Category Archives: Writing

Writing in the Teen Years

I’ve written a couple posts about writing in the years from 5-10 years old found here and here, so I’ve decided to write a post about this subject for the teen years.  I find that IF people decide to give space in the 5-10 year ranges for writing to develop more naturally, they really start to panic by the time their child reaches 13 years old and “college” and “adulthood” seems to loom bigger in the minds of the parents homeschooling their own.

There is a current discussion going on at my Homeschooling Creatively list about writing.  Gina shared a link to a blog post she wrote as she figured out where she’s at on the subject at this time.  I agree wholeheartedly with what she figured out as she found herself going through writing curriculum after writing curriculum.  She finally just sat down with herself and evaluated how writing really happened for her in more of a natural and free-flowing manner; and thus, started questioning why she was feeling a need to be systematic with the approach with her daughter.  So, at this time, she’s choosing to trust the natural process to writing.  It inspired me to write this post about how four of my children have come to writing.

First, let me preface with some deconditioning that needs to be done about writing.  When we think about writing and school, we think book reports and essays and research papers.  Frankly, so much of this type of writing is not required in real life.  More importantly, there are scads of other styles of writing that are neglected as valid.  Further, these styles are often what is most conducive to a right-brained learner’s strengths.  Some of these writing genres are:  lyrical writing, poetry, skits and scripts, fantasy and creative writing, fan fiction, book and movie and music reviews, comic book and graphic novels, journals and diaries, and more.  People believe that to learn how to write a research paper, one must write research papers.  Maybe that is one way.  But, what I have found with myself and all of my adult children so far is that having confidence in, enjoying, and knowing how to express themselves in any way (including verbally, visually or in written form) translates to being able to figure out how to write in various genres that may be requested of them later.

Here are my children’s stories (ha, pun intended!):

Eric is my artist son.  His teen writing started at 11 years old.  He handwrote a 100-page script for a movie he was making with his two best friends.

Inspired by his favorite video game at the time, Zelda, Eric also began writing a novel after reading one based on this game that he felt fell short of what it could be.  He made it to about 35 typewritten, single-spaced pages.  And it was excellent writing, though he had never had a writing lesson or curriculum before this.

Eric was a huge list-maker and has probably literally created thousands of pages of lists throughout his teen years (see an example below).  He continued to draw extensively during his teen years as well.  It wasn’t until about 18 years old that he (again) became inspired from his then favorite video game, Final Fantasy, to write another novel.  This time, he made it to about 300 pages typewritten, single-spaced writing.

During his time in college from around age 20-22, he was required to write various essays and research papers.  He had no problem doing so and receiving high marks, though he had never written one previous to this experience.  Currently at 23 years old, Eric is working on two writing projects:  a graphic novel and an Ancient Japanese samurai warrior atlas.  Below is some of his research regarding his atlas:

Abbey, my second child and only daughter, is my nature girl, animal girl, and eventually, my writer girl.  I start off with this explanation because if I had said she was my writer girl, you may think she was always writing, and she wasn’t necessarily.  She really was big into nature and animals growing up; all the way until she was about 13-14 years old.  In her 5-10 year ranges, she dabbled in poetry, lyrics, and short stories about animals.  Not often for any of these things, and not extensive; her short stories were usually about one paragraph.  Her biggest writing venue was journals, starting at about 8 years old, on her own initiation and desire.  Here is a sample (and a day in the life of a young unschooler!):

Between the ages of 11-13 years of age, Abbey started to seriously look into animal careers.  She volunteered at the zoo in the chimpanzee exhibit, and she applied and was accepted into a competitive veterinary camp at Michigan State University at 13-14 years old.  All of these helped her know she was dissatisfied with those fields, and she was still wondering where her passion would lie.  It was at that time, around 14-15, she started taking pen to paper with a novel idea, but this time, unlike every time before, the ideas kept coming.  Soon, she realized that she was actually on her way to writing a novel.  Further, she discovered she was really enjoying herself.  And so, a complete shift occurred, and she started focusing on writing.

By age 19, Abbey had written two novels that she wanted to edit enough to self publish, but decided to take a sabbatical from writing and attend college out at Brigham Young University in Utah.  As she became required to write research papers, essays, and other forms of critical writing, she was able to figure out how to do so and received high marks.  Thus, again, another child is able to accomplish writing college level papers well without any previous structured writing curriculum to “teach them how”.  It was simply a translation of their overall competency in expressing their ideas in a genre that was their strength area (in her case, fantasy writing).

Next comes Eli, my builder son, who is also diagnosed with high functioning autism.  Interestingly, he struggled with expressing himself verbally in any form in his early years, including up until the 11-13 year timeframe.  And yet, because of our strength-based environment, he did find outlets to express his ideas, particularly through building with Legos, Lego Studio, and comic book making, inspired by his oldest brother and his interest in trains.  As his brain naturally shifted in that 11-13 year timeframe, he became more aware of his place in the world, and wanted to improve in his weak areas, including English related areas.

It was during this time that we started finding ways to improve his spelling and vocabulary, both extreme weaknesses for him.  We also developed grammar more, which became a strength because of the “sameness” of that subject, as well as patterns of knowledge associated with it.  In other words, we started with the parts initially, to build a foundation.  His spelling improved from atrocious to fair, and eventually even to “good”.  Vocabulary was one of those areas tough to improve in but we tried various ideas to slight success.  But, to be clear, these focuses were only about 3-4 times a week for maybe up to 30 minutes.  It didn’t become a spotlight; it just showed up on our radar.

At the 14-16 year timeframe, I had him work through some of the Writing Strands books, starting with the Level 2.  He wanted a way to start from the extreme basic level of constructing a thought or idea or sentence, and this was made to be student-driven.  He worked through these for 1-2 years, I think.  Definitely not more than that, and probably more toward the 1 year mark.  He did feel it gave him a basic understanding and proficiency on how to have a basic foundational understanding of sentence structuring.  His going through the Daily Grams for grammar may have also been a good modeling tool for him.  He did the grammar series from the first level as well until the end, which probably took him 3-4 years, starting at around the 11-13 timeframe.

Since he continued to be serious about his desire to attend college, and because of his total lack of writing in any genre form, I decided it would be advantageous for him to work from a more formal text that required answers in longer written formatting.  Because he is a math/computer science person, I decided to choose a subject in that genre that he had some interest in and would use in college:  science.  So, starting at 14, he began working through the Apologia science series, one text per year.  I had his father sit with him initially to help him know how to navigate creating answers in verbal sentence formatting.  It didn’t take long for him to pick up on how to do that.  However, I still had his father check over his work consistently to keep him on the right track in this skill development.

Since that was going well, and he really was quite self sufficient in the short answer verbal response, I decided to give him the opportunity to upgrade his verbal response level, as well as delving in a less strength-based subject, at the latter end of the 14-16 year range.  I had him read the chapters to Story of the World because it was more simple language and to-the-point writing which I wanted because it was a weak area for him.  Eli then would provide a summary as a way to help him develop interpreting receptive language into expressive language (in other words, understanding what he reads and then turn that into written words of explanation).  That was a hit and miss endeavor because of inconsistency with availability of his father’s mentorship.

At the 16-17 year range, I decided it might be good for him to simply be more exposed to good writing through reading, since he didn’t choose to do that much for himself, except for computer texts and manuals.  So, I invested in some Total Language Plus booklets and encouraged him to read some classics that stretched his understanding level.  For him, that was middle school level reading.  Because this program was more language intensive in the activities, I felt it might be a good way to integrate spelling and vocabulary and such.  It did stretch him and it did seem to give him some overall good exposure and experience with the written word.

So, between the Total Language Plus activities and readings for exposure, and continuing with the science texts year to year with his father mentoring in that area, as well as periodic summaries in history, Eli was building a foundation in the manipulation of the English language in all its facets.  At 17, he chose to start attending community college to earn his Associates in Science degree.  He started off with his strengths first:  math.  The second semester, he chose to try his first writing course.  What we discovered there was it was a better fit for him with English related topics to choose an on-line course versus an in-class course.  In this way, he could always take whatever time he needed to put into the assignment in order to feel comfortable with it.  With an in-class course, they often would do some “free writes” in the classroom, and Eli does not process quickly and his writing would look less developed in those circumstances.  Thus, the teacher questioned the discrepancy of his at-home assignments and his in-class ones.  We were able to transfer to another instructor who was more understanding of why this occurred, and because her class only met once per week, all the assignments were at-home, with class time devoted to teaching new concepts and working on current papers.

For his assignments, he used his father and I as people who could critique his work in a way that would most benefit him.  He wanted any grammar corrections to be edit marked so that he could study his grammar mistake patterns so that he could more effectively correct it.  Many were “autism related” as he wrote as he sometimes “spoke autistically”, so it helped him catch those idiosyncracies without being embarrassed.  Further, we helped him learn “paragraph patterns” by taking what his teacher was sharing and creating a form initially.  Because of these supports individualized in a way that worked best for him, Eli very quickly was able to become independent in his own edits and putting together effective papers.  It was amazing to visually see the number of edits in the beginning of the semester versus the handful or less of grammar edits needed by the end of the semester as well as the quality of writing increase which reinforces the idea of the effectiveness of this type of mentorship.

First semester corrections; more simple writing:

Second semester corrections; more complex writing.

A quick commentary on the mentoring style we used with Eli.  It seems that there is either a “hands-off” approach to writing because anything else is considered “cheating”, or there is outright “cheating” by having a friend or family actually do the writing for the person.  I knew there would be little to no progress if we were to rely on traditional teaching methods by giving an assignment, having him work through it himself, and then correct him after the fact.  In that format, all sorts of bad habits are formed, you have to fail before you succeed, and it feels like a struggle as you invent the wheel yourself.  I created my theory based on an unschooling mother and son I listened to at a Growing Without Schooling conference long ago as she explained that she would sit next to her son and give him word for word, if necessary, in the beginning, until he got the hang of it himself and initiated continuing on his own.  Her words echoed in my mind years later as she said, “How does someone learn to write if not from someone who knows how to write?”

So, those first times with the science texts, Eli’s father would help him word for word, if necessary.  He found that Eli was quick to understand the pattern of short answers in sentence format, so he was only needed to give periodic advice as he looked over his work.  When they mentored with the summaries, there was more suggestions and specific ideas needed as he learned to organize thoughts and put those thoughts into a cohesive sentence.  While reading books that stretched his comprehension, he occasionally would ask his father to help interpret sections with him.  Finally, with his college papers, we helped with idea starters, with thought order, and then editing for grammar and flow.  He might need 3-4 drafts in the beginning, but as mentioned previous, by the end of the semester, he was doing most of the things we initially helped him with independently and quite competently.  In this instance, it showed that getting rid of our conditioned ideas on teaching writing paved the way for effective mentoring in writing.

Which sets the stage for my current 16-year-old, Alex.  Growing up, he always loved to listen to his brother and sister do “cat stories”.  These are stories that revolve around our cats that we have, each having their own unique voice and personality.  In fact, Abbey made him a video story for Christmas one year found here, here, and here.  In fact, every year for at least three years, she made him stories for Christmas gifts.  Subsequently, he constantly begged Abbey to do cat stories for him and consistently bothered Eric for comic stories.

First, Eric worked alongside Alex and taught him to do his own video game playing, which is one venue he liked to have his siblings “make up stories” that correlated with the action involved.  After Alex learned to play video games, Eric then helped him create his own commentary as he played.  This happened when Alex was 10-11 years old.

Around 13 years old, Abbey decided to start mentoring Alex in story telling.   They started out with creating sentences from vocabulary words he was working on.  She then expanded him in creating short stories with the list of vocabulary words.  When Alex was around 14 years old, Abbey decided he was ready to learn to write his own stories.  It started very much like it was for Eli and his father, but definitely more help needed.  Abbey would sit side-by-side with Alex and help him every inch of the way in developing his story, knowing how to proceed and what to write, and how to bring out the personalities of his characters.  Alex really started to get excited about the idea that he was learning how to create his own stories from his own fingers (through typing).

Mentoring had to take a break when Abbey went off to college when Alex was 14.5-15.5 years old, but now at 16 years old, Abbey and Alex are back at mentoring in writing again.  Alex begs every day to work on his book.  He has completed his first story and they are in editing now, and he already has an idea for his next book.  Alex is at the stage where Abbey is encouraging him to write on his own to develop his confidence in his own ability, and it’s going well.  Abbey’s husband, Ben, now helps Alex with his writing as well, so with two different styles of support, it is stretching Alex even more in writing independently.

It’s interesting to realize after writing this that my two oldest children, who had natural knacks with language and/or writing, when given the time and space to come to that place on their own time table for their own purposes, fell in love with writing.  In fact, Abbey has been quoted to say, “Writing is like breathing; if I don’t do it, I’ll die.”  My next two children, who didn’t have a knack for writing or language, under competent mentorship in the style that they desired to learn for their own purposes, grew to love writing themselves.  I remember walking with Eli on the college campus as we were straightening out some of his classes on writing at the time, he turned to me and said, “Now I understand why Abbey loves to write; I’m really enjoying it!”  It supports my idea that if a parent (or educator) focuses on creating a positive relationship for each child in each “subject area”, then when it comes time to develop the skills required for adulthood, that child will embrace the process without a negative connotation from previous failed experiences and can even end up liking it versus tolerating it.  Pretty cool stuff!

Inspiration to Dictating Stories

I was given a link to Patricia’s blog about children dictating stories.  It got me thinking about my 10-year-old, William, who is very imaginative, but has difficulty creating stories, unlike most right-brained children.  This is because he has difficulty with language as a whole.  I also have a child with autism, Alex, who loved to hear his brothers and sister tell him stories, but had trouble telling his own stories.  Both of these children are less capable in writing and drawing.  Here are a couple ways we inspired stories from them:

William wanted to get “real pictures” of knights and fighting, his favorite topic.  So, thanks to my favorite writing resource as a base and the on-line world of google images, we found plenty and I printed them off.  He then meticulously cut them out, glued them in his story, and dictated his creation.  He just loved it.  He has done one about Indians as well.

I hope you can see these alright.   I need to invest in a nice camera!  Anyway, my daughter created a comic book for my son with autism about his favorite item, ceiling fans.  So, she took pictures of his ceiling fans and cut them out.  She then cleverly took pictures of various “Mii’s”, which is part of the Wii system, and used those as the characters.  Though Abbey could draw these characters, she knew it would add another cool element for her brother.  It would also inspire him that he could make his own using this as his “drawing device”.

I thought it might inspire other young creators out there, or not so young, but less artistically inclined, to figure out new ways to tell their stories.

Writing Accountability

I’ve been so blessed to have an amazing journey of learning through understanding and supporting my children as they find their passion and purpose in life.  As I matured in this knowledge, my friend Rebecca (who I met on an on-line forum!) from Illinois and associated with the In-Home Conference for their state, asked if I would be interested in speaking.  That was 2002.  It would be the first step in the igniting of my passion regarding the right-brained learner.  It was at this conference that my tentative steps at sharing the myriad of things that my children taught me about that learning style grew exponentially.

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to take the information about the right-brained learner further by writing a book.  I wanted to be the means through which real change might occur in our current out-dated educational system regarding this learner.  But I struggled.  I realized that I had to introvert myself enough to write, and I was failing in that endeavor.  So, I decided to help myself in a two-fold manner by created a yahoo group to discuss my perspective on the right-brained learner.  That was a few weeks after one of my presentations at the In-Home Conference, so March of 2006.  First, writing e-mails is an extraverted way to write and second, I’ve been amazed at how much my knowledge has achieved clarity through helping diverse people navigate the implementation of this new and better information about how a creative person learns.

That takes me to today.  I dedicated this summer to beginning my book I’ve envisioned.  I got started, and then had to abandon it for a crisis in the home.  Now that I have come out of that, I want to rededicate myself, but I think I need accountability.  So, I’ve decided to write consistently on my blog, at least weekly, to share what I’ve accomplished.  Anyone willing to nudge me along would be greatly appreciated.

I have the first three chapters done.  Today, I worked from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon (and is my goal every day, when everyone seems to need me less; I just needed to get off e-mail and blog reading :-)) and really nailed down Chapter Four.  By “done” at this point, I mean the writing is there, along with any visuals I wanted inserted.  I intend to put about a page worth of questions and answers at the end of each chapter associated with the topic, gleaned from my own writing on my e-mail group to personalize things.  That will have to come at the very end.  I want to complete the book by December 31!  If I can commit to at least this four hours a day, plus maybe eight on Saturday, I think it is possible.

It’s absolutely exciting as I put it together.  I feel a great responsibility to complete this on behalf of all the creative children whom I love dearly.  Interestingly, I’m developing a friendship with someone locally who I noticed some time back that I felt drawn to, but only recently had the opportunity to follow through with it.  Coincidentally, she is an amazing entrepreneur in her past life and upon learning of my personal goals has encouraged me to think big, even as I sometimes undermine myself in believing it is possible.

On the other hand, I know one of the beliefs regarding those who are successful at what they do is something to the effect of “they believe in something and are not afraid to go for it.”  I believe in what I do with the right-brained learner SO much, but I do recognize fear in my life.  Here’s to overcoming it by holding myself accountable publicly!

Brave JoJo Gift Book by Abbey

Again, this is a continuation from my post about homemade Christmas gifts.  This post highlights the book Abbey made for JoJo, who was into Indians at the time, and particularly, his bow and arrow.  My creative daughter is SO clever.

Knight William Book Gift by Abbey

As a continuation from my previous post about homemade Christmas gifts, here is the complete book that Abbey gave to William when he was really into being a knight (click on each to get larger, I think).  How she does these is to ask the boys to pose in different ways with different faces that she directs, but she doesn’t tell them what it will be for, though they know the subject, obviously.  Then, she finds images online and cuts out the photos and superimposes them and/or glues them onto the page.  She then puts each page into a page saver and binds it.

Homemade Books for Gifts By Abbey

Several homeschool bloggers have been talking about what Christmas gifts to get their children, including homemade ones, such as at Magic and Mayhem and at Tricotomania.  So, I decided to share a great idea from my creative daughter for her brothers for Christmas pasts that have been true favorites from each boy who has received it.

Adam is her brother with autism who loves alphabet books and numbers.  So, here are three that have been made and a glimpse inside:

Another brother with autism loves our cats, and even has created personalities for each one:  Socks is the patriarch and wise one, Xena is the tough warrier female cat (yes, her name fits perfectly), Sunflash is the large, fluffy wimp and Momma’s boy, Belle is the prissy female that loves to be beautiful, and Toby is the young rogue thinking he’s all that.  This brother was just into reading short chapter books, so she put her great writing skills to work and created one for each cat with a moral to the story.  Alex still references the lessons learned in these books as he grows within his (literal) outlook on life.

Last, Abbey made books for her younger brothers who love to pretend all sorts of things.  I will make two more posts highlighting in detail two of the more recent books where she really got good at this particular style.  In the meantime, here are a few more in the same genre:

“Writing” for the Right-Brained Learner

In my last post, I shared a favorite “writing” resource for my three oldest children, two of whom are strong right-brained learners. This resource approaches “writing” very differently in that it is meant to ignite the desire to create books . . . of all kinds and styles, including those to which a right-brained learner would be attracted. I then shared some samples of my oldest son’s books from his 8-year-old folder.

A few notes about how my oldest son was able to be at that place with “writing”. First of all, he is an artist by nature, and started drawing pictures at 3 years old (not having picked up a writing utensil at all before then). My hubby is also an artist, and he would spend hours each day after work and/or school (whichever stage we were at) drawing with him and sharing his love of drawing and being excited for Eric as he developed his raw talent. So, right there, he had a mentor and inspiration to draw from (haha, pun intended).

At around 4-5 years old, my hubby started telling elaborate bedtime stories that he created, and subsequently, began to record them ala an audio recorder so that the children could listen to those stories again when he was not able to do new ones on some evenings. This inspired the children to tell their own oral stories, again after being mentored and inspired.

We then got this great making books resource and because Eric is an artist, he was attacted to the visual and pictorial types of books, and this mentor resource and inspiration, along with a parent who kept scads and scads of paper available (a whole forest has been destroyed compliments of Eric), he began to compile his drawings into books. So, it wasn’t a one time deal to get him where he got. And even then, others in the world wouldn’t value what he called his “writing” or his “books”, but we did!

Another gift Eric brought to his writing was that he always had a precocious vocabulary. This is why, even though he is a strong right-brained learner, there were some decent words and thoughts included in his early writing. On the other hand, as gifted as he was in speaking, it didn’t show up that prolifically in his early writing, so it shows that “evidence” of the “later writer” in him due to his right-brained learning style.

Another note I will make about his samples I put out, the Toy Story sample, as you may have noticed being significantly better in drawing ability than the others, was because he traced it, and then added the “battle wounds” to the picture. This was another thing he did in the early years to develop his drawing skills . . . he traced! He did this in order to learn from those who were better artists than he, and in so tracing well drawn elements, he was able to begin to freestyle those elements himself. Again, we valued all types of methods to developing skills! That goes further than one might think.

I thought I would also add some more writing samples, this time from Eli, who is my other strong right-brained learner. He didn’t learn to read until 10-11 years old, so you will notice in his books that he had few words. Those he did have often were very slaughtered in spelling. However, what is fun to notice between Eric and Eli with their books is that you can see the slant that Eli brings toward his own right-brained gift: building. He loved Legos, trains, and numbers, and you will see that represented in his drawings.

Eli was very delayed in language and slightly so in fine motor skills. However, because of how obsessed Eric was in drawing 4-5 hours a day minimum, Eli was exposed to that model and inspiration from a young age. Around 5 years old, he wanted to try his hand at drawing. I have a feeling that if he had not had his older brother around, he would have had significant delays in his writing skills, like his subsequent three brothers.

Here are some samples from Eli’s 8 year old folder:

It was about Jack, I believe, his imaginary friend. (Right-brainers have a higher incidence of imaginary friends, and Eli has a handful of them, even today.) You notice how the spelling of Jack is slaughtered. Again, as a right-brainer is skilled at, the perspective in his drawing is remarkable. Also, notice that for Eli, he liked to draw a bunch of little boxes with mini parts to his story line, not unlike Legos that are separate, but put together.

This is another Jack story, but with a train theme. Many of his books have train themes because of his great and deep love for them, beginning around 18 months old and lasting until today. (That is autism for ya!) Also notice his limited verbal descriptions of his characters that he placed on the last page. He actually corrected his The End, which usually was The Edn for several years. Apparantly, this is when he started to notice and correct it.

This is another classic Eli example of his book work. He had many maze-y, puzzle-y type of drawings that depicts his visual-spatial mind. He has always been my instructional reader, preferring the visual diagram and instruction versus the verbal. Notice there are no words although there appears to be visual symbols depicting some code to the puzzle. It may be based on some video games.

Here is a more classic story, all picture with no words, and yet, the pictures depict a thousand words, and a storyline is beginning to emerge in his books. It took him much longer to develop storylines through pictures than his older brother, because language was not an asset for Eli. And yet, notice the perspective yet again (for example, see the two tiny people silhouettes in front of the house in the first picture?). . . his visualizations were quite accurate, even if words failed him!

I wanted to show another sample of another type of child. Eric was my most naturally “smart” and would have been labeled gifted in school with no doubt. However, I’m sure he would have struggled with the classification of “not living up to his potential”, because so many of these valued school skills, such as reading, writing, handwriting, and spelling came later. But, he was very intelligent nonetheless.

Eli would have been labeled disabled and put in special classes if he had attended school. No one would have noticed or given credit for his amazing spatial skills, but we did. Although the valued skills of reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary, English, speaking, etc., came well later for him, they were put in perspective as we focused on the skills that did emerge for Eli. Building, spatial skills, math, music, and a highly sensitive heart were nurtured young, and when the other skills that were delayed began to emerge, these assets of his that had been well developed helped him capitalize more easily in bringing everything together. I have no doubt he would not be the child he is today if he had not been homeschooled, and valued for the perspective and skills that surfaced, and being encouraged by bringing in the resources that he could build on, which included a lot of trains, tracks and Legos as his core homeschooling foundation. It has served him well!

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 🙂

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. 🙂 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.