Ethan’s First Independent Story

18 Feb

Ethan has asked permission to hijack my blog to publish his story.

Now for your reading pleasure – Ethan’s story:

The  Spider  Who  Died


The   spider  got  a cup  on  him.

The   spider   got   the  cup  lifted  off  him.

The     soapy    water    killed   the   spider.

This is the first real story that he has written by himself.  The idea to write it was his own, the motivation to write it was his own and all the work is his own.  He did request sounding out help however as we do not encourage invented spelling in any form or fashion.  Ethan knows to locate the correct spellings of words or to ask for help.

I’m so impressed that he chose to write something and saw it through to publication without motivation from anyone but himself.  I have never “pushed” writing.   Ethan enjoys copying and writing for his own purposes.  He loves to copy forms and have people fill them in and he loves creating signs and labels.  He’s also got a large list of personally appealing words that he enjoys copying and using.  He enjoys writing what he wants to write but “school” writing is like torturing the poor child.  So I’ve tread carefully in the area of writing and nudged rather than demanded that he write this or that.  But it’s hard to not panic when your seven year old is still only writing basic sentences when his schooled peers are writing whole pages.

(Here are the draft pages of his story)

Having been a school teacher however, I know that most of what schooled children write is terrible.  It’s badly spelled, hardly ever punctuated and drags on for so long without organisation, structure or appeal to the audience that it should not surprise you that teachers loathe marking written papers.   I do not want to go down that road with my boys.  I want them to enjoy writing, to use writing for meaningful purposes and to be able to correctly construct sentences and small paragraphs before moving onto chapters.  Basically I want quality not quantity at this point.  I don’t think quantity can precede quality in writing.   I think that’s one of the (many) errors that schools make.

Anyway it’s hard when people make comparisons without understanding my motivations and philosophies.  So suffice it to say, I’m really pleased that Ethan has enjoyed writing for a purpose that was meaningful to him.  I was excited (and so was he) when he asked to publish his story on my blog.  I hope you all enjoyed it.  Perhaps Ethan will be a famous writer some day and you can say that you remember his first published piece.  🙂


Posted by on February 18, 2009 in Language


4 responses to “Ethan’s First Independent Story

  1. Anonymous

    February 19, 2009 at 4:52 am

    Well Done Ethan!!!!
    What a lovely story.
    I liked your pictures too.
    How exciting – keep up the good work.

  2. Susan

    February 20, 2009 at 3:21 am

    Isn't it wonderful when chidlren come up with their own idea of writing a story. I think my eldest was the same age when she decided to write her first story- and we had done no formal story writing before that either.

  3. bernadette

    September 22, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Hi Tracey,

    loving the ability to navigate freely on your blog! So i apologise i am making you try remember things from over 1.5 yrs ago ;o you mentioned that you didn’t/don’t encourage invented spelling and Ethan knows how to find the words he needs. how does this work? does he guess as he’s writing and you correct him as he goes, do you give him the spelling for a particular word? this really interests me as my 10 year old is terrible at spelling and i’m wondering, if it was because of the way he was taught at school. This is our 2nd year at home and we have kind of “de-schooled” and thenkind of done unschooling/natural learning for this year, but when we get to perth, i would like to step it back up a bit because no one (unschoolers/natural learner families) seems to be able to give me “concrete” answers on how the children are supposed to learn basics etc like spelling for example.
    sorry this is so long winded

    Thanks a million

  4. Tracey

    September 23, 2010 at 12:31 am

    I started writing a reply to your question but found that it was turning into a blog post rather than a comment so I’m going to address your question properly in a post. Might take me a little while to form the response properly though.

    It may not be a popular post as I suspect a lot of people will disagree with me but oh well. I’ve never been one for conforming. Hehehe.

    As a super quick reply to the basic question I still don’t accept invented spelling just as I don’t accept making up words as they read. I do allow them to try and spell words but I expect them to use the appropriate strategies (just as I would expect them to use appropriate reading strategies to figure out words when reading rather than stabbing in the dark). They could try phonetic strategies, ask me to spell the word (frequently used by my boys), use the spell check on the computer as a device (type in their approximate spelling and it generally gives you the necessary word), use a list of words that I give them on the topic, find the word spelled elsewhere, use a personal dictionary or a dictionary.

    Generally I edit their writing with them as soon as possible. Sometimes I’m alongside them as they write; other times I edit moments after they’ve finished their draft. I don’t like to leave too much time between writing and fixing incorrect spelling.

    My boys have studied phonics from the beginning as an addition to their reading and at some point soon we’ll switch from phonics to a spelling program. Phonics and spelling being the same skill started from different ends. Phonics helps you build up words for reading and spelling helps you break down words for writing.

    Gosh I’m getting into blog post length already. Hehehe…I can’t help myself.

    I must say I’m not a fan of unschooling. Yes I think it plays a part in every day life but I don’t see it as a wise approach for learning everything.

    It sounds idealistic to step away from the crowd and figure the world out for ourselves but in reality we don’t do this. When we make a cake we follow a tried and true recipe. When we build a house we seek advice on how to do the task in the best way and what order we should work in.

    Generally we don’t make up everything as we go along and we don’t need to rely on ourselves for everything. It’s okay to learn from others and have someone show you how to do something and suggest what might be best to learn next. It’s wise to seek wise counsel. Or so I think.

    I personally think unschooling makes learning more difficult for a child. Imagine being given a build-it-yourself project with no instructions. Eeek. Possible to complete? Yes but unnecessarily frustrating and most likely a very unstable, odd-looking and not very useful completed projected.

    In my opinion unschooling, while a possible learning approach is just not the best learning option.

    Now I’ve gone completely off topic. I’ll leave this here and go and work on a proper post about spelling. I’ll leave the unschooling stuff hidden in the comment section. They’ll send a lynch mob after me otherwise…hehehehe.

    Going into hiding



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