Frequently Asked Questions
Q. For what ages do you recommend Writing Tales?
A. Level One works best for third or fourth
graders. Level Two works best for
fourth or fifth graders, and possibly sixth graders needing to catch up on their
Q. Would one need to complete Level One before
going on to Level Two?
A. No, not at all. A student could easily start Level Two
without having done Level One.
Q: Is it necessary to purchase both Student
Workbook and Teacher’s Guide, or
could the program be completed with just the Student Workbook alone?
A: If you attempt the program without the
Teacher’s Guide, you’ll be missing about 50% of the entire program. In addition to answers for the Workbook, the
Teacher’s Guide also contains two sets of specific day-to-day lesson plans for
both one-on-one homeschools and co-op classes, both of which include
discussion questions for the stories that are studied, biographical information
about the stories’ authors, additional writing exercises and instruction, specific lesson ideas and materials for teaching
the grammatical concepts, and grammar games to reinforce the grammar concepts
that are taught.
Q. Do I need to supplement grammar or spelling
if I am doing Writing Tales?
A. You will probably want to supplement your
spelling curriculum if your child is not a natural speller. As for supplementing grammar, this is purely
an individual decision. When I (the
author) did Level One with my own third grader, I found that the grammar in the
program was enough and did not supplement.
When I did Level Two with her as a fourth grader, I supplemented, first
with “Easy Grammar”, and then later we switched to “Growing with Grammar.” Now, Level Two contains a lot more grammar
than Level One! It is just my own
personal opinion that fourth graders need to be learning more grammar than
third graders do. Others will disagree
and want to supplement their third graders.
Still others will not feel their children need any additional grammar
until they reach fifth grade.
Q: The games your curriculum
include sound fun! Can they be played if you only have one student?
A: The games that are listed are
adapted in the Homeschooling Lesson Plans for one-on-one play between teacher
and student, or for group play in the Co-operative Lesson Plans.
Q: In your
sample Lesson #8 for Level One, it says to read "Punctuation Takes a Vacation" by Robin
Pulver. When there are extra reading assignments, is the text included in the
TM or Student Workbook or is it something I need to locate on my own?
A: There are few extra reading assignments in Level One, and they are not included in the
teacher's manual. "Punctuation Takes a
Vacation" by Robin Pulver and “Fantastic! Wow! and Unreal!” by Ruth
Heller should be readily available at your library. These two books are
only used once, so it is not necessary to purchase them. The other readings are taken from
"Squids will be Squids" by Scieszka, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” -
poetry by Shel Silverstein, and Arnold Lobel's "Fables." These
three should also be available at your local library, but because they are used
throughout the course, you may decide to purchase them. They are also
easily substituted - really just my own recommendations. If you
already own a book of Aesop's fables and would prefer to read those instead of
Lobel's, for example, that would work fine. The curriculum doesn't depend
on those specific books being read aloud. I just really like these
particular ones! And the students generally do too. They are nice
examples of what can be done with the fable genre. I think it’s valuable for the students to be
exposed to poetry as well, and I am a big fan of using humor to make learning
enjoyable, which is why I chose Shel Silverstein’s poetry book for frequent
Q: Will there be more levels of Writing Tales?
A: Yes, I hope to publish three more levels of the curriculum. Unfortunately,
circumstances beyond my control have delayed the start of Writing Tales
- Level 3 at this time. I certainly hope to be able to start work on it in
the near future, but am unable to say when it will be available at this
Q: What writing curriculum do you recommend students use after finishing Writing Tales - Level 2?
A: There are many wonderful curricula on the market right now! Many students will transition very smoothly into Classical Writing - Homer after finishing Writing Tales - Level 2.
Q: My child really resists writing the Final
Draft. He doesn’t see the point of
adding creative details to his story. Is
this part really necessary, or could we skip the Final Draft altogether?
A: Adding creative touches to every Final Draft
is the "fun" part of writing in Writing Tales (WT) for most of the students that go through the
program.But I find that a small
percentage of the students using WT really don't enjoy this part of the
process.These students tend to be
concrete, factual, and really don't see the "point" in adding all
that extra "stuff" to their story.Well, quite honestly, the "point" is simply to make the whole
writing process more enjoyable for them!
I ask them to do this to give them an end product (their story) of which
they can feel ownership, and to make writing a gratifying experience for
them. I can't stress this next point
enough - adding these creative touches is not a part of the original process in
this level of the progymnasmata!
If this step of the
process is adding stress for your son, then it is not achieving the goal of
making writing a joyful and gratifying experience for him. By all means, leave it out! Now, please realize: I'm not
saying leave the Final Draft out, just
the addition of the creative touches.Use this time instead to take his Rough Draft and improve upon it. Isolate some of his sentences and ask him to
make them better.Ask him how he could
make his story more interesting to his reader. Work on the details, in other words. Use the time to make him a better writer. Teach him to slow down and think about his
choice of words, and his arrangement of those words into beautiful,
well-flowing sentences, and those sentences in a well thought-out, exciting
Q: I’m having trouble deciding which Level of
Writing Tales to place my child in. Have
you got any advice for me?
A. This can be difficult, especially if you are
not able to actually get your hands on the books to look at them before you
order them. First of all, please visit
the Samples page to look at the sample pages of each Level there. Next, you should also know that the sample
pages posted at my printer’s website are different, so if you visit there, you
can see even more pages of the books. Go
Moving on, here
are some good “rules-of-thumb” to help with Level placement.
introduces the progymnasmata-approach to fictional writing at a basic
level. With that said, this book can look simpler than it actually is. Your student will be writing a story that is,
on the average, one page long every week.
For that reason, I almost always do not
recommend Level 1 for second graders.
Level 1 usually fits third graders extremely well, or fourth graders
that have not had much previous writing instruction.
continues work in fictional writing with stories of a slightly longer
length. If your child would be
comfortable writing stories that are, on average, two to three pages in length
every week, then this Level will work. The
grammar instruction and analysis required for each story is also more intense,
requiring more perseverance and concentration on the part of the student. Level 2 usually fits fourth and fifth graders
the best, but it can also work just fine for sixth graders who have not had any
previous writing instruction.