For many homeschool families, the end of the academic year is approaching. In the spirit of remembering and reflection, here are some great end of the year writing prompts for children. This would be a good exercise for your last day or last week of school.
These prompts ask your students to reflect on what they learned about the habits of great leaders, writers, thinkers, and citizens—the heart of our mission here at Silverdale Press. Save their written responses for posterity or include them in your student’s portfolio.
Have fun, and keep writing!
Every week in our newsletter, we feature a family-friendly current event to help your kids cultivate the habits of great citizens. We call this Hot Chocolate and Current Events because we believe that chocolate—in any form—can help facilitate enthusiasm for learning!
This week, we’re headed to Europe to discuss the European Union’s highest court and bees. What do the two have to do with each other?
Neonicotinoids are chemicals used in agriculture. In an attempt to protect crops, these chemicals also kill insects. The European Union is a political and economic organization of 28 member states.
First, read this report from the BBC.
Second, find Luxembourg on a map (it’s where the ECJ is headquartered).
Next, answer the following discussion questions.
Are you a year-round homeschooler? Or do you take the summer months “off” of homeschool? In either case, summer can be a great time for unit studies!
Summer unit studies have many benefits:
Need some ideas for topics? Here are three that would be perfect for summer:
Science is just one of those subjects that seems to slide during the school year. With all the math worksheets and sentence diagramming, science often gets put on the back burner. And while you may have set great nature study goals, maybe the cold temperatures kept you inside.
In summer, if bedtimes are relaxed, why not do a unit on the night sky? Do you have a flower or vegetable garden? Plants make great unit studies. When the weather is warm, unit study topics abound in nature, so sprinkle in some learning with your outdoor time.
Are you headed anywhere this summer? Your travel destination would make a great unit study.
Are you going to visit a new state? Complete a unit study on that state: its history, geography, music, food, and literature. Are you going to visit a new country? Before you go, study everything from its culture to its currency. Are you going to a national park? National parks make great unit studies that can easily incorporate science and nature.
Holidays and American Revolutionary Figures
Summer is a great time to do unit studies on holidays and the American founding. America’s biggest patriotic holiday, the Fourth of July, falls right in the middle of summer. Memorial Day kicks off the summer, and Labor Day marks its end.
So, why not do a study on one of the summer holidays? Study the history of the holiday—its origins and how our cultural celebrations have changed over time. To get ready for the Fourth of July, do a study on a revolutionary figure, such as George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, or Betsy Ross.
Summer should be a time for rest and rejuvenation for homeschool parents and students alike. The secret about unit studies is that they often don’t feel like work. If you are following your children’s interests, they will be delight-filled for everyone in your family.
Want your kids to know what’s in the news, but don’t know where to start? We are here to help! Our Hot Chocolate and Current Events section of our weekly newsletter is designed to help you discuss important issues of the day with your kids. The articles we choose are family-friendly. Your kids’ knowledge will expand in all areas—from vocabulary to economics to geography.
At Silverdale Press, we love elections (our flagship product was our Presidential Election Unit Study). But this week, we’re learning about a really remarkable election that elevated to office the world’s oldest elected leader. Want to learn more? Keep reading!
First, read this article from BBC News with your kids. You can also watch the related video.
Next, locate Malaysia on a map. See its country profile.
Use the following questions to discuss the article:
Around this time each year, Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss shoots to the top of best seller lists. Books do indeed make great graduation gifts. However, as William Strunk advised in his classic Elements of Style, “Avoid cliches like the plague." In writing as in gift buying, it’s a good idea to give something that your grad will love but might not expect.
In the spirit of our mission—to teach the ways of great leaders, writers, thinkers, and citizens—we recommend these great works of non-fiction for the grad on your gift list. These books are sure to guide, encourage, inspire, and instruct—because learning is for life, not just for school. Plus, there’s a little something for everyone, from your budding writer to your future lawyer to your aspiring business leader.
1) The American Spirit by David McCullough
2) Truman by David McCullough
3) Scalia Dissents by Kevin A. Ring
4) The Pleasures of Reading in the Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs
5) The Last Lion by William Manchester
6) Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy
7) The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
8) 7 Men by Eric Metaxas
9) How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
10) Ida Tarbell by Kathleen Brady
11) Good to Great by Jim Collins
12) 7 Women by Eric Metaxas
13) 8 Women of Faith by Michael A.G. Harkin
14) Home Economics by Wendell Berry
15) His Excellency by Joseph Ellis
16) Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
17) First Family: Abigail and John Adams by Joseph Ellis
18) The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
19) Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
20) L’Abri by Edith Schaeffer
21) Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
22) Rachel Carson: The Writer at Work by Paul Brooks
23) Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush by Jon Meacham
24) Rising to the Challenge by Carly Fiorina
25) The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharpe
26) You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt
27) Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
28) Poetic Diction by Owen Barfield
29) 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
30) Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Clayborne Carson
31) Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas
These books are certainly worthy of a spot on your grad's reading stack. Also, we feature many of these authors and subjects in our new homeschool writing curriculum for high school students. Even if you don’t have a graduation gift to buy, these books make great summer reading for homeschool families--parents and students alike!
Hot Chocolate and Current Events is our weekly effort to help homeschool families think intelligently about what’s going on in the world.
On the international scene, Korea has been in the news lately. An armistice ended hostilities on the Korean peninsula in 1953. But there was never a peace treaty. Technically, the war continues, though progress is being made toward peace. While the countries are still not unified, their table tennis teams now are.
Read this article from the BBC News. Kick back with a cup of hot chocolate (or even with a bowl of cold cereal around your breakfast table), and talk about Korea.
Are you joining us for Hot Chocolate and Current Events? Reading to your children from a newspaper is a great way to increase vocabulary and improve critical thinking skills.
This week, we're discussing technology in the news. Specifically, we're going to look at the pros and cons of driverless cars. Read this article from Bloomberg, and answer the following discussion questions.
Map Point: Tempe, Arizona
April is National Poetry Month. Did you know that reading and writing poetry can help improve your homeschool student's writing? It’s true! From book reports to persuasive pieces, poetry makes all writing better.
In our soon-to-be released homeschool writing curriculum, Persuasive Writing and Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers, we profile great persuasive writers. These great persuasive writers also read and wrote poetry:
Dorothy Sayers, the source of classical homeschool inspiration, wrote poetry during her advertising and mystery writing career. John F. Kennedy, who was a Pulitzer Prize winner before he was president, read Lord Byron and Robert Frost. Sarah Josepha Hale, before she persuaded presidents to proclaim the Thanksgiving holiday, published a volume of children’s poetry. Hale’s volume contained the poem “Mary’s Lamb,” which is known today as “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
Poetry is a key ingredient in a successful homeschool writing. If your goal is to grow great writers, here are 5 reasons you should include poetry in your homeschool.
1. Poetry improves vocabulary
An extensive vocabulary is the writer’s most valuable tool. The best thesaurus is no replacement for the reservoir of words stored in one’s brain. Poets must choose vivd words, and they must choose them carefully. As a result, poems are rich with lucid and surprising words. By reading poems, students will extend their vocabularies to include rich and beautiful language.
2. Poetry improves rhythm
A piece of writing must be musical. Whether it’s a book report, opinion editorial, or dinner menu, writing must have rhythm. Reading poetry helps students know what sounds pleasing to the ear. By reading poetry, students will naturally imitate its sound and cadence in their own writing.
3. Poetry improves imagery
Poets must show, not tell. Poetry paints pictures. The task of the poet is to spark the reader’s imagination. Writers across all genres must also paint pictures, even if their purpose is to persuade, inform, or explain. Writing will be more effective if it can come alive in the reader’s mind.
4. Poetry speaks to the emotions
Writers must connect with their readers. They do this by appealing to emotions. Appealing to emotions (pathos) is an especially important part of persuasive writing. And so by reading poetry, writers can understand how to connect with the audience’s emotions.
5. Poetry sparks critical and creative thinking
Research shows that reading poetry stimulates our creative and cognitive abilities. Poetry is meant to be meditated upon. Thinking deeply about a poem improves one’s attention span. It also awakens self-reflection, which, in turn, sparks creative expression.
Don’t know how to get started with poetry? Here are some links to poems read or written by featured writers from our new homeschool writing curriculum:
Sarah Josepha Hale
Make it a goal to read a poem a day in April. Find a poet that resonates with your homeschool student. Over time, you will see your child’s writing become infused with a new level of style!
We have an Easter-themed Hot Chocolate and Current Events for you this week. There’s an iconic new treat on U.S. store shelves this Easter season. The Kinder Egg, popular in Europe, made its U.S. debut in 2018. But there’s a twist. Read this article from Fortune to find out the scoop.
Map Points: Italy, Europe, U.S.
6 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Writer
Do you have a reluctant writer in your homeschool? If so, we have good news. No child is born a good or bad writer. Yes, every child has strengths and interests, and one child may be more eager to write than another. But writing well is a skill that can be learned, and writing regularly is a habit that can be cultivated.
If you have a child who has a hard time putting pen to paper, here are 6 tactics to help you encourage and inspire the writing habit.
1. Provide a quiet space
If your homeschool is like most, it is probably full of hustle, bustle, noise, and mess. That chaos can be a beautiful thing, but it can also discourage writing. Writers need to focus. To be productive, writers should have some uninterrupted time. So, if your child has writing assignment to tackle, try to minimize distractions. For example, you can settle your young writer in the den, while the rest of your family works around the kitchen table.
2. Provide an inviting space
Your writing space matters. Start by asking your child where he or she would feel comfortable writing. Don’t assume it’s in the usual homeschool workspace. Maybe it is in a sunny spot on your porch or out in your garden. Maybe it is in a cozy leather arm chair. Maybe it is on a desk with a warm light and a pile of old books. Or try to create a new writing space from things you already have around the house. Do you have a teen? Drop him or her off at the coffee shop or library. Sometimes a change of scenery can start the creative juices flowing.
3. Give them freedom
Children should have the freedom to write about what interests them. Is your child into technology? Give an assignment to compare and contrast computer brands. Does your child love cooking? Give an assignment to research cookery in modern England. Or simply tell them to write about what they want (their favorite dinner, a dream vacation, etc.) and set a word count. Tell them, You can write about anything, but you have to give me 250 words.
4. Provide interesting prompts
If your child does better with structure, try giving some interesting prompts. Since everyone loves a good illustration, give them a picture to go along with the prompt. Show them a landscape painting and tell them to write a description of it. Take a photo from the newspaper, stripped of its caption, and ask them to write about what’s going on in the illustration. Show them a portrait of a famous person and ask them to write about what he or she was thinking during the portrait sitting.
5. Write more
Remember that not every piece of writing has to go through the brainstorming, drafting, and revising stages. That can make writing seem like a long and boring process. Remember that writers get better at writing by writing. Yes, revising is important, but more important, for reluctant and professional writers alike, is simply putting words on a page. Be happy if the child is just writing; don’t expect every piece to be polished to perfection.
6. Share the passion for writing
Help kids understand that writing is not just something they are slogging through for a school assignment. Make them see that writing can bring joy and satisfaction beyond the classroom. It can be a vocation or avocation. Some parents are passionate writers; others are not. If you are a passionate writer, share your blogging, journaling, or other writing with your child. If you are not a passionate writer, surround your reluctant writer with those who are. Invite a local journalist to come to your co-op. Take your child to the local library or bookstore to hear an author speak. Do you have mom blogger friend? Have her share her writing life with your child.
In our soon-to-be-released writing curriculum, Persuasive Writing and Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers, we aim to cultivate the writing habit in your child. All of the above tactics are covered in the curriculum. We have inspiring quotes and pro-tips, weekly writing assignments, and creative prompts with word counts. We help students explore their own interests, while they imitate the habits of great writers. We can’t wait to share it with you!
Check out our About Page to learn more about us!