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Imitation in Writing

by Matt Whitling

Reviewed by Martha Robinson

Purchase details: Imitation in Writing series by Matt Whitling, spiral bound paperbacks, $20 each. Published by Logos School. Please support by buying these books from our Christian Book Distributors links shown in the text below.

Matt Whitling, a father of five, principal, and part-time sixth grade teacher at the classical Christian Logos School in Moscow, Idaho, has written a series of consumable writing workbooks for grammar stage students. Just as great artists begin by copying the masterpieces made before their time, students learn to outline and rewrite stories from the past using narration and a simple form. While clearly written from a classroom perspective, the Imitation in Writing series may be easily adapted to homeschool use. Each of the books in the series is described below.

Aesop's Fables -- Aesop's Fables, the first of the Imitation in Writing series, is for third grade and up. A simple fable is shown at the top of each page. Below it is a form on which the child lists characters, defines vocabulary, and outlines the fable using keywords. The child is then ready to rewrite the fable using the vocabulary words. He may either be creative with the characters and setting while using the same plot or rewrite the original story. A rough draft and a final draft are recommended. A completed sample form and a third grade student's reproduction of "The Fox and the Woodcutter" are given as examples, and a grading chart is included. The program covers forty fables.

Fairy Tales -- Fairy Tales, recommended for third grade and up, continues in a similar fashion to Aesop's Fables. Twenty not-politically-corrected stories, many by Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm or drawn from The Arabian Knights, are included. After narrating the story, the child fills out the form including vocabulary, plot, characters, and in one case, Bible verses. The plot is divided into three sections, and the child is asked to write a simple sentence describing each step in the plot to complete the form. Then, the child writes the first draft. After the parents help edit the story, the child writes the final draft. Two examples of reproductions are provided, and answers to all the plot outlines are included in the back of the book.

Greek Heroes -- Greek Heroes, recommended for fifth grade and up, contains twenty-five stories of Perseus, Jason, Hercules, and Theseus. The same technique used in Fairy Tales is seen here; however, the vocabulary increases in difficulty, and the stories are longer. The techniques taught in Andrew Pudewa's Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (IEW) are to be specified by the teacher in the "additional requirements" section of the lesson form for the student to include in the completed re-telling. The completed outline charts are shown in the back along with a Roman/Greek god name chart and a glossary of mythological terms and gods.

Greek Myths -- Twenty-seven myths appear in Greek Myths, recommended for fifth grade and up. This book is written in the same format as the Greek Heroes book.

The Grammar of Poetry -- The Grammar of Poetry, recommended for fifth grade and up, contains thirty lessons explaining the figures of speech, or tropes, along with the concepts of meter and rhyme to give the student the opportunity to read poetry for enjoyment and to write his own poems. Each lesson covers a single concept and offers exercises to teach each point. Challenging riddles appear at the end of most lessons, and the solutions may be found on Logos School's website. Students are asked to imitate six poems during the course. A final examination and a thirty-three page anthology of poems are included.

The final chapter of The Grammar of Poetry covers euphemisms. This section may require your consideration for age appropriateness with your child. Here is the introductory material to consider:

"Many euphemisms are used in order to be polite, and they are appropriate. Others are used to cloak sin in inoffensive language so that it seems acceptable or less sinful; this, of course, is inappropriate."

A. Circle the euphemisms below that you have heard before. Underline those which you use regularly."

Affair for fornication or adultery
Heck for Hell
Remains for corpse, body, stiff
Love child for illegitimate child
Gosh for God

A teacher's manual is available for $10. It includes a few tips for the teacher and the workbook pages with the answers handwritten, but it does not include the anthology of poems. Mr. Whitling suggests that this program should be covered early in the year so that the student has time to experiment with writing his own poems before year-end. The Grammar of Poetry could easily be used as a self-study program for a motivated or an older student.

Recommendation: The Imitation in Writing series is a helpful, but not required, supplement to Andrew Pudewa's Teaching Writing: Structure and Style program. The series could be used as a stand-alone for anyone familiar with the modeling technique. I particularly like the challenging vocabulary study included in each lesson. In order to add in the "additional requirements" for Greek Myths and Greek Heroes, you will need to have some familiarity with Andrew Pudewa's "dress-ups."

The Grammar of Poetry offers a concise and interesting explanation of poetic concepts. Except for the situation in the last lesson as noted above, this program would work well for students of grammar, logic, or rhetoric stages. resources related to this review:'s Language Arts Resources Section for tons of ideas, links, and more!
Review of Advanced Communication Series by Andrew Pudewa
Review of Teaching Writing: Structure and Style by Andrew Pudewa
Review of Bible Based Writing Lessons in Structure and Style
Review of Writing Trails in American History, an IEW supplement

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