Tag Archives for " language arts "

Help reluctant writer motivate to write homeschool

How to help the reluctant writer

It can be soooooo painful!

You sit down and ask your kid to write ONE sentence … one little sentence …

And it turns into begging … “PLEEEEASE … anything … something …”

Help reluctant writer motivate to write homeschool


It can be soooooo painful!

You sit down and ask your kid to write ONE sentence … one little sentence …

And it turns into begging … “PLEEEEASE … anything … something …”

And they look at you like you with a blank stare -- or they start to cry -- OR they throw their pencil across the room.

BUT - it doesn’t have to be that way! You can work on “writing” without having it turn into a battle or a cry fest.

To do it, you have to break writing down into its parts and pieces, figure out what’s working and what isn’t, and then focus your efforts on what’s going to make the most different.

And today -- I’m going to tell you how to do just that!

NOTE: I mention LOTS of different resources in today’s video. If you want to check them out, here are some links:

Spelling Resources

Sequential Spelling Books

Sequential Spelling Online

All About Spelling

Handwriting Resources

Handwriting without Tears

Storytelling Resources

Tell Tale Game

Rory Story Cubes

Ready to feel Confident and Successful as you homeschool?

Register below to watch my FREE CLASS

Confident Homeschool Secrets

7 Ways to Create a Homeschool That Works (and you LOVE!)


Hello, my name's ToriAnn Perkey, and from my homeschool to your homeschool, today I want to talk about what you can do and think about if you have a reluctant writer.

I'm talking about those kids who are in elementary school particularly who you say, “Okay, just write a sentence. Just write a sentence.” And they're like, “Oh, I don't want to write a sentence.” And it feels like you are extracting blood from a stone if you ask them to write anything.

Or they get started, and they just seem to sit there forever, and you know that they have great ideas because they can tell them to you, but they won't write them.

Well, today I want to talk about how writing is actually divided into four different sub-pieces that all have to come together to make a writer who can write. And sometimes what happens is developmentally a kid will be ready for two of the four but not the other two. 

So even though you know they can write, they're actually not ready to write.  So, we're going to talk about that today. This is a topic I feel really passionate about because I know that if you push writing too soon, and you're too hard on it, you'll have a kid who - when they hit an age when they might have an amazing thing to say - will hate writing, and they'll just say, “I hate it. I don't want to do it.” And you don't want that to happen.

You want your kids to graduate into an age and a mental space where they like writing and they're excited to write because there's so much good that happens with writing.

So, let's talk about this. What are the four different subtopics that go into writing?

They are spelling, handwriting (or typing is kind in there) … but spelling, handwriting - because most kids don't type at this age - sentence and paragraph structure, and then ideas. And as you can see, you need all four of those to be able to write a sentence on a piece of paper.

You say, “Hey, tell me a sentence about what we did yesterday.”  They have to be able to spell - or at least they think they have to be able to spell - but they have to be able to spell to some extent or you won't have any idea what they're writing. They have to be able to write it - physically write it. They have to be able to structure the sentence in such a way that it actually translates from their brain into something coherent on the page, and they have to have an idea of what to write.

That's a lot of different skills for kids to wrap their brain around, and you might have a kid who's fabulous with ideas. I mean, FABULOUS with ideas, right? They will tell you stories and their dreams and this happened and this happened, but when you ask them to write, they can't because handwriting is hard. Or maybe they're worried about their spelling, even though you've told them it does not matter what it's spelled like, you just want them to put it down! You don't know.

And so my recommendation is this. If you have a kid where these four skills are not coming together seamlessly -- and it does happen -- some kids just kind of pull these skills together and they just write. Yay, for happiness and easiness! But for the kids where it's a little bit trickier, my recommendation is to pull the skills apart and work on them one-on-one, because you don't want to have ideas stagnate while handwriting is being worked on.

So you want to be able to work on them separately, have ideas continue to grow, have the handwriting catch up, or get to the point where the kid can type and then that helps, and then you can put all the skills back together.

There are resources that specifically target each one of these. You don't need to do all of these resources if things are working or if you see that the skill is already developing, but if it's not developing, then finding a resource that specifically targets one of these skills is a really great idea.

For example, if you're working on spelling, then you're going to go find a curriculum just for spelling, and there's a couple that I'm really, really fond of.  One is called Sequential Spelling, and you can do that with workbooks, or they now have an online version. Yay, that we're using.

I really like sequential spelling - and this isn't a review about that - but I like it because it just approaches spelling in a different way for holistic learners, and I guess I'll leave a link to that so you can go check it out. Another one that's super popular with spelling is "All About Spelling," which is a very different style of teaching spelling, but it uses a method that works well with dyslexics. So, these are some different resources. 

If you're struggling with handwriting then the bar none hands down best way to work on handwriting for a kid who's struggling is a program called Handwriting without Tears, and I'll leave a link to that as well. In Handwriting with Tears, we have now been using it with just a couple of my kids. The other ones didn't have any trouble, but a couple needed to work on handwriting, and it is definitely the best program I've seen. I don't get any pushback. Super, super simple, and I'm not even using the teacher guides. We're just using the student manuals. Just a little side note.

If you're working on sentence and paragraph structure, then the best way to work on that is to actually practice having them tell you the sentences and then watch you write them or type them. Have them practice speaking the sentences before they have to write the sentences.  Say, “You know what? I need you to say that in a complete sentence.” Help them learn to structure. Correct their grammar. Correct those things as you're talking to them. So, narration and dictation - and there's lots of resources out there for that, and you can even just use the scriptures or a picture book.  Narration and dictation are really, really good for that. I don't have a specific curriculum for that. I just wanted to let you know.

And then ideas - oh my goodness - I don't know of anybody really struggles with kids having ideas and things to write about when you pull these other skills out. But on the off chance that you want to just burnish those skills a little bit, I love using storytelling games for this.

Storytelling games are all verbally done. They're not written, and they allow the kids to definitely, definitely, definitely practice creating stories, being creative, pulling their ideas out of their head and into a space where they can be enjoyed and experienced together without all of the other things. I have reviewed several storytelling resources over the course of doing this - making these videos - and I will link to those so you can go check out my reviews in the review section, and my videos that specifically talk about those resources.

So, there you have it. There you have it. Break down those writing skills into four separate distinct categories, and if you do that, you are definitely going to find that you can augment the ones that are working, take away the ones that aren't - not take them away, but actually focus on them and help supplement them and bring them up so that in good time all of those skills will come together and take a reluctant writer to a writer that's actually writing.

I'm ToriAnn Perkey, and I make these videos every week so that you can be a super successful and confident homeschool mom.

Save for later by pinning to your favorite Pinterest board!

Help reluctant writer motivate to write homeschool
Help reluctant writer motivate to write homeschool
Help reluctant writer motivate to write homeschool
writing for dysgraphia and dyslexia
Kids motivated to learn with sharpie in homeschool

How a Simple Sharpie Can Make Your Kids WANT to Learn

There are moments where I have despaired of EVER getting my kids to want to do something.

Practice handwriting … nope!

Do math problems … nope!

How a Simple Sharpie Can Make Your Kids WANT to Learn


practice spelling … nope!

And then there are times when a kid will sit down and just do their assignment.

No whining. No crying. No begging.

I wish I had a crystal ball to explain why sometimes it’s easy … and sometimes it’s not.

But I don’t!

What I DO have is a simple sharpie trick that seems to help (at least some of the time!)

(P.S. This trick ALSO works wonders if the Sharpies get into the hands of your artist 2 year old!)

CLICK HERE for some cool, colorful sharpies for your homeschool.

And if you a whiteboard like the one I show you, you can find it here.

Want tons of FREE resources to
help your homeschool?


Hey guys, I'm ToriAnn Perkey. From my homeschool to your homeschool, today I want to talk about the simple Sharpie. Sharpies are permanent markers and, oh my goodness, they can be the bane of every mom's existence. If you've ever tried to get Sharpie off the wall or anything else, you know that this sucker is very, very permanent. I know this because I had a certain daughter who wrote all over her bedroom and all over my sheets and her sheets with a Sharpie.

Yeah, not fun.  

But today I want to talk about how you can use a Sharpie, a simple little Sharpie, to make homeschooling so much more fun. Your kids will want to learn. As I'm doing that, I'm going to show you a little trick that's like magic. It seems like magic, and it's made such a difference, and we've used it tons in my homeschool.

So, the cool thing about a Sharpie is it is permanent … except if you apply alcohol to it, you can get it off, which is why you may know that if you take a Sharpie and then you draw on something and then take a dry erase marker and draw over it, it will often pull the Sharpie off.  I know, super cool. So, I decided that I would figure out if I could use a Sharpie on a whiteboard without the dry erase marker and have it work -- and it does.

So, let me show you. So, I have these cool whiteboards, and this side is plain and this side is lined, and we have used these tons because they have the line size we've done a ton of our handwriting assignments on these and my kids use this side to do math. It's a lot like having a slate from like 120 years ago -- little chalkboard slates they used to carry around -- only we have these whiteboard slates. What's really fun is I can take the Sharpie and I can draw all over the whiteboard and because it's Sharpie it doesn't come off. It's permanent.

My kids can do a handwriting assignment or a math assignment or whatever they need to do, and they can then come show it to me ... particularly the handwriting side but either way … they can show it to me, and it doesn't rub off accidently. And particularly for lefthanders when they're writing, and they will write this way, right? And then their hand will smear it while they're writing.  

But then if you take rubbing alcohol -- and I just bought this container to put the rubbing alcohol in. You do have to have the highest concentration of alcohol you can get. So, you want a 91 percent alcohol.

You take the rubbing alcohol, and you take either a rag or a paper towel, and you can put the rubbing alcohol on the rag or the actual whiteboard and then you go like this. Do you see that?  Do you see that? It's like magic, and off it comes. 

What I love is that Sharpies have this amazing kinesthetic feel. So, not only do we use black ones, but we get all the colored Sharpies. And my kids who maybe were a little resistant to do handwriting or were resistant to do math when you can write on a surface there's something about Sharpie or dry erase marker on a whiteboard surface that just is so fun and so tactile, and it shifts the learning, and my kids want to do their assignments because they're drawing with colors and they're drawing here. 

You can get Sharpies in fine point as well as in the -- well, fine point and then extra fine point. And now that I can buy even extra point, we can do even more complicated math and things that take a much finer writing because you have even just a finer point that you can write with.

So, there it is -- the Sharpie with a dry erase board. So much that we've done in our homeschool with those two humble tools. Ninety one percent alcohol, use a paper towel or a rag.  Simple, simple, simple. (Just so you know 91 percent alcohol also gets Sharpie off bunk beds. Who knew?)

So, I'm going to give a link up above or down below. You can check out the Sharpies. You can check out the whiteboard that I recommend on Amazon, if that's something you want to incorporate in your homeschool. Really, really fun. Super cool.

I'm ToriAnn Perkey, and from my homeschool to your homeschool, I bring you these videos every single week so that you can be a super successful and confident homeschool mom.

Save for later by pinning to your favorite Pinterest board!

Kids motivated to learn with sharpie in homeschool
Kids motivated to learn with sharpie in homeschool
Kids motivated to learn with sharpie in homeschool
sharpie and whiteboard homeschool hack
The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury Book Review

The secret ingredient to creating great writers … {Review}

Grammar … punctuation … spelling … organization … structure …

All of these are so important when it comes to helping my kids communicate effectively with their writing.

They have to be able to put their ideas down on paper in a way that makes sense.

But there’s something else … and it can be a little elusive at times.

Over the years, I’ve discovered a sneaky, secret way to helping my kids become great writers that takes almost NO time out of our homeschool day.

CLICK HERE to check it out for your homeschool: https://amzn.to/2vopoIs


Are your kids tired of boring writing assignments? This holds the answer! {Review}

I LOVE storytelling and creative writing toys and games.

And today … I’m going to share one of my FAVORITES!

I love this game because it’s open-ended … and I think of all the resources I love, it does the best at helping with writing prompting that create a vast ocean of ideas no matter what age you are.



It’s the first resource I pull out when I teach teenagers creative writing, and we still pull it out at home when we need creative juices to flow.

But it also works so well for kindergarten and preschool ages - although you'll have to modify how you play with the cards if your child can't read yet.

CLICK HERE to check out Storymatic for your homeschool.

Ready to feel Confident and Successful as you homeschool?

Register below to watch my FREE CLASS

Confident Homeschool Secrets

7 Ways to Create a Homeschool That Works (and you LOVE!)


Hey guys! ToriAnn Perkey here. From my homeschool to your homeschool, are the writing assignments in your home getting a little boring? Or do your kids feel just a little confined because they feel like the writing assignments they have to do are coming out of a book that maybe they're not super interested in? Or maybe you're not using a curriculum at all, but you know that you want your kids to be creative doing creative writing, and you're not quite sure how to get them started?

Well, today I've got something that's going to knock your socks off that I love to help kids get the creative juices flowing. It is called “Storymatic,” and it is a fabulous, fabulous resource for generating creative stories. In fact, they say “6 gazillion stories in one little box,” and I'm not kidding you, it's totally true.

So, let me tell you all about this amazing resource for your homeschool family. When you open it up, it has two kinds of cards -- the yellow cards and the blue cards -- and they do different things. The blue cards are characters or -- yeah, so, “family members are robots” or “flying blanket.”  So, it's a character or it's a situation. “Homesick.” Here's another one, “mysterious stranger comes to town.” So, the cards -- nice quality cards ... I love the fact that they're not flimsy at all ... all have -- the blue cards have that kind of thing written on it.

Now, on this side, we get things like “someone with a secret,” “fortuneteller,” “thumb sucker.” So, what happens is in the most basic way of using these cards -- you get a blue card and you get a yellow card, and you put them together, and you start to generate a story.  In this case, we would have a fortuneteller and a flying blanket. Suddenly, my brain starts to think how could I create a story about a flying blanket and a fortuneteller, and I can promise, you and your kids will start to have lots and lots of fun.

You can make it more interesting if you want to add extra card. So, you could have a “fortuneteller,” a “thumb sucker” (two characters), and a “flying blanket.”  And these are character cards that are super fun. So, you can actually take two character cards, add a situation and create that. So, here we have a gentle giant. So, now new story -- what if you had a thumb sucker, a gentle giant, and family members that are robots? Totally different story.

Now, if you're looking for more than one way to use these cards -- and there's a gazillion ways to use the cards just like there's a gazillion stories -- it comes with this really amazing little booklet full of ideas on how to use the cards. And that's what I really, really like about it, is they understand that you may want to use the cards in different ways, and you may need a little bit of a starter help to figure out different ways to use the cards. And this is full of ideas just over and over and over again from “flash” to “double time” to “write it,” “draw it,” which is where you get to draw and write word by word -- where you do tandem telling, and one person starts the story and then says one word and then the next word goes to the next person, the next person. Things like that. Group games, individual games -- so many ways to use these cards. 

Now, these cards are a little pricier than some of the other storytelling resources that I've recommended before. And I hesitated ... I waited a while to buy these. I was a little worried because I thought “I don't know. I don't know.” But I'm here to tell you, I have never ever ever regretted purchasing Storymatic. Of all my storytelling resources, this one's one of my favorites.

Okay. The other thing I want to tell you is there's a kid's version and an adult version. I only own the kid version, because I was a little nervous about what might be in the adult version because it's definitely designed for adults. But I was also worried that it would be really too kiddish to use with my teenagers. Not at all. I feel like adults can get -- and teenagers -- can get just as much out of the kid version of the game as anybody. And, in fact, I think as an adult you could totally get Storymatic and have a blast. So, I've never bothered with the adult version because well, I really don't think I need it.

So, there you go.  If you are looking for a brand new way to just radically up-level your writing assignments or your storytelling or any of that creative, fun playing that's going on in your house, this is definitely a resource you want to look at. And you can check it out at the link up above or down below or wherever it shows up wherever you're watching this video.

I'm ToriAnn Perkey, and I'm here every week making these videos for you so that you can be a successful, confident homeschool mom.

Save for later by pinning to your favorite Pinterest board!

Creative writing curriculum alternative storymatic game review
A Sentence a Day Book Review - Sticky Grammar without the Fuss

Sticky Grammar without the Fuss {Review}

Some parts of learning are intrinsically fun — science experiments, family board games, cool fieldtrips.

And some parts … well maybe not so much. I’m not sure ANYONE loves to do long division.

Grammar tends to fall into that camp for a lot of kids.

Absolutely necessary to write well and communicate effectively. But something you choke down — like badly cooked brussel sprouts — because you know it’s good for you.

Except it doesn’t HAVE to be that way!

Your kids learn to talk by being immersed in language … trying things out, and learning what works and what doesn’t. Their speaking grammar improves organically.

Their writing grammar can be learned the same way. Piece by piece in an immersive way. Fixing mistakes along the way. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

That’s why I love A Sentence a Day by Samantha Prust. It’s immersive grammar that sticks — while making you and your kids smile.

In this week’s video, I also talk about the science of learning … and why this type of grammar is particularly effective in helping your kids retain what they are working on.

Click HERE to check it out for your homeschool.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy - Book Review

Warning! This Book Might Inspire Learning {Review}

What’s more fun than quizzing your kids on what they know?

ANSWER: When your kids get to quiz you!

Right now in our homeschool, we are having a BLAST with a book called “The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.”

My kids open up to a random page, ask me a question, and wait to see if I can pull the answer out of my brain …

Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t.

Either way … amazing learning is happening.

I’m always pleasantly surprised when the simplest things inspire fantastic learning in my home … even after all these years.

Check out the video for more details about the book and more awesome ways that you can use it to inspire learning in your home!

Click HERE to get one for your homeschool.

Tell Tale Card Game Review - 3 Essential Writing Skills + Teach 1

3 Essential Writing Skills + Teach 1 with This Tell Tale Game {Review}

Ever feel frustrated because your kid doesn’t want to write?

Or do you wish you could simplify your language arts curriculum, save yourself some time, AND still produce great writers?

It’s totally possible to inspire a love of writing AND do it in less time and effort.

Because writing breaks down into THREE essential elements. And you can practice each element individually and to different degrees depending on what your child needs help with and what they are naturally good at.

What are these three essential elements that must be mastered in order to be a great writer?
Putting words on paper (or on a computer screen)
Getting content out of the brain in a coherent manner

Often, as moms, we try to lump all three of these skills together.

“Write down your ideas.”
“Let’s do a book report.”

But if your kid’s development in these three skills isn’t the same, they will struggle and get frustrated.

(For example, if they are FABULOUS at TELLING you a story, but they struggle to write the story down on paper!)

Being aware of each of these essential skills, and then tackling them individually, can sometimes be an excellent way to still develop great writers without all of the resistance.

Let’s break each of these skills down.

Putting Words on Paper

This is traditionally called “handwriting” and “typing.” The goal is for your kid to be able to legibly produce letters in some way.

For some kids, this comes so naturally. “Look mom! I just wrote the alphabet!”

They go from letters to printing sentences to cursive … and often they practice on their own because they love it. (It’s true … I had one, so I know it’s possible!)

However, there are other kids who putting pen to paper is HARD! Whether they struggle with some form of dysgraphia or they genuinely are just not interested, they have no interest in “practicing” how to write.

For these kids, breaking down the process of handwriting can be very very helpful. And practicing this skill IN ISOLATION makes it easier for them to learn what they need to learn.

My favorite resource for learning handwriting is Handwriting without Tears. We’ve been using this program with great success with my youngest this year!

Typing is also a valuable skill that you can teach young. We’ve used two different programs over the years.
Typing Instructor is a game that you install on your computer.
If your kid is a little older and you like FREE (who doesn’t?) and don’t mind a few ads, we’ve had great success with the online instruction of Typing Club this year.


If your kid can’t spell, they can’t communicate in writing very well.

I’ve learned over the years, it can be valuable to split spelling from content creation and handwriting. If your kid is struggling, isolating spelling allows them to focus on what they need help with without feeling the pressure to also produce something amazing.

My two favorite spelling curricula are:
Sequential Spelling (for my holistic, right-brained learners)
All about Spelling (for my logical, left-brained learners)

Content Creation

The last essential part of becoming a great writer is sharing great content.

Great content can be anything from an interesting story to a factual report to a summary of what your kid learned during the day.

Later in your kid’s schooling, writing will be how they organize and share their thoughts about what they are reading and learning. It’s one of the main ways others will assess how much they’ve understood and synthesized from a class.

I have found one of the ideal ways to prepare my kids to share great content is to encourage them to share their thoughts in an organized way as much as possible.

When kids are younger, one of the best ways to do this is through storytelling. Storytelling requires that a child structure their ideas (beginning, middle, and end) — AND emotionally connect with their ideas.

PLUS storytelling is FUN! So it’s much easier to get kids to practice when they are engaging in a storytelling game.

While there are many resources out there to help with storytelling, two of my favorites (because they are simple and easy) are:
Rory Story Cubes (See my previous review here.)
Tell Tale (see my video review below)
Handwriting, Spelling, Content Sharing — three essential skills.

As your kid works on writing, keeping each of these skills in mind will help you identify where the gaps or struggles are. You can focus on those … while still moving your kid’s ability to write forward.

If you want to check it out Tell Tale for your homeschool, CLICK here

Grammar game review Silly Sentences homeschool

A Super Simple (and fun!) Way to Teach Grammar to Young Kids

Teach grammar to six year olds ... And have fun?!?

Oh, yeah!!

Check out this fabulous grammar game for elementary kids that I love playing too! We laugh like crazy!

Click HERE if you think you might want one for your homeschool.

DK Games: Silly Sentences Game Review - Grammar for Kids


Ready to feel Confident and Successful as you homeschool?

Register below to watch my FREE CLASS

Confident Homeschool Secrets

7 Ways to Create a Homeschool That Works (and you LOVE!)

Save for later by pinning to your favorite Pinterest board!

Grammar game review Silly Sentences homeschool
Grammar game review Silly Sentences homeschool
Grammar game review Silly Sentences homeschool
silly sentences dk games grammar game review
Teach Writing with Rory Story Cubes Review - Let Your Imagination Roll

Teach Writing with Rory Story Cubes {Review}

One of my favorite little writing tools … easy to pull out. Easy to use. Lot’s of fun.

A writing staple for my homeschool.

Click HERE to check it out for your homeschool.