Now that the math program has been selected and purchased (yay!), it’s time to plan out our language arts program. Language arts is a succinct way to say “every-subject-except-math-science-and-history.” Really, my goodness what a huge area to cover, and there is no book or method that really hits every subject, so I’m having to pick and choose different items for each of my grade levels. I have one starting K and the other starting 4th. I’m a Charlotte Mason educator, so I’m going to be looking specifically at programs that use copywork, short lessons, living books, etc. We won’t be doing spelling or vocabulary quite yet with Evie, since Charlotte Mason advocates not starting that until 4th grade.
My soon-to-be kindergartner can’t read yet. He really can only read his name. My soon-to-be 4th grader is having some challenges stemming from her public school education, and I think I’m going to (again) start her out at a 3rd grade level just to make sure we have a good foundation. If she moves quickly through those books, we can always move her up early. I’m discovering that homeschool curricula is more advanced than what she is used to. For my pre-reader, I’ve looked at MANY different programs including Delightful Reading, Phonics Pathways, Explode the Code, The Reading Lesson, Pathway Readers, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and probably many more that I can’t recall right now. I’ve also looked at online programs such as Reading Eggs and Click ‘n Read, etc. Here is what I’m leaning toward:
English/Grammar I really like the looks of almost ALL of Sandi Queen’s Language Arts books from Queen’s Homeschool Supplies. For the English class-type lessons, I’ll be using Language Lessons for Little Ones (LLFLO) Volume 1 for Jacob and Language Lessons for the Very Young (LLFTVY) Volume 2 for Evie. I’ll also throw in some of the copywork out of Copywork for Animal Lovers for Evie. I have already purchased English for the Thoughtful Child (EFTTC) Volume 1 before I discovered Queen’s, so we might work through that over the summer and/or do a lesson out of each book until EFTTC is finished. I know it sounds like a lot, but each lesson really only takes around 5 minutes to work through and sometimes only consists of orally answering questions. You can see a little from the images below.
Picture study in Language Lessons for Little Ones Volume 1. All he’ll need to do is discuss the questions about the picture in this lesson.
Lesson from Language Lessons for Little Ones Volume 1. Here you can see that each lesson won’t take more than a few minutes.
Sample of Language Lessons for the Very Young Volume 2. This book also contains picture studies as above in LLFLO.
Sample of copywork from Language Lessons for the Very Young Volume 2. Here you can see that each DAY only consists of copying 2 lines.
This is from English for the Thoughtful Child. Here you can see that a lot of Charlotte Mason language arts is simply TELLING something to the teacher.
Copywork for Animal Lovers
Phonics for Jacob Jacob will also need some phonics work, and in addition to the LLFLO above, I also think I’m going to add Pathway Readers and Workbooks (Primers). They aren’t very fancy, but they get the job done at a VERY low price. I believe lessons only cost about $30 for the whole year. Grade 1 technically includes extra “primer” books that are to be used prior to starting grade 1, so I’m going to go out on a limb and use them for kindergarten. These books were written for Amish children being taught in their schools, so they have strong family values and a biblical basis to all of their readers. I do think I’ll try to find some phonics computer software such as JumpStart, Reader Rabbit, or Clifford the Big Red Dog. We used up our free trial to Reading Eggs, and he did enjoy it (although truth be told he liked playing the nonsense games on their site more than the learning lessons). FYI – For anyone considering Click ‘n Read, we used the trial for that too, and it was much too hard for my 5 year old. They moved at a rapid pace and just didn’t give him enough time to let the lesson soak in. He really enjoyed the reward of seeing a Looney Tunes cartoon between lessons, but it just wasn’t worth it in the end.
Here is the complete set of the Pathway Readers and Workbooks for the 1st grade, but all but 4 of them are actually primers to use before 1st grade.
One exercise from the workbook. A lot of these are “pre-reading,” so I would read him the words, and he would circle.
Fill in the letter sounds.
This is from the seatwork book. Cut out the animal tails and glue them where they need to go.
Reading/Comprehension for Evie I’m also going to purchase the Pathway Readers and Workbooks (Grade 3) for Evie to use in addition to LLFTVY. She can read the stories and work in the workbooks independently, and I think she’ll like the animal and farm-based stories.
Here is the complete 3rd grade set (2 readers, 2 workbooks, and 2 teacher’s editions).
One of the exercises in the workbook.
Some vocabulary in the workbook.
Handwriting I’ll be using Printing with Pictures Primer for Jacob and Pictures in Cursive Primer for Evie.
This is Printing with Pictures by Queen Homeschool Supplies. This book teaches the standard manuscript letter formation for young kids, and then it also has color pictures followed by lessons where the child has to trace and copy words about the picture (as seen below). There are 6 books in this series.
This is one day’s lesson. The entire week is tracing and copying one word after another all in reference to a picture of a caterpillar who is green, slimy, crawling, yellow, with leaves.
This is Pictures in Cursive by Queen Homeschool Supplies. Each book contains about 12 weeks of writing lessons assuming you do 1 a day. There are 7 books in all.
It contains the usual practice of letters and blending in cursive, and then the following lessons are based on picture study with full-color art like the picture above.
You then have about 1 week’s worth of copywork in cursive based on the picture above: bare feet on dirt, hair pulled back, weeds are growing, tall red flowers, warm blue shawl, and she is knitting.
Five in a Row is basically a list of books that are suitable for younger kids (each volume goes up in difficulty). You read selected book for the week every day for 5 days, and each day, you focus on a different aspect of the book – art, history, geography, science, literature, culture, etc. These are all classic books that really hold the child’s attention. They also have crafts, activities, and recipes based on the book you’re focusing on. We “rowed” The Story About Ping during Spring break, and Jacob really liked it! He liked the math lesson where we had to count each of Ping’s family members and draw them on paper (represented by little circles). My older daughter like the art study where we learned about how drawing different lines around an object makes it looks like it is floating or moving through water.
This volume contains studies on 19 different classical children’s books.
Here is a very small sampling of one activity for this book. There are probably at least 10 different subjects/activities for each children’s book you can choose from when putting your lesson plan together.
The Prairie Primer is a very in depth study of each of the Little House books. It is very Bible based. We’ll read (or listen on audiobook) to a chapter, and then I’ll select the different subjects to focus on. For instance, for the first chapter, we will research bears and use the worksheet given to write down some facts, check a book out from the library that is suggested to read about bears, look up some words from the book (trundle bed, leather, venison, and lard), read Malachi 4:6 to learn why Laura’s father was important to her, eat “cracklings” and venison, make a corn cob doll, and begin to read a book on manners. These subjects I’ve picked out will take 2 days since we are dong the study slowly. The corn cob doll will actually be done during our art time for the week, so that won’t even be fit into this time block. Each week, there is a list of resources you may or may not want to gather, and then each day is broken down further into ideas and explanations. My daughter will LOVE this because she is an animal lover, and she (and I) love that time period. The Prairie Primer will also tie in well with our Truthquest History, which also covers that time period this year.
The Prairie Primer has 9 units (for each of 9 books), and it follows a book-a-month schedule. It can be easily modified to suit your own purposes, however. If you follow it every day as planned, you’ll complete the study in 1 years. It was written for kids in grade 3 through 6. It is not specifically written for girls, and there are testimonials about boys having just as much fun and learning just as much as girls do.
Here is a small look at the various topics you can cover in one chapter of one book. There are generally 5 to 10 (and sometimes more) topics you can cover for each subject.
So there are 4 major sections to our language arts “block.” Evie will have English/grammar (Queen’s LLFTVY), reading and comprehension (Pathway), handwriting (Pictures in Cursive), and literature (Prairie Primer). Jacob will have English (Queen’s LLFLO), phonics (Pathway), handwriting (Printing with Pictures), and literature (Five in a Row). Each of Queen’s Language Lessons will only take 15 minutes (or less). The Pathway Readers shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes. The handwriting should be around 15 minutes, and the literature (depending on the length of the chapter and the activities we do as part of the unit study) might take between 30 minutes to 45 minutes.
Free Reading & Family Read-alouds: Somehow, I need to squeeze in some reading time for Evie to do on her own. I’ll take this slowly since this is all going to be a shock to her system (and mine as well). There will be suggested books to read from the Prairie Primer, and some of them might be able to be read by her and then narrated to me later so I can check for comprehension – or read aloud to me. Otherwise I will look at the Ambleside reading list for 3rd grade and pick a few I’d like her to read (although right now I don’t think her comprehension would be good enough with those books – we might need to go to the 2nd grade book list). I think there will be plenty of books that are suggested through our various studies that we’ll be able to find a few for her to read during quiet time. I’m also not going to specifically hunt for books to read aloud since most of our subjects have read-aloud books (Truthquest, Prairie Primer, Five in a Row, Children’s Story Bible, etc.). We’ll just see what comes up. I’ll always be on the look-out for books to read or audiobooks to listen to about the various topics we’re covering – there are even math books you can use as living books!