Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Crew Review: Essentials in Writing; Grade 4

on March 20, 2013

Essential in Writing logo photo EssentialsinWritinglogo_zps7affe1cf.jpg

I have been trying to find a writing program that will work for my reluctant 3rd almost 4th grader and have been met with resistance each time, until I was given Essentials in Writing!  I chose the fourth grade level for my 8 year old as she is almost done with her 3rd grade year but also because while not having a previous successful writing curricula she had an understanding of what is offered in the 3rd course, so 4th grade seemed like a good idea and it was and is.

She actually asks to do her writing now, which before was a struggle and eventually I, will admit, gave up because I didn’t want to fight and I knew something would come along that would work for her.  Now that we have Essentials in Writing I know this is what will click for her.  She loves Mr. Stephens teaching style, which is engaging, upbeat and interesting versus my teaching and trying to drill things into her head – she is actually working on her own story outside of school time and using what she learns from her lessons!

Essentials in Writing Grade 4 photo EIW4thgrade_zpsc83b7310.jpg

Essentials in Writing Grade 4 is very affordable at just $40, you’ll receive two DVD’s and a downloadable PDF document of all worksheets, assignment sheets and answer keys.  If you’d like a printed copy of the workbook you can purchase a printed workbook for $20.00. The DVD’s are well done and give lesson by lesson instruction on writing and grammar, as I said above Mr. Stephens keeps the students attention by being engaging and quite a few times I’ve even chuckled along with some of his teaching because he really is fun – even I’m learning things I didn’t learn in school.  The videos are very short, I’ve not timed a lesson but just from watching they seem to be all under 5 minutes, this is great for students, like my daughter, who have short attention spans and won’t retain a great deal of information given in one sitting.

These aren’t lectures, instead Mr. Stephens explains the concept and actually shows students how to do it.  He wants the student to understand not just memorize for a test, but to actually have a working knowledge that can be used in the real world.  So what do students learn in the 4th Grade Essentials in Writing course?  Here is a list, but not exhaustive as it covers so much more:

  • review sentence types and structure
  • punctuation rules
  • alphabetization
  • parts of a personal letter and writing a personal letter
  • revision
  • poetry

If you’d like to see the whole table of contents please visit the Grade 4 area, you may also view a sample lesson of the DVD as well as samples of the worksheet/assignment pages and the scope and sequence.  It’s very simple to use and get started using this curricula.  The recommended way to use it is:

  • look at the worksheet for the day’s lesson
  • watch the corresponding lesson on the DVD
  • complete the assignment
  • look at the next lesson

It’s laid out for a 5 day school week and since we school only Monday through Thursday I alloted for that and it was very easy to do.  Mondays would begin with me checking her sheet and seeing what lesson she was on and having her watch the lesson segment then have her complete the sheet.  If she didn’t show understanding, which was rare as Mr. Stephens did so well explaining the concepts, I’d have her watch the lesson again with me watching with her.  On Tuesday we’d watch the video if it was a new lesson or if she needed to help remember what yesterday taught and do the worksheet.  Wednesday and Thursday would continue in much the same way.  Each lesson from the time of watching the video until completing the worksheet took about 30 minutes or less.

She has worked on writing a narrative and is enjoying remembering and writing about a trip we took last year, and she is having fun!  I love seeing how much she is enjoying writing, instead of agonizing over it and fighting me.  I like the fact that she is retaining the information and I don’t have to actually teach it, unless I help her remember a step she may have forgotten – and that allows me to help her siblings while she is having fun learning writing and grammar.  Ultimately, the best thing that has come out of using this curricula is the fact that she is now taking the initiative to write her own stories and using what she is learning through these lessons.

You can view a video of my daughter watching a lesson.


If you’d like to see what other homeschool parents thought about Grade 4 as well as other grades, including middle and high school levels, visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

**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 FTC regulations.



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