(We've used books 1-3)
I was probably a little swayed as I was choosing my writing (and grammar) curriculum at the beginning. I read (and re-read) A Well Trained Mind while deciding. One of the writers of that book also developed both The Complete Writer series and First Language Lessons, so they, of course, prefer their own books. :) But....
I was not disappointed! I was, however, a little worn out after the third book, so fortunately the timing was perfect with my oldest entering Classical Conversations Essentials where we had a new curriculum.
This is a great series to start with. (I have no opinion of books beyond #4.) The underlying theory with these books is that children read, copy and dictate correctly written sentences, with great repetition, to build the foundation of their writing skills. Love it! The weeks are a four day week, with copy work, narration/dictation, copy work or dictation (depending on the level), then narration/dictation again. The narration days have excerpts from great books (source book list is included) and have peaked the interest of even my non-reader.
Each lesson is scripted (which is great for this learning mama!) and goes fairly quickly. The reading selections are great to either have your child real out loud to you, read alone, have an older sibling read out loud or snuggle up and read to them....all depending on their ability, your time, or siblings ability. (This was a great time for me to listen to each child read aloud.)
These books are consumable, but also reproducible among your family. I did not make copies of the workbook pages the first time around so will just use regular lined paper for subsequent kids. After the first kiddo completed a book, I dismantled the book, pulling out the teacher's part and bound it. (That's another post! :)
My only complaint...My oldest daughter grew a little tired of the series come the end of book 3, and I've heard (from friends) that they stopped partly through book 4 for the same reason.
IEW History Based Writing
Enrolling in Essentials...this is their writing curriculum. Although, if you are not using CC, you can work it in with whatever History time frame you are learning about. Last year we covered Ancients, this year it will be Medieval. If you are teaching this on your own, definitely buy the teachers manual in addition to the student book.
The IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) method will all make more sense if you have gone through the TWSS course, but is still manageable without it. These book all cover different writing structures and stylistic techniques that will aid lifelong writing. One of the basic building blocks for this series is that students will have a much easier time writing if you them them what to write about. This series adds a new piece to the writing puzzle with each lesson AND a source text to read/outline for a jumping off point.
Two bonuses....there is a downloadable student resource book (info within the student book) and each book also has vocabulary words/cards to go along with most of the lessons.