictures and words combined to create a lot of feeling and plot.

This is a dinosaur activity book. He loved dinosaurs from around 3-4 years old until around this time. In this book, he did a little of everything. He started off with a few pages of labels, then a few pages of traditional activity pages, and then a mini story at the end. It was a total of 14 pages and I took a page sample from each “category.”

He had a couple Lion King story books in this folder, stapled together, about 40 pages each. Again, it was a mix of words and pictures that together created a really awesome storyline. In the samples above, I liked the perspective that one often sees in a right-brained learner’s pictures, with the back of the lions’ heads looking on the scene, as well as a simple outline of the lions’ bodies running down the hill. Cool!

Eric loved Africa for a good season. Here was a “book” compiled on that unperforated computer paper that you could buy in the day where it is “continuous fed and unperforated paper” so that it lies accordian style and you have to tear off the hole-punched side feed. My children used this type of paper a LOT back when. This was about a 70 page compilation and it pretty much consisted of labeling the various animals of Africa. This is how he learned about his continents and countries . . . his fascination with animals and his need to know everything about them, particularly where they lived and why and how.

There were other books in his folder. One type that showed up a lot around 9 years old were “Colorform books”. I guess I had purchased some Colorforms around that time, and he decided to make his own based on his favorite interests. He would draw and color a background scene, and then meticulously draw, color and cut out the “forms” that you would play on the scene. He would then tuck these cut-outs into an envelope, which he labeled, and stuck in the place they belonged within the book pages.

So, what I saw was that once this initial resource showed my children that they could make their own books of all sorts of types and styles and functions and focus, they began to make books of their own creation often inspired by other resources that came into the home. They discovered that even if you couldn’t find a particular resource about their favorite interest, they could create it themselves! For a right-brained learner, I think it’s all about resources that inspire, not resources that dictate.

7 responses to “Favorite Writing Resource

  1. Eric sounds so much like my little GB… He is 8 and has an animal, nature and dinosaur passion. I loved seeing his work. Very impressive! It would be nice if GB could express himself in book format.

  2. Eric’s 8-year-old work is phenomenal. What an artist! What a prolific author! Thank you for sharing this. šŸ™‚

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  4. Robin,

    I notice that certain right-brained learners have similar “interests” at certain ages. I notice many can like history young and/or geography. Eric liked Ancient Egypt (which seems to hold an appeal to many like him) as well as Africa and the Galapagos Islands. Dinosaurs are fairly common for the right-brained learner . . . I wonder if it taps into their imaginations, yet realizing they were real brings in an added element of wonder and desire to know more. Animals and nature (science) were big for Eric young.

    Anyway, because of your comment, I decided to write a little bit more about how I think Eric came to the book idea. Of course, as I mentioned, his books weren’t necessarily those that would be valued, as they lacked the words and sentence structure, but I really think giving value to the way our right-brained learners express their ideas while young is important to seeing the other expressions later come to fruition joyfully. (Eric is now writing a novel based on his video games, so that visual is still very much a part of his writing, yet his words and sentence structure and descriptions are fabulous.)

    Are you thinking of getting that resource I recommended? It might act as a catalyst, as it did mine. If you get it, if you start making some books from it, you can also act as a mentor and inspiration, as I mentioned in my subsequent post.


  5. Hey Steph,

    I also decided to add a few comments in my subsequent post as it pertains to your comment. I always want to make sure that people understand that he is an artist by nature, so his work would be a bit better than the average person. On the other hand, he would slop any handwriting asked of him. LOL! That’s also why I decided to share some of Eli’s work, who isn’t a natural artist, although the sheer exposure he got I think paid off considerably. I also wanted to share how different skills within the right-brained learner can show different things in their drawings and/or writings, if you would. The common thread, though, seems to be that their “writing” is more pictorial while younger and the words will emerge naturally for them a bit later.

    I think being able to share their visuals through pictures as their first “books” can lay the foundation for the words to catch up in describing their detailed images within their brains. I always saw their drawings as a “glimpse into their thinking”.

    Also, as you mentioned, because of their relationship with writing, even if it was primarily image driven, I knew writing in the verbal would eventually emerge because they had such positive feelings toward the process. I think recognizing it all as still “prolific writing” is important . . . and really meaning it versus hoping saying it will get them to do the “real stuff”, ya know?

    Anyway, thanks for the comments . . .

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