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Writing & Rhetoric - A Writing Curriculum Review and a Giveaway

Curriculum choosing and buying can be a very daunting task. So many subjects to cover, so many curriculum to browse though, and so many companies to consider.

Today I would like to share with you a product and a company that I have come to hold in high regards.

When it comes to teaching writing to the boys I was not sure which way to go, as I would not exactly consider myself a great writer. Then came along Writing and Rhetoric from Classical Academic Press.

I heard about it when the second book in a series of twelve just released, and I was immediately intrigued.

You see I homeschool classically, and writing is an integral part of it. Classical Academic Press puts out products geared towards classical homeschooling, so there you had  the first common ground.

I was searching for something that would teach them what writing was, and guide them through the process incrementally, without bombarding them with pages and pages of writing right from the start. I found what I was looking for in Writing and Rhetoric.

What is Writing and Rhetoric?

Writing and Rhetoric is a program that is founded on the principle of what is referred to as Progymnasmata. What is progymnasmata, you ask? It is this idea that children learn best  by imitating good examples. Good writing is nothing new, and this philosophy, therefore, taps on this fact and seeks to teach children to write by studying and imitating other proven writings.

How does it work?

Emphasis is put on reading good pieces of writing, focussed practice exercises intended to gradually build up writing skills.  Each book in the series adds new skills, while cementing or reviewing previous skills.

As a true classical curriculum, it makes use of the very important skills of narration and dictation, which are integral components of the program.

The goal is to teach kids what good writing looks like, think about the ideas presented and how they are communicated, then learn the specific steps to creating good writing, to eventually writing their own piece of writing through gradual practice.

The program consists of 12 - 1 semester books, covering grade 3-9. So far, 5 books have been released and the 6th is due this summer.

Book 1 in the series: Fables, focuses on comprehension skills, and introduces the skills of summarizing and amplification through the use of description and dialogue. It also teaches:

  • to identify different kinds of stories: fable, myth, legends etc..
  • to determine beginning, middle and end of stories 
  • to determine point of view, such as first person or third person retelling

Book 2: Narrative I, builds on the skills of the first book, and also reinforces the skills of identifying parts of a story. It also adds the skills of identifying the main idea as well as the conflict of the story.

Book 3: Narrative II, introduces students to new genres of story such as historical narratives and the skill of differentiating between facts and opinions. Other skills covered are:
  • Outlining stories
  • Practice of story beginning
  • Protagonist and antagonist
  • Identifying the 5 Ws
  • Elocution skills
Book 4: Chreia & Proverbs, seeks to use all of the skills learned so far and learn to write a six-paragraph essay on the basis of a saying or action.

Book 5: Refutation and Confirmation, targets the skills of refutation, where they learn to refute and/or criticize parts of a narrative that are doubtful, and they also learn to defend (confirmation) certain parts of a narrative that are clear or probable. Emphasis is on writing essays that contain sound arguments which explain their opinions. Along the way they will learn to:
  • Understand comparison and contrast
  • introduce and conclude an essay
  • Use direct quotes to support an argument
  • Revise writing
Book 6: Common Place, the last book in print so far, extends the skills of refutation and confirmation through the writing of essays that are arguments against or in favor of vices and virtues. As they develop the art of persuasive writing and oration, they will learn rhetorical devices such as "The Contrary", and how to invent soliloquies.

How do we use it?

These books are very easy to use and implement. They come with a suggested weekly schedule at the beginning of the book.

Each book is divided into 4 major sections, after the reading or listening of the chapter story:
  • Tell It Back - narration
  • Talk About It - discussion time about the story which encourages critical thinking
  • Go deeper - encourages and facilitates further thinking about the story
  • Writing Time - copywork, dictation, sentence play, copiousness, dialogue and amplification (which practices grammar, descriptions and syntax skills).
We school 4 times of week, and we did our writing, on three of those days.

Day 1: Tell It Back and Talk About It, and sometimes some of the Go Deeper
Day 2: Go Deeper and sometimes Narration and Dictation from the Writing Time section.
Day 3: Writing Time

Our Opinion

My boys, who never enjoyed penmanship, enjoy going through this series. My oldest who is a writer at heart (just not on a piece of paper), loves and has been seeking to apply everything he learns from these books. You would hear him mention the concepts he learns as he creates his own stories.

I have been using Writing & Rhetoric for the past 1 1/2 year, having started with book 1 with then, a 3rd grader and a 5th grader. As I mentioned, because they do not like penmanship I had stayed away from a lot of writing curriculum because they required way too much writing from them. With my oldest entering Middle School I felt that I really needed to have a writing curriculum in the line up and Writing and Rhetoric appeared to fit the bill perfectly. Absolutely no regrets!

I love how the first books require little actual writing, and more thinking and understanding, but as you move up the books, it gradually increases the expectation.

Though the main focus of the books is getting a hand on the process and components of good writing, emphasis is nevertheless put on the details and mechanics of writing in the sentence play, such as proper use of adjectives and literary devices.

Each set of books includes:
  • A student's book
  • A teacher's manual, which has all of the student text plus teacher's answers and lesson objectives
  • An MP3 of all the stories covered in he book

We absolutely love this writing curriculum and are planning to stick with it till the end. I cannot wait to see the next few books and witness my kids' writing soar and deepen.

Classical Academic Press always offers an extensive sample of their products, so go on over and check Writing & Rhetoric for yourself.

Now, for you my readers I have two wonderful offers:

First: Classical Academic Press is generously offering a %20 off any order on the Classical Academic Press website (excepted Singapore Math and live, online classes . 
The following code code is valid until July 20th, So hurry!

Second: they also are offering a free set of Writing and Rhetoric Book 1 to one lucky winner.

Disclaimer: I was offered a complete set of Writing & Rhetoric in exchange for my honest review. I did not receive any other compensation.


I'd love to win because I use the classical method in teaching the kids.
We have loved everything we have used from Classical Academic Press & I would love to use this one too.
Beth Hollmann said…
I would love to take a look at this to use with my little guy!
Carrie said…
I have been looking at this program for my girls and I would love to try it out.
This curriculum looks wonderful! Thanks for the chance :0)
Unknown said…
CAP makes wonderful products, this being one that I do not own.
Cari said…
I am looking for a writing curriculum, and CAP is one of my choices. It would be nice to get it for free! :)
Anna said…
I'm just learning about CAP and bought Latin for my 3rd grader. I am so excited and would love to try out this product too! Thank you for the chance.
Ann-Marie said…
We also truly love CAP and thanks so much for the chance to enter!
Lisa said…
We LOVE the Latin for Children and are trying out the Greek for Children this year also! We LOVE CAP, and would LOVE to try out their writing program!!
Eunice said…
I have been wanting to try this curriculum!
I would like to win, because my daughter's interest in fables, myths, and legends has increased this year. If I won this giveaway, I would have more direction when teaching her and I could focus on these types of literature in addition to comprehension. I would be able to integrate reading and writing using a classical method. Thank you for the opportunity.
Unknown said…
I think this would be a wonderful addition to my daughters load this year. I love CAP!
Eunice said…
Fables sound really fun to learn more about!
Donna Marie NJ said…
I would love to win this book! I have a large family and I really want to make sure my younger ones get a great start and solid base with thoughtful writing. I only discovered CAP last year and I wish I had found them sooner!
Eunice said…
The more reviews I read about this curriculum the more I think I will like it for my kids! Thank you for the opportunity.
Donna Marie NJ said…
I have read so much about this and the other CAP products that I am excited to make them a part of our homeschool curriculum!
Donna Marie NJ said…
I feel kind of silly leaving the same post over and over, but here goes... I have read so much about this and the other CAP products that I am excited to make them a part of our homeschool curriculum!
Donna Marie NJ said…
I love CAP, they challenge without frustrating my children. I want to use more CAP items!
I would love to win this curricula to take my daughter's writing to the next level. Challenge her a bit yet still have fun.
Diane Estrella said…
I think my son would benefit from this product and increase his thinking skills.
Donna Marie NJ said…
I actually just purchased a CAP writing program for an older student just recently. We are enjoying it so much that we would like to start our younger students on this program. I would love to own all of them! Oh, if only I had unlimited funds for curricula!! ;)
Jen said…
I am wondering if you are still using this program? How did it work out for you? It is always nice to read these initial reviews, but I like to find out how long it lasted with the reviewers:-) I have been researching, researching, researching trying to find the right curriculum to teach writing to our kids. Thanks so much!
Joelle said…
Jen, I am still using this series. We are finishing book 5 and going into book 6 in the fall. I still like it and my boys are still enjoying it. It has taught them a lot, and the nice things is that it is not overwhelming. It is slow but to the point with lot of practice.

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