The next several weeks mark the annual “Virtual Curriculum Fair” for homeschool bloggers all over the web. This year, it’s being hosted by Laura at Day by Day in Our World, Chareen at Every Bed of Roses, and Kristen at Sunrise to Sunset. This week, the theme is Playing with Words: The Language Arts, and that category covers everything English (spelling, grammar, writing, and more), as well as foreign languages.
Language and writing is super important to our family, so it’s no surprise that Language Arts make up a huge percentage of our homeschool day – and they always have. We don’t neglect the other subjects, but the language stuff is just so diverse that it makes sense that it would take up more time and energy. Here’s how we do it, and what curriculum we’re using to accomplish our goals (as well as some that we love but are the back burner right now for one reason or another).
Links go to my past reviews of mentioned products. From those review posts, you can find links to the actual products from the vendor. Special thanks to the Schoolhouse Review Crew for providing these review products for our family.
My absolute favorite grammar program is Fix It! grammar by the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). It’s a gentle introduction to grammar concepts for children as young as 3rd grade. Children are given one sentence of a longer story per day with the task of identifying words and concepts (nouns, adjectives, verbs, main and dependent clauses, etc) and making corrections (adding proper paragraph breaks, capital letters, ending marks, quotation marks, and more). Then the student copies the sentence correctly into a notebook. There is also vocabulary included in the curriculum.
We’ve tried lots of different spelling products over the years: spelling lists, Spelling You See (from Demme Learning), The Phonetic Zoo (from IEW), and currently Logic of English Essentials (which is more than just spelling, but more on that later). We’ve had varying degrees of success with each of these, but our favorites are The Phonetic Zoo and Essentials.
We adore literature studies in our homeschool! We always read these books together out loud and then do the corresponding studying of the book. We’ve used two Progeny Press studies in the past (Little House in the Big Woods and Tuck Everlasting) as well as worksheets from Super Teacher Worksheets (for Charlotte’s Web). Currently, we’re working through The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with a study guide from Memoria Press (there will be a review on that in a few weeks).
This is another subject where we’ve tried a few different things. We used My First Reports from Hewitt Homeschooling, which were a great introduction to writing a couple of years ago. They give students a series of questions on a topic to research and answer, finally compiling everything into a single report. We were also blessed with a copy of Student Writing Intensive from IEW, along with the teacher training that goes along with it, Teaching Writing with Structure and Style. This is a great program but ended up being a bit “much” for us. Currently, we’re using Here to Help Learning, a wonderful video-based writing program that we’re all absolutely loving. With the guidance of Mrs. Mora, the boys are each writing their own six-chapter novel! There will be a review on this program coming up soon, too.
I’m pretty flexible with my kids when it comes to reading (once they’ve mastered the art, anyway). They have to read something each day. What they read is entirely up to them. Right now, Munchkin (9) is working his way through the Harry Potter series. He’s about halfway through Order of the Phoenix right now. Seahawk (12) is reading The Lord of the Rings (we have a single volume with all three novels), at Will’s urging. Both of these books have really long chapters, so I don’t require a full chapter to be read each day like I used to; now it’s a minimum of 20 minutes.
We’re plugging away at Rosetta Stone French here. We picked this up on a great sale about a year ago (5 payments of $37 instead of the normal price of $500), and it’s been a real game changer in our learning of the French language.
So that’s what we’re studying in the realm of Language Arts! Make sure to check out one of the other blogs (there’s a linkup on the blogs I linked to up above) for even more ideas!