Both of the boys made huge strides with the actual act of writing this year. This was the year that J learned cursive, starting work on it right after the holidays and quickly achieving competency with it. All of his school work is now done in cursive, he is allowed to choose either cursive or printing for his journal.
Zoo Boy also made an enormous amount of progress with his handwriting. He still struggles with it a bit, but most of his resistance is gone (as long as I keep his writing assignments a reasonable length), and he's slowly becoming more confident about putting pencil to paper. His pencil grip was helped out by his Occupational Therapist's suggestion to have him hold a little piece of clay with his last two fingers while he writes, and he now immediately reaches for a bit of clay whenever we sit down to write. He still needs a lot of practice with handwriting, and when we take a couple days off he starts to forget how certain letters are made. So we'll be continuing into the summer with it.
For creative writing, I look mostly to their journals to see what they are doing on their own, since journaling is the one assignment I never make suggestions about or critique. It is an entirely child-led activity (other than telling them that they need to write SOMETHING in it), so they are allowed to choose content and writing style, and I don't correct spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors.
J's definitely taking the "creative" part seriously, and has developed a writing style that is clearly his own, addressing potential readers and joking with them with ease. This is today's journal entry.
And this is J's journal entry from last week. One of the things I'm having him work on is planning out his page so that everything he wants to put there will fit, rather than running over onto an extra page. That can be difficult sometimes, but he's getting pretty good at condensing what he wants to say so it can fit.
Zoo Boy has just recently started writing about actual events in his life, after spending most of the year writing about Pokemon and Bakugan and other make-believe creatures. Today's journal entry (at left) is a wonderful example of his progress with this! It is also, I believe, the first time he's actually written in a sentence format rather than in phrases. We'll keep going all summer with the journals as well, as it would be a shame to risk losing this progress. Besides which, the kids really enjoy the journaling, I'm not sure they'd let me stop.
Here's a very involved journal entry from Zoo Boy, from last week. He decided he was going to draw Antarctica and the animals from there (and a polar bear, which he threw in just to be funny, then made him say "Hey, take me away, I don't even live here!" He went on to do a full key of all the animals. Quite involved, this took him two days to complete.