Virtual Curriculum Fair Week One Playing With Words: The Language Arts




This week's topic is language arts.  As I prepared to share what we've loved and what we haven't loved so much in language arts, I realized that this is a REALLY broad topic.  There are so many things that could really fall under the heading of "language arts."

Before I begin, I should probably say, for those visiting for the virtual curriculum fair, that I am most definitely an eclectic homeschooler.  I use many Charlotte Mason methods in our homeschool, but, I wouldn't really consider us strictly CMers.  I also use many classical ideas in our homeschool, but I've never thought of myself as a classical homeschooler.  I love unit studies, but I've never relied solely on unit studies for our entire curriculum.  I really pick and choose from different methods and programs to use what fits our family best and what I feel like we need to focus on learning.

One more caveat before I get to today's topic.  I've homeschooled for eight years now (more if you count the preschool years where I presided over the infamous "gather at the table time".)  I came to homeschooling from being a teacher in a private Christian school.  I've also taught in a public middle school, elementary school, and high school.  When I began, I was determined to homeschool in a traditional way.  I had the kids sit down at desks.  We started the day with the pledges.  And, we used all ABEKA curriculum because that is what my Christian school had used.  It did not take long for me to see that what worked (more or less) in a traditional school setting did not work for us at home.  It was at that point that I became Miss Eclectic Homeschooler.  If you are newer to homeschooling and are visiting this fair looking for "the perfect curriculum," I'm afraid you'll never find it.  I've bought and discarded the most curriculum because it was "so wonderful" for a friend who just gushed about how it was "perfect."  The fact is, I'm not you.  And my kids aren't your kids.  And my home doesn't work the same way yours does.  So, what may be the next best thing to sliced bread for my family may be horrible for yours.  And what another blogger may say they've loved, I may have tried and hated.  The beautiful thing about homeschooling is that God has made us all different, and in homeschooling we can teach to those differences instead of forcing kids to sit through meaningless lessons that they are absolutely getting nothing from.  So, read and enjoy.  Look at what has worked for others and why.  Take what you can use, and toss the rest.  Meanwhile, I'll be shopping for the "next greatest curriculum" for next year.

Without further ado, I present ...Language Arts.

Phonics: Despite abandoning most of my ABEKA curriculum after a few years, I have yet to find anything better for teaching systematic phonics than their Letters and Sounds.  I only use it until the child has gained a mastery of sound symbol relationships and is reading fairly fluently.  This has been at different stages with different children.  My oldest was a fluent reader very early.  My youngest as a first grader is still not there.







Reading:  For emerging readers, I love the Free and Treadwell readers.  I stumbled on these by accident at a convention a few years ago, so my third child is the one who has benefited from them so far.  They begin with Primer and we have up through the Third Reader.  The selections are stories and poems from real literature.  These are definitely living books in the Charlotte Mason style- not dumbed down stories with no meaning.







Literature:  I love using literature units.  They cover various subject areas and use good, real literature, not just reading selections.  I've used some units from Total Language Plus.  I like the reading choices for these units.  There are some good classics.  I wasn't so happy with the spelling and grammar sections.  I prefer a spelling list that is phonetic.  And, I thought the grammar was just sort of forced.  Because of that, we've only used a few.  I do like the comprehension questions and the extension activities.









I really love the Cadron Creek literature units.  The older kids and I used Further Up and Further In last year.  It covers all seven Narnia books.  And, the little girls and I are using The Prairie Primer this year.  It covers most of the Little House on the Prairie books.










Grammar:  My older kids did ABEKA grammar before I abandoned the curriculum.  As I read more about Charlotte Mason, I realized that her recommendation was not to teach formal grammar until children were older.  So, I waited until about 3rd grade and used the very gentle introduction to grammar, Simply Grammar.  Then I read Grammar Land to all of the children together.  This year, Kathryne and Charles at 6th and 7th grade are using Analytical Grammar.  I love the Analytical Grammar approach.  Students use the book for three years or seasons, completing 10 weeks of grammar instruction and then completing review activities each week for the rest of the year.









Handwriting/Copywork:  I really don't like formal handwriting instruction.  But, we have used a variety of resources for copywork to practice good handwriting.  I like Handwriting Without Tears to introduce the shapes of the letters.  Happy Scribe copywork, which I've purchased through Currclick, has interesting topics and sentences for copywork.  And, all of my children have enjoyed using the Draw Write Now books for drawing practice and copywork.









Foreign Language:  Ah, the treacherous waters of foreign language.  I decided a few years ago that I really wanted to delve into Latin because of the great benefits in learning vocabulary and English grammar.  But, I don't have any Latin instruction, and I wasn't really interested in my children learning to read Latin or write Latin.  What I wanted was some basic, gentle instruction that would expose them to Latin vocabulary while reinforcing what they were going to learn in English grammar.  Latin for Children has been a good fit for us.  We're still using Primer B which is too easy for my older children, I suppose.  But, it works for us.  And, while neither of them has memorized scads of Latin vocabulary, my son is good at spotting derivatives and using Latin words to figure out meanings of English vocabulary; and my daughter is pretty good at parsing sentences and picking up on the Latin grammar.







On other foreign language fronts, we decided a few years ago that we'd like to own Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish.  We put it off for a while because the cost was just so high.  But, last spring, I picked up volumes 1-3 at a discount from Homeschool Buyers Co-op.  I would like to say we've loved it- especially because of the exorbitant amount of money it cost.  But, I have to be totally honest and say we've had nothing but technical issues since I installed it this summer.  I've tried it on two different computers, and I've tried contacting tech support.  At this point, we suspect some of the problem lies with two older and incompatible computers.  But, that doesn't help when I've spent so much on a product we really can't use.  If I can solve our computer problems, I may be able to report that we love this.  But, right now, I'm wishing we had settled for a cheaper Spanish program.

And, there is our language arts program in a nutshell.  Next week, we'll be looking at mathematics and some science.  We're leaping from my favorite school subjects to my least favorite to learn and to teach in a single bound.

Here are some other language arts ideas from other homeschoolers:
On Learning to Spell by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
http://homeschoolheartandmind.blogspot.com/2012/01/on-learning-to-spell.html

Reading on Time by Cindy Horton @ Fenced in Family
http://www.fencedinfamily.com/blog/2012/01/reading-on-time/

Playing with Words:  the Language Arts by Christa Darr @ Fairfield
Corner Academy
http://christadarr.blogspot.com/2012/01/playing-with-words-language-arts.html

Reading and Beyond:  Language Arts in Our Homeschool by Laura O in AK
@ Day by Day in Our World
http://daybydayinourworld.com/2012/01/reading-and-beyond-language-arts-in-our-homeschool/

Language Arts that Work for Us by Melissa @ Grace Christian School
http://www.gchomeschool.com/2011/12/virtual-curriculum-fair-language-arts.html

Learning Language at Our House by Jessica @ Modest Mama
http://www.modest-mama.org/2012/01/learning-language-at-our-house.html

Virtual Curriculum Fair:  Language Arts by Christine T. @ Our Homeschool Reviews
http://ourhomeschoolreviews.blogspot.com/2012/01/virtual-curriculum-fair-language-arts.html

The Learning of Language by Dawn @ tractors & tire swings
http://tractorsandtireswings.blogspot.com/2012/01/learning-of-language.html

Reading and Spelling:  Modifying the Magic by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots
http://everydaysnapshots.blogspot.com/2012/01/reading-and-spelling-modifying-magic.html

An In Depth Look at All About Spelling by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings
http://oramblings.blogspot.com/2012/01/in-depth-look-at-all-about-spelling.html

Virtual Curriculum Fair:  Let's Talk About Words by Debra @ Footprints
in the Butter
http://debrakb.blogspot.com/2012/01/virtual-curriculum-fair-lets-talk-about.html

Why We Love Classical Conversations Essentials (and how I know that is
not a complete sentence!) by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun
http://schoolinginthesun.blogspot.com/2012/01/why-we-love-classical-conversations.html

Virtual Curriculum Fair---Playing with Words:  the Language Arts by
Angie @ Petra School
http://pebblekeeper.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/currriculum_lanuage-arts/

Whole Language vs. Phonics by Christine @ Crunchy Country Catholic
http://crunchycountrycatholic.blogspot.com/2012/01/whole-language-vs-phonics.html

It's All About the Art of Language by Brenda Emmett @ Garden of Learning
http://myhomeschoolgarden.com/2012/01/02/its-all-about-the-art-of-language/

Watching Movies for Language Arts Class by Debbie @ Debbie's Digest
http://debbiesdigest.blogspot.com/2012/01/virtual-curriculum-fair-playing-with.html

Only 5 Spelling Tests a Year!  (Can we do that?) by LP @ justpitchingmytent
http://justpitchingmytent.blogspot.com/2012/01/fyi.html

Playing with Words by Chrissy @ Learning is an Adventure
http://learning-adventures.blogspot.com/2012/01/playing-with-words.html

Language Art at Our House by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
http://homeschoolingforhisglory.blogspot.com/2012/01/language-art-at-our-house_02.html

Virtual Curriculum Fair Week One Playing with Words:  the Language
Arts by Leah Courtney
http://courtneysix.blogspot.com/2012/01/virtual-curriculum-fair-week-one.html

Here starts the coded list (you should be able to paste this into your
html or source code editor, you may need to add
after each entry

or add hard returns in your editor):

http://www.fencedinfamily.com/blog/2012/01/reading-on-time/"
target="_blank">Reading on Time by Cindy Horton @ Fenced in Family

http://christadarr.blogspot.com/2012/01/playing-with-words-language-arts.html"
target="_blank">Playing with Words:  the Language Arts by Christa
Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy

http://daybydayinourworld.com/2012/01/reading-and-beyond-language-arts-in-our-homeschool/">Reading
and Beyond:  Language Arts in Our Homeschool by Laura O in AK @
Day by Day in Our World

http://www.gchomeschool.com/2011/12/virtual-curriculum-fair-language-arts.html">Language
Arts that Work for Us by Melissa @ Grace Christian School

http://www.modest-mama.org/2012/01/learning-language-at-our-house.html">Learning
Language at Our House by Jessica @ Modest Mama

http://ourhomeschoolreviews.blogspot.com/2012/01/virtual-curriculum-fair-language-arts.html">Virtual
Curriculum Fair:  Language Arts by Christine T. @ Our Homeschool
Reviews

http://tractorsandtireswings.blogspot.com/2012/01/learning-of-language.html">The
Learning of Language by Dawn @ tractors & tire swings

http://everydaysnapshots.blogspot.com/2012/01/reading-and-spelling-modifying-magic.html">Reading
and Spelling:  Modifying the Magic by Pam @ Pam and Everyday
Snapshots

http://oramblings.blogspot.com/2012/01/in-depth-look-at-all-about-spelling.html">An
In Depth Look at All About Spelling by Missouri Mama @ Ozark
Ramblings

http://debrakb.blogspot.com/2012/01/virtual-curriculum-fair-lets-talk-about.html">Virtual
Curriculum Fair:  Let's Talk About Words by Debra @ Footprints in
the Butter

http://schoolinginthesun.blogspot.com/2012/01/why-we-love-classical-conversations.html">Why
We Love Classical Conversations Essentials (and how I know that is not
a complete sentence!) by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

http://pebblekeeper.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/currriculum_lanuage-arts/">Virtual
Curriculum Fair---Playing with Words:  the Language Arts by Angie
@ Petra School

http://crunchycountrycatholic.blogspot.com/2012/01/whole-language-vs-phonics.html">Whole
Language vs. Phonics by Christine @ Crunchy Country Catholic

http://myhomeschoolgarden.com/2012/01/02/its-all-about-the-art-of-language/">It's
All About the Art of Language by Brenda Emmett @ Garden of
Learning

http://debbiesdigest.blogspot.com/2012/01/virtual-curriculum-fair-playing-with.html">Watching
Movies for Language Arts Class by Debbie @ Debbie's Digest

http://justpitchingmytent.blogspot.com/2012/01/fyi.html">Only
5 Spelling Tests a Year!  (Can we do that?) by LP @
justpitchingmytent

http://learning-adventures.blogspot.com/2012/01/playing-with-words.html">Playing
with Words by Chrissy @ Learning is an Adventure


http://homeschoolingforhisglory.blogspot.com/2012/01/language-art-at-our-house_02.html">Language
Art at Our House by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory


 


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1 comment :

  1. I love your intro...it's so true! A really big part of the reason we educate our children at home is so that we can do what fits them as individuals. It's a never-ending journey, isn't it?

    Thank you for joining the Virtual Curriculum Fair and for contributing such an insightful article.

    ReplyDelete

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