by Barbara Benson

Short Story Writing and Grammar/Vocabulary

On page 5 of Christopherus’ A Rough Guide to Eighth Grade, one of her suggestions for Language Arts is to help your homeschooled child write a short story using Writing for 100 Days as a text resource. I taught this unit with four of my children, and found it to be a very useful follow up to the Seventh Grade Creative Writing unit in Poetry. I taught this main lesson in a small co-op class format as well.

I also began using the Vocabulary from Classical Roots by Fifer and Flowers that Donna recommends for vocabulary work. As a matter of fact, we continued working with the different levels of the Roots books all the way through junior year in high school. The later books are quite challenging.

This main lesson was six weeks in length and covered grammar/vocabulary, short writing compositions and three weeks on the short story. I had students read and analyze famous short stories as well as write an original short story over the course of the main lesson.

Here is a brief outline of how I used the Writing for 100 Days (hereafter Days plus page number) throughout the six weeks. There were also additional handout materials that were not from the Days book. All the handout materials plus lined paper for assignments were given to the student (s) in a binder that had all materials and assignments copied for the five weeks as well as a list of short stories to choose from for reading.

WEEK ONE: Writing/composition/grammar/vocabulary

In class we did 15 minutes of Classical Roots vocabulary work and then worked through the following handouts from Days: Writing about Writing” (2) (20 minutes);”Word Choice” (3) (15 minutes); “Wordiness and Word Economy” (5) (15 minutes);“Prefixes and Suffixes” (7) ( 20 minutes);“The Dictionary Game” (97)(10 minutes).


For homework ( this was a co-op class format but can also be worked through individually during the week or as homework) I assigned:

  1. Two Roots vocabulary lessons
  2. Exercises A and B in “Word Choice: Adjectives and Adverbs” ( 9)
  3. Exercise A in “Word Choice: Verbs” ( 12)
  4. Exercise A in “Dialect and Slang” ( 13)
  5. “Onomatopoeia and Alliteration” (14)(One to two paragraphs on A Day at the Circus)
  6. “Clichés” ( 15) ( Write one paragraph using clichés)
  7. Exercise A in ” Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases” ( 16)
  8. Transitions” (18) (Write 10 sentences using transitions)


WEEK TWO: Writing/Composition/Grammar/Vocabulary

In class, I corrected and we shared last week’s assignments and did 15 minutes of Roots; “Spoonerisms!”( 100) ( 10 minutes)’ “Punctuation: Colons and Semicolons” (19)(20 minutes); “Punctuation: Parenthesis and Dashes”(22) (20 minutes); “Fragments and Run-ons” (25) (10 minutes);“Parallel Construction” (22) ( 5-10 minutes); ” Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers” (30)(15 minutes); “Repetition” ( 33) ( 10 minutes); “Sentence Combining” ( 34) (10 minutes); Sentence Variety” (34) ( 10 minutes).


  1. Students took a Grammar Final Exam I prepared for them
  2. Complete next two lessons of Roots
  3. C. ” Stream of Consciousness” ( 39) (take 20 minutes)
  4. “Simile and Metaphor” ( 40) (3 each)
  5. “Tone” ( Exercise A, B)( 42)
  6. Style” ( evaluation of a favorite author’s work) (44)
  7. “Paragraphs” ( review) ( 45)
  8. ” Brainstorming and Outlining” (49)


WEEK THREE: Finish Composition; Introduce Short Story writing; Read a short story and analyze

In class, I corrected homework and we shared certain assignments. We did 15 minutes of Roots; a handout on outlining (15 minutes); a handout on paragraphing (15 minutes); a handout on Issues In Writing ( Introductions and Conclusions) ( 15 minutes); “Writing a Boring Piece” ( 48)( 15 minutes); “The Thirty Minute Essay” ( 52) ( 30 minutes).

I gave an overview of the short story work for the main lesson and then the elements of fiction ( Title, Plot, Setting, Characters, Point of View, Narrative Voice, Imagery, Form and Structure, Genre). I read Rip Van Winkle to them and showed them how to fill out a Short Story Activity Sheet ( see below)( 30-40 minutes).


  1. Do two more Roots
  2. Read handouts I prepared on the form of the Short Story
  3. Read a short story from the list and fill out the Short Story Activity Sheet
  4. Read “Creating a Main Character” (54) (create a list of characteristics) and complete “Main Character in a Mini-Mart: Character Development in Action ” (55)


WEEK FOUR: Developing the Short Story; Character/Setting

In class, we did 15 minutes of Roots and then shared our short story and character work from the assignments. I discussed with them how an author develops character . We worked on creating a character for 15 minutes in class and then the students did a rewrite of the mini-mart exercise for 30 minutes. We also worked on Setting and the Real vs. Fantastic Setting for 25 minutes. ( Take 10 minutes to describe a real place based on memory and then think of a fantastic setting and write for 10 minutes. Compare and discuss the two) We also did some exercises on how to write using all the 5 senses.


  1. Do two more Roots lessons.
  2. Read another short story and do the Activity sheet.
  3. Complete a Five Senses Descriptive Writing Exercise on Setting: write a paragraph describing a place using only visual details; rewrite paragraph using sound details; rewrite using details of smell; rewrite using details of taste; rewrite using details of touch. Go back and consider the unique sense of place and add details that will make setting come alive. Then finally rewrite using only the details that matter most to your unique sense of place.
  4. Do” Plot “( 58) assignment and review plot creation from Beginner’s Guide.
  5. Read ” Dialogue: ( 60) handout and complete the assignment.


WEEK FIVE: Creative Short Story Writing

In class I reviewed all student work ( short story sheets; five senses; plot creation and dialogue). Did the “Point of View” (60) exercise in class Discussed “Drafting” (64).


  1. Do two Roots lessons.
  2. Spend five days working on a full draft of your story. Review and revise as needed. Stories will be read in class next week.


WEEK SIX: All stories were read in class and Roots lessons were finished.




Name the Main Character:

Which of the following did the author include?:

Dialect             Dialogue

Give Examples of Concrete/Abstract Images

Quotations used (Yes or No)


Identify time period:

Identify Place:


Figurative Language:

Which of the following did the author include and give one example:




Vivid Sense Images:

Which of the following did the author include and give one example:







What is the conflict in this story?

The conflict is between
individual vs. individual

individual vs. society

individual vs. nature

individual vs. self

How is the conflict resolved?

What is the climax/turning point of the conflict?

Does the story follow a logical sequence of events?

Use of transitional words

Chronological Order


Point of View:

From whose point of view is the story told?

First Person

Third Person Observer

Third Person Omniscient

Is this point of view consistent throughout the sotry?


What is the controlling or main idea in the story?

Can the main idea in the story be expressed as a proverb, parable or maxim? What would it be?

( example: In Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry, the thematic maxim is that it is better to give than receive. Magi= wisdom of love. Although the material gifts were useless, the spiritual gift of love was amply given and received in the moment.)




Christopherus Homeschool Consultant















Posted on December 1, 2016 in 8th Grade, Barbara, Language Arts, Older Children

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