Five Awesome Free Writing Resources for your Elementary-Aged Homeschooler
**I would like to thank Nikolas Baron, from Grammarly, for sharing this guest post on awesome free writing resources.**
Getting back into a homeschooling routine after a long weekend can be difficult, especially when our focus for the day is on developing writing skills. While children always love the ability to express themselves, especially when they do not want to do something (think: Moooom, I do not want to do the dishes; eat this broccoli; spend any more time on this curriculum) it seems that doing so in any way that requires structure and forethought is difficult, especially when they’re afraid of making mistakes or not engaged in the writing prompt our curriculum provides them.
That’s why this morning I’ve rounded up five of the best online study materials that can be used for creating more engaged prose. Hope you enjoy!
Brain Pop and Brain Pop Jr. are two of my absolute favorite free online resources for teaching writing (and nearly everything else). It’s wonderfully interactive, comes with movies, games, and lesson ideas, and is broken down into sections that teach a student everything from grammar, sentence construction and paragraphs, down to the formats for writing biography and book reports. This resource is so effective that a lot of public school teachers use it in the classroom because it’s excellent to get kids started and then let them self-direct their learning.
Another great, completely free self-learning tool that is excellent for teaching writing at the elementary level is Fun Brain, which offers a bunch of free word games designed to strengthen vocabulary and spelling skills. With such fun activities as the Grammar Gorilla, Paint by Idioms, and an online version of Mad Libs, kids are sure to stick with the task long enough to learn some ways to polish up their prose, as good grammar skills are one of many keys to writing clearly.
Paragraph Punch is another awesome, partially free resource that allows your homeschooler to focus on paragraph construction by making her way through a series of questions that take her through the processes of prewriting, writing, organizing, editing, rewriting, and publishing through online, interactive exercises. Though the full version requires a subscription, there is a fun “trip-to-Hawaii” prompt that is accessible for free.
A great place to find more of these interactive writing prompts is Writing Fix, which is a tool that Nevada teachers developed for themselves but have made accessible to everyone for free. There are resources from prompts to ideas for writing across the curriculum (writing about other subjects than English) to aids to teach writing processes. But one of my favorite sections of the site are Mentor Text Lessons, which have lessons derived from picture books, chapter books, poetry, literature, and songs geared toward any grade between Kindergarten and 12th.
Once your homeschooler has got all the mechanics down, then it might be time to try something a little more fun. Sometimes it’s easier for middle-schoolers to stick with writing if they are engaged in the story or “narrative” of the work she is producing. For her, I’ve borrowed a couple of lessons from the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum that is posted online. These lessons focus on character development throughout the course of a story and placing that character within acts and scenes. I really like these lessons because they come with textbook reading and workbook activities. I also like them because they teach an informed sense of reading fiction while it teaches a homeschooler to write it.
And, in my opinion at least, that’s the some of best that’s out there. But you may have noticed most of my best resources were about shape, form, and topic development and had little to do with grammar. Well, that’s not only because a lot of college curricula care more about the synthesis of an argument than they do grammar, but also because Grammarly is an awesome place to perform a “grammar check” after a child is done developing his or her work. I do agree it’s important that every child get a good sense of how the English language functions, but ultimately, even the best of us need to learn to check ourselves before we publish in the end.
Did your favorite writing resource make Nikolas’ list? If not, what is your favorite? Tell us in the comments.
More about the author: Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.