English / Language Arts

Language Arts CurriculumLanguage Arts Resources

The goal of all language arts is clear communication.

It's also one of two main required subject areas (along with math) in state standardized testing. A knowledge of language arts is required to drive a car, order from a menu, be understood, read subtitles on foreign films, pray, and most other useful activity known to humankind. Language is one of the primary ingredients for successful human culture and civilization.

Yet we at Exodus Books talk to parents every day who are unclear exactly what constitutes language arts, how to teach them, if composition is as important as reading, etc. They might think terms like English, composition and reading are interchangeable. Or they teach a single element of language arts (like vocabulary) and are confused when their kids score poorly on a grammar test. Or....or....or....

But what ARE the "Language Arts"?

The term Language Arts refers to the tools needed to read, write, speak, and understand a given language. Yes, it's a broad definition. But it also means the collective language arts are all interrelated, and that should actually be a cause for relief rather than fear.

Because of this interrelatedness, splitting the various topics into stand-alone subjects is nearly impossible.At the same time, all kids have strengths and weaknesses, so you can apply focus and de-emphasiswhere needed. Topics that fall under the LA umbrella include (but aren't limited to) phonics, penmanship/handwriting, reading comprehension, listening skills (dictation), spelling and vocabulary, grammar, composition, research skills, speech, rhetoric, and more.

Does that mean you have to find a single program that covers all this territory? By no means. There aren't many "total language arts" programs available, and fewer still that live up to that promise. So does that mean you have to find curricula for each topic, and then somehow manage to correlate everything into a unified whole for your kiddos? Well....yeah, kinda.

A goal a day keeps the headaches away (and CSD, and bad grades, etc.)

Yes, this sounds like a lot. Be assured: it doesn't just sound like a lot, it is a lot. That's why you set and keep goals. You don't have to teach ten language arts topics a day. Most of the skills represent means, not ends. The end of language arts study is the acquisition of good communication skills; the means to that acquisition include phonics, spelling, composition, and so on.

Phonics is a means to deciphering words; grammar provides the rules for clear writing; a large vocabulary increases a student's ability to understand and relay information effectively. Don't forget the big picture: language arts translates directly into communication skills. If your student is steadily aquiring the tools needed to communicate well, you're on the right track. If not, set some goals.

Well, set some goals even if you're on the right track. Does your child understand the rules of grammar but still can't spell? Devote extra time to spelling and vocabulary. Are there gaps in her knowledge of sentence-construction? Focus on composition for awhile. Does he excel at each of the language arts? Press him further and have him study rhetoric.

Don't tie yourself to one program; keep your kids' abilities and learning styles in mind, and find coursework that caters specifically to their needs as well as your own. Remember that there is a progression within the language arts spectrum, that phonics precedes reading, spelling precedes vocabulary building, grammar and composition precedes writing the next Pulitzer Prize-winner.

Keep the short- and long-term goals in mind at every stage so you don't get bogged down in unnecessary details or try to get all the way to homeplate when you haven't even rounded second. Why teach phonics? So kids can learn to read. Why teach kids how to spell? So they can be understood through writing. All language arts instruction boils down to the desire to form good communicators.

Our advice, for what it's worth...

Finding what works for your children will take effort. There are several learning styles, and gajillions of teaching philosophies. Not all of them work; not all programs stay consistent in their approach; not every child responds negatively to straight-up instruction vs. colorful pictures and hands-on activities. Our product reviews are intended to help you navigate the many options, but ultimately the decisions are yours to make.

Just below you'll see the main topics included under the "Language Arts" umbrella. We've tried to group them in difficulty order (phonics first, rhetoric last) to help you understand where your student currently stands. And though we've said it a thousand times already, never ever forget that teaching spelling isn't about teaching spelling—it's about equipping students to be the kinds of people who can express, understand and exchange ideas (from "Clear the table!" to "I doubt, therefore I am.") with a high degree of grace and proficiency.

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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321 Items found Print
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1001 Commonly Misspelled Words
by Robert Magnan & Mary Lou Santovec
from McGraw-Hill
for 10th-Adult
in Writing Reference (Location: WRI-REF)
$15.00
501 English Verbs
by Thomas R. Beyer, Jr., Ph.D.
2nd edition from Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
for 9th-Adult
in Grammar Reference (Location: GRA-REF)
$18.99
70 Basic Phonogram Cards
by Wanda Sanseri
5th edition from Back Home Industries
for 1st-4th grade
in Spell to Write and Read (Location: PHO-SWR)
$17.00
70 Basic Phonograms - CD
by Wanda Sanseri
from Back Home Industries
for Kindergarten-4th grade
in Spell to Write and Read (Location: PHO-SWR)
$9.00 $6.00 (3 in stock)
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: LITSG-TLP)
$21.95 $14.50 (1 in stock)
Alpha List
by Wanda Sanseri
from Back Home Industries
for 1st-4th grade
in Spell to Write and Read (Location: PHO-SWR)
$15.00
American Heritage Desk Dictionary
4th edition from Houghton Mifflin
for 7th-Adult
in Dictionaries (Location: REF-DIC)
$14.95
American Heritage Dictionary
by Houghton Mifflin Company
5th edition from Dell Publishing
for 7th-Adult
in Dictionaries (Location: REF-DIC)
$8.99
American Heritage Student Thesaurus
by Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries
Reprint from Houghton Mifflin
for 7th-12th grade
in Thesauruses (Location: Reference)
$18.95
Amos Fortune, Free Man
by Elizabeth Yates
from Puffin Books
Realistic Fiction for 4th-8th grade
1951 Newbery Medal winner
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)
$6.79 $4.50 (2 in stock)
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: LITSG-TLP)
$21.95 $14.50 (1 in stock)
Animal Farm
Signet Classics
by George Orwell
from Signet Classics
Utopian/Dystopian Literature for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$8.49
Animal Farm - TLP Focus Guide
from Total Language Plus
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: LITSG-TLP)
$8.50
Anne of Green Gables
Anne #1
by L. M. Montgomery
from Bantam Books
Orphan Stories for 5th-9th grade
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)
$5.09
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: LITSG-TLP)
$21.95
Around the World in Eighty Days
by Jules Verne, George M. Towle (Translator)
from Bantam Books
for 7th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
$5.06
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: LITSG-TLP)
$21.95
Art of Fiction
by John Gardner
from Vintage Classics
for 9th-Adult
in Writing Reference (Location: WRI-REF)
$14.95 $9.00 (1 in stock)
Behind the Mask
by Ruth Heller
from PaperStar Books
for 1st-4th grade
in Grammar Picture Books (Location: GRA-PICTURE)
$8.99
Ben and Me
by Robert Lawson
from Little, Brown & Company
Humor/historical fiction for 2nd-5th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: FIC-FAN)
$6.79 $3.50 (1 in stock)
Ben and Me - TLP Focus Guide
from Total Language Plus
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: LITSG-TLP)
$8.50
Black Learning Log
by Wanda Sanseri
from Back Home Industries
for Kindergarten-4th grade
in Spell to Write and Read (Location: PHO-SWR)
$12.00
Blended Structure and Style in Composition
by James B. Webster
2nd edition from Institute for Excellence in Writing
Writing Curriculum for 2nd-12th grade
in IEW Teaching Writing: Structure & Style (Location: WRI-IEWTW)
$35.00
Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation
by Jane Straus with Lester Kaufman & Tom Stern
11th edition from Jossey-Bass
for 6th-Adult
in Grammar Reference (Location: GRA-REF)
$16.95
British Poetry Anthology
from Common Sense Press
for 9th-12th grade
$8.00 $6.00 (1 in stock)
Bronze Bow
by Elizabeth George Speare
from Houghton Mifflin
Historical Fiction for 5th-9th grade
1962 Newbery Medal winner
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$7.64 $4.50 (1 in stock)
Bugaboo Review
by Sue Sommer
1st edition from New World Library
for 7th-12th grade
in Grammar Reference (Location: GRA-REF)
$16.00
Cache of Jewels
by Ruth Heller
from PaperStar Books
for 1st-4th grade
in Grammar Picture Books (Location: GRA-PICTURE)
$8.99
Call of the Wild
Puffin Classics
by Jack London
from Puffin Books
Action/Adventure for 7th-10th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: FIC-ANI)
$5.94
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
by Jean Lee Latham
from Houghton Mifflin
Biography for 5th-9th grade
1956 Newbery Medal winner
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$6.79 $4.50 (1 in stock)
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: LITSG-TLP)
$21.95
Charlotte's Web
by E. B. White
from HarperCollins
for 2nd-6th grade
1953 Newbery Honor Book
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: FIC-FAN)
$7.64 $4.00 (2 in stock)
Chocolate Moose for Dinner
by Fred Gwynne
from Aladdin Paperbacks
for Kindergarten-2nd grade
in Picture Books (Location: PICTURE)
$7.19 $4.00 (1 in stock)
Clock Stamp
from Back Home Industries
for Kindergarten-4th grade
in Time & Clocks (Location: MATMAN-TIME)
$8.50 $6.00 (1 in stock)
Comprehensive Composition
by Kathryn Stout
from Design-A-Study
Writing Curriculum for Kindergarten-12th grade
in Design-A-Study (Location: P3A)
$14.00
Concise Roget's International Thesaurus
by Barbara Ann Kipfer
7th edition from HarperTrophy
for 7th-12th grade
in Thesauruses (Location: Reference)
$7.99
Courage of Sarah Noble
by Alice Dalgliesh
Reissue from Aladdin Paperbacks
Realistic Fiction for Kindergarten-6th grade
1955 Newbery Honor Book
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)
$5.09 $3.50 (1 in stock)
Courage of Sarah Noble - TLP Guide
Total Language Plus Literature Guides
from Total Language Plus
for 3rd-4th Grade
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: LITSG-TLP)
$25.95
Creative Writer Level 2
by Boris Fishman
from Well-Trained Mind Press
for 5th-8th grade
in Creative Writer (Location: WRI-CREATE)
$16.95
Cricket in Times Square
by George Selden
from Square Fish Publishing
Animal Fantasy for 3rd-6th grade
1961 Newbery Honor Book
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: FIC-FAN)
$6.79 $5.00 (2 in stock)
Crispin: The Cross of Lead
by Avi
from Hyperion/Madison Press
for 4th-8th grade
2003 Newbery Medal winner
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$6.79
Crispin: The Cross of Lead - TLP Focus Guide
from Total Language Plus
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: LITSG-TLP)
$8.50
Cursive First
by Elizabeth FitzGerald
2nd edition from LITHBTH Educational Services
for Kindergarten-4th grade
in Spell to Write and Read (Location: PHO-SWR)
$20.00
Doodling Dragons
from Logic of English, Inc.
for Preschool-2nd grade
in Logic of English (Location: PHO-LOE)
$15.00 $10.50 (1 in stock)
Door in the Wall
by Marguerite de Angeli
from Yearling
Realistic Fiction for 3rd-6th grade
1950 Newbery Medal winner
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$5.94 $4.50 (6 in stock)
Door in the Wall - TLP Focus Guide
from Total Language Plus
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: LITSG-TLP)
$8.50
Dragon's Blood - TLP Focus Guide
from Total Language Plus
in Total Language Plus Guides (Location: LITSG-TLP)
$8.50
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
by Lynne Truss
from Gotham Books
Grammar Reference for 9th-Adult
in Writing Reference (Location: WRI-REF)
$15.00
Elements of Style
by William Strunk & E. B. White
4th edition from Allyn and Bacon
Writing Handbook for 9th-12th grade
in Writing Reference (Location: WRI-REF)
$9.95
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters
by Mark Dunn
Reprint from Anchor Books
for 8th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$12.71
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