Virtual Curriculum Fair–Playing with Words: The Language Arts

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Homeschooling Heats and Minds is hosting a Virtual Curriculum Fair the month of January – You may read more about it – and see the line up for upcoming articles on her blog post  – Homeschooling Hearst and Minds – Virtual Homeschool Curriculum Fair

Curriculum Fair Introduction:

Although many of the bloggers are also product reviewers – This is not set up to be “reviews”.  This is the nuts and bolts, the how and why of what we do.  This is the real look at what has stayed on the table – after the reviews. 

I prefer the term Resources. We have quite a few of them in our Learning Library. However, we do not go by their scope and sequence – we are not bound to their grade levels nor do we try to fit into their time frames – we are never “behind” nor “ahead”. We simply move to the next day – looking towards our goals.

We have goals for the boys set by

  • The Word,
  • Us as Parents,
  • The Boys for Themselves, and
  • The State of Oregon.

State requirements:

Language Arts is one of the areas that the State of Oregon ultimately has a pull in directing our daily discipline of building on the fundamentals of Language Arts. We have books from Daily Gram, Easy Grammar system – to help keep the simple grammar ideas at the forefront of our minds.  When I see that we have had more creative free flow writing, without an emphasis on Mechanics – this is the the tool that will come to the front of the workboxes for a few minutes of morning review and practice.

Beyond requirements, a love for words:

As for the Bigger Picture, I want the boys to have a love for words, ultimately a love for The Word.  I want them to be comfortable in writing and  speech, demonstrating that they are:

  • able to understand what they have read,
  • able to discuss topics verbally that they have learned through texts, audio and videos,
  • able to write to convey thoughts, give directions, and share information,
  • and simply to be able to fill out the hundreds of forms that are necessary in America today. Winking smile 

Starting points:

When the boys were younger, we started out in two camps –

Understanding the Mechanics of Words – though Phonics

Hearing Words – through books, audio tapes and videos.



While the boys were learning about words – we used a lot of Narration.  Reading a story – then discussing it verbally together. Telling back the story sometimes as simple as stating it in our own words, or acting it out for dad, creating puppets, making clay figures, and recording videos.  Little by little, the writing weaved into the verbal narration. Copywork would be used as a tool to practice our mechanics. Copywork would stretch from a sentence to filling a page. Mott Media – Ruth Beechick

The Goal directs the Activity.

If our goal is to have better Penmanship – then that can be done through art, copywork, or simple practice. When looking at the Penmanship – I might ignore punctuation or capitals.

If our goal is Creative Writing – then I might not focus on Penmanship – but rather the free flowing thoughts that are able to be put down on paper.

If the goal is Mechanics – then I might not look towards volumes of content, but rather how correctly the thoughts were written down.

The struggle I see – with new learners and trainers – when one looks at Language Arts as a whole – it becomes a Giant of Frustration and Burden!  Reading. Spelling. Creativity. Technical Writing.  Book Reports. If a child is excited about a book and writes a paragraph or two, did he convey the thoughts of the story?  Or will he spend the next hour fixing the mistakes he made on the paper?  If he is excited about sharks and wants to write a report for dad, he gets super crazy with pictures and paragraphs and notations – but then is critiqued for a few missed capitals or periods, did you see the joy of all of the research and effort first?  Look at these fun papers, and quietly tag a mark in your memory, of a lesson to have on another time, to show them how to separate a list of three things with commas, but praise them for the written word.

As they grow more mature:

Now that the boys are older – They are writing all of the time, for every subject.  We keep notebooks and journals on all of our topics – Nature, Geography, History, Literature, Science, and Latin. I consider the time that they use narrating, copywork from field guides, working online, book reports, etc – as Language Arts.

However, there are weeks of time that we are more verbal than written with our learning – during these times – we pull out the Daily Grams and a couple of other resources to keep the daily discipline going:


Rebecca Celsor The Write Foundation

Amy Hastings Olson, Writing Tales

Both of these allow flexibility, creativity, formal learning – in a Classical Structured Style.

We really enjoy the Write Foundation – as she has spent many years in co-ops with many children – teaching how to write. She combines activities with step by step lessons, with basic, structures, creative, and formal assignments.  Each week begins with an overview lesson that our whole family  (class) participates in.  Then, the student has individual work to schedule which requires little supervision. I go through the checklist on the weekends to see if his notebook is finished, and he circles any areas that he’d like help with. 

By the way – we do this with Daily Grams as well.  The boys use Grammar and Punctuation help books to answer questions – and circle the questions that they can not figure out on their own. 

Jon is working through the Writing Tales – he reads a simple classical story – then completes a weeks worth of grammar, vocabulary, copywork, narration, proof editing, and reading.

For the next 3 months, we are going to be digging deep planning 2-3 days a week  in these resources – to brush up on our Mechanics. I read ahead in the lessons to see what the goals are – and try to incorporate them into our notebooking pages as well.

I like that each of these books comes with great customer service, very detailed teacher instructions, able to use with a co-op or an individual – can be flexible for different ages – and makes learning enjoyable. The largest thing I’ve seen from using resources like these, is the sense of accomplishment with the boys. Being introduced to a topic – like poetry – or vocabulary – and then working towards mastery.  What seemed difficult at the first of the year, is now fun and engaging.

Summing it up

You can tell by the length of this post – that “Language Arts” is pretty hard to pin point.  Language is in every thing we do, in “school” or out.  We are constantly learning how to communicate – we are constantly grabbing an ipod or laptop to look something up, reaching for a book to understand something – or for enjoyment – and sharing what we learn with others. Ultimately, Language is the easiest for me to have what might seem a relaxed unschooled environment, but I’ve spent 9 years in constant training as a teacher to see what factors need to be included in our day.

If you have any questions feel free to comment  – I’ve been interrupted a bajillion times while writing this, It is the First of the New Year with late nights and bouncy boys with a sleep over – so please forgive the writer’s grammar, punctuation  and mechanics as I freely wrote to convey a thought. Winking smile

(I am not considering any of these posts as ‘reviews’  – these are the products we use in our home – I am not an affiliate for any of these companies and will gain nothing by your purchase through the links. I provided the links just to save you a minute of Google search time.)

Here are the links to the rest of the Carnival!!

About +Angie Wright

The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
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6 Responses to Virtual Curriculum Fair–Playing with Words: The Language Arts

  1. I love what you said about calling homeschooling materials “resources” – that’s perfect! I feel the same way about the things we use … never behind, never ahead … simply right where each child needs to be.

  2. Pingback: a homeschooling carnival – January 11, 2012 :: Garden of Learning

  3. Jessica says:

    As an Oregon Native now living East, it is really interesting to me to compare the requirements between states for homeschooling. It sounds like y’all are doing a lot of good stuff!

  4. Pingback: Reading and Beyond: Language Arts in Our Homeschool

  5. Pingback: Fenced in Family » Reading on Time

  6. Pingback: It’s All About the Art of Language :: Garden of Learning

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