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Our Language Arts Adventure

Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts and Minds is having her year Virtual Curriculum Fair. I thought it would be fun to participate. To find out more please click on the button below.
Homeschooling Hearts & Minds Virtual Curriculum Fair Button
This weeks theme is Playing with Words: the Language Arts.

You would think that after 10 years of homeschooling I’d have our Language Arts down. Well I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t. I have purchased and used so many different things for spelling, writing, reading, phonics, and literature. But what’s funny is I have come full circle with some of them. In other words, gulp, I have repurchased a few items and am now sticking with them. Here are a few that I have come back to.

Phonics Pathways:
I purchased this maybe about 4yrs. ago for Caleb. I thought it was the perfect phonics/spelling program for him. Guess what, he didn’t like it. He said it was boring, so it didn’t last long at our house.

A few years ago I decided to take another look at it. I had Brent, Ethan, and Lance whom I wanted to make sure had a good phonics foundation. I have been faithfully and slowly using it with Ethan and Lance since last school year (2011/2012). I would like us to be further along but are where we are and I’m okay.

Some weeks we are able to do four lessons, other weeks about two. Slow and steady wins the race as they say. 15 minutes is all that I spend and can afford at the moment. Some days I will have the children copy ten words in their notebooks, other days I dictate the words to them. Unfortunately it’s been more copying than dictating. I hope to change that this year.

Spelling Power:
I purchased this for Joshua when he was in 4th grade (about). I thought it was way too cumbersome and never started. Well, after using many programs that never seemed like a good fit, I finally gave in to, yup, repurchasing Spelling Power. This time it came with a Quick Start Dvd. Yay, my kind of thing. I popped in the Dvd and was able to start the next day with Josh. And you know what? He likes it. It’s the first time he has actually liked a spelling program.

Three more will hop on the Spelling Power band wagon this coming week too!

Rod and Staff English:
I purchased this way back when I first started homeschooling. Back when all my babies were little and I was just a mess with wiping up spill, running after little people and just trying to stay alive (they were some good years). So, anything that took effort on my part (which was about everything) went out the window. R&S was one of them. Oh what a mistake.

Here I am again, repurchasing almost all the levels. I am not using it with Josh or Annette, they were the ones that were suppose to use it many moons ago. Thankfully I have lots of children and I am now using it with three of my children, Caleb, Brent, and Ethan.

Both mom and kids approve this program. It really doesn’t take that much time. I do a quick 5 minute review, go over the current content and let them lose. I spend about 20 minutes tops! Unless they need more examples then it takes longer. One can always set a timer and start back the next day where you all left off. I have done this in the past many times.

Analytical Grammar is what Annette is using. She used this last year and completed the whole program. I was so proud of her and myself for sticking with it. We both did. This year she is using it again to solidify and improve form last year. Once she completes it the 2nd time around she will use the High School Reinforcement books.

Easy Grammar:
This I had purchased for Josh and Annette when they were in the 3rd and 2nd grade. I liked it at the time but on a popular forum people kept saying negative things about it and I got scared and continued to seek out another grammar program. Um, don’t do that. If it’s working than stick with it no matter what others say.

Now I am again using it with Josh. I love that it’s a down-to-earth type of program. Joshua’s brain works best when things are uncluttered and don’t have multiple parts. The instructions are easy to understand. The text is written at grade level so the child can understand and get to the grammar without being confused about big words. I love it. Every morning first thing I sit with Josh and we do Easy Grammar, it takes all but 10-15 minutes.

There is no diagramming but I’m okay with this. Diagramming really confuses Joshua. His brain doesn’t work that way. Now Annette, she dreams diagramming. She reads a book and at times it will take her a while to get through it because she diagramming the sentences as she reads.

Finding a writing program has been one of the hardest and most exhausting and time consuming subject. There are so many writing programs and so many ways to go about it. Here are a few that I really like.

Write with World. Annette completed the first level last year and did very well. She was able to use this independently with guidance from me.

Write Shop, I loved, loved, loved, this program because it is very hands on. For some this is a total minus but I loved all the artsy stuff in this program. I had high hopes of using this for this school year. I am trying to stick with the plan of only using what’s in the Heart of Dakota Guides (or almost only) and in the end Write Shop takes longer than the average writing program. 

Writing Tricks, I do hope to use this with some of my children in the future. I have it printed and ready to go. Writing Tricks meets state standards, and incorporates grammar, punctuation, and some poetry. It’s not a full grammar program but has the kids use it. Iwould like to use the High School program for Joshua next year.

Now for what we are actually using:
Writing with Ease all levels. I am currently using level 1 with Lance and Level 2 with Ethan. Last year I was using Levels 1, 2, and 3 with various children. I stopped because now we are using Heart of Dakota and I preferred to use what was recommended and scheduled in the HOD Guides. Just makes life easier. Thankfully with the younger Guides I can still fit this in a few times a week.

Write with the Best, this writing course is recommended and scheduled in Heart of Dakota~Creation to Christ. I am using this with Caleb and Brent. So far I am liking the program. The children and I complete this together. Right now it we are on lesson 2. Each lesson takes about 10 days to complete. Since this is scheduled in our curriculum we are only using it about 2-3 times a week, so it’s taking us a bit longer to get through a lesson.

The only thing I don’t like about this program is the answer key. For instance one of the student activities has the child circle verbs, adjectives, nouns, and so forth, each with a different color. In the back is the answer key with a list of all the nouns, verbs, descriptive adjectives, etc. but I prefer to have the answer key as a reproduction of the student page but completed. This would make it so much easier for me to correct and do with the children.

Wordsmith, Joshua is using this. We do this first thing in the morning along with Spelling Power and Easy Grammar. It takes about 10-15 minutes of my teacher time. This is a very doable program for Josh, again, no hoops to fly through, just common sense with explaining how do each exercise.

Medieval History Based Writing Lessons from Excellence in Writing. This is what Annette is using. It’s not her favorite writing program but there are no complaints. I have purchased many of IEW items in the past and they are all top notch. Why are we not using this with all the kids then, well in the past I was what one would call a curriculum junkie/hopper, always wanting to try the latest and greatest. Well, that gets old and now that I’m settling down I have already found other programs that work and I’m through hopping.

Paragraph Writing Made Easy by Rosmary Shiras and Susan Cary Smith. I paid a $1.00 for this as a download. I am not actually using this yet but plan to start with Ethan, about two days a week. It looks pretty straight forward and I’ll rest easy knowing I’m starting this whole writing thing earlier with him.

Heart of Dakota also incorporates copywork, studied dictation, narration, written narration, and some poetry writing as well.

With Lance who is my last and youngest child, I’m using a variety of stuff. I found Cut & Paste Language Arts and Read, Think, Cut & Paste. I am loosely adding these in for reinforcement and fun.
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He is also using letter stamps to practice writing words from Phonics Pathways or his sight words from Ready2Read. I’m just having all kinds of fun with him.

Literature:
Drawn into the Heart of Reading: I am using this with four of my children. Annette 13, Caleb 12, Brent 11, and Ethan 10. It’s a bit time-consuming for me and I only get to it about twice a week with each child. Annette, does a lot on her own.

Bob Jones Literature: Josh is using Bob Jones Literature with the DVDs so he has his own ‘teacher’. He really enjoys it, so that’s a good thing. I need to be more involved in this. What I would like to start doing is reading the literature as well so we could have discussions about it but so far it hasn’t happened.

As you can see my Language Arts Adventure has been a roller coaster ride at times. It’s been fun, stressful, and scary at times but one thing I have learned is to trust myself, trust in the Lord, and don’t do any impulsive buying. Wait, pray, seek, and wait some more. Then if you still feel strongly about a certain product go for it. My advice to you is stick with it for a while. Figure out if you can use it in a different way. Use a chalkboard, whiteboard, stamps, or whatever the Lord leads you to do but do try it for a while.

I know at times a switch is needed but many times one only needs continue on.
To read how others are Playing with Words: Language Arts by clicking on the links below.
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Nurturing Novelists = Building Strong Writers by Susan Anadale @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Building Blocks of Education--Learning to Read  by Kristi Kerr @ The Potter's Hand Academy
Finding Our Way Through Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
How Does a Unit Study Teach Language Arts? by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun 
Our Language Arts Adventure by Linda @ Homeschooling6

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words:  The Language Arts by Leah Courtney @ As We Walk Along the Road
Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me
Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Language Arts by Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool
Writing Help in a Critical Thinking book? by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings
Virtual Curriculum Fair: Foreign Language Immersion in the Homeschool by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch
Formula for Reading by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness
Words and Learning by Annette @ A Net In Time
A Custom Designed High School English Credit by Tech Wife @ A Playground of Words
Virtual Curriculum Fair 2013: Still Loving Language Arts by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots
Word Play by Lisa @ Golden Grasses
Loving Language Arts by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

Learning Language Arts ~ 2012-2013 School Year by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World

Virtual Curriculum Fair - The Language Arts Department by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Playing with Words:  The Language Arts by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy: The Story of Our Life
Playing with Words:  Language Arts by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs and Curriculum
What Language Arts looks like in our house - Are we doing it right? by Hillary M @ Our Homeschool Studio






9 comments

  1. that was a good read through. Interesting how you made a circle back. :)


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  2. We've done our share of hopping as well, but there are many you are using that I haven't, so I appreciated your take on them.

    You are right, so much to choose from. And, fortunately, so much GOOD to choose from. Or, unfortunately. ;)
    ~Erin

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  3. I loved your comment about being a curriculum junkie, and stopping hopping around curricula. That's where we are now. There's so many AMAZING resources out there, it's easy to curriculum hop. We're finding what fits for us well, though, and sticking with it. Thanks for the great post!

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  4. We really enjoy Analytical Grammar also. And it is nice to know I'm not the only one who comes full circle and goes back to a curriculum I've abandoned.

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  5. Thank you for the low down on language arts in your home. I have done my share of dancing around various programs, only to come back to what I started with. ;0)

    Thank you for joining the Virtual Curriculum Fair!

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  6. I could easily be a curriculum junkie, but my daughter is very resistant to change. We have a lot of pieces to create our Language Arts curriculum too.
    Thanks for sharing your history with language arts, it was good to see information about a variety of items.

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  7. What an informative post - thank you! Loved your last comment (as it is something I should consider more): I know at times a switch is needed but many times one only needs continue on. Blessings from the Crew.

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  8. If sentence diagramming is not his thing, but you'd like to have him work out those skills in a different way, check out Michael Clay Thompson's 4 part sentence analysis method. It is relaying the same information that a sentence diagram does but in a much more uniform and concise way that I think simplifies things. If you check out one of the teacher's manual samples, you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about. http://www.rfwp.com/series/practice-sentences-student-workbooks#book-practice-island-one-hundred-four-level-analysis-sentences-student-workbook

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  9. Jennifer, I'm very tempted to try it with Lance. I think he'd love it.

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I love hearing from you all!