Monday, August 29, 2011

Language Arts

To share your passion with your child is an incredible gift to you both. To become a more proficient speller while doing so exceeds all expectation.

The challenge of Language Arts in this schoolhouse is not overdoing it. I'm naturally drawn to this realm, which helps in the confidence department. Still, there's my real-live child to take into consideration. How do I motivate, instruct, encourage and not overwhelm her along the way? 

Hannah is a strong reader and speller. One might naturally conclude that this would translate into proficient writing skills as well. What I've found thus far is that writing has been a more treacherous path. Competency is central to her being. The discrepancy between the language she reads and what she's able to create with pen and paper has at moments sent both tools flying with red-faced frustration and tears. 

Through trial and error I've landed on a set of tools that builds on her love for reading while also gently moving her down the path of creating original work. Throw in some critical building blocks like grammar, handwriting and spelling instruction and here's where we landed for second grade.

Writing With Ease Workbook 2
I purchased Workbook 1 half way through first grade (in response to those flying pens I mentioned earlier). For my kiddo, I've found this program to be brilliant. Drawing on passages from classic children's literature, students walk through exercises that help them absorb the building blocks of fine writing. Each passage left Hannah wanting more; we went on to read several of these titles in their entirety. I'm looking forward to more of the same this coming year.

First Language Lessons and Primary Language Lessons 
Grammar will never be the most enticing of subjects in our household. Nonetheless, it still feels critical to master. Both of these books have solid lessons. We worked solely with FLL last year. I was generally satisfied but also found it to be redundant at times. Therefore, this year I will be selecting the best from both in hopes of spicing things up just a bit.

A Reason for Handwriting
This is a straight-forward program and it has worked for us. Hannah would really like to try cursive this year. The transition book we purchased will begin introducing it half way through the year. Each week they practice their penmanship through writing out a Bible verse. The last lesson has them transfer this onto a coloring sheet. These finished products made their way to grandparents, friends and our own refrigerator. 

Spelling Power
Here's what I love about this program. Students are placed (through a thorough front-end assessment) at their present spelling level. They only study words that they miss. The ways in which they work with these words cross lots of learning styles. The total time commitment for each day is 15 minutes. This resource provides spelling instruction through high school (i.e. I will never have to buy another spelling book again). I have never been a strong speller. I'm optimistic that I'll be learning right alongside her for years to come. 

From Heart to Page
We'll be using these journal prompts each morning as part of her independent work. I know this will be stretching but I am optimistic that she'll do well and enjoy drawing from her own heart and mind. 

A Child's Introduction to Poetry
I came upon this book over the summer. It seemed like a fun way to get our feet wet in the area of poetry. I plan on reading through this book with Hannah on Fridays this year. I'm looking forward to it!

Blackbird & Company
Late in the planning game for this year, I was introduced to this language arts program. I really love it and plan to at least work through a poetry unit linked to the book Love that Dog. I'm eager to add more of their materials in coming years and am already plotting for Hailey's intro into this realm.


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