Monday, January 13, 2014

Kindergarten Language Arts ...Take Two

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This week I am taking the time to talk about how I teach each subject and also what changes I am making for the rest of the year.  If you didn't read the Classical Kindergarten...Take Two intro post, take a minute to read that first so you understand why I am making some changes for the rest of the year.

Back in August, I wrote a post outlining which curriculum choices we were going to be using this year.  To refresh you, this is what we have been using for Language Arts:

How we have been doing Language Arts


Primary Language Lessons

If you are familiar with me at all you will know that I love copywork.  We fit it in almost every day, though it is not always part of our language arts time.  A key time we do copywork is along with our Primary Language Lessons studies.  (You can read my full review of Primary Language Lessons at The Curriculum Choice.) 

Primary Language Lessons is a Charlotte  Mason style grammar book.  We use it twice a week as a gentle introduction to all things grammar.  Each lesson is short and can be oral or written.  There are picture studies, observation lessons, true grammar lessons, selections to memorize, and more.  When we get to the poems, I have my son copy a stanza a day using my Poetry for Kids copywork pack.  There are many other lessons that I also turn in to copywork for him.

15 minutes, twice a week...easy, gentle Kindergarten Language Arts.  I like it.

McGuffey's First Reader

Oh, how I love these little, old books!   I start my kids on the McGuffey Primer as soon as they start learning to read.  The difficulty progression is just right and I am always surprised at how quickly they turn into great little readers.  This year my son has been working through McGuffey's First Reader.  

The only problem with these little, old books is that they do not come with a lot of teacher instruction.  I guess they really don't need much, since the lessons are so short and sweet, but I always find myself thinking that I should be doing something more with each lesson.  Earlier in the year I came up with the idea to do some editing along with our McGuffey lessons.

Each week (two of the days that we do not do Primary Language Lessons) my son reads a new lesson in the reader.  He simply reads through the story.  They are charming little stories that teach great lesson and have great morals. Beforehand, I look through the lesson and pick out a simple sentence and write it clearly in a notebook, but I write it with errors.  I make simple errors that my kindergarten son can identify.  Errors like not capitalizing the first letter of the sentence or first letter in a person's name, missing punctuation at the end of the sentence, or misspelling a simple word that he should know how to spell easily.  Then I make a little box on the next line for each error that is in the sentence.  Usually there are between five and ten errors.  My so just loves this!  He is so proud to find each mistake and cross that box off!

The second day in the week that we have a McGuffey lesson, my son reads through the same story.  I listen to make sure that he reads it a little more confidently and with more fluency than the first time read it earlier in the week.  Then I bring out the editing book again.  I have the same sentence written with the same errors.  He gets to fix the same exact mistakes as the first time.  Usually on the first day he misses a few, or fixes something incorrectly.  This second time, he moves through the sentence more confidently, and he usually gets them all right!  I think this is a really good exercise for him.

If you like this idea, but don't want to go to the trouble of writing out your own sentences, you could use a book like Daily Editing Practice.  It's really not too hard to do on your own, though, and I like have it correspond to something my son is already reading.

15 minutes, twice a week.  Cuddle on the couch and read together.  Reading, grammar, and morals all in one.  I like it!

The Writing Road to Reading

This is one of the very first books I got when my son was first getting ready to learn to read.  I have a full review of it coming out later this month (I'll have to link to it once it is published), but I'll talk about it quickly here.

The concepts in this book are wonderful.  I taught my son to read when he was three using the method laid out in The Writing Road to Reading.  The only problelm with this book is that, while it clearly lays out the method of teaching writing/reading/spelling, it doesn't have any type of lesson plans.  This wasn't a problem when I was only teaching my son, but now that I have two to teach, the time I have available to put together my own plans is more limited.

At the end of  the summer, I put together weekly plans for this, focusing on the spelling rules.  The rules in the book are wonderful, but I really didn't know what to do to teach them.  I made notebooks for my kids, but because I didn't really know what to do, we have not been using them as often as I'd like.

For kindergarten, my son is probably a pretty good speller, but I really want him to understand the rules better so that he can know that he is spelling words correctly and not just guess.

Love the principles, recommend the book, but right now it's just not enough.  I need a little more hand-holding on the one right now, so I made a change.

Language Arts Changes

After much reading and browsing online, I finally decided on a new spelling curriculum.  Just last week we started using All About Spelling!  I was so excited when the package came in the mail!

  • 3x5 cards used to learn new concepts and review old ones...check!
  • Spelling Rules to memorize...check!
  • Scripted lesson plans to save me time...check!

Seriously, it seems like exactly what I am looking for.  We have done two lessons so far and it is just right.  If you read my intro post to this series, you know that part of what I'm looking for right now is material that my son can master easily, without feeling the need to get discouraged or frustrated.  I got Level 1 in All About Spelling for just that reason.  Like I said, my son is a pretty decent speller for his age and I think he could have gone right into Level 2, but I wanted to start with Level 1 to (hopefully) let him see that this can be fun and help him to solidify the skills that he already has.

A bonus is that it is just the level that my daughter needs right now, so we can all do it together!  I know that my son will be able to move faster through it than her, so I'm not sure if we will stay slow for her, or if I'll have to start doing their lessons separately at some point.  I'll figure that out later =)

For now, All About Spelling looks like a wonderful curriculum and a perfect fit for my son!

How do you teach Language Arts to your kids? 

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  1. With my daughter for Kindergarten Language Arts we are doing Handwriting Without Tears Kindergarten and An Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. Plus we read a lot of books. It is also my 1st homeschooling year.

    1. It sounds like you are going great job! I've heard good things about both of those resources, and you can't go wrong with lots of reading! Thanks for sharing =)


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