Writing & Rhetoric Book 1: Fable Student Edition

Writing & Rhetoric Book 1: Fable Student Edition

# 010221

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Item #: 010221
ISBN: 9781600512162
Grades: 3-5

Publisher Description:

A Creative Approach to the Classical Progymnasmata—Think of the progymnasmata as a step-by-step apprenticeship in the art of writing and rhetoric. What is an apprentice? It is a young person who is learning a skill from a master teacher. Our students will serve as apprentices to the great writers and great stories of history.

Students are often expected to write with no clear model before them. Modern composition scolds traditional writing instruction as rote and unimaginative. It takes imitation to task for a lack of freedom and personal expression. And yet, effective communication from writer to reader always requires some sort of form and structure. Many of history’s greatest writers learned by imitation. In other words, writing takes the same kind of determined study as ballet or diving. Creativity uses conventional form as a stage or a springboard from which to launch grand jetés and somersaults. Too often students are expected to tackle complex writing assignments without learning the necessary intermediate steps. The assumption is that because most everyone can speak English well enough to be understood, and form letters with a pencil, that everyone should be able to write well. Yet how many of us would expect a child to sit at a piano, without piano lessons, and play a concerto? Writing is never automatic.

The Writing & Rhetoric series method employs fluent reading, careful listening, models for imitation, and progressive steps. It assumes that students learn best by reading excellent, whole-story examples of literature and by growing their skills through imitation. Each exercise is intended to impart a skill (or tool) that can be employed in all kinds of writing and speaking. The exercises are arranged from simple to more complex. What’s more, the exercises are cumulative, meaning that later exercises incorporate the skills acquired in preceding exercises. This series is a step-by-step apprenticeship in the art of writing and rhetoric.

Fable, the first book in the Writing & Rhetoric series, teaches students the practice of close reading and comprehension, summarizing a story aloud and in writing, and amplification of a story through description and dialogue. Students learn how to identify different kinds of stories; determine the beginning, middle, and end of stories; recognize point of view; and see analogous situations, among other essential tools. The Writing & Rhetoric series recovers a proven method of teaching writing, using fables to teach beginning writers the craft of writing well. This is the first in a series of 12 books that will train students over 6 years, starting in grades 3 or 4 and up.

Lessons include:

  • Narration/telling it back (creating a natural sense of outline/sequence)
  • Analogy—learning how this story is like/different from other stories
  • Comprehension
  • Sentence play/word play
  • Rewriting (gaining a sense of internal structure of a piece of writing)
  • Summary
  • Amplification
  • Rewriting given stories
  • Speak It—experiencing the story from your own mouth (orally) with an audience for a different point of contact, often with some sort of change than the first time you heard it.

See the Support tab above for suggested schedule and rubrics.

This is a consumable item.

Category Description for Writing & Rhetoric Book 1: Fable:

Includes 14 lessons, each utilizing one of Aesop's Fables. Skills covered include summary, amplification, main idea, followingan outline, and point of view and include the student's writing his own fable. Both books are about 150 pgs.

Category Description for Writing & Rhetoric:

What! Another writing program? It's easy to imagine such a question popping up since we do have a number of excellent writing programs already available. This one is a worthy addition. First of all, it follows the classical model for teaching writing (and rhetoric) skills. What exactly does that mean? It means a program that is, in essence, a step-by-step apprenticeship in the art of writing and rhetoric. It's a program that believes that imitation is the foundation for learning writing and at the same time provides an easy to use framework for starting with models of good writing, building a "conversation in the head" (in other words, content through discussion and writing exercises), and for following the persuasive writing system developed by the ancient Romans. This system - the progymnasmata (progym, for short) - takes the student from simple retelling skills through the more and more complex skills of reporting, narrating, praising, comparison, persuasion, and defense. Modern writing borrows heavily from these skills, but the underlying methodology is distinctly different. Modern writing courses emphasize mastering the writing process and gaining experience with the different forms of writing. Accordingly, they often start with a blank sheet of paper and a brainstorming session. The progym, on the other hand, starts with well-known and excellent writing models (also known as classic literature).

Secondly, this program is user-friendly with virtually no teacher prep needed and the possibility of a minimum of teacher-student interaction (although interaction is always a plus). The publisher is the same one who has given us Latin for Children and Latin Alive! They know how to do user-friendly (and appealing). Even if you had no inkling of the meaning of a classical writing program, this would be an excellent choice. The Student Books provide instruction and examples with plenty of space to write. The Teacher Books have identical pages to the student books but add grey boxes which provide additional info, writing samples, answers and talking points. The two books are designed to be used together, and I think it would be unwise and difficult to try to use one without the other. Packages are available for most levels.

The lessons follow a pattern. The teacher reads through the text followed by a subsequent reading by the student (in upper levels, the student reads through the text examples). Narration (Tell It Back), discussion (Talk About It), and comprehension (Go Deeper) are all part of this initial look at the source material. Then starts the writing exercises (Write & Discuss). To give you an example of these, from one lesson in Book 2, copywork, dictation, sentence play, copiousness (using synonyms), and amplification (rewriting). Later in the lesson there is a time for reading/presenting the lesson's written work and separate Speak It exercises. It's suggested that this writing series would alternate with a grammar program (although no recommendations are made).

Each book is a semester's worth of writing instruction, with a total of twelve books planned. In a perfect world, a student would start in 3rd grade and complete the series in 8th grade. If your world isn't quite perfect, this series could be started anytime up to 5th or even 6th grade (in my opinion). Students beginning this program should know how to identify and create a complete sentence. It is possible to enter the program at upper levels but requires careful evaluation of the student's writing experience and the scope of the level. Some familiarity with the Progym series would also be helpful. You may wonder how this series interfaces with Common Core. The publishers note that their program "covers a host of these standards." But they further note that "while these goals are worthwhile, the Progym derive their strength from the incremental and thorough development of each form of writing. The Writing & Rhetoric series does not skip from form to form and leave the others behind, but rather builds a solid foundation of mastery by blending the forms."

Optional MP3 audio files are available for some volumes from the publisher's website. These feature Dr. Christopher Perrin, his wife, Christine Perrin and/or others, reading the fables, myths, historical narratives and other source material used in the books aloud, to either add an auditory dynamic to your lesson or help auditory learners enhance their understanding of the material. ~ Janice

Category Description for COMPLETE ENGLISH PROGRAMS:

These materials offer complete coverage of both writing and grammar.

Primary Subject
Grade Start
Grade End
Brand Name
Classical Academic Press
1.1 (lbs.)
11.0" x 8.5" x 0.62"
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Why did you choose this?
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I chose these because I like the system they build on and I like that it is cultivating critical thinking while also teaching writing. Hitting two birds with one stone. These were highly recommended by a friend.
Shannon S on Jun 1, 2022
Other teachers at my school spoke highly of it. It is classical and fun.
Wendi S on Jan 20, 2021
I chose these because I like the system they build on and I like that it is cultivating critical thinking while also teaching writing. Hitting two birds with one stone. These were highly recommended by a friend.
Shannon S on Jun 1, 2022
This composition work text based on fables is rich, thorough, and fun! My second graders love it!
Wendi S on Jun 30, 2021
Other teachers at my school spoke highly of it. It is classical and fun.
Wendi S on Jan 20, 2021
We will begin this writing program 2nd semester.
VaLois on Dec 6, 2020
It was a recommendation
Ellen P on Nov 12, 2020
I'm excited to try this for the first time with a 7 year old and 9 year old together. The ideas behind how to learn writing make sense to me, and the exercises seem varied and interesting enough that I think both kids will like it.
Ruth L on Aug 6, 2020
Came highly recommended
Don W on Jul 31, 2020
Good reviews - fun and easy to follow . I hope my kid will like it.
Melody on Jul 30, 2020
I've heard this is an excellent way to teach writing following the progymnasmata.
Gabrielle on Jul 10, 2020
I've read a lot of reviews saying this program was a success with their reluctant writers so I'm trying it for my 4th grader.
Tara N on Jun 27, 2020
We enjoyed using Book 1 with my older student and are ready to introduce it to my younger one! Such a wonderful resource - gentle, thorough, varied, and enjoyable!
Emily H on May 5, 2020
I saw a friend use it in her homeschool and it has helped her children in writing. Also her college student said after years of using these writing skills she is more prepared for college.
Jaminthia P on Apr 19, 2020
FOr a co op I am part of
Cheryl R on Sep 9, 2019
for school
Jennie T on Jul 18, 2019
Trusting the reviews :)
Cathy S on Mar 20, 2019
Recommended by a friend for homeschooling
Elizabeth G on Jul 11, 2018
I am thankful for the amount of content this covers in a variety of ways.
Jeremy S on Apr 9, 2018
It looks interesting
Marie R on Apr 4, 2018
I have not used this before but have previewed a friend's and it looks like an excellent resource to teach writing. It will not be too technical for my 4th grader. I am a Charlotte Mason fan and this fits into that genre.
User on Jul 12, 2017
Needed for a co-op class.
Andrea P on Jul 9, 2017
second student
Kathleen R on Jun 28, 2017
This will be my third child using this program. The kids enjoy the humor in the book and appreciate the gentle writing guidance offered. They are never left not knowing what to write.
Kimberly V on Apr 27, 2017
I wanted something to supplement my 3rd grader's writing curriculum (we use WWE 3 primarily). I've used Narrative II and Chreia with my oldest and thought they were very well done.
Alyssa G on Nov 30, 2016
After much research, I felt this would be the most thorough, but gentle approach to teaching writing.
LeeAnn L on Oct 7, 2016
I like the approach this curriculum uses to teach writing.
Tara R on Sep 15, 2016
co-op curriculum
Kelleylynn B on Sep 7, 2016
CoOp Tutor requires this for her class.
Andrew S on Sep 1, 2016
required for Classical Education co-op
Christine D on Aug 22, 2016
It looks like it will provide a good template for writing-not just tell the kids to start writing!
Carlen D on Aug 20, 2016
My 10 year old daughter would stop asking me to order Writing and Rhetoric! She can't wait to start!
Jessica S on Jul 1, 2016
homeschool for my 3rd grade son
Kendra A on Jun 27, 2016
my first three daughters have started this series, and now it's time to start my fourth daughter. So far they all really enjoy the books.
Michaela C on Jun 21, 2016
It was a recommendation from a fellow homeschooler.
Melanie K on Jun 7, 2016
Recommended by a friend.
Laura P on May 23, 2016
I like the idea of using excellent classic literature examples to demonstrate the grammar of good writing. I anticipate this book will stimulate more love for excellence and creative expression in writing.
Cynthia S on Mar 11, 2016
I researched various writing curricula and settled on this one. It seems like a good mix of narration with introduction to some guided original writing.
Priscilla B on Jan 5, 2016
This composition work text based on fables is rich, thorough, and fun! My second graders love it!
Wendi S on Jun 30, 2021
We will begin this writing program 2nd semester.
VaLois on Dec 6, 2020
Do I need 3 student books for 3 students who are starting with book one at the same time? Could they just write answers in a notebook?
Ashley on Aug 21, 2020
BEST ANSWER: Yes, you could have them write answers in a notebook. Be aware there are a lot of fill-in-the-blank type exercises where writing on the page would be a lot more satisfying for the student. (Check out chapters 1-3 on the Classical Academic Press website to see what I mean!) Classical Academic Press gives permission to make copies of the book for students in a single household, so I scanned the pages I wanted ahead of time, and made multiple copies of them. More work for me, easier for the kids.
What would I need in addition to this to make a full language arts curriculum?
Ashley on Aug 21, 2020
BEST ANSWER: This program covers listening, speaking, and writing. Hence, literature is what is critical to add. However, the publisher recommends alternating this program with their Well Ordered Language program which covers grammar.
Do you need to buy teacher manual?
A shopper on Jul 11, 2016
BEST ANSWER: I think the teacher manual is a very helpful component to this curriculum. It does include answers to the questions in the student book and it also has helpful hints and more detailed explanation to use in teaching your child. This writing curriculum works best when the teacher-parent is involved in the writing assignments - I would not simply give your student the workbook and expect them to complete the lessons and writing projects on their own.
Is it necessary to have the teacher's edition?
A shopper on May 29, 2016
BEST ANSWER: Yes. I refer to it often. It has tips and helps in it and examples for the kids to hear when writing their own works. The examples are great for comparisons to their writing about where they could improve.
5.0 / 5.0
7 Reviews
5 Stars
4 Stars
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star
Rated 5 out of 5
Starts at the beginning
I have now used the Writing and Rhetoric series from Books 1 through 7 with my four daughters over the past two years. (This is a review of the entire series more than for any one specific book.) Two of my children are "reluctant writers," and for that reason I am especially impressed with this series. Even those two kids have completed all the work, as expected, with minimal difficulty. The amount of writing output from my "reluctant" 9th grader, who is now is Book 7, has amazed me. She started in Book 5, and I am glad that I trusted the process and that we got to where we are today. On the other hand, my oldest daughter is a natural writer, and has been creating a flow of stories ever since she could hold a pencil. This series has been a challenge for her to learn to think logically, organize her thoughts ahead of time, and use more advanced writing techniques (hyperbole, etc). So this is in NO WAY an easy or dumbed-down course. For both those reasons, I pretty much recommend this to anyone who asks me about writing curriculum now. As to specifics, I find this series ramps up quickly in difficulty. I used Books 1 and 2 in 4th grade, 3 and 4 in 5th grade, and after that I dropped to only one book a year. I am using a history course that also requires a decent amount of writing, and plowing through two of these books a year was just too much to handle when there is also writing in another course. If you do drop to one book a year, I would also recommend skipping Book 6. It's pretty much a repeat of Book 5. Doing both in one year (as scheduled) would make for good practice, but my oldest informed me that she felt like she wasted an entire year and didn't advance with it, and I had to agree with her. The rest of my daughters will skip Book 6. My youngest child has never done any other writing course beside this one, and I am was pleased that she could begin Book 1 with no prior instruction, and it took her step-by-step through everything she needed to know from the very beginning. I also appreciated the "reading comprehension" work that included every lesson. Good writing comes from good understanding! I personally love writing myself, and have not gotten any teacher guides to date. I would recommend the teacher's guides for those who might not love to write, as some assignments do require quite a bit of explaining on my part and deep thinking on the part of the students. Mostly the books are very independent, which I also hugely appreciate. My kids have done all the work on their own unless they get stuck on an assignment. I consider this course to be "hands off, with occasional tutoring needed." Well done!
April 22, 2021
over 2 years ago
Rated 5 out of 5
Children are enjoying it
We are only into the third lesson, but my children are really enjoying this. It's engaging and packed with knowledge. Yet it is not overwhelming. I like how the lesson is broken down into sub-lessons that can be split over several days.
February 5, 2019
over 3 years ago
Rated 5 out of 5
Painless Curriculum
My 10 year old son (4th Grade) is just finishing this book. He is enrolled in the online class through Classical Academic Press. Both the curriculum and online class have been motivating. The fables are engaging and inspiring. The skills taught and the ways they are practiced make it so easy for the students to apply to their writing.

I just pulled out WR Narrative 1 my son will be begin shortly, and he exclaimed, "Can I start reading the stories?"

I plan on continuing this curriculum. My daughter in high school, who overhears me working with my son, wishes it would have been available for her.
January 12, 2017
Rated 5 out of 5
Great for inspiring hesitant Writers
You know this mama loves the program if she just lost her entire review and I'm willing to retype it all!

I started this program with my late-birthday 3rd grader. If he had been a younger 3rd grader, I would have delayed starting the program to 2nd semester or 4th grade.

My son never knew what to write and hated writing, but that changed after we started W&R: Fable. He really enjoyed one-on-one time, when we read the lesson and fable and then discussed the "Talk About It" questions together. They also provide MP3 audio files or CDs for purchase, but I did find that connecting at the beginning of the lesson was important for my son. The discussion questions are a wonderful guide for the instructor/parent to assess comprehension, so this program can also be used to supplement a reading program.

Each lesson cumulatively builds on different skills, such as varying nouns, verbs, and adjectives to change elements of a sentence. There is also some play with sentence structure, rewriting the sentence so the direct object is the subject. The program itself doesn't bog the student down with these technicalities. Instead, it focuses on having the student play with the words and realizing you *can* rewrite one sentence in many different ways.

The writing assignments start with rewriting a fable by changing the characters and actions/conflict with keeping the same moral, graduating to writing an original fable with choosing a moral from a list. They also introduce the student to writing from the 1st person perspective. A fable is brief and has a simple structure, so my son did not find the assignments too overwhelming or intimidating.

We completed Book 1 and continued onto Book 2. My son loves the program so much, he requested we continue to do lessons in Book 3 periodically, despite us starting IEW with our CC Essentials class next year. He's actually asking for *extra* writing?? Talk about a turn around.

Despite my love for the program and my son's enthusiasm, I did notice that his sentence structure and grammar declined! He was so determined to fit in as many details from his flights of fancy as possible, he became prone to run on sentences. Hopefully we will fix that. If I did this year over, I would also teach more grammar and mechanics in tandem.

I think whether your child is a "natural" writer or a reluctant one, they would enjoy W&R: Fable.
May 25, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5
Fabulous Program!
I started my son on this program in 4th grade, when we transitioned him from public school to homeschool. He enjoyed the engaging stories, the touch of humor, and the freedom, with just the right amount of structure, to express himself. He is severely dysgraphic and didn't write anything in his public school classroom in 3rd grade, We are in 5th grade now and he writes for fun and wants to be an author when he grows up! He has filled TWO composition books with short stories and novelettes in the last 6 months.
April 28, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5
My kids love using this program, and I am very impressed with the quality of their work. They truly want to create a piece of writing that they would keep and share with others. I am so pleased that they discuss specific conventions of writing, answer questions in a variety of formats, and write a finished piece for each lesson. We all love it!
February 2, 2016
over 6 years ago
Rated 5 out of 5
Reluctant Writer
This program has inspired my 9-year-old son! Before beginning "Book 1: Fable," he had been a very reluctant writer. After only the first lesson, he wrote an outstanding original story completely on his own. My husband and I were amazed, and humbled, at how much was stored up in that little mind of his, just waiting to come out. I knew that the progymnasmata would provide for the needs of our classically trained children, but was completely intimidated by the few resources available to teach those exercises.

Thank you, Classical Academic Press, for this program. Please continue the good work of providing excellent classical materials that are manageable for home educators.
November 1, 2015
over 7 years ago

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