Monday, January 2, 2012

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Let's talk about Words

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
A great friend of mine is hosting a Virtual Curriculum Fair.  A bit later, I'll do a better job of linking this up and all that kind of thing.  Right now, I need to get this posted so that we can go car shopping!  But that is a saga for a different post.

Officially, our school year begins next week.  We school January-October.  Now, in actuality, most of what we are doing is carrying forward from what we started in the fall... but some things do change.  A rather quick list of what is working, or what we are changing, as it pertains to WORDS.

I think the bedrock of a good language arts program is Read-Alouds.  I post about that every Thursday.  That will continue.

Why I value read-alouds?  It gives all the kids the chance to hear fairly complex sentence structure that is beyond what they could necessarily read for themselves.  Ideally, the words are pronounced correctly (I'm sure I blow a few).  It gives us a chance to have discussions and for them to form opinions or what-if scenarios.  I love feeding great words into their brains.

Along those lines, another thing we are picking back up in the new year is Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization.  I love this for a lot of the same reasons I love read-alouds...

Connor - 9th grade:
  • He'll be starting the American History theme program from Institute for Excellence in Writing.  We're following a combined version that someone posted so he'll be using both book 1 and book 2.  I'm really excited about his writing going along with his history studies.  And IEW has been amazing for him.  He needed something structured so he could figure out how to get words on a page in something besides a long, run-on sentence.  He's come a LONG way.  IEW is expensive, initially.  But it is SO worth it in the long run.
  • He's continuing to use Excellence in Literature for his lit studies.  We're skipping around a little bit, but mostly he is using English 1.  I reviewed that a while back, and I'll link it when we get home.  What I love, love, love is that this is written straight to the student and is very 'college prep' in nature (or 'real-world prep' -- it is up to the student to figure out how to schedule their time.)
  • He is continuing to use Latin Alive from Classical Academic Press.  I think Latin has helped him SO much in understanding grammar especially.  But vocabulary study is accomplished through this too.
  • He doesn't know this yet, but he is going to be starting to use IEW's spelling program too.  I don't have anything much to say about why I think The Phonetic Zoo is going to be amazing for him, except that he can do it independently. 
William - 7th grade, and Thomas - 5th grade:
  • These two are my struggling readers.  I am thrilled beyond belief that they are able to continue using Read Live during 2012.  I need to do an update post on how this is working... but their reading has improved DRAMATICALLY.  This program is incredible for struggling readers, and if there is such a thing as a perfect program, well... this may be it.
  • They are using the Ancient History theme program from IEW.  Why I absolutely adore this for them is different from my thoughts with Connor.  For them, the biggest thing is that I can work with them at a level that doesn't overwhelm their reading capabilities.  They are able to write (with me as the human dictionary) and to write WELL, and to feel good about themselves.  But they aren't getting assigned 3 page essays, or at least when we do get to that, it is done incrementally...  IEW is pretty close to perfect for them too.
  • They are continuing to use Visual Latin.  This program is so fantastic.  I know, I keep writing about it.  But they are not required to do a whole lot of paper and pencil stuff, nor are they chanting declensions or anything.  And it is MALE teacher, oh, I just love that.  Who is funny.  They enjoy it, and they are learning a ton of grammar and vocabulary.
  • And we are trying something completely new.  Royal Fireworks Press has a whole Language Arts program.  I own everything for the "Town" level, which is theoretically too easy for William.  But I'm hopeful that this will be a fairly gentle program for them both... and the materials are intended for gifted learners, so the incredibly amazing thing is that they are also still going to provide a certain depth/breadth that should keep them engaged.
  • Plus they are continuing with All About Spelling.  Another amazing-beyond-belief program for kids who struggle in language areas.
Richard - 2nd grade:
  • He is my least figured-out child here.  He's using Reading Kingdom for reading instruction, and has been reading the Sonlight Grade 2 readers to me.  Seems like a great mix.
  • I think he is going to start (back) using IEW's Primary Arts of Language program for writing.  We had tried doing this with Trina and Richard combined, and that didn't really work out so well.  So... we're making another stab without his sister.
  • All About Spelling is part of the PAL program, and that is happening for sure.
Trina - kindergarten:
  • She is using All About Reading Level 1 (a review will be coming in the next week or so) and it has been wonderful for her.  Fairly short, step-by-step lessons that require virtually no prep time from me.  And she's reading.  Really reading.
  • She has been doing Ooka Island on her own.  Unfortunately, that subscription will be ending fairly early in 2012.  We'll see about continuing it.
  • Once she finishes AAR, she'll probably start doing PAL from IEW... both the reading and writing portions.  I'd love to continue with All About Reading, but I'm not sure the next level will be available, and it is hard to invest in it for just her.  Anyway, I think PAL is going to be a better fit for her.  When we did it a few months ago, she just wasn't quite ready.  Now, I know she'll find the beginning part to be pretty easy... and that will go a long way towards making this work.
What I'm not doing?  Speech.  I think it is important, but I just have too many other needs right now... so that is something I'll be trying to occasionally incorporate with the IEW writings.

Check out some of the other people who are doing this too.  Because what is perfect for us isn't necessarily perfect for you. And I'm pretty sure all the amazing people participating are going to have some real gems that they are talking about too... 

Reading on Time by Cindy Horton @ Fenced in Family

Playing with Words: the Language Arts by Christa
Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy

and Beyond: Language Arts in Our Homeschool
by Laura O in AK @
Day by Day in Our World

Arts that Work for Us
by Melissa @ Grace Christian School

Language at Our House
by Jessica @ Modest Mama

Curriculum Fair: Language Arts
by Christine T. @ Our Homeschool

Learning of Language
by Dawn @ tractors & tire swings

and Spelling: Modifying the Magic
by Pam @ Pam and Everyday

In Depth Look at All About Spelling
by Missouri Mama @ Ozark

Curriculum Fair: Let's Talk About Words
by Debra @ Footprints in
the Butter

We Love Classical Conversations Essentials (and how I know that is not
a complete sentence!)
by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Curriculum Fair---Playing with Words: the Language Arts
by Angie
@ Petra School

Language vs. Phonics
by Christine @ Crunchy Country Catholic

All About the Art of Language
by Brenda Emmett @ Garden of

Movies for Language Arts Class
by Debbie @ Debbie's Digest

5 Spelling Tests a Year! (Can we do that?)
by LP @

with Words by Chrissy
@ Learning is an Adventure


Modest Mama said...

I don't think enough people value read-a-louds. My hubby is a Scout leader and he was reading a book to the Tiger Cubs (six year olds) and one kid said that having a book read to him was stupid. So sad.

Nikki said...

I agree! Read alouds are the foundation of a good LA program!

Cindy @ Fenced in Family said...

Great look at language arts for your different age groups, thank you for sharing. I especially like seeing what your older three are using since it gives me ideas for the future. :-)

A Learning Journey said...

The Homeschool Buyers Co-op is offering a deal on Ooka Island. I have never used it before but I thought you might be interested in checking out the deal. Here is the link for you to copy and paste. Go to Language Arts tab on the left side and you'll see it listed. if you are already a member then you already know about the deal - LOL!
Membership is FREE and I love saving money on curriculum so I have been a member over a year now. hope this helps with the cost! Tracey