For this year's Virtual Curriculum Fair I wanted to share some of the amazing curriculum finds that we've used and loved- you know the tried and true stuff- along with some really cool new things that we've had a blast using just recently.
The proverbial question, what to do about phonics?
But before I share with you my tested, tried and true combo, let's talk for a minute about pre-phonics. You know, how to get your kids used to the idea of reading, words and sounds. For starters, talk to your kids. Talk to them and mirror them when they are babies and toddlers. Kids learn to talk and learn vocabulary by hearing people talk to them. People, not electronics. So, if you think putting them in front of a television or cool games on your IPad or netbook will magically give your kids the superpowers they need to understand language, think again. Nothing can replace real people speaking real words to your kids. Talk to them and read to them. Think daily dose; at least 15 minutes of reading a day. Teach your kids the symbols for sounds (i.e. letters). It's pretty simple really, sing the ABC's and point out things that start with the letters you are singing, "A" -point to apple, etc. Check out Usborne Dot-to-dot letters books. I'm also a big fan of Kumon workbooks. While a bit spendy they are colorful, engaging and get the job done.
Teach your kids upper and lower case letters; they'll run into both, sooner or later.
We used AlphaPhonics in conjunction with Explode the Code for all 5 kids. 5 for 5 they are all rock out readers. It's an inexpensive, bells and whistles free (think open and go for Momma) effective combo that combines difficult work with fun and the ultimate reward -excellent reading skills.
Spelling- this has been an Achilles heel for some of our kids. The two programs that have actually worked for my spelling challenged kiddos have been Sequential Spelling and Spelling/Vocabulary City. Love, love, love them both. For the more advanced speller, check out IEW's Advanced Vocabulary/ Spelling program. Cub is working through it now. He is a natural speller, and digs the challenge. Plus, the vocabulary and poetry throughout appeals to his inner lit nerd.
Poetry- if you want to get words, how to play with them, understand tropes and how to use them, get yourself some poetry, memorize it, learn it, write it and perform it. Where to start? I'm glad you asked. IEW's Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization is the place. Move on from there to Matt Whitling's Grammar of Poetry or Memoria Press' Poetry for the Grammar Stage, et al, and from there the skies the limit. We like to throw in Shakespeare along the way, (again, using Matt Whitling's Tales from Shakespeare, moving on to Great Courses Shakespeare study and, of course, Shakespeare Camp.
Also to be considered, Memoria Press' new poetry guides. What's not to love about Memoria Press?
Handwriting? Let me direct you to 2 of my favorite companies- Memoria Press and Classical Conversations. PreScripts from Classical Conversations combines cursive, history sentences and drawing techniques. Memoria Press combines handwriting with copywork and the result is reinforcement of beautiful ideas, thoughts and Scripture.
Literature- we are serious readers 'round here. We've read hundreds of books for thousands of hours over the course of decades. This includes reading out loud, reading individually, sharing books on tape, watching the movies of books we love and sometimes a combination of all of the above. How to find books worth reading, when the local BooksRUs would like to deluge you with trash? Check out the following catalogs: Bethlehem Books, Veritas Press, Memoria Press, The Well Trained Mind, Sonlight for kids reads worth your time. For Momma? Check out my incomplete list of Educational Influencers for a good place to start your educational reading. Looking for fiction and non-fiction but don't know where to start? I've been a contributor to The Well Trained Mind 52 books in a year thread for years now. It's comprised of homeschooling Mommas from all over the world, from all walks of life who read, breathe and talk lit.
Still need ideas? Contact me, and lmk what you are looking for. I'm sure I have an idea or two to get you started.
Grammar- I am a recovered grammar-phobe. I used to think that you were either born getting grammar or not, and I missed out. I thought that until I was challenged by Leigh Bortiens to think beyond my own limitations and learn something I didn't know. I started out with Nancy Wilson's excellent and gentle Our Mother Tongue. From there, we delved into Andrew Campbell's excellent Grammar Catechism, found in Living Memory, but this year we are going to check out Memoria Press' English Grammar Recitation (be still my memory loving heart!). We've also used First Language Lessons I and IV- Flower, little nerd girl that she is loves FLL! And don't forget Mary Daly's excellent The First Whole Book of Diagrams. In this slim and ohsodo-able little volume you will go from basic subject/ predicate diagramming to complex, crazy stuff. All of my kids have done it, at earlier and earlier ages and they've all loved the word sleuthing required of truly complex sentence diagramming. Does it matter? Well, only if you really CARE about well written sentences.
Writing? Oh, baby. Now you are in my field of True Love. Writing= happy sigh. Where to start? Copywriting. Simple, do-able, just takes a source document and pencil and paper. There's tons of good copybooks around. We love Memoria Press copybooks. From there, check out Writing With Ease. A simple, gentle introduction to writing for 1-3rd graders that isn't overwhelming, easily done in minutes a day and a blast to do with a group. Writing With Skill easily follows. I like this program, too. Good stuff for the kids to learn basic academic writing. Writing With Skill I- IV is now available. And, IEW. Watch the TWSS and you will have a good, basic understanding of how to teach, and grade writing. While they do have SWSS (videos the kids watch and create a writing notebook from) I prefer the theme books, along with a group of kids to teach.
Creative Writing? I developed my own curriculum for this, as I didn't really find something I loved. If you have a writer on your hands, make sure to check out NaNoWriMo for kids. They have great tools and resources for the budding writer. Great books on how to write? Stephen King's On Writing and Annie Lamott's Bird by Bird are great places to start, but be forewarned that they are both chock full of language.
Latin- we've done some; all the while violating the first law of the teacher (the teacher must know that which they are teaching). We keep at it, however; let me suggest Memoria Press once again. Buy the DVD's and let delightful Leigh Lowe guide the way. For older students the Great Courses might be something worth checking out.
So, can't get enough of my favorite subject? Be sure and check out what fellow homeschoolers use as they play with words:
Leah Courtney @ As We Walk Along the Road
Laura Hoggard @ Four Little Penguins
Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Kristi K. @ The Potter's Hand Academy
Amy @ Eclectic Homeschooling
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker
Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun
Jessica @ Modest Mama
Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun
Jennifer @ a glimpse of our life
Stacie @ Super Mommy to the Rescue
Lisa @ Golden Grasses
Laurie @ Our Abundant Blessings
Lori Moffit @ My Journeys Through Life
Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Monique B @ Living life and learning
Jeniffer D @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Christa @ Fairfield Corner Academy
Debra @ Footprints in the Butter
Kim @ Homestead Acres
Chelli @ The Planted Trees
Hillary M @ Our Homeschool Studio
Sharra Badgley @ The Homeschool Marm
Lynn P @ Ladybug Chronicles
Michele @ Family, Faith, and Fridays:
Mary @ Winecup Christian Homeschool
Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset
Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in our World
Want to join in the fun? We'd love for you to link up and share what you use for Language Arts! (and don't forget to check back next Monday for more VCF!)
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