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New here and have a question about Language Arts


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Hi! I'm new here and new to homeschooling. I'll be homeschooling my kids (boy-5th grade; boy-3rd grade; boy-1st grade and 2 yo DD who will just be hanging out with us, lol). We are finishing out this year in school and will start HS'ing sometime this summer.


I'm trying to research curriculum. I am waiting on a copy of The Well Trained Mind that I ordered online (we are a Navy family and currently stationed in Italy so things are harder to get here).


My question is: What comprises Language Arts for each of the grades I'll be teaching: 5th, 3rd, and 1st? It's the one subject I'm having the most trouble coming up with a curriculum for.

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Spelling, Grammar, Reading (Lit.), writing/handwriting. My boys are very close in age to yours (I will have a 5th, 3rd, 2nd a K boy next year as well as a 7th girl and dd3!). There are a bunch of separate curriculums to choose from for each subject and I'm sure you'll get a bunch of great responses and recommendations. What we have used/use:


Spelling: Spelling Workout (SWO), but moving to Simply Spelling next year

Grammar: Rod and Staff (R&S) for dd11, Growing W/ Grammar (GWG) for ds9, First Lang. Lessons (FLL) 1/2 for ds8 and ds6 and will use either FLL3 OR R&S3 or both for ds8 next year.


Reading: We just read! Dd11 will use Lightning Lit 7 (LL7) next year for 7th (much used program on the board!). We tried Drawn Into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR) but since my boys are rather reluctant readers anyway, I found it best to just let them read and enjoy.


Writing: Our biggest hang-up! You have a super choice for your youngest in SWB's new Writing With East coming out in the summer. We've used Writing Strands (couldn't stand it! JMO!), Wordsmith Apprentice (for ds9) which he likes but I'm not sure about, Inst. for Exc. in Writing (IEW) Anc. Hist. Based Writing Lessons for dd11 which I do like...wish I could afford the whole program! Dd11 will use Jump In! from Apologia next year (I think!) while ds8 and 9 will use Writing Tales (WT) which is a program that incorporates some grammar as well. Also using WWE for ds7.


Phew...lots of choices and I'm sure you'll get LOTS more from others. Just so much to choose from. Good luck w/ your "journey". This was our first year hsing apart from a cyber (virtual academy) and it was a learning exp. for us all. This board has been a tremendous source of support, inspiration, knowledge and sometimes a good "kick in the pants" for me! Welcome!



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http://www.welltrainedmind.com/convention.php This link has the convention handouts and overheads SWB and JW use in their talks. Some of them have summaries of each grade and what they recommend, so you might look through them while you wait for your book. :) WTM is skills-focused, and there are lots of ways to get there. You could pick it up and use their recommendations straight, OR you could select something that's easy to get shipped to you and tweak how you use it, focusing on certain aspects or adding things. I'm saying if you want to pull things together ecclectically, that's fine, and if you want to just buy the straight Abeka or BJU or some other pre-packaged LA, especially for the first year, that's fine too.


As for what we do? My dd is 3rd grade and we do:



-grammar (small doses)

-a writing curriculum (integrates grammar, which is why we only do a light dose of it separately)

-a few reading comprehension guides (not necessary, I wanted them for the writing)

-handwriting (my dd still needs it)


-did I mention spelling? :)

-little things I've added for punctuation and editing (helpful as you start writing and want to edit or make them more aware of mistakes)

-and in general trying to get her writing more with a whole grab bag of things (dictation, short stories, subject writing, anything)


Hopefully some of the people around here who live in other countries will post as well. Some of them have kids doing work in a couple languages (taking lessons in the host language, part of their readings in that language, etc.), so you might have some balancing to do that we don't have.

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I'll be doing 1st and 3rd next year and this is what we are doing:




Phonics--She uses Rod and Staff Reading but I will also be going over Spell to Write and Read Phonograms with her.


Penmanship--She will copy words and ease into sentences.


Grammar--We will look at her copywork sentences and find the nouns and verbs.


Reading--I will keep track of books that she reads once she is ready.


Literature--Fairy Tales




Spelling--Spell to Write and Read, we will be working through the lists and I have made activity sheets to go along with the lists to help learn the words.


Penmanship--at some point we will transition to cursive.


Composition--We are using the Progymnasmata and will be writing narrations based upon Bible Stories.


Literature--Bible Stories and a few Native American Folk Tales.


Grammar--We are using Ruth Heller's Picture books and I made worksheets to go with them and we will learn about all the parts of speech. We will also be using KISS grammar worksheets.


That is what we are doing. But for a beginning homeschooler you might want to start here:


1st--find a good phonics and penmanship program. That is really all you need to do for that age. Read some good books and have fun.


3rd--the focus is grammar, cursive, and spelling. You may want to look at something like Rod and Staff's English 3.


Good Luck and I hope you have a great year.:001_smile:

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For us, it will include:


Writing-Classical Writing Aesop A (with workbooks)


Spelling-All About Spelling, Level 2 & maybe 3

Reading-Elson Reader 3, some comprehension books, good literature

Penmanship-HWOT cursive


I am also starting to think about adding an editing workbook. I just have to find one I like.

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This information has been extremely helpful!!! I'm trying to decide between going with a complete curriculum (Calvert) or doing it the eclectic way. The eclectic way sounds WAY more exciting to me (and cheaper), but I don't want to have to do a lot of work putting it all together and making plans, especially with 4 kids. My husband isn't totally convinced about this whole homeschooling thing, and the Calvert curriculum appeals to him, but not so much to me.


So, I've only been working on the 5th grader, but does this look like it would work for his Language Arts program (I have several programs listed for each, as I'm trying to decide):


Grammar: Growing With Grammar, Easy Grammar, or FlashKids Language Arts


Spelling: Spelling Workout or ???


Handwriting: Handwriting Skills Simplified (he learned Cursive late at public school and needs practice)


Writing: Classical Writing Aesop or Writing Tales


Reading: Read books and keep a reading journal

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Next year, I'll have a 4th, 1st and K-5 (and a 2yo too!)


My 4th grader is doing the K12 program for all of his studies (except Latin, Bible and piano lessons). His LA program includes: Vocabulary, Spelling, Literature, Reading, Grammar and Writing (plus we do penmanship). I think the separate vocabulary book is probably overkill... between spelling and literature, I personally think vocab should be covered there. If we weren't doing spelling, I'd probably do a separate vocab program.


My K-5/1st are combined for parts of their LA program which includes:


First Language Lessons (I'm doing this more for the 1st grader -- but expect the 5yo to get something out of it too).


Spelling (Abeka). Both the K5 and the 1st grader will do spelling... for my K5 it's more because he likes the book, and he's always asking how to spell things.


Reading/Phonics -- Both the K5 and 1st grader will work on phonics at their level (they are about a full grade apart here, but it's fast and quick to go through the lesson with my dd, and I can spend some time with our K5 son while DD reads on her own).


That's pretty much it for LA for the younger two.

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We love Abeka for grammar and I didn't notice Abeka mentioned yet. What we used and loved this year:


3rd grade and 5th grade:

1. Abeka for grammar

2. Abeka Reading Skills for reading comprehension (My kids loved these! We used them the first few months of the year until they had done them all. They are not necessary, but the kids were very excited to learn about so many new people or inventions, etc. and it led them to investigate on their own.)

3. IEW for writing (This curriculum carries through high school.)

4. Spelling Workout for spelling and vocabulary (I use the words in Spelling Workout but add several days of learning the meaing of the words so that we lengthen the vocabulary portion.)

5. Sonlight Core 3 for history reading

6. Lots of other reading books for reading (If you want to introduce analyzing literature in a very basic way I recommend looking at the book Deconstructing Penguins. You can search for that book in this forum to see comments about it.)


Good luck!

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For me LA comprises the skills needed to communicate by the time they finnish 12th grade.



  • Take in information in both oral and written form.
  • Given this outside information they will need to be able to understand it and thus be able to answer questions, retell the information, study it for accuracy, determine if it is logical, understand it's intent, etc.
  • With their understanding of the material, they will need to output their knowledge. So they will need to be able to given an oral presentation or write about this information in a form appropriate for their purpose and audience.



Thus they will need to learn:


  • Phonics for reading
  • Silent reading
  • Reading aloud for others
  • Handwriting so they can put words on paper
  • spelling
  • Narration
  • Comprehension
  • writing sentences
  • typing
  • writing
  • grammar (big for writing, comprehending difficult reading, & other languages)
  • Oral presentations


Non LA skills that apply to LA skills (imho):



history & science (aide in comprehension)


For me, I've chosen:

Alpha Phonics

How to Teach Spelling

FLL or Classical Writing

lots of reading



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For third grade, last year, this is what we used:


Rod and Staff 3 for grammar, along with Primary Language Lessons, by Emma Serl. I like PLL for the old fashioned picture, story and poetry studies that provide you with a set-up for doing oral discussions. It also contains copywork and dictation, which would give you ideas for doing other things on your own. Rod and Staff is more a standard grammar text. We covered most of it orally, with my son writing the diagramming exercises, but not much of the other things. We did also use their writing exercises.


We use Getty Dubay Italics for handwriting, but there are lots of other types of handwriting programs available, too. (I think this style of handwriting is particularly attractive and easy to use for boys.)


We just read great historical fiction, fiction and biographies, etc. that go along with our history studies (or were written in that same time period, etc.) I don't use any sort of literature study guides.


We use Spelling Workout, but I believe Spelling Power is the big book that can be used for all grade levels and it might be better for purposes of having a single book for the whole family to use over time. Some here are also using a program called Simply Spelling, I believe, and I do like the look of it, as well.


For fifth grade, next year, we'll be continuing with Spelling Workout and Getty Dubay handwriting. We'll be beginning a writing program called WordSmith Apprentice. If we finish it, I may try to begin Writing Strands 3. I'm sort of hanging back on writing with this child as he's just not the natural writer his older brother was.... We'll continue with lots of books for our reading/literature times, as I mentioned above. In fourth grade, I begin using Abeka's God's Gift of Language series (A,B,C), so we'll be continuing that next year. I find it very thorough for covering all aspects of grammar. I do sometimes throw in work from Serl's Intermediate Language Lessons, as well, as it provides different exercises than Abeka (as mentioned above regarding PLL).


For a first grader, if not yet reading, I like Phonics Pathways, along with Bob books and other phonics based readers until you get him into graded readers and then move on into children's literature. I think WTM suggests waiting until you're about halfway through this before beginning spelling work, and I think some wait until about that time to add in grammar work, too. I really like Jessie Wise's First Language Lessons for beginning level grammar work. I think it transitions well into the Primary Language Lesson book I mentioned above.



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If I was going to set up LA for 5th, 3rd, and 1st graders, here are my most likely choices.


5th grader

Flashkids Language Arts

Megawords starting with book 1

Sequential Spelling only if spelling is a big issue or if the child is dyslexic like my youngest

IEW for writing, either SWI-A or one of the theme-based lessons

lots of reading, usually relating to history, but not always


3rd grader

Flashkids Language Arts

Flashkids Spelling (switching to Sequential Spelling after Flashkids 3 if spelling is an issue or child is dyslexic)

Phonics for Reading 2 or 3 from Curriculum Associates if reading is still a struggle and/or child is dyslexic

IEW for writing, either SWI-A or a theme-based lesson

lots of reading, about half relating to history, unless child is a struggling and/or reluctant reader and then go to as much effort as necessary to find things that might prick an interest


1st grader

Flashkids Language Arts

Flashkids Spelling

either Reading Reflex or Abecedarian for reading instruction

I See Sam readers for decodable readers

Getty Dubay Italic handwriting or Handwriting Without Tears (HWT is an especially good program for kids with fine motor delays)

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Scheduling LA isn't as bad as you think, because many things are just "do the next thing." For instance handwriting, just get a book and do a page each day. Writing Tales, do a lesson (writing project) a week. Spelling, do the next lesson. It's pretty easy. You just get in a pickle when you try to think up a lot of things yourself and wing it. If each thing is a book where you just do the next page, you'll be fine. :)


Yes, Writing Tales is very good. Your 3rd grader could do WT1 and your 5th grader WT2. The models in WT2 are WAY to long for a 3rd grader. What writing has your rising 5th grader done in school? If he's been doing anything with paragraphs, book reports, etc., I'd be sure to keep up with that.


If you decide to do things ecclectically, it might be a good compromise to do standardized testing each year. That way your dh knows you're on-track and you get to pursue the methods you think are best.

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Others have already responded to your "what comprises lang arts" question nicely. I'll just add that we use and love CLE language arts and Bob Jones English's writing portion only. I have very thorough reviews of these programs on my blog, as well as reviews of Rod & Staff English. Something else you should find helpful is my review about Calvert. Just click on "Curriculum Reviews" in the sidebar. Let me know if you have more questions. My blog link in below. All the best!

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