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I’m joining in this week’s virtual curriculum fair hosted by Susan at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds. This week’s topic is Language Arts. Language arts is a huge subject area but I’ve tried to narrow down to my top 9 resources and methods for teaching language arts to elementary children.
Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons (100EZL) was the first reading program I used as a new homeschooler.
This book worked very well for our oldest child. She was ready and wanting to learn to read at age 4 and a fluent reader by age 5. For her we moved from 100EZL right into easy readers and it didn’t take long before she could read short chapter books.
When our next oldest wanted to learn how to read, 100EZL was the first book I reached for. Unfortunately this time it wasn’t so much of a hit. It started out ok, but we quickly hit road blocks. I could see it was more of an issue that dd just wasn’t ready for this book and we put it aside to play word games. The next time we tried the book it worked better but dd was still having some trouble remembering the sounds from one lesson to another. I had the same trouble with our 3rd daughter. Around this time I found a new favourite reading program.
Reading Kingdom was a program I received access to as a Schoolhouse Review Crew member. With the monthly membership to this site being fairly high it is not a program I normally would have looked at. However I’m so glad that I did get the chance to use this! Reading Kingdom has turned into one of my favourite LA resources. This program “clicked” with our other children where 100EZL didn’t. Within the first week each of the children were using this program their reading improved and they started wanting to write stories with their “new” words. Reading Kingdom also teaches some typing skills and grammar.
Star Fall is another fun website for practicing phonics and reading. This site has been a family favourite since our oldest was little. While some of this site is paid, there is a lot of free content available.
Writing, Copywork and Memorization
My teaching style is strongly influenced by the methods of Charlotte Mason and Ruth Beechick. In the younger years we focus on oral narrations and copywork. Copywork is a very important process for younger children to practice. We start off with simple letter formation and when they are comfortable with that we select short sentences from their reading books.
As time goes on the length of the passages is increased but kept to what the child can do neatly. During this time the copywork is helping them to develop their spelling and grammar skills by modeling or imitating good works of literature.
Oral narration is also a very important skill to work on as it leads the way for later written narrations. After each reading for history and LA I’ve found it easiest to ask the little ones what their favourite part of the story was.
Since our little ones love to talk about what they read or watch this was an easy skill for them to pick up. As they get a little older I expect more detail in their narrations but I still want it to reflect their personal connection to the story.
When the children are ready we start working on written narrations. It can be hard to transition from oral narrations to the written form so I expect the early written ones to be shorter and less detailed than their oral narrations at first. This is a process that I’m just starting with our oldest daughter this year. To make it easier for her learning style I have her type her narrations rather than hand write them.
Another resource our family enjoy for grammar and early language arts is First Language Lessons. This is an easy to use language arts book for early elementary. It is a scripted style so tells you exactly what to say. This is great if you’re unsure of teaching LA, but don’t be afraid to adapt the lessons to your own style!
My copy of this book is the original one, it’s since been split into two different levels. Level 1 for grade one and Level 2 for grade 2. I think this also works well for a slightly older child, but they could move through the lessons a little faster. First Language Lessons teaches basic grammar including nouns, pronouns, action verbs, abbreviations, beginning capitalization, and the four types of sentences. It also includes poetry memorization and copywork suggestions.
One of our main programs in the younger years is Five in a Row. Five in a Row is a unit study program based on high quality children’s literature. This program is just FILLED with wonderful language arts ideas. I do normally add copy work from the stories to our lessons. On top of this children learn a wide range of topics from alliteration, personification, conflicts, climax etc.
As our children get older I also start adding in more of Ambleside Online. Ambleside Online is a wonderful free curriculum for K-12 based on the teachings of Charlotte Mason. Many of the books used are classics and in the public domain. These books and the methods of copywork and narration along with the other resources I’ve mentioned above form the basis of our elementary and secondary learning.
Another program I’ve bought but only had a chance to briefly look at is Brave Writer. This program reminds me very much of Charlotte Mason’s teachings and was written to help create a love of writing in children. This is on my reading list for January and I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts on it.
What are your favourite language arts resources?