Improving Student Writing Skills with the Wordsmith Series

This article is in collaboration with Common Sense Press. 

The Wordsmith Series is a three-level writing skills program from Common Sense Press. It starts with the Wordsmith Apprentice level for grades 4-6, moves into Wordsmith for grades 6-9, and finishes with Wordsmith Craftsman for grades 9-12. This evaluation focuses on Wordsmith Apprentice and Wordsmith Craftsman. 

Learning Writing Skills with Wordsmith Apprentice

Wordsmith Apprentice is a 128-page workbook designed for students in grades 4 to 6. Additionally, there is also a two-page answer key with answers to a few assignments. Many of the assignments do not have an answer key because they are writing assignments without a specific answer. It helps to increase students’ writing skills and stretch their imagination. There are three parts in the book.

  1. Nouns, Verbs. And Basic Sentences
    • This section helps students understand nouns, verbs, articles, pronouns, and conjunctions.
  1. Modifiers and More Complex Sentences
    • This section teaches students about adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases.
  1. Organizing and Reporting
    • This final section helps students take what they have learned and organize their writing into quality paragraphs. They will learn about the structure of paragraphs and the “5 Ws”: what, who, when, where, and why.

In Wordsmith Apprentice, students write assignments as if they were writing for a small-town weekly paper. There are cartoon-style pictures of the newspaper editor that give students help and advice with their writing. Students’ writing assignments relate to the newspaper but are also varied. For example, students write applications, sales, help wanted ads, sports, captions, editing book reviews, and more.

The only materials students need to accompany the Wordsmith book are paper, a thesaurus, and a few newspapers. This helps keep the implementation simple and economical.

Another beneficial component is that the program uses topics instead of lessons. Although suggested lesson plans are available online, parents have much flexibility to use the program in a way that works best for their students and schedules.

An Inside Look at Wordsmith

Building and Polishing Writing Skills with Wordsmith Craftsman: Grades 9 to 12

Wordsmith Craftsman is the third book in Common Sense Press’s Wordsmith writing skills program. It is designed for grades 9 to 12 and is a 106-page workbook with several additional appendices.

Wordsmith Craftsman contains three parts:

  1. Writing Every Day
    • This section includes instruction on everyday writing projects, including study notes and outlines, personal letters, business letters, summaries, and business reports.
  1. Language Power
    • The language power section teaches students to write quality paragraphs, introduces other writing techniques, and works on personal writing style.
  1. The Essay
    • The essay section teaches basic essay structure and goes step by step through various types of essays, including persuasive essays, research papers, critical essays, and more.

This workbook has schedules for completing the program in a year or splitting it up over four years. It is very flexible and self-guided. In addition to the instruction in the workbook, there is a very beneficial appendix section with templates, common fallacies, a summary of steps for the essays, and answers to the exercises with specific answers.

Improving Student Writing Skills with the Wordsmith Series

The Wordsmith Program

The Wordsmith Series from Common Sense Press works as a progression of the three books, or each can be a standalone. This program helps students develop their writing skills and imagination and use those skills for academic and real-life tasks.

Overall, the program’s self-guided nature allows parents much flexibility in implementation. The creative and real-life assignments make it meaningful and enjoyable for students. Visit the Common Sense Press website to learn more about the program and purchase a copy for your homeschool. Author

Dawn is a passionate follower of Jesus, wife to Chris, and homeschool mom of four (soon to be five). In her spare time, she loves to read, hike, and write on her blog Schoolin’ Swag. She enjoys talking about curriculum and helping moms find the right fit for their family.

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