Who: Elementary-aged students (The publisher recommends the books for children in grades 3-6.)

What: Learn about different types of writing--non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and drama--and the specific elements required for each type; get practice by studying photos, considering the authors' questions about them, and doing exercises and assignments inspired by them.

Let me give you the flavor of these books which are written by different women but follow the same structure.

Each two-page spread has a focus. In Picture Yourself Writing Non-Fiction, for example, the author focuses on Detailing the Facts, Sensory Details, Unique Comparisons (similes and metaphors), Characters, Dialogue, Plot, Setting, Scene, Purpose and Audience, Point of View, and Bias. She explains, defines, and gives examples on the first page. On the second, she includes a photo with a "Write about It!" prompt.

These books include everything students need for independent study. Concentrating on one two-page spread a day will get them through one book every two weeks. If they do this for all four books, they will  know the elements of four types of writing and have a collection of their own pieces two months later.

If your students do an exercise or assignment they would like to share, post them in the comments or submit them to the Student Showcase.
 
 
Note: This assignment is adapted from Writing Fix and written directly to the student.

Read an excellent example of showing vs. telling in Roald Dahl's The Twits.  It's called "Dirty Beards."  (Warning:  I expect you will squint your eyes, wrinkle your nose, stick out your tongue, and say, "Yuck" as you read this.  I can picture this beautiful face in my mind!)

It begins like this:
"As you know, an ordinary unhairy face like yours or mine simply gets a bit smudgy if it is not washed often enough, and there's nothing so awful about that.

But a hairy face is a very different matter.  Things cling to hairs, especially food.  Things like gravy go right in among the hairs and stay there.  You and I can wipe our smooth faces with a washcloth and we quickly look more or less all right again, but the hairy man cannot do that.
And ends like this:
What I am trying to tell you is that Mr. Twit was a foul and smelly old man."
Now, Mr. Dahl could have just written "Mr. Twit was a foul and smelly old man" and gone on with his story, but he created a very vivid picture in our minds of exactly what he meant by foul and smelly.  Which one do you think is better?

I would like you to do something similar.  Think of a basic sentence, using a similar pattern. Maybe you want to include two or three adjectives like he did.  Then see if you can create a vivid picture for your audience by showing us what those words really mean.  You can follow Dahl's pattern here, too, tacking your original sentence on the end.

Actually, there is one more sentence to the chapter, which I didn't include.  It says:
He was also an extremely horrid old man as you will find out in a moment.
I wonder what he means.  I really don't know, since I haven't read the rest of the book.  Maybe you can write your own description before reading Dahl's.

If your students complete this assignment, please submit it to the Student Showcase.
 
 
If your elementary-aged students are ready to write a research report, here are two resources to help them.
Just the Facts walks students through a basic overview of each of the tools they will use in their report, from starting with a topic to making a bibliography.
Don't Be a Copycat!  is intended for the older elementary crowd, its content going deeper, including more detailed information about plagiarizing, assessing sources, taking notes, and citing sources. As the title indicates, the goal is to teach students how to avoid plagiarism.

Writing a research report need not be daunting. With their step-by-step instructions and conversational tone, both of these books will ground your children for the challenge before them.