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Reading Has Gone to the Dogs, Creative Writing Help

By Lynn Hogan

Added Friday, July 29, 2005

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 6 No 30    July 29, 2005
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2000-2005 Lynn Hogan. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, recommend it to a friend. We all
need to be helping each other with our schools!



Guest Author
-- Reading Has Gone to the Dogs
Helpful Hints
-- Another Homeschooling Curriculum Site
Question of the Week:
-- Peace in the Neighborhood
Reader's Response
-- Teaching Writing Skills

This is our guest author week and I am very excited about this
article written by long time subscriber Naomi Sandweiss. She
explores a new and interesting way to interest your child in
reading! Check it out!

Reading Has Gone to the Dogs

My six-year-old, Molly, is a new, (and sometimes reluctant)
reader. However, these days, when I mention reading aloud,
Molly is beside herself with excitement. You see, Molly is
reading to dogs! Our library, like other organizations
throughout the country, offers a program where kids read to
trained assistance dogs.

Why read to cocker spaniels or corgis? Unlike their human
counterparts, canine audiences never correct grammar, criticize
pronunciation or grow impatient as the reader stumbles over a
word. They don't mind hearing the Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs
and Ham for the 100th time. They offer unconditional support
to new, struggling or enthusiastic readers.

When Molly and I arrive at the library, we wait our turn to read
to Axie, Spirit or Mitzi. The assistance dogs library are calm,
welcoming and predictable. Molly sits next to Axie on a cushion
on the floor of the library and picks a book from the pile.
(Readers can also bring books from home.) For fifteen minutes,
the sheltie mix with soulful eyes listens patiently to Molly's
words, seemingly delighted. At the end of each session, Molly
gets to pet Axie, feed her a biscuit, and receive a bookmark
with the dog's photo, encouraging Molly to keep up the good

The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program was
introduced at the Salt Lake City Library System and is now used
by libraries, community centers, and youth programs throughout
the country. To find a program in your area or learn how to
start your own, visit http://www.therapyanimals.org/read/

It seems to me that there is no reason why a calm, obedient (or
oblivious!) pet couldn't also serve as an excellent audience
for a child learning to read. From now on, I'll encourage my
kids to sing the alphabet song to the fish, recite poetry for
the kitty or read riddles to the neighbor's bunny. After all,
reading aloud builds confidence, competence, and reading
fluency for kids-regardless of the audience.

Naomi Sandweiss is a mother of two who loves to read with her
kids at home in New Mexico. Her website, FunFare, at
http://www.funfamilyfare.net, offers easy and affordable ways for families
to play together, have fun and build memories.



Another Homeschool Curriculum Site

www.homeschoolclassifieds.com has what I think is the best
organized and easiest to use used homeschooling curriculum site
around and it's free to those who want to post. - Jenni


I am a homeschooling mom of 2 years. I have 4 children. I am
living in a small town, (I think maybe 60 people live in this
town). People are very angry at me for homeschooling. Do you
have any ideas about how to keep the peace among our neighbors?
- Jeanine


NOTE: my publication of these responses does not necessarily
mean that I endorse a product or an activity. You make your own
decisions about how these responses might work in YOUR school!

I am an engineer myself. I was never very good at creative
writing. Please let me know how I can help my fourth grader
from now on so that she does better in her creative writing.

Reading is a great way to improve writing skills. The more a
person reads, the more natural writing styles and creativity
come to them. When I was teaching, we would often start with a
book or short story. After reading it, I would have them
rewrite the ending, or change the time setting (if modern, make
it happen in dinosaur days, etc). We would also do journal
entries at least twice a week when I gave story starters.
Those are very available at any teacher supply store. Some
topics are easier than others. Another time I would provide a
picture from a magazine and ask them to write a story about the
picture or someone in the picture. And first, if creativity is
the difficult part, just focus on the story line and making it
more interesting. After that, when you feel the story is
complete, focus on grammar and spelling. - Laura

These things will help:

1) Writing daily is important! Have your daughter keep an
unedited, daily journal. You can assign the topics, or she can
pick, you can read it, or she can read it to you, or maybe some
days it will be private. Just the simple act of writing daily
will help smooth out and help her organize her thoughts. At the
fourth grade level she could keep anywhere from 2 to as many
paragraphs as she wants. Or like many of the novelists I know
do: set a timer, for fifteen minutes (or some appropriate time
maybe five for a fourth grader), and write until the ding

2) Organized, targeted writing: This falls more in the line of
English type homework. Suggested topics: a reflection based on a
book she has read; a feeling from something that happened; a
description of a place, time, or person; a step by step
procedure, making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is always
fun-have someone else do the procedure exactly as it is written!
; an opinion for the local editorial page (sent or unsent); a
movie review; etc.

3) Every public school that I know of prepares the students before
a standardized test with Rubrics. There are writing rubrics for
each testing level. Try and see if you can get a copy of it.
Maybe even the CAT website will have the expectations. Some
sites even have practice tests. I know the PA Dept of Education
even has practice sample tests for their PSSA standardized
testing. - Elizabeth

Next - Start with a Plan, The Way They Learn, Make Homeschooling 'Work'
Previous - Putting Your House in Order and De-Stressing

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