- Paperback: 458 pages
- Publisher: Charlotte Mason Research & Supply Company (April 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 188920904X
- ISBN-13: 978-1889209043
- Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.6 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Story Starters: Helping Children Write Like They've Never Written Before
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About the Author
Karen Andreola is the author of the perennial bestseller A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning™. The Andreolas created The Gentle Art of Learning™ as their company brand - bringing Charlotte Mason into the 21st century. It represents their personal interpretation and application of the Charlotte Mason method of education during the years they homeschooled their children from kindergarten through grade 12. The Andreolas were responsible for the modern day revival of the Charlotte Mason method of education dating back to 1988 when they republished Charlotte Mason's 6 vol. Original Homeschooling Series. The modern day Charlotte Mason movement has been based largely on Karen's practical interpretations and writings. Karen was editor of the Parents' Review Magazine for Home Training and Culture for 6 years, conducted and promoted home support groups, wrote for Practical Homeschooling Magazine, Homeschooling Today, and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. She has been a keynote speaker for the Charlotte Mason method, The Gentle Art of Learning™, along with other topics such as parenting and Mother Culture®. She is also one of America's most respected homeschool product reviewers. Her other books include: Pocketful of Pinecones, Lessons at Blackberry Inn, Simply Grammar, Story Starters, and a revision of the classic Beautiful Girlhood. Ladies will enjoy reading her inspiring blog: Moments with Mother Culture®.
Top customer reviews
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We worked on only three of the areas for improving that Karen discusses near the end of the book: sensory language, vivid verbs, and artful adjectives. You can see each of these elements shining through in last paragraph of one story. The writer is a girl who struggles mightily with reading. She wrote long and engaging stories about animals. Andreola's method really let her skill shine through...and I hope it built confidence in this struggling student.
"Roland had just enough for his bike. He raced into town with Dingle and Little One [donkeys]. Click Clack. Click Clack. Click Clack. He bought a brand new 1964 sky blue bike. It glimmered all the way back to his cottage. Little One and Dingle ran all the way beside him. A boy couldn't be happier--a new bike and two faithful friends. They lived happy, happy, happy ever after."
As the instructor, I was heartened to see that boys were also engaged by the stories. But I noticed that the boys who dictated their stories composed with more development and style than boys who were left to draft independently (by their own choice). So maybe boys (or less experienced writers) really need to be encouraged to start with the "oral narration" or "dictation" method.
A couple of issues for consideration: story comprehension, writing process (prewriting), and age.
First, Andreola's style is quite literary and most of the story starters are set in a more distant past (100 years ago or more). This was challenging for some of the students who have not been exposed to the language and background information of older literature. I wouldn't expect it to be such a problem for a child who has been receiving a Charlotte Mason style education with lots of older books read to them.
Second, I do suggest that parents watch how students respond right after they have heard/read the story starter. Andreola has written dramatic and moving story beginnings, and sometimes the student can just leap in with ideas for continuing. But many students will really benefit from some prewriting activity (brainstorming, graphic organizer, jotting down ideas). Andreola provides thoughtful questions to guide the student who wants/needs such help in continuing the storyline. But her book does not really lay out any more structured prewriting activities. So it's up to the parent to walk students through the prewriting process if they aren't ready to do it on their own. That said, the students were "bursting with ideas" when we did a brainstorming activity together on one of the story starters.
In addition, I appreciate how Karen's story starters present characters who are faced with a crisis that develops or reveals virtue. But I noticed that these young writers rarely engaged the story at that level. Perhaps older students might wrestle with those character issues more and themselves grow in character in the process.
Finally, I have extracted a quote from each student below, so that you can see the level of quality language that is inspired by the Story Starters. I've corrected spelling and some grammatical errors, but none of the word choices have been altered.
Marvelous Exertion (heroic horse)
Teardrop was swimming toward shore, and then everyone started shouting, "Teardrop!"
Up, Up, and Away (hot air balloon)
...as he looked at his handy compass he started to weep just a bit, of knowing he had NO idea of where he and his panicking dog Jip were...
...there were two black eyes staring at him. The hunter sprang away from the beast.
Before Alden could see the tiger, the tiger slipped into the river and slowly made its way over to the side Alden was. With one leap, the tiger got onto the shore.
He lifted his gun, and "BANG", Alden missed. Again he aimed, and "CLICK." "Oh No!" exclaimed Alden, "My gun is empty." He sighed, and took out his ax, and charged towards the tiger.
Then he heard sticks and leaves crackling, then a soft growl.
He wondered if he could stab the angry lion, but the sharp knife did not reach.
The family was snuggled up by the fire waiting for the rain to stop. When suddenly the door, which wasn't latched, flew open and water poured in.
It was full moon tides. The powerful waves crested into the house.
Without waking up the babies, she raced down the stairs where Mr. Robbins stood wet and shivering. She embraced him joyfully and wrapped a warm, wool blanket around him.
Morning Wake-Up Call
[Her mom] said, "Are you ok?!"
"I'm fine," said Rosie. But just after she said that, a crab ate her whole!
Vacation at the Seashore (treasure)
Suddenly, as if magic, they saw a great, big brown wooden crate fast approaching them! The second it hit the shore, Sinclair ripped out his pocket knife and sliced the thin rope around it.
Jasper Saves the Baby
The mangy dog had pushed Japer to the ground, then he attacked the baby. Mother screamed.