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Language Arts Curriculum

The word "organic" need not conjure images of whole grain munching hippies in mysticism-drenched communes. (Or of modern urbanites listening to indie music on their iPods, for that matter.) In the realm of education, organic learning rejects the arbitrary division of subjects and presents information as a united whole. Particularly in language arts education, this means a different approach than most of us are used to.

For those of us who grew up in public school, we're used to one class period (and set of textbooks) for phonics, reading, spelling, vocabulary, handwriting, composition, etc. Even most private schools follow this model; and, because they're accustomed to it, the same method is implemented by many homeschool parents.

With the resurgence in popularity of Classical and Charlotte Mason education, the interest in unit studies, and a general departure from strictly textbook teaching, parents and educators have gradually realized that unnaturally separating topics isn't necessarily the best way to teach them. In order to read well, kids need to spell well, have large and growing vocabularies, and understand the nature of English as a hybrid language. To write well, they need these skills and others, like the ability to think clearly and organize ideas. Why not teach these things all together?

The best examples we've seen so far of integrated language arts courses are First Language Lessons (for younger students), and Spell to Write and Read (to be used as long as you need or see fit). Both start from the beginning, and both firmly implant in kids' minds the interconnectedness of all language study, showing them how the skills they're acquiring are used to communicate, and why knowing as well as possible is essential for success in school, at the jobs they'll have one day, and even in simple interpersonal communication at home.

Here is a quick summary of the Language Arts curricula we offer, in alphabetical order:

A Beka Language Arts Grades K-12

While some educators are trying to integrate all language arts, others refuse to abandon the old model; A Beka Language Arts retains the division of subjects, but collates them into a workable whole with lesson plans and teacher's guides. There are still separate books for vocabulary, writing and grammar, spelling, reading, and handwriting, but the lesson plan/curriculum guides provideunity.

AOP Lifepacs: Language Arts Grades K-12

A thoroughly traditional approach is offered by AOP Lifepacs: Language Arts. Covering kindergarten through 12th grade, students learn to read, write, spell, etc. through a series of 10 workbooks per year. The order of the material seems disorganized, so you probably want to plan on using this either straight through or not, though it would work as a remedial catch-up for struggling students. You could also potentially use single workbooks to focus on specific skills.

Core Skills: Language Arts Grades 1-12

Good for remedial work and reinforcement, Steck-Vaughn's Core Skills: Language Arts are pretty comprehensive, covering most ground needed for any grade, but lack unity or enough drill and review to really cement information in kids' heads. Many parents use these disposable workbooks to make sure they've covered everything or to refresh their students' memory on various topics before taking standardized tests.

Emma Serl Language Lessons Grades 2-12

For old-fashioned types, the Emma Serl Language Lessons books offer reading and writing assignments originally published in the first 15 years of the 20th century. Be warned: some exercises require knowledge most modern students won't have. However, these are good introductory courses, and focus on an element of language arts most programs don't: critical thinking.

First Language Lessons Grades K-5

First Language Lessons is exceptionally thorough. The author implements a "four-strand approach," using memorization, copywork and dictation, narration, and grammar to teach reading and writing. She stresses the need for kids to get things right the first time, so don't worry about how fast you're going—as long as your kids understand the material and can implement it consistently.

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Jensen's English Grades 7-9

Inside the bright covers of Jensen's single-volume English courses is a clear, no-frills approach to learning grammar, vocabulary, writing, and punctuation. Jensen's own style is often fairly verbose and uninteresting, but for getting the rules and the basics of academic writing down (at a non-expert level), there aren't many courses as straightforward or complete. The fact that you only have to buy four single relatively inexpensive books rather than a whole curriculum is a bonus.

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Life of Fred Language Arts Grades 6-12

This follows the same general format as Schmidt's math books. The course is student-directed, and relies more on the interesting format than activities or review for instruction. Kids will enjoy reading about Fred and his strangely normal-yet-abnormal antics that Schmidt manages to make interesting and funny, but we feel it isn't sufficient for high school and is best covered in 8th grade.

Learning Language Arts Through Literature Grades 1-12

The Learning Language Arts Through Literature series is a prime example of integrated language arts instruction. Kids learn the elements of language arts through reading and copying good literature, as well as periodic unit study-esque book studies. Unfortunately, the literature selections are often too brief, and the information for students learn is often presented incompletely.

Queen Homeschool Language Lessons Grades K-12

Queen Homeschool Language Lessons is very limited in scope. It is exercise-based and encourages plenty of drill, but instructions are truncated, and students will end up doing more repetitive work than learning new information. These workbooks do, however, make excellent supplementary work in tandem with a more well-rounded curriculum.

Royal Fireworks Press Language Arts Grades K-6

The language arts books from Royal Fireworks Press have been painstakingly designed to appeal not only to your student's brain, but also to their emotions, their aesthetic sense, etc. The approach is a traditional teacher guide/student worktext setup, but the methods employed are genuinely unique, and will keep even the most gifted students challenged and working hard. We don't carry these new as they are constantly being tweaked by the publisher.

Spectrum Language Arts Grades 2-6

Good for remedial work and reinforcement, Spectrum Language Arts are pretty comprehensive but lack unity or enough drill and review to really cement information in kids' heads. Many parents use these disposable workbooks to get their students up to grade level before standardized tests.

Spell to Write and Read Grades k-12

Wanda Sanseri emphasizes timing in her Spell to Write and Read program. Students are taught to spell words before they're taught to read them, a peculiar inversion she insists has a long heritage, and which many testify truly works. Not much is left out of this course, and kids will emerge from it to take on pretty much any language-related task you can throw at them with confidence and skill.

Integrated language arts programs take quite a bit more commitment than stand-alone programs that teach writing or reading or whatever. You can't really jump right in or right out of them because the material is organized in such a way as to build on previous concepts, or even simply with the understanding that students will follow the same program for multiple years.

Some of these courses are excellent, but we strongly suggest you do plenty of research before starting any of them. Those that only cover the earliest years (like First Language Lessons and Spell to Write and Read) are better because the intention is that eventually students will grow out of them and move on to something else. Whatever you choose to do, be involved; a strong language arts foundation is essential for success in every other subject, and you can't afford to simply assume your kids are doing well and learning what they need.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.

 

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564 Items found Print
70 Basic Phonogram Cards
by Wanda Sanseri
5th edition from Back Home Industries
for 1st-4th grade
in Spell to Write and Read (Location: B09-02A)
70 Basic Phonograms - CD
by Wanda Sanseri
from Back Home Industries
for Kindergarten-4th grade
in Spell to Write and Read (Location: B09-02A)
Adam of the Road - TLP Bundle
by Barbara Blakey
for 3rd-6th grade
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Adam of the Road - TLP Guide
Total Language Plus Literature Guides
from Total Language Plus
for 6th-8th Grade
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Alpha List
by Wanda Sanseri
from Back Home Industries
for 1st-4th grade
in Spell to Write and Read (Location: B09-02A)
American Literature Poetry - Guide
from Total Language Plus
for 9th-12th grade
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
American Literature: Nonfiction - TLP Guide
from Total Language Plus
for 11th-12th grade
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
American Literature: Short Stories - Guide
by Barbara Blakey
from Total Language Plus
for 9th-12th grade
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Amos Fortune, Free Man
by Elizabeth Yates
from Puffin Books
Realistic Fiction for 4th-8th grade
1951 Newbery Medal winner
in Realistic Fiction (Location: A09-01A)
Amos Fortune, Free Man - TLP Guide
Total Language Plus Literature Guides
from Total Language Plus
for 5th-6th Grade
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Animal Farm
Signet Classics
by George Orwell
from Signet Classics
Utopian/Dystopian Literature for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
Animal Farm - TLP Bundle
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Animal Farm - TLP Focus Guide
from Total Language Plus
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Anne of Green Gables
Anne #1
by L. M. Montgomery
from Bantam Books
Orphan Stories for 5th-9th grade
in Realistic Fiction (Location: A09-01A)
Anne of Green Gables - TLP Bundle
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Anne of Green Gables - TLP Guide
Total Language Plus Literature Guides
by Barbara Blakey
from Total Language Plus
for 7th-9th Grade
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Around the World in Eighty Days
by Jules Verne, George M. Towle (Translator)
from Bantam Books
for 7th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
Around the World in Eighty Days - TLP Bundle
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Around the World in Eighty Days - TLP Guide
Total Language Plus Literature Guides
from Total Language Plus
for 9th-11th Grade
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Beall's Learning Games Phonogram Fun Packet
by Bealls' Learning Games
from Beall's Learning Games
for Kindergarten-4th grade
in Spell to Write and Read (Location: B09-02A)
Ben and Me
by Robert Lawson
from Little, Brown & Company
Humor/historical fiction for 2nd-5th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
Ben and Me - TLP Bundle
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Ben and Me - TLP Focus Guide
from Total Language Plus
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Bible Friends Activity Book
3rd edition from A Beka Books
for 1st grade
Black Learning Log
by Wanda Sanseri
from Back Home Industries
for Kindergarten-4th grade
in Spell to Write and Read (Location: B09-02A)
British Poetry Anthology
from Common Sense Press
for 9th-12th grade
Bronze Bow
by Elizabeth George Speare
from Houghton Mifflin
Historical Fiction for 5th-9th grade
1962 Newbery Medal winner
in Historical Fiction (Location: A05-01A)
Bronze Bow - TLP Guide
Total Language Plus Literature Guides
from Total Language Plus
for 7th-9th Grade
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
But Not Forsaken
by Helen Good Brenneman
from Christian Light Education
for 7th-9th grade
in Christian Light Language Arts (Location: B15-01C)
Caddie Woodlawn - TLP Guide
Total Language Plus Literature Guides
from Total Language Plus
for 5th-6th Grade
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Call of the Wild
Puffin Classics
by Jack London
from Puffin Books
Action/Adventure for 7th-10th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: A06-03A)
Call of the Wild - TLP Bundle
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Call of the Wild - TLP Guide
Total Language Plus Literature Guides
from Total Language Plus
for 7th-9th Grade
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
by Jean Lee Latham
from Houghton Mifflin
Biography for 5th-9th grade
1956 Newbery Medal winner
in Historical Fiction (Location: A05-01A)
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch - TLP Bundle
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch - TLP Guide
Total Language Plus Literature Guides
from Total Language Plus
for 6th-8th Grade
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Charlotte's Web
by E. B. White
from HarperCollins
for 2nd-6th grade
1953 Newbery Honor Book
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
Charlotte's Web - TLP Bundle
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Charlotte's Web - TLP Guide
Total Language Plus Literature Guides
from Total Language Plus
for 3rd-4th Grade
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: B18-06A)
Christian Light Language Arts - 100 Extra Practice Sheets
Sunrise 2 from Christian Light Education
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in Christian Light Language Arts (Location: B15-01C)
Christian Light Language Arts - 100 Teacher's Guide (with answers)
Sunrise 2 from Christian Light Education
for 1st grade
in Christian Light Language Arts (Location: B15-01C)
Christian Light Language Arts - 200 Extra Practice
Sunrise 2 from Christian Light Education
for 2nd grade
in Christian Light Language Arts (Location: B15-01C)
Christian Light Language Arts - 200 Teacher's Guide
Sunrise 2 from Christian Light Education
for 2nd grade
in Christian Light Language Arts (Location: B15-01C)
Christian Light Language Arts - 300 Extra Practice
Sunrise 2 from Christian Light Education
for 3rd grade
in Christian Light Language Arts (Location: B15-01C)
Christian Light Language Arts - 300 Teacher's Guide
Sunrise 2 from Christian Light Education
for 3rd grade
in Christian Light Language Arts (Location: B15-01C)
Christian Light Language Arts - 4 Teacher's Guide
from Christian Light Education
for 4th grade
in Christian Light Language Arts (Location: B15-01C)
Christian Light Language Arts - 400 Quiz & Test Answer Key
from Christian Light Education
for 4th grade
in Christian Light Language Arts (Location: B15-01C)
Christian Light Language Arts - 500 Teacher's Guide
from Christian Light Education
for 5th grade
in Christian Light Language Arts (Location: B15-01C)
Christian Light Language Arts - 600 Teacher's Guide
from Christian Light Education
for 6th grade
in Christian Light Language Arts (Location: B15-01C)
Christian Light Language Arts - 800 Teacher's Guide
from Christian Light Education
for 8th grade
in Christian Light Language Arts (Location: B15-01C)
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