Our Homeschool Language Arts this Year

Hello! I hope you are having a wonderful homeschool week! I am planning to do a series on the blog about how we are doing different subjects in our homeschool this year with all the different ages we have. I’m happy to answer any questions about the resources we are using; just leave me a comment on this post.

First up is language arts. For us, this subject includes grammar, writing, spelling or vocabulary work, and handwriting practice. Here’s how we are handling language arts in our homeschool this year:

11th grade

Grammar: I have decided to let my 11th grader be done with grammar.  She has completed all three seasons of Analytical Grammar and had started on one of that company’s high school review books but was finding it a bit tedious. She has done grammar every year since she was six and feels like she has gotten everything from it she can. So we have dropped this as a formal subject.

Writing: We decided to give Bravewriter’s online classes a try this year and I am so glad we did. She enrolled in Expository Essay: Exploratory and Persuasive to start off the fall, then finished the fall semester by doing Nanowrimo. She is beginning Bravewriter’s Expository Essay: Rhetorical Critique and Analysis this week, which is kind of a “part two” of the first class she took. She has really enjoyed the Bravewriter class format and feels it has been a really good experience for her as she transitions to college classes (she is dual-enrolled at a local community college). I plan to have my other kids also take Bravewriter classes in high school so they get to experience someone besides me giving them feedback on their writing. Besides this, her writing is primarily taking place through her other subjects and dual enrollment classes.

Vocabulary – She is completing the Vocabulary from Classical Roots series by finishing up Book E, which will complete her formal study of this subject.

9th grade and 7th grade

My two boys overlap a bit, so I’m going to combine them here…

Grammar: My 9th grader (and my 7th grader) are working through Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind. We have kind of a mixed bag reaction to this resource. My kids, to be honest, protest when I bring it out. But, being one of those people who really sees the importance of grammar, I have asked them to go through a year of it. The program is designed to be repeated every year, but we’ll most likely find something different for next year.  I personally think it’s a very thorough, rigorous program, but in my house it causes a lot of whining so I don’t think it will have staying power.  We have compromised by doing whatever we can orally and only completing half of the diagrams for each lesson. We try to cover 2-3 lessons per week.

 

 

Writing: Both my 9th and 7th graders are working through the fifth book of Writing Strands. We use this book in a bit of a loose manner, in that I don’t require the boys to do all of the assignments. They look at each assigned writing project as they get to it and decide if they want to tackle it or not. If not, I ask them to write up a nonfiction paper on something that interests them instead. Writing Strands is quite creative-writing oriented, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, so this has been our solution.  They just work a bit on either their Writing Strands assignment or other writing project a bit each day; we don’t try to stick to the exact daily assignments in the book. I am currently trying to decide if I want to introduce more Bravewriter-style writing projects as another alternative to the Writing Strands assignments.

Spelling and Vocabulary: My 9th grader is finished with spelling (he did the Spelling Workout series) and is working on vocabulary now with Wordly Wise 9. He does a few pages each week and at the end of each lesson we do an oral quiz on the words before he moves on to the next lesson. Easy and pretty painless.  My 7th grader is working through Spelling Workout G, at the rate of about one lesson per week.

 

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4th grade

Grammar: My fourth grader is working through First Language Lessons 4. I really, really love First Language Lessons for elementary (review here). It has just the right amount of rigor, and there’s even a bit of fun sprinkled throughout the lessons. Last week, for example, we made a sandwich and used the process to review prepositions.  We usually do 2-3 lessons a week.

Writing: She is using Writing Strands 4. I modify the assignments for her as needed. For example, she just had an assignment to draw a floor plan of the whole house and then write a description for each room. I had a feeling that assignment  might cause a meltdown, so we have been working together on a description of just one room (we skipped the floor plan idea entirely). I also give her the option of other writing assignments if one of the Writing Strands assignments doesn’t catch her fancy.

Spelling: She is working through Spelling Workout D, usually completing one lesson each week.

Handwriting: My fourth grader is also doing handwriting practice, just a bit each day. She is using Zaner-Bloser for this (book 4).

In addition to the above, I am also using Five in a Row Volume 4 with her, which includes a language arts component for each book. This is just a fun extra for her right now and we are taking a few weeks to “row” each book. Our current book is Snowflake Bentley.

And that’s how we’re doing language arts this year in our homeschool!

Woodworking for Homeschoolers

My boys (ages 14 and 12) requested woodworking for their art program this year. They are pretty handy with tools and loved the idea of building things for schoolwork. We researched several books and they eventually settled on The All-New Woodworking for Kids.

This book is the only resource ~ besides tools and wood ~ we need for this year’s woodworking. It lays out step-by-step, easy-to-follow instructions with plenty of photos, and my two have had no trouble completing their projects independently. I love that they can do this totally on their own!
 The book begins with a section covering different types of tools, safety measures to take, and technique. I had each of my boys read through this section before they started their first project. Here are a couple of the projects they have already completed:
A miter box

A toolbox (they each made their own)
They are currently working on making their own workbench ~ that one’s taking a while because it’s a bigger project and we’ve had a couple of Fridays off. Typically, they devote 2-3 hours on Fridays to their current project, which has been working well. We have a lighter day on Fridays, so the sawing and hammering aren’t as disruptive to the girls. They handle these projects mostly by themselves, with occasional input from their Dad. I failed woodshop (seriously) so I told them upfront I was not going to be much help. They have really taken off on their own with this, which has been nice to see.
We turned a corner of the basement over to them for their projects. I would post a photo of their work area, but our basement isn’t terribly photogenic;). They have an old workbench down there, plus a large folding table to lay out their tools. My rule for them after finishing each project is that they look ahead to the next one, decide what materials need to be purchased, and text their Dad a list. He picks up the supplies when he gets a chance, and they are ready to go for the following Friday.
Woodworking is a huge hit in our homeschool this year and I am looking forward to the other projects they will build this year! As for my other kiddos, Rose isn’t quite ready for woodworking and Grace had no interest, otherwise I would have loved to get them involved too. I’ll share what my girls are doing for art in a future post.

Till next time!

A Review of Prima Latina

 I have tried (and mostly failed!) to include Latin in our homeschool in the past. We have tried both Lively Latin and Latin for Children, neither of which “stuck”. This year three of my kiddos are using Latin programs from Memoria Press in our homeschool…. and I am happy to report that Latin is going very well so far! Today I’m going to share some thoughts on Prima Latina, which I am using with my fourth grader.  In a future post I will share about First Form Latin, which I am using with my boys.

For Prima Latina, I purchased the whole kit and caboodle: the complete set as sold by Memoria Press. I also purchased the lesson plans from Memoria Press for a few extra dollars. You don’t necessarily need the complete set, but I appreciate and use each one of these items. Having them all makes teaching Latin much easier for me, which is key.

Here’s what I purchased for Prima Latina:

1. A schedule – I purchased the Prima Latina schedule, which lays out a day-by-day plan for completing the program in 32 weeks. This is not strictly necessary, but I love checking boxes and it helps me stay on track. The schedule prompts me to do things like review previous lessons and tells me which exercises to have Rose complete each day.

Prima Latina complete set

 2. The Prima Latina DVD –  I love our Prima Latina DVD day! We start each new lesson with “our” Latin teacher, right in our living room.  It has been so nice to have someone else introduce the lesson and go over the vocab, while I just sit and listen with my cup of tea!

Watching our Latin DVD
3. The teacher’s manual and student workbook – The Prima Latina Teacher’s manual and student workbook are really the heart of the course. The teacher’s manual lays out everything that you are to teach and I love the format – it’s so clean and simple. It makes teaching Latin feel doable and not overwhelming. The workbook contains the important parts of the lesson for the student to look at, such as the new vocabulary words and sayings for that week. It’s spiral-bound, which makes it super easy to work in. 
Teacher’s Manual
Working in the student workbook

4. Prima Latina CD – You could do without this if you had the DVD’s (and vice versa). I personally like having both to add some variety to our lessons. It’s nice to hear someone else pronounce things! We listen to the CD once a week, usually on day three of our lessons, to review pronunciation. 

5Flashcards – The flashcards are sold as a set combined with flashcards for Latina Christiana. I use these on the last day of our lesson, just as a different way to review our vocab. 

Here’s how we do Prima Latina in a typical week:

Monday (or Day 1) – We watch the DVD lesson. We also very briefly review previous lessons (although often Leigh Lowe includes a review in her DVD lesson).  Rose does her vocabulary drill sheet – this is a reproducible part of the workbook designed to be done three times a week. She simply writes out each vocabulary word and it’s meaning.

Tuesday (or Day 2) – We review the lesson material (less than five minutes) and focus on the derivatives included in our vocab list – what they mean, and what Latin word they come from. Then, Rose does the next section of vocabulary drill on her sheet.

Wednesday (or Day 3) – We review the lesson by listening to the CD and Rose does the first page of exercises in her workbook.

Thursday (or Day 4) – We review the lesson and Rose does the second page of exercises in her workbook.

Friday (or Day 5) – We go over all of the vocabulary we have learned so far using the flashcards and Rose does the final section on her vocabulary drill sheet.

Now, we hardly ever follow this exact schedule to the day, because much as I’d like to hit Latin every day, it just doesn’t always happen. So, for example, tomorrow is Monday but we are actually going to be doing “Wednesday” work. I would estimate that we spend about 15-20 minutes a day on Prima Latina.

Prima Latina is a Christian curriculum and we are a secular homeschool family, but I still greatly prefer this program to others we have tried because it is so user-friendly. It is not “preachy” at all, it just includes some religious words in the vocab from time to time. We are also asked to learn a Latin prayer each week, and I do this with Rose because I think the language is beautiful and it’s an easy way for us to practice speaking in Latin. You could skip the prayers and still have a full program, but we find it fun and challenging to learn them.

So those are just a few of my thoughts on Prima Latina ~ I think it makes a very doable introduction to Latin and my only regret is that I didn’t try it with my older kids!

Poetry in Our Homeschool This Year

I have a whole bunch of  things I want to share about how we are doing things this homeschool year. Last week I shared our math picture book list. Today, I’d like to share what we are doing for poetry this year. We do two things for poetry: read it and memorize it. Our poetry reading this year is as follows…

My fourth grader is reading through A Child’s Introduction to Poetry with me, like all of her siblings before her. I love this book! A Child’s Introduction to Poetry is a selection from BookShark’s American History 1.  Each day we read a few pages about a certain form of poetry and the poets who wrote it…so far we have learned about nursery rhymes, nonsense verse, and limericks, among others . After we read, we pop in the accompanying CD and listen to a narrator read several poems in that style aloud. If you are looking for an easy-to-use, engaging introduction to poetry, I highly recommend this resource!

My seventh grader is reading through Favorite Poems Old and New with me. This is a selection from BookShark’s World History 1. But we owned the book long before that…in fact we are on our second copy because our first one literally fell apart from use. We are usually assigned to read a few poems each day, which I read aloud right before we do our literature read-aloud. If you could only  have one poem book in your homeschool, this would definitely be the one I recommend!

My ninth grader is reading A Treasury of Poetry for Young People, a selection from BookShark American History 100. He is doing all of his own reading this year, except for poetry, because I think it “goes” much better read aloud and discussed, just a bit. This book is unique because it focuses on just six poets. Each poet has their own section, which includes a biography followed by several poems. It’s an all-in-one poet study and I enjoy the focus on just one poet at a time. Note: this book is out of print on Amazon, but BookShark carries it. It is a bit spendy though, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend buying it outside of the program since there are so many other great poetry books out there.

My eleventh grader is reading Heart to Heart this year, a selection from Sonlight’s Core 300 20th Century World History. It’s a pretty light poetry year for her; I believe she is typically only assigned a poem or two a week to read. Still, the book is a nice addition to this core and quite unique.  Each page depicts a painting, sculpture or other artwork, and then an accompanying poem that was inspired by that artwork. Such a neat idea! She prefers to do most of her work independently at this point, so I don’t read this one aloud with her, but I look forward to doing so with Christopher when he starts this Core later this year. 
The second piece of our poetry study, besides reading, is memory work. My three younger kids are memorizing several poems this year. They choose their own poems from any of the poetry resources we have, though Favorite Poems Old and New is their favorite resource by far. Each day, they read their poem to themselves several times.  Once they have it down, they recite it to me, then type the poem up (I type Rose’s) and file it in their binder. I usually ask them to memorize around five poems a year, depending on length. Memorizing poetry is one of the few things I remember from high school – I can still recite Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” from junior year English class.

So that’s this year’s poetry study in a nutshell.  Thanks for stopping by!

Math with Picture Books

For several years now I have been determined to gather a collection of math picture books and use them to add interest to our math studies. I have failed to accomplish this each year, but this year I actually did it! I’m going to share our reading list in a minute, but first I’ll tell you how we’re using math picture books in our homeschool.

 We read a picture book each week.

 That’s it. Everyone reads a math picture book each week, from the 14 year old down to my 9 year old (my 16 year old is trying to finish up Algebra 2 while doing Geometry, so she’s excused).   Some will be overly simple for my older kids, or go over the head of my younger one.  Others may give a little food for thought, or explain a concept in a way that finally makes something click.

Our Math Picture Book List

1. Perimeter, Area, and Volume: A Monster Book

2. Shape Up! Fun with Triangles and Other Polygons

3. Multiplying Menace

4. Multiplying Menace Divides

5. Full House: An Invitation to Fractions

6. What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras?

7. Actual Size

 8. The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Early Mathematics

9. Mummy Math

10. Apple Fractions

11. The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat

12. Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci

13. A Remainder of One

14. On Beyond a Million

15. Math Potatoes

16. Spaghetti and Meatballs for All

17. Mystery Math: A First Book of Algebra

18. Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi

19. Math Curse

20. One Grain of Rice

21. Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone

22. Cut Down to Size at High Noon

23. If You Made a Million

24. The King’s Chessboard

25. How Big is a Foot?

So far, this is a great success! I have my youngest choose a book for me to  read aloud to her each week. That way I get to experience them all too. Math with picture books is one of my very favorite things about our new homeschool year.

Till next time!

Our 2017-2018 Homeschool Curriculum Picks

It’s been awhile since I’ve been on the blog…summer just kind of got away from me somehow. I hope to get back to a more regular blogging schedule this fall. We start our new school year tomorrow and I just realized that I never shared our full plans for this year! So, without further ado…

Our 2017-2018 Homeschool Curriculum Picks

Rose ~ Fourth Grade

*Language Arts*

*Math*

*History & Literature*

*Science*

*Electives*

James ~ 7th Grade

*Language Arts*

  • Advanced Language Lessons (Well-Trained Mind)
  • Writing Strands 5
  • Spelling Workout G
  • Memorize 3-5 poems
  • Follow The Well-Trained Mind logic-stage suggestions for learning 3-level outlines and literary essays

*Math*

*Logic*

*History & Literature*

*Science*

*Electives*

Christopher ~ 9th Grade

*Language Arts*

  • Advanced Language Lessons (Well-Trained Mind)
  • Writing Strands 5
  • Wordly Wise 9
  • Memorize 3-5 poems
  • Follow The Well-Trained Mind logic/rhetoric stage suggestions for literary essays and outlining work

*Math*

*Logic*

*History and Literature*

*Science*

*Electives*

  • All-New Woodworking for Kids
  • The Annotated Mona Lisa
  • What to Listen for in Music
  • First Form Latin
  • Fluenz Spanish, supplemented with Duolingo Spanish
  • What Color is Your Parachute for Teens

  • Grace ~ 11th Grade

    *Language Arts*

    *Math*

    *Logic*

    *History & Literature*

    • Sonlight Core 300 (starting with week 12, going into Sonlight’s Economic & Goverment Core after)

    *Science*

    *Electives*

    She also plans to take the SAT next spring so she’ll prepare for that over this year, using Kahn Academy. And hopefully we’ll get some driver’s ed in the mix as well!

    Then, with everyone, I plan to do:

    In addition, everyone is continuing with their busy sports schedules, so I think we’ll have plenty to keep ourselves busy! I’ll be sharing more on just how we’re using all of this curriculum, and some thoughts on it, as we go about our year.

    Thanks for stopping by! 

    Seventh Grade Homeschool Plans

    James will be in seventh grade next year! Here is my tentative plan for him.

    Our Seventh Grade Homeschool Plans

    Math

    History & Literature 

    Language Arts

    Foreign Language

    • Duolingo French
    • Possibly The Latin Road to English Grammar, which I really want to try with the older three – I miss doing Latin and this seems like an easy choice for multiple people to do together. 

    Art, music, critical thinking, and science will be group subjects this year and I will post separately about them as I figure them out. If you want to see my previously posted plans for my rising fourth grader they are here. Now onto my rising ninth grader!