Essentials in writing level 1

Essentials in writing level 1 DEFAULT

The First Grade Essentials in Writing Curriculum will cost you $40 which is reasonable when compared to other several other writing curriculums on the market. I have seen several writing curriculums that are more expensive and a few that are less expensive. These curriculums do not always include both grammar and composition lessons. Some may be very complex making it difficult to figure out. This simple curriculum falls somewhere in the middle range and is affordable depending on your homeschool budget. If you would like to purchase the optional printed workbook, then it is available for an additional $20. Remember that you receive a link to the PDF files as part of the curriculum. 

What I Like
  • I love the sequential order of the company's first grade writing approach. The instructor teaches children that letters are symbols that make sounds. The child learns how to write or form letters which gently progresses into a lesson on how those letters can form words. The child's next step is to learn that words can be used to construct sentences or complete thoughts. They'll learn that these sentences can be written as an organized and structured paragraph that stays on topic. I think that it is equally important that children start writing personal letters and then move into lessons about descriptive and narrative paragraphs. More in-depth paragraphs such as expository, business, and persuasive are taught at higher grade levels. This is the same approach I would prefer using when teaching writing to first graders in the classroom and to my daughter. 
  • As much as I love teaching writing, this program is taught by Matthew Stephens. Alyssa seemed interested in the concepts that he presented. I noticed that she was trying to interact with him when he asked questions. She would raise her hand, answer his questions aloud, and point to items on the screen. This shows that she was truly attentive and learning the material during the lessons. I can see this curriculum benefiting visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. My job was to provide guided support if necessary during the assignments. I was able to quickly assess what concepts Alyssa had mastered and which ones she could further review or practice a bit more. 
  • All the content within lessons are definitely age appropriate. The lessons are prepared for the home educator and the teaching is done for you. There is seriously absolutely no prep for the parent unless you count printing assignments as prep work. 
  • The format or structure of the program is extremely easy to follow with a manageable approach to lessons. The DVD lesson number and title are stated visibility on the screen. The menu is easy to navigate as well. You have the option of playing the lessons from the very beginning or going to the "Lesson Index."
  • Customer service was outstanding! I contacted the company (Matthew Stephens) with regards to a scratched DVD. They immediately contacted me via e-mail and addressed my concern promptly. 
  • I know that we could easily complete two grade levels in one year since we homeschool year round. This of course depends on my daughter's comprehension of the concepts. We can thoroughly cover the concepts yet continue to work at her individualized pace. If you use this curricula, then you can chose the pace that works best for your children. There is a lot of flexibility in this curriculum. I was thrilled to find out that Alyssa (no matter how old she is) could complete lessons based on her abilities, strengths, and weaknesses with this curriculum. It met her needs. It can be difficult at times finding curricula that will take her learning up a notch yet still be age appropriate while moving at her pace. 
  • Grammar lessons are taught in isolation at first yet they are also reviewed during composition lessons. They are eventually interwoven into the curriculum. The instructor reminds the student that the first word in every sentence is capitalized and that proper nouns must also be capitalized. He also threw in a lesson on ellipses and their purpose in writing. 
  • He wrote the topic and closing sentences in different colors (green and blue) so that the child can see clearly where the topic sentence began and where the closing sentence ended the paragraph. 
  • There were student checklists that served as self-evaluations. Alyssa would complete the checklist and I would conference with her to discuss her progress. We also talked about her goals for the future and things to watch out for when writing. 
  • You have the option of repeating lessons easily or you could recreate more lessons by changing the topics especially with regards to the writing assignment. As we progressed through the course, I was able to assess which concepts she might need to practice. I did a quick google search and supplemented with online free resources for additional practice. I also created a few hands-on activities that reiterated the lesson concepts. This was so much easier than having to create an entire writing curriculum for the year. 
  • The curriculum doesn't focus on just one writing format; several different writing styles are taught in the short lecture presentations. The worksheet assignments are numbered; they are not indicated by days which helps the home educator that doesn't always follow the Monday-Friday daily lesson plan schedule.
  • This curriculum can be used with multiple children. You can reprint worksheets on the DVD from your computer whenever you want. This works well if you have younger children than the grade level being used or several children working at the same grade level. Multiple copies can also be made if a child must repeat a lesson. However, they may get bored doing the same worksheet over and over again.   
  • Mr. Stephens teaches the lesson at a whiteboard as if speaking to a group of children. However, I don't remember ever hearing much from the children (if anything) in the videos. This was a positive for us because it enabled the child to focus on the lesson and eliminated any interferences or distractions that might occur if the class was seen on site. This was not the case during Essentials in Writing.
  • You can adapt the lessons. Alyssa was given a list of sentence out of order as part of her assignment one day. I thought it would be easier for her to rearrange the sentences if I cut them into strips. She moved the sentences around reading each paragraph until she was happy with the final results. You can then have the child glue the pieces in order. I asked Alyssa to write the entire paragraph in sequential order on lined paper them using correct capitalization, spacing, and indentations. 
Rearranging Sentence Strips I Cut
Paragraph in Sequential Order

Possible Cons
  • I skipped all of the letter formation videos. My daughter has been writing her letters for a long time and she has had ample opportunities to practice writing them on numerous occasions. The company encourages you to skip these lessons if your child is familiar with the concepts. I did notice that a few of the letters were taught using a technique that differed from ours. For example, the capital letter "A" was written starting at the bottom of the line. We always start the capital "A" at the top. My daughter kept trying to "correct" his formation. I made the immediate decision to skip those lessons. I would have used the video lessons with her as review had our methods meshed 100%. There are a variety of ways to teach handwriting. However, I did not want to confuse my daughter nor did I want her to question her letter formations after all our hard work. I did watch the rest of the lessons. The letter "A" was the only letter that seemed a little off to me. This was the first time I had seen the capital letter "A" written in this manner. The instructor progressed through the alphabet forming letters on the board and used "air writing" to practice formations. He even told children that the "W" and "M" could be written differently and that it okay to write them either way. I taught Alyssa how to write the "W" all the way to the top and that the "M" touches the bottom line. I liked that he explained the difference and verified that it was also a correct way to write the letter. As he taught the lessons, he told children where to start their letters and which ones hang below the line. 
  • Before I decided to skip the letter sound lessons, we started watching the video lesson together. She immediately noticed that certain vowel letter sounds were not mentioned. This is when I turned off the lesson to view it later. He mentions that letters a, o, u, i, y, and s have only one or two sounds. My daughter has learned that several letters have multiple sounds. She is very aware of the letter sounds and has thoroughly studied them during her spelling lessons. Mr. Stephens only covers the long and short vowel sounds and mentions the long sounds first. This is a common teaching practice and is not incorrect by any means. However, it is possible that a child that has been taught multiple letter sounds for certain letters will think that the teacher is incorrect or forgot them. I did not want my daughter to not take him seriously so I used my better judgment and skipped the letter sound lessons. There were a few other letters that were pronounced a little differently (with slight variations) from how Alyssa was taught.  
  • I would not consider this a complete language arts curriculum, because reading, phonics, and spelling fall under that umbrella for me. It really depends on what you consider language arts. This curriculum is heavy on grammar and composition, therefore I would consider it a complete writing and grammar curriculum specific to this grade level. Although the instructor begins the lessons with a very quick review of letters and sounds. Other vowel and consonant letter sounds are not covered and the curriculum doesn't discuss digraphs, blends, and so forth. He does introduce the concept of rhyme during the poetry lesson. I believe that a phonetically-based program may be necessary for children still learning how to read in order for this to be considered a complete language arts curriculum. There are a variety of reading methods and approaches. Choose one that agrees with your philosophy. You will still need to purchase a spelling curriculum in conjunction with Essentials in Writing. There are some spelling programs available that are phonetically-based that will further your study and help incorporate reading instruction into your day.
  • There are no quizzes or tests. This is definitely not a problem for us, however I know many home educators that need or will want some way to assess their child's writing skills and knowledge. Other than the student checklists provided, you will need to assess your child's knowledge on your own. 
  • I was hoping that the writing process would have been covered in more depth at this grade level. When I taught in the classroom, I knew several first grade teachers that actually taught the writing process step-by-step. I feel that the writing process lessons could have been developed more and broken down further into beginning steps for first graders. The first grade curriculum uses a simple graphic organizers to organize the child's thoughts. I would have preferred a variety of graphic organizers to choose from, but those are easy to find online if needed. The graphic organizer provided with the curriculum works well with the topics and no other organizer is necessary. This is just my preference. The first grade child will write their first draft. Then, the child will revise and edit their work using the checklist the next day. There are not several different drafts. A final draft is not rewritten if errors are made if that makes any sense. The first draft is considered the graphic organizer. I would use the checklist after this lesson and then again once the paragraph was rewritten. You may or may not want your child to rewrite their work after using the checklist for errors. Reminders are given to the child before writing.
  • We had a few issues with the sound and camera shake. This occurred mainly when the camera zoomed in on Mr. Stephens. These were very minor problems and might not be noticeable to others.  
  • I came across a few minor errors on the answer key pages. My daughter also noted several errors on the whiteboard during video lessons. I actually don't see a problem with the mistakes on the whiteboard as long as the instructor acknowledges the mistakes during the lesson and teaches the children how to fix the problem. The instructor did note the mistakes and changed them on the board. It teaches children that when we write not everything will turn out perfectly the first time. It was imperative that my daughter with perfectionistic tendencies see that people make mistakes when writing and they can be fixed. This issue didn't pose a problem for us. However, I do know some educators and home educators that look down upon or simply refuse to use products containing errors. They might see it as unprofessional even though that may not be the case.   
Possible Improvements or Suggestions for the Vendor
  1. I would provide different sized lined writing pages to differentiate learning. Not all children can write on such small lines and it depends largely on their abilities and fine motor skills. There were no dotted guidelines on the writing assignments and not all children will find it easy to "visualize" the dotted lines to assist them when writing. I recommend adding a variety of sizes for lined paper as options so that all students working at this grade level can participate in the lessons. Lined paper of different sizes can be found easily online for individuals pursuing this route, but it would be more convenient to have it available in one place as part of the PDF download or as a FREE resource online. I would encourage parents to slowly decrease the size of the paper when their children are successfully writing using one size. I remember having to do this for several children in my second grade classroom. By the end of the year, they were able to write on smaller lines and their confidence level improved. This was not a problem for us. My daughter was able to write on the lines, but when I review I think about all the children that could possibly use this curriculum. Different line options would benefit children needing this adaptation.
  2. You could also offer additional graphic organizers not used in any of the curricula as a free resource online.
  3. Additional writing prompts can be provided for this grade level as a free resource. This would give the parent options should they disagree or not like a writing prompt. It would also provide additional practice for lessons that are repeated. 
  4. Have you thought about developing a writing contest for children that use your curriculum? This would be a great way for your company to display writing samples at different grade levels. Prizes could be awarded which will motivate children to participate. This is just a thought that popped in my head as I was typing.  

Our Overall Thoughts

This curriculum met my expectations. Essentials in Writing was a perfect fit for my daughter and eliminated the time I spend creating lessons. It provided my daughter with a quick review of concepts previously taught yet still introduced her to several new writing formats not yet discovered. It was extremely easy to implement and provided us with solid writing and grammar lessons. I knew that the video lessons would be promptly accepted, because she finds DVD-based curricula appealing and enjoyable. I believe it adds a bit of variety to our day and gives her a different instructor to learn from rather than being taught by her mother all day. Essentials in Writing was a blessing to our homeschool day. I am excited about the writing journey that we are beginning. I only wish that the second grade curriculum was ready and available at the time of this review. The curriculum proved to be a great review for my daughter. I have a feeling that the second grade curriculum will challenge my eager writer even more when the time comes. She has definitely gained a ton of confidence since beginning this program. 

I thought she loved writing before but now she's even more engaged in writing every single day. There are days that I find her writing in her journal immediately upon waking up. The skills she learned through the DVD lessons and worksheets were also applied and seen in our family journal when we share the pen. 

She is applying the skills learned in every subject. My daughter loves to research different topics (mainly animals). The lessons on the DVD helped her organize her thoughts better which in turn created a more unified composition. As I worked on a review earlier this week, I looked down only to find my daughter writing a descriptive paragraph about snakes. She read a book about them and wanted to tell me what she learned. She titled her writing composition "Poisonous Snakes." I am super impressed with how well she applies the information learned into everyday writing situations. 

After viewing the lesson on creating lists, my daughter overheard a telephone conversation I was having with my husband about grocery shopping needs. As her father and I discussed our needs on speakerphone, she wrote down a list for us. I walked in the room and thankfully my camera was close by so that I could photograph part of her list. Thank you Alyssa! We are so forgetful and can't ever find a writing tool when we actually need one. She knows exactly where her school pencils and clipboards are stored. Yes, you did read it correctly "Life" is on the grocery list . . . that's Cinnamon Life cereal (one of our favorite cereals). We didn't actually say we needed Life cereal, but Alyssa noticed that the box was low.   

The lessons on writing friendly letters were most useful. She applied the concepts learned in her personal writing to family and friends. I am still working on thank you notes for birthday and Christmas gifts. I have actually put this responsibility in the Alyssa's hands. She is slowly writing thank you notes for the gifts she received. We started this project way before Essentials in Writing arrived in our hands. I have seen definite improvement in her writing. Most people would say forget about the thank you notes . . . it was so long ago, but I see it as a opportunity to write and apply what she has learned from her lessons. I also wanted her to start writing MORE letters (using the friendly letter format) to my family in New York and to friends; the lessons have in fact encouraged and motivated her to write frequently. Writing letters is also one of the activities she can do during her free time. 

The First Grade Essentials in Writing curriculum has helped my daughter develop into a confident and eager writer. She is developing more organized compositions in less time and willingly writes compositions for writing prompts given to her and on topics independently chosen. I am looking forward to using the second grade curriculum. I hope to begin using it before the next school year typically begins in August or September, but we'll possibly have to wait until after our house is built.  

Alyssa's Thoughts

This is what she said when I ask her a few questions about the curriculum. She said, "I love the making list lesson the most. We make lists all the time and now I can help. I had fun making a grocery list for our trip to the store. I made a list of work I had to do for school - that was really helpful. I liked crossing off the lessons. I don't like how he formed his letters. It is not how we write our letters. I had a hard time writing the poem. The teacher was a pretty cool teacher. I learned a lot." 

Other Store Products
First Grade Pre-Printed Workbook

What's that you say? You don't want to print out each and every worksheet because that would use up a lot of ink and paper. As mentioned before, the first grade level workbook is also available separately for $20. You will be offered the option at checkout should you decide not to print all the written activities as digital worksheets in PDF format. The content is the same exact materials that you will find in your download worksheet link.

Essentials in Writing (Varies Grade Levels)

Essentials in Writing has curricula available for all grades from first through twelfth grade. Please visit the company website for more information on the level you are interested in for your child. All curricula levels cost only $40.00! I was looking forward to the release of the Grade 2 Curriculum. It was in the process of revision during this review period, but it looks like it might be available for purchase now. I think that Alyssa will be ready to work through this curriculum VERY SOON since we completed the entire first grade program early. I will give Alyssa several assignments similar to the format taught in hopes to further practice the concepts. I feel that the second grade program may challenge and offer her more learning opportunities in the future. 

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Yes, I do recommend this curriculum to home educators looking for a traditional, comprehensive writing and grammar curriculum to use with their children. This curriculum can also be easily used in a small group or co-op setting. I would contact the company to grant permission for co-op or group use. Teachers could also use this curriculum for after school tutoring. 

Do you have any questions about this product? Please visit the FAQ section on their website which is chocked full of additional insightful information about their curricula. You can also contact the company or e-mail Matthew Stephens at [email protected] Feel free to call them at 417-256-4191. 

Please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog to read other Essentials in Writing curricula reviews for Grade 1 and Grades 3-12.

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Essentials in Writing

This is one of my Top Picks
Matthew Stephens
Essentials in Writing
Essentials in Writing

Essentials in Writing is a complete language arts program for grades one through twelve with video lectures presented either on DVDs or via streaming. While Essentials in Writing courses cover all requirements for writing and grammar, high school students should also study literature in order to earn one full credit for English. Essentials in Literature courses (from the same publisher) were designed to complement Essentials in Writing courses, and the two courses together provide one credit for grades nine through eleven. (Essentials in Literature for grade twelve is not yet available.)

The courses are labeled for levels 1 through 12, and this corresponds to grade levels. The sequence of topics is somewhat similar from level to level. Lower levels begin with instruction on sentence structure and grammar then shift more toward composition work. A transition from the basics of grammar to the study of more complex sentence structures happens during grades seven and eight. High school level courses begin with sentence structure (e.g., clauses and proper construction), then progress through paragraphs, essays, and research papers. There is enough repetition that you might even be able to skip a year once or twice. The parts of speech (but not diagramming skills) are introduced gradually, beginning in first grade. The instruction on composition skills is more advanced than in many other programs.

Video instructor Matthew Stephens is energetic, interacting with an unseen classroom of students for each level. He works on a whiteboard while teaching. Video lessons vary in length depending upon the complexity of the topics. Each course includes either one to four DVDs or access to streamed videos for 12 months.

A student worktext is required for each student. Pages in the spiral-bound worktexts feature a large font and plenty of space to write.

There is often a significant amount of instructional material in the worktext, especially at higher levels. For each lesson, students watch a video lesson then complete pages in the worktext—usually two or more pages per lesson. Sometimes students will watch a video lesson then work on assignments for one, two, or three days.  

Even though there is repetition from year to year, much more time is spent developing writing skills rather than studying grammar. This means these courses are likely to appeal to students who might be bored with the excessive review of grammar that is typical of so many other language arts programs. The composition instruction is advanced, but Stephens teaches in increments that are manageable for students to handle, walking them through the steps of the writing process on most assignments. He always models the type of writing students are to do. So while the writing instruction might be more advanced, it is not more difficult. In addition, the use of graphic organizers makes it easy for students to organize their ideas before beginning to write, and checklist forms help students verify that they have met the requirements of an assignment.

The second editions of these courses—available for grades one through seven—have two additional resources: a teacher handbook and an assessment booklet. A teacher handbook is included with your purchase of the student worktext and videos. The handbook has brief instructions, a course syllabus, a suggested lesson plan, and an answer key for the lesson activities. The optional Assessment/Resource Booklet for each course runs about 100 pages, so it's more substantial than you would think for something called a booklet. There are assessments that cover one lesson or a group of lessons (depending upon the content of those lessons), and there are two comprehensive unit assessments. These booklets also have answer keys for the assessments. Other resources in the Assessment/Resource Booklets vary by grade level. These might include a spelling dictionary (with space for students to add words), lists of descriptive adjectives to improve student writing, writing checklists, and graphic organizers for compositions. Some full-color printing has been added to the second editions of the student texts and the Assessment/Resource Booklets, most noticeably in the course for seventh grade.

While most of the teaching is provided via the videos, some parent interaction will be necessary. Younger children might need a lot of assistance, and older students will probably need to discuss their ideas for their compositions and get feedback as they proceed. For eighth grade and above, brief instructions to parents are found in a "Letter to Parent" that is in the course books. Those instructions suggest helpful options, such as alternating essay writing with work on a research paper.

The high school level courses do not require answer keys; instead, they have rubrics with scoring guides that assist parents in evaluating compositions. In addition, there are samples of student work within the worktexts so parents have something to which they can compare their own student's work. The samples also help students understand what is expected. For parents who want more help, Essentials in Writing offers their Scoring Services for $99 a year for students in grades seven through twelve. With this service, students can submit one composition for each Essential in Writing assignment. They will receive it back with a rubric that has a score and detailed comments and suggestions.


Essentials in Writing courses free up parents’ time by providing the instruction for students to watch. The courses require little to no preparation time and are very easy to use. For courses that include both video instruction and a worktext, the prices are very reasonable.

The publisher's website has samples from each course. You can read the course details below.

Level 1

First grade begins with word and sentence formation, including capitalization and punctuation. It also introduces nouns, adjectives, and action verbs as parts of speech. Students learn to write lists, paragraphs, letters, and narratives.

Level 2

The course for second grade teaches sentences, subjects, predicates, nouns (common, proper, singular, and plural), pronouns, verbs (action verbs and linking verbs), present and past verb tenses, adjectives, capitalization, and punctuation. For composition, it introduces the writing process, teaching students how to write paragraphs, personal letters, personal narratives, and imaginative narratives.

Level 3

This course covers sentences, simple and complete subjects, simple and complete predicates, nouns (common, proper, singular, plural, and possessive), pronouns and antecedents, adjectives, verbs (action and linking), verb tenses (present, past, and future), capitalization, punctuation, and simple and compound sentences. Working through the writing process, children learn to write expository paragraphs and letters, persuasive paragraphs and letters, and descriptive paragraphs and narratives. The level ends with step-by-step instruction for creating a visual presentation for a research project.

Level 4

Fourth graders review subjects and predicates, adding compound subjects and predicates. They expand their knowledge about sentences to include more-complex sentence forms as well as independent and dependent clauses. Nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verbs are reviewed, and prepositional phrases are introduced. Students also cover the figurative language concepts of onomatopoeia, simile, and metaphor. Composition work includes writing paragraphs, a news article, a narrative, a persuasive letter, an expository essay, and a research project. Writing a bibliography is taught with a fill-in-the-blank method for sources.

Level 5

Level 5 reviews sentences, subjects, predicates, clauses, nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. It adds work with prepositions and prepositional phrases. It teaches the use of both vivid language and figurative language. The composition instruction covers paragraphs, personal letters, personal narratives, summaries, compare/contrast writing, persuasive writing, and a research project.

Level 6

This course covers most of the same topics from the fifth level again, adding the use of appositives, writing with a point of view, writing expository essays, writing persuasive letters, and completing a research project. It spends significantly more time on expository essays and the research project in comparison to other topics.

Level 7

Level 7 is presented in two units. The first unit covers grammar in all 20 lessons, then concludes with two lessons on paraphrasing and writing summaries. The second unit is entirely devoted to composition work. Students learn to write various types of paragraphs, a personal narrative, a business letter, a personal letter, an expository essay, and a research paper. The lessons walk students through the writing process for each type of composition a step at a time over a number of lessons to keep it manageable. Fifteen lessons teach students how to do the research paper. Heavy cardstock pages are included in both the student text and the Assessment/Resource Booklet for creating source cards for various types of sources students might use. Students will also need a stack of 3" x 5" cards for notetaking from these sources. Checklists and grading rubrics showing possible points for each aspect of student compositions are in the student text. Students will use the checklists, and parents will use the other form to fill in points earned for each aspect and the total points for the composition. The composition lessons at this level are challenging enough that this course could also be used by older students who haven’t yet mastered the skills taught in these lessons. 

Level 8

This year's lessons work through sentence structure, paragraphs, and essays. They also introduce research papers. Students work through the writing process as they draft, edit, and rewrite their papers. As with seventh grade, optional, intensive grammar lessons (without worksheets) follow the final lesson of the main part of the course.

Levels 9-12

The high school courses are all very similar to one another, gradually increasing in the level of difficulty. They each review sentence structure and paragraphs. This allows students with weak backgrounds in these areas to be able to work at their grade level. Work on essays and research papers gradually increases in difficulty, and students tackle many different types of essays. Eleventh grade adds skills for writing about literature. Research papers are required to include the MLA (Modern Language Association) format for citations, including a list of works cited. Stephens teaches students how to write their own citations, and he also recommends internet sites that do much of the work of formatting citations for you. (It is not cheating to use these websites since the mechanics of creating citations are complex, varying by the type of reference work. Professional authors and academics often use them.) High school students should probably have an MLA Handbook for reference. While Stephens explains how to look up MLA guidelines on the internet, having the MLAHandbook is probably more efficient.

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Essentials in Writing {a review}

Essential in Writing logo photo EssentialsinWritinglogo_zps7affe1cf.jpg

I have been on a hunt for the past couple of years for a writing curriculum that is a good fit for our family.  I have been looking for a curriculum that is easy to use for both parent and student, one that promotes independence and builds confidence in the student, one that doesn’t require much prep work on my part, and one that makes the writing process relatable and understandable for my kids.  When given the opportunity to review the fifth grade level curriculum from Essentials in Writing, I jumped at the chance, hoping this was the one!

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Essentials in Writing is a language arts curriculum that teaches grammar and composition with most of its focus being on composition.  The curriculum was written by former public school teacher, Matthew Stephens, whose goal is to help students communicate productively when using the written language.  The curriculum, which retails for $40, consists of a DVD with Mr. Stephens presenting each lesson, and a PDF workbook file that contains the worksheets and answer key.  If you would prefer a pre-printed workbook, they are available on the website for $20.  Essentials in Writing is available for grades 1-11, with grade 12 becoming available later this year.

Experience Biology

The fifth grade level of Essentials in Writing consists of 64 lessons, with the first 33 lessons being devoted to grammar, and the rest of the lessons focusing on composition.  Here are some of the things your child will be working on at the fifth grade level:

  • Sentence structure
  • Parts of speech
  • Writing dialouge
  • Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases
  • The writing process (prewrite, draft, revise, edit/publish)
  • Writing a narrative
  • Writing a friendly letter
  • Persuasive writing
  • Descriptive writing 
  • Figurative language
  • Poetry

For a complete list of what is covered at the fifth grade level, a fifth grade syllabus is available on the website.

There is no schedule to follow with this course, however, a “suggested approach” is offered.  Basically you watch the video lesson and then do the corresponding worksheet.  Some lessons have more worksheets than others, but it is suggested that you only do one worksheet a day.  If you followed this approach, you wouldn’t necessarily be watching a video lesson during every class period (unless you replayed it for reinforcement or refreshment), and you would finish the course in 125-135 class periods.  I felt that this approach was a bit too slow for us.  So instead, we would watch a lesson and do 2 worksheets instead of just one.  The nice thing about this program is that you can progress at your child’s rate.  You can speed up or slow down as needed. 

What we liked about this program:

Free Resources

  • It is easy to use – just print out the worksheets and pop in the DVD.  Minimal prep work for mom and the DVD menu is easy for my son to use.
  • The topics are broken down into small segments so it’s easier for my son to grasp and understand the concepts.  I especially liked that the writing process was broken down greatly and eased the student through the process.
  • The creator of the program is very available and eager to answer your questions and provide help as needed.
  • It’s non-consumable.  This is an excellent feature when you have multiple children coming up the ranks.
  • It’s affordable.  At only $40, you get a grammar and composition program that can be used over and over again.
  • Having grammar and composition all in one program.  Using two separate courses can sometimes be confusing and not flow together (even when they are by the same publisher/vendor).  I really like how the grammar is continually reinforced and touched upon during the writing process.
  • I don’t have to teach.  I know that probably sounds awful, but when you have 7 kids, it’s nice to have something taken off your plate.  All I have to do is monitor his pace, check his work, and provide help when needed.
  • He gets to watch TV!  My son’s first reaction when we started this program was, “I get to watch TV?” 

Aspects of the program that didn’t work for us:

  • I felt that the lessons were too short and didn’t provide enough examples of the concepts being taught, at least in the grammar section.  I wish the vendor would have provided additional worksheets for students who need to spend more time on certain concepts.  I will most likely be adding something in to supplement the grammar portion.
  • There were several instances where the teacher would speak a bit too fast.  
  • There are no tests or quizzes.  I’m a test person, so I would have liked to see quizzes or tests for the grammar portion.
  • There is no diagramming.  This isn’t super important to me, but I think it’s a good thing for kids to have exposure to and knowledge of. 
  • The directions on a few of the worksheets were a bit unclear, which confused my son.

Overall I feel that this is a great option for teaching grammar and writing, especially for a family with multiple children.  I can’t say that this is the one, but I’ve learned over the years that no curriculum is perfect; there will most likely be something I would tweak, add, or subtract from any curriculum.  With that said, I think my hunt might be over; I just need to add a bit of grammar reinforcement depending on the needs of each individual child.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.

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For a moment, her sobriety returned to her thoughts. Pushing both men away from her, she jumped up, standing in the aisle and holding on to the top shelf with her. Hands. What are you doing. she exhaled in her own, almost teacher's tone.

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He wanted to marry her. He wanted a family, but his sister rested, and not in any. Neither the sarcasm of the mother, nor the discontent of the father had any effect on her.

Writing Level 1: Identifying Common Nouns Video Sample by Matthew Stephens

Somewhere 30 of the entire mass was completely naked. I noticed that most of those on this wild beach are over fifty years old. This applies to both sexes. We chose our place, mom She often began to notice the loss of her worn panties, and then found them in the washing machine soiled with abundant sperm, and.

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We are from ConSexus magazine. We have an action: get dressed in a boutique absolutely free of charge under the supervision of a stylist and try to stay alive after a half-hour walk. In the park. An interesting proposal, the student responded, what's the catch. We ourselves don't know what the catch is.

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