Making a Case for Making Your Own Books

i dont like to write

My son does not like to write. He fights it. He doesn’t mind drawing and he likes to use his hands in other ways to create, and occasionally, when he gets his head set on something he will do the writing he needs to do to accomplish his goal. But if I ask him to write a paragraph about what he learned about weather or the American Revolution, we usually end up frustrated.

He likes comic books and creating his own, so in response to his aversion to writing I tried to come up with a way to help him make his own books based on the subjects we are studying. I call them Fast Five Fact Books. Each page has space to write one fact he learned about his chosen subject, plus space to draw an illustration. He writes really big, so just in case, I add extra lined pages. Also, sometimes he gets inspired to do more drawing or creating so I add extra blank pages for illustrations. For example, when he did the George Washington book, he used a blank page to make a timeline showing the order in which the facts he wrote about occurred.

He’s in first grade and still has trouble with the concept of summarizing, so the last few that we did I let him write facts from the book without forcing him to “put it in his own words.” We’ll get to that point, but right now it just isn’t worth the fight. Right now, I just want him to get comfortable writing. The nice thing about the Fact Books is that he can grow with them. They don’t pigeonhole him into a certain level. He can write what he needs to or wants to and I can help guide him along the way. Either way, it is a great way to help us reinforce what he is learning, and get in some much-needed writing practice.

These are a lot like notebook pages, but to him, the value is seeing that he has completed his own book that he can assemble and go back to read later. Because he loves to read. Currently, we are putting ours together in a three-ring binder so he knows where they all are and can go back to that binder to get the book he wants whenever he wants. I’ll be posting more of these very soon but in the meantime, here are the Fast Five Fact Books we have completed:

Fast Five Fact Book George Washington

Helen Keller Fast Five Fact Book

Clara Barton Fast Five Fact Book

Here are some other resources we are adding to our collection to help us with writing:

Write Your Own Story Book  Write and Draw Your Own Comics  i love words  i love people

Usborne Publishing Ltd. (UK) has no connection with these pages and does not sponsor or support their content.



Women’s History Month

womens history month

March is almost over and while I intended to post this information much earlier in the month, busy-work kept me from reaching my goals. I found out early in the month that March is Women’s History Month. It began in 1981 as a week-long celebration and has received month-long recognition since 1995. Oddly, I don’t ever remember there being special studies dedicated to Women’s History Month during my school years, although we did occasionally touch briefly on important women from history throughout the year.

I wanted to be sure to emphasize the important roles women have played throughout history, so I made a point to dedicate some time and energy this month to teaching about some strong, passionate women that created change in our world, or at least left a really big mark. These are our subjects:

Clara Barton – Founder of the Red Cross; Provided supplies to doctors on the battlefield during the Civil War; Helped find missing soldiers; Fought for women’s right to vote.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton – Women’s rights pioneer; Helped women win the right to own property; Wrote an amendment to the constitution with Susan B. Anthony that would give women the right to vote – the law was written in the 1870s but was not passed until 1920, 18 years after Elizabeth’s death.

Harriet Tubman – Conductor of the Underground Railroad; Occasionally spied for the Union; Worked as a nurse in Union hospitals; Raised money to fund two schools for freed slaves; Built a home for the disabled and elderly.

Sojourner Truth – Abolitionist; Women’s rights pioneer; Met Abraham Lincoln and helped run the Freedmen’s Hospital for former slaves.

Sally Ride – First American woman in space; youngest American astronaut (32-years old);Professor at Stanford and University of California San Diego; Part time director of the California Space Institute.

Amelia Earhart – Famous female record-breaking pilot.

Helen Keller – Became blind, deaf, and mute at 18 months due to an unknown illness. With help from Annie Sullivan she learned to communicate through finger-spelling, reading lips, and eventually she learned to speak. College graduate; Worked with the American Foundation for the Blind speaking about the needs and abilities of the blind; Visited other countries to address the needs of the blind.

Mother Jones – Labor leader; Worked for fair labor, minimum wages, shorter work days, and child-labor laws.

Jane Goodall – Animal scientist; Studied the Chimpanzees and published many findings from her research; Founded the Gombe Stream Research Center in Africa; Speaks to address the need for conservation and protection for chimpanzees.

Elizabeth Blackwell – America’s first woman doctor; Trained nurses to work in Union Army hospitals during the Civil War; Opened the New York Infirmary in 1857 and it is still in operation as the New York University Downtown Hospital; Secretly taught classes to children of slaves.

Annie Oakley – Famous female sharpshooter; performed all over the world; Friend of Chief Sitting Bull; Star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

Who Was Clara BartonWho Was Clara Barton?

Annie oakleyWho Was Annie Oakley?

Amelia Earhart Who Was Amelia Earhart?

I made a few booklets for my son to use along with our reading. I call them “Fast Five Fact Books”. They are basically a grown-up version of the mini-books they made in kindergarten, but they require a bit more effort. He chose who to read about, then he wrote one fact per page about the subject of his reading. Also, on each page I gave him space to draw an illustration for the fact he chose to write about. Once he completed each book, we stapled it together with the cover page and he has his own books to come back and read later if he chooses. We are putting all of ours in a three-ring binder so they are easy to find. Here are the two booklets we’ve completed about famous women from history:

Clara Barton Fast Five Fact Book

Helen Keller Fast Five Fact Book

These include additional pages for writing and illustrating as well as a few notebooking pages with writing prompts. I also put together a set of notebooking pages about Knights and a Fast Five Fact Book for George Washington. You can download those here:

Fast Five Fact Book George Washington

Knights Notebooking Pages


Happy Spring!