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Help By Subject: Language Arts

by Mary Ann Kelley
Homeschool resources for Language Arts
Looking for a curriculum that makes learning fun? You'll find it in Time4Learning's PreK-12 grade online homeschool curriculum.
Language Arts Curriculum Reviews

Language Arts Blog Posts

Right-Brained Reading

Right-Brained Reading Kids with right-brain characteristics have hit the jackpot when it comes to homeschooling! Although students with a right-brain orientation often struggle in traditional school environments, homeschooling provides the perfect flexibility and individualization to help these children shine! Previous articles explore specific techniques and strategies to help these learners be successful in math. But what about reading? Read More »

Right-Brained Reading Strategies, Part 2

Right-Brained Reading Strategies, Part 2 Children with right-brain characteristics can learn to read effectively! These holistic thinkers often just need a different approach – one with plenty of visual and kinesthetic stimuli, and a whole-to-part perspective. A previous article provided an overview of the characteristics of the right-brained reader, and Right-brained Reading Strategies detailed a variety of approaches and resources to help these kids read effectively. Don’t stress out, homeschool moms – use some of these additional strategies to help your right-brained reader maximize his or her potential. Read More »

Right-Brained Reading Strategies

Right-Brained Reading Strategies Children with right brain characteristics often need a different approach to reading. These children, who tend to be visually-spatially oriented, holistic, and “big picture” rather than detail-oriented, and tend to create meaning from words by developing three-dimensional pictures in their minds. It is not unusual for traditional decoding phonics programs or decoding strategies to be ineffective for right-brain oriented kids. Previous articles provided strategies for helping right-brain learners with math, and gave a general overview of how the right-brained student processes information for reading. If you have a right-brained reader, consider the following curricula and strategies Read More »

Creative Writing: Writing a Day in the Life Story

Creative Writing: Writing a Day in the Life Story Journaling is a great writing activity because it’s very adaptable. Journal prompts are only limited by your imagination. A great extension of journaling is writing a day in the life story. Homeschooling families make excellent and interesting subjects–there’s always something going on… Read More »

Fun Ways To Teach Parts of Speech

Fun Ways To Teach Parts of Speech Learning does not have to be boring. Hands-on, active lessons are best for engaging the child and for memory retention. Below are five fun activities to teach the parts of speech. The 9 Parts of Speech: Before participating in any of the activities, review the following parts of speech with your student. Read More »

Ask Jeanne: Concerns about Spelling

Ask Jeanne: Concerns about Spelling After we’d met for a homeschool evaluation, a mom of a ten year old wrote to me with concerns about her son’s spelling. We have are having an issue (problem?) with spelling. Up until last fall we had been using All About Spelling with good success (I thought) and had made it through five levels. Since then, it’s kind of fallen to the wayside, and every few weeks I have my son write a story, mark the words he has misspelled (which he always identifies), and then work on spelling them correctly. When he tries to write things out, he ... Read More »

Bringing Literature into Your Child’s Life

Bringing Literature into Your Child’s Life Literature opens doors to the world around us as well as to worlds inside our hearts and minds. For children and adolescents just beginning to understand the vast reaches of emotion, literature can expand their perspective and add a richness and depth to their social skills. Here are some great ideas and online resources to bring literature into your child’s life. Read More »

Where to Find Free Audiobooks for Homeschooling

Where to Find Free Audiobooks for Homeschooling LibriVox is a great online source for free audio books. This means you and the kids can listen to lots of well known classic fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books — at no cost — right from your personal computer, smart phone, or tablet, by either streaming or downloading the audio files. The books available on LibriVox are books whose copyright has expired, meaning LibriVox volunteers can record them without violating copyright laws, and you can listen without paying a purchase price. Read More »

Instead of Curriculum: Bring Me Bad Writing

Instead of Curriculum: Bring Me Bad Writing “Bring me bad writing,” I told my two homeschool co-op classes of middle school and elementary age writers. “Incorrect writing, wrong apostrophes, sentence fragments, typos, passive voice. Horrible stuff. Bring it.” The next week, they marched in with an array of bad writing they’d found on websites, on convenience store signs, on gas pumps, in a letter from a college administrator, in text books, in novels, and in their own journals. They had snapped photos, hand copied passages, bookmarked pages, and printed screen shots. Read More »

Homeschool High School Composition

Homeschool High School Composition The Writing Center at UNC has put together a large collection of writing resources for college writing that are excellent tools for teaching homeschool high school composition. The center’s downloads and videos offer detailed explanations about research, sourcing, organization, editing and proofreading, voice, fallacies, thesis statements, and dozens of other writing topics. The resources are arranged alphabetically, making them easy to find by topic but not offering much in the way of an orderly progression for teaching. The following is a suggested order of study for using the resources for composition for a homeschooled high school student. In our case, ... Read More »

Instead of Curriculum: Handwriting Practice

Instead of Curriculum: Handwriting Practice As regular readers know, I’m a big advocate of using accessible learning methods instead of curriculum. For some homeschoolers, this is in addition to their regular curriculum, and for others it’s truly instead of any packaged formal curriculum. I’m used to hearing that you can’t learn math this way — that’s a common chorus among homeschoolers — but I was in a recent conversation with a homeschool mom who was all for the “instead-of-curriculum” approach except for handwriting. And by handwriting, she meant printing–learning to print. Read More »

How To Raise Vocabulary Geeks

How To Raise Vocabulary Geeks When I tried to throw our dictionary out my oldest threw a fit. This is a very old dictionary. It was owned by my Great Aunt Mildred. The book is huge, with indents along the side for each letter of the alphabet. It’s also not in good shape. Threads are hanging out of a nearly wrecked spine and the pages are yellowing. Until recently it sat on our living room trunk, ready to answer all inquiries. As my kids got older and Google got ever closer to our fingertips, I figured we didn’t need it. According to my son, I am wrong. ... Read More »

Reading, Writing, and Rhythm

Reading, Writing, and Rhythm A new year has arrived for our homeschool co-op, and I’m delighted to have a new bunch of kids to write with. Last year, I led ongoing weekly writing workshops for our high schoolers and middle schoolers. This quarter, I get to work with our elementary age writers. This gave me a chance to get started with my unorthodox approach to helping kids with their writing. Read More »

Instead of Curriculum: Storyteller Jim Weiss

Instead of Curriculum: Storyteller Jim Weiss Among my favorite homeschooling resources are our audio recordings by storyteller Jim Weiss. These stories provided many important cultural touchstones for my children during their pre-reading and early reading years, introducing them to historical, scientific, literary, and mythological figures and tales. This is where my children first learned of Galileo, Tom Sawyer, Shakespeare, Robin Hood, and Sherlock Holmes. Read More »

Talking About Books By Talking About Movies

Talking About Books By Talking About Movies Elementary age homeschooled kids are often eager book group participants. They’ll describe plot and action and favorite characters, and they are enthusiastic about their recommendations. However, parents sometimes struggle to move their kids to more literary discussion about books as they grow into middle school and early high school years. One useful idea to smooth this transition is to pair a book with its movie adaptation. I’ve found that kids frequently find films to be more accessible, and creating a scenario where kids will naturally compare the book and the movie is an easy way to create deeper discussion points. Additionally, ... Read More »

Hardwired for Writing: The Intelligence of the Hand

Hardwired for Writing: The Intelligence of the Hand It’s not hard to imagine a future where keyboarding replaces handwriting altogether. Keyboarding, with its helpful cut-and-paste, deleting, and spellcheck, allows thoughts to be revised and refined easily, a technological marvel that many writers–particularly those of us who remember manual typewriters–hail right up there with sliced bread. But does that mean that handwriting, and cursive in particular, is antiquated and superfluous? With the media buzzing over recent news that Common Core Standards, which guide curriculum choices for school districts nationwide, no longer require the teaching of cursive writing, a lot of attention in educational circles has focused on how the ... Read More »

Creating a Calendar with Children

Creating a Calendar with Children A great project for the New Year is making a calendar with your little ones. I’m talking about making a calendar the old fashioned way, using fresh heavy art paper and your favorite combination of markers, colored pencils, oil pastels, or other media. I first got this idea from the Oak Meadow first grade curriculum, a Waldorf-inspired curriculum which I loosely followed from time to time and adapted for other ages as my family grew. Read More »

Play on Words

Play on Words My co-op kids have had fun with the warm-up we often do for our homeschool writers group. Before we begin writing and critiquing, we warm up with oral word games. In our writers group, by the time we’ve finished with the word warm-ups, the ice is broken, and the linguistic gears are well-oiled. We’re ready to settle down to read our poetry and short stories and practice offering precise and supportive critiques of what each of us has written. Read More »

Online Help For Writing

Online Help For Writing I have always said that excellent writing is the key to success in almost any subject. With a 9th grader in the house this year, we are focusing on writing, writing, and more writing. Initially, we are working on putting together all of the things we’ve studied up to this point: grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, organization, and concision. Putting it all together into a written assignment can be overwhelming, so I came up with a self-editing writing checklist for my daughter to use. I was looking for a little more practice in writing mechanics when Time4Writing offered us a chance ... Read More »

Self-Editing Checklist

Self-Editing Checklist For high school English, we have been working on refining the proper use of grammar, punctuation, and the elements of composition. In order to make sure that my daughter is thoroughly proof-reading her work before she turns it in, I came up with this Self-Editing Checklist. Read More »

Clapping Games Aid Thinking

Clapping Games Aid Thinking In our family, changing the lyrics to “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands” is essential to the song. We substitute words like silly, grumpy, snotty, and even verklempt for “happy.” Making up appropriate accompanying motions, well, that’s the fun part. Read More »

Cut Out the Busywork . . . Try Notebooking!

Before notebooking, our school days were chocked full of a variety of learning activities and curriculums, but the learning was so dry and dull. By the end of the day, and I mean the-END-of-the-day, the kids were wiped out and so was I. Do you have days like these? Notebooking will refresh and rejuvenate your homeschooling. It opens the door for meaningful learning while saving you time, money, and those precious hours you currently spend (if you’re like most homeschooling moms) trying to tweak everything that you currently do to make your day better. Read More »

Ask Your Kids To Predict The Future

Ask Your Kids To Predict The Future Back in 1964, sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke introduced a program on future predictions by stating: The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So, if what I say to you now seems to be very reasonable then I’ll have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen. Among other developments, Clarke predicted the emergence of the Internet, telecommuting, and remote surgery. Fantastic. Just like the predictions kids gave when I asked them about ... Read More »

Writing 100-word Stories

Challenge your 4th-8th graders to write 100-word stories! Not only will this activity appeal to more reluctant writers, it helps drive home the importance of writing descriptive, concise sentences. Read More »

Spring into Writing

Spring has sprung… along with a serious bout of spring fever! How can you help your children stay on task while allowing them to revel in the joy of an April morning? For a welcome break, why not take writing outdoors now and then as the weather beckons? Read More »

Getting More Mileage from Writing Assignments

Writing a composition doesn’t necessarily mean starting from scratch. As your children practice writing different kinds of paragraphs, stories, articles, and short reports, you can help them expand their skills by tweaking a piece of writing they completed in the past. What a great way to get more mileage out of a writing assignment! Let me share six tips for taking a former piece of writing to a whole new level. Read More »

Speed Scrabble: Boost Spelling and Vocabulary

Pre-writing activities disguised as games make it so much more fun to learn and practice skills. Depending on the activity, you can teach or reinforce spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and writing. One of my family’s new favorites, Speed Scrabble (also known as Boardless Scrabble), would be a terrific way to address both spelling and vocabulary. Read More »

No Curriculum Needed Vocabulary Lessons

Words, words, words! A variety of research, such as that by the University of Kansas, has demonstrated that the number of words children know dramatically impacts their success in other academic areas. While reading to children is one of the best ways to help them gain a strong vocabulary, at some point it is helpful to study vocabulary words in an intentional way. For older children this is often incorporated as part of English or Reading curricula, but for young children, such as those who have just learned to read, what options are there for learning vocabulary? Read More »

Editing Tips for Reluctant Moms

Because writing is a process of discovery, it’s doubtful that your student’s first draft will be his best work. Mind you, he will beg to differ. Why, he already likes it the way it is! But whether or not he agrees that his composition should be edited, the truth is that every paper benefits from a second opinion. No matter how many times your child reads and re-reads his own writing, it’s easy for him to miss typos, grammar goofs, or awkward sentences. He knows what he meant to say, so that’s what he sees. Read More »

The Write Way

As homeschool parents often discover, there is no one right way for a child to learn to write. We often try various methods, curricula, tools, and motivations. What might work beautifully for one child may, for another, bring tears—our child’s and our own! Read More »

Writing a Holiday “How-to” Paragraph

Writing a Holiday "How-to" Paragraph As holiday decorations come out and the tree or menorah take center stage, children can become increasingly distracted, sidetracked, and fidgety in anticipation of upcoming seasonal celebrations. Homeschooling doesn’t need to fall by the wayside during December! The holidays can be a great time to assign writing activities that focus on the festivities, allowing children to immerse themselves in the fun while encouraging productivity. This month, have your kids write a paragraph describing a holiday-themed process where they explain, in a step-by-step manner, how something is done. Read More »

Research on the Importance of Reading for Children

Author Aldous Huxley wrote, “Everyone who knows how to read has it in their power to magnify themselves, to multiply the ways in which they exist, to make their life full, significant, and interesting.” Although most homeschoolers have an awareness of the importance of reading for children, it is always helpful to review the evidence that backs up our feelings. With the cooler weather coming, fall is the perfect time to take a fresh look at why reading is such a critical factor for children’s success, as well as get reinvigorated toward making reading one of the foundations of the ... Read More »

Excellent Series Books for Children Ages 6-10

Cooler weather outside gives homeschoolers just one more reason to focus on reading! Although reading aloud is an excellent family activity for children of all ages, including those who have long been reading on their own, it is particularly important for children in elementary school. During this critical time period, parents have the opportunity to truly instill a love for reading that has the potential to influence the child’s academic development throughout his or her school years. Read More »

Why Reading Aloud To Your Child Is Important

Okay, so your child loves to watch television, play video games, surf on the Internet, and listen to music. And there’s nothing wrong with those activities, as long as they’re used in moderation. Most parents would also love to see their kids participate in more constructive activities — like reading children’s books — but the trick is to get your little ones to actually sit down and crack open a book a few times per week. Read More »

Homeschool Writing: LEGOS Don’t Build Themselves, You Know!

Just as a LEGOS™ vehicle can’t take shape without the intentional efforts of a builder, your child cannot learn to write without intentional effort from you. At conferences and conventions, we often hear parents ask, “How much time does this writing program require of ME?” We’re a busy bunch, so believe me when I tell you I understand what it’s like to homeschool while trying to juggle laundry, meal preparation, ministry obligations, and a social calendar. But I also learned during my 15 years of homeschooling that certain subjects just don’t teach themselves, and writing is one of them. Read More »

Describing a Person: Adding Details

Lesson 3 presents a unique set of problems for students. They must describe a person in detail and place the subject in a setting; yet they must not end up writing a narrative, or story. Even with WriteShop’s careful guidelines and instructions, many still end up focusing on the activity and neglecting the actual description of their subject. But it’s good to let your kids struggle with the initial writing process. It helps them wrestle with ideas and words, and it reminds them of the importance of brainstorming adequately and effectively. Once your students ... Read More »

Behind the Mask: What ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ Taught Us

Behind the Mask: What 'The Phantom of the Opera' Taught Us The great thing about following your child’s interests is that they are infinitely more interesting than anything you could dream up on your own. I’m not exactly the spontaneous type. I like my ducks in a row (a really, really straight row). The only thing I like better than making a list is crossing things off that list. But what I’ve found is that if I rein in my compulsiveness a bit, my children lead me to heights my list would never permit me to go. That’s how our love affair with “The ... Read More »

Tips For Struggling Readers – Page 2

Many people who struggle with reading have low self-esteem and feel stupid. They may have been called “stupid” or “lazy”. All research has been conclusive in proving that difficulty with reading has nothing to do with intelligence. If you know someone who feels this way, them know that their reading struggles have nothing to do with their intelligence and they simply need to be taught in the way their brain learns. This can be one of the most empowering pieces of information they ever receive. . “That’s the real problem with kids who struggle with learning . Some kids feel like ... Read More »

Tips For Struggling Readers

Reading the words from left to right can be a difficult task for struggling readers. Often the words appear to move around or the space between words us unclear. It helps to use a finger or a card underneath the words to help your eyes “track” and focus on each word and letter you are sounding out. This will train your eyes to focus on the word you are reading instead of skipping around looking for other clues to simply guess at the word. Those who struggle with reading often have many amazing strengths such as building things, putting puzzles together, ... Read More »

Encourage Reading

Have you ever had to read a book on a topic that you didn’t care about? We all have. (Think back to those dry history books filled with a series of dates, or overly technical science tomes.) And sometimes that is part of life – at times we have to read, even if we aren’t inspired by the topic. But boring books don’t inspire our children to read. A case in point: I was talking with the principal of a local school recently. She lamented that the children just didn’t like to read. Many ... Read More »

Choosing a Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum

What does a homeschool language arts curriculum need to have to make it useful, interesting and comprehensive? Are there language arts lesson plans which I can use over a number of ages? Well, firstly we need to consider what language arts lessons makes a language arts curriculum. It would need to include reading, writing, speaking and listening. Getting to finer details, it would need to teach writing skills from handwriting to written sentences, paragraphs, essays and writing in a wide variety of forms. It should teach interesting use of words, sentence grammar and the use of a variety of sentence ... Read More »

Choosing Color Words When Writing

You have been working on concreteness. Your student is excited to discover a world of new words in his thesaurus and WriteShop word lists. As a parent, you want to allow him to flex his creative muscles, yet you want to guide him so he learns to choose suitable words. This article focuses on picking just the right color words. With so many tempting choices, your eager yet sometimes immature writer may be using color words that—well—do not exactly work. Molly, in Lesson 2, describes her golden retriever. She says: “Murphy has long buttercup fur with an ... Read More »

Teaching Children to Write by Teaching Self-Editing and Peer Editing Skills

Editing is best taught as an isolated skill and from the time children are old enough to rework a piece of writing, they are old enough to self-edit and peer edit. Recopying a piece of writing that has been corrected to death by an adult is not editing and it serves no good purpose beyond penmanship practice. If you want to teach children to write well, your best bet is to teach them to self-edit and peer edit. Read More »

Starting a Teen Book Study Group

If you’re looking for a way to connect with your teenage daughter this summer, consider starting a girl’s book study group with your daughter and her friends. You may think that teens would not respond well to this idea, but think again. you just might be surprised. Read More »

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