View Full Version : Need Help with finding good language arts curriculum

Journey of Life mama
08-25-2010, 05:26 PM
So, we are in the second year of homeschool. My daughter is 10 and would be in the 5th grade. She is pretty advanced in reading and writing--or so the public schools she attended have said--being a teacher myself and a pretty hard critic, I think she is average or maybe a bit above. Anyhow, we are doing grammarlogues and I am also doing some of ellen mchenry's basement workshop english study. I have looked at Moving Beyond the Page literature study units--I think we would pick and choose from the 10-12 concept. I have also been looking at Learning through Literature the tan book. Does anyone have any experience with either of these or have any other recommendations for language arts? I don't want anything religious based. She is already writing in a Journal and working on her own short stories on the computer but I feel like maybe she needs to do something literature based so I can easily see her comprehension and get her writing in different styles etc.. ahh..please help, I feel like I just keep researching and researching on the computer and can't get satisfied--am also thinking of doing the Great Editing Adventure series--any thoughts on any of this long rambling post would be greatly appreciated! :) Oh, and she reads a lot on her own already. And last but not least, we want to do spanish and are thinking of Rosetta Stone but it is so expensive at 600.00--does anyone have experience with it? Maybe we should just get the first level--but it's still expensive:(

08-25-2010, 06:07 PM
We are doing the 10-12 MBTP level this year, but I have used it every year.
The literature units are very comprehensive. They involve reading one book for every unit (12 for a full year's curriculum). It includes language arts (how to write a paragraph, multi-paragraph paper and a research paper, grammar, etc.)
There are usually 2-3 chapters to read for each lesson, questions to answer, grammar lessons to complete and projects.
Today was lesson two for People of Sparks. We read the first three chapters, did a grammar exercise to review pronouns (identified them in a paragraph and then sorted them on a chart by Subjective, Objective, Interrogatory, Demonstrative, etc.), then we had to predict five things that Lina would find about life above ground that were different than living in Ember.
ETA: I forgot to say that they answered comprehension questions about the first three chapters.
The 10-12 level is equivalent to 6th grade and definitely secular.

08-25-2010, 08:35 PM
i use micheal clay thompson's language arts, which i love, but you have to assign literature to read outside of the program. he uses literature for his language examples, but does not have reading assignments. He has a book called Classics in the Classroom, which has some ideas, tho.

08-25-2010, 11:30 PM
I am doing MBtP with my 10 year old - but I haven't used it before so I can't give you a review. My daughter is an advanced reader and an excellent writer. I'm planning to use MBtP but having a list of additional reading for her to work through as she usually reads a book or more a week in addition to school work (she's currently reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). Teri was very helpful to me when I was deciding about programs this year (thank you Teri!). I've received our materials and I'm liking what I see - and my daughter is completely excited to begin the year. She's read some of the books but I explained that we'd be going into greater depth with them and she isn't worried about re-reading some.

We are doing Spanish as well - decided to go with Auralog's Tell Me More vs. Rosetta Stone. But again, it's brand-new for us so I can't give a review. I just set up the program last night and so far it looks good, but that's before my children have actually used it. lol.

Journey of Life mama
08-26-2010, 09:03 AM
Wow, thanks everyone. I am so excited to get so many responses. I think we will try one individual unit in MBTP to see how we like it and I will definitely look into Michael Clay Thompson as well. I have not heard of Auralog but will research it later on today. Willow took off a bit from reading in the summer but she still averages a book a week or so. I just wish there were some comprehension questions out there somewhere for the books she reads that we could just download:) MBTP looks promising though--I think we will try the People of Sparks and put the Albert Einstein package of the list too--she is very interested in him:)

08-26-2010, 09:22 AM
You know, I've had good luck finding some questions guides on CurrClick and then sites where teachers post their lesson plans. I think out of the 40 books we did last year, I found stuff for at least 1/3, maybe more... It's worth looking into. The CurrClick guides were so inexpensive (a couple of dollars) it was worth it even though we didn't use them in their entirety. And then on the teacher sites, I found so many cool ideas for out--of-the box "book reports" - for example, a 3-d cube that had different information on each side and then an illustration on the inside; a paper bag oral presentation; etc. My DD got a kick out of that stuff and always asks to do more projects like that.

Hope that helps!

08-26-2010, 11:11 AM
I really liked MBTP but wasn't sure my 5th grader would like it since he really loves picking and choosing his books to read. We did many lit studies from Currclick last year to go along with whatever book we was reding that week. This year one of teacher friends recommended what she uses in her classroom. Its "Independant Reading Management Kit:Genre" from Scholastic. Its a reproducible book that has 9 different projects/activities for different genres of reading. Historical fictiom, mystery, adventure, Fairy tales, Fantasy, realistic Fiction, Biography, Science Fiction, and nonfiction. Its working for us - although we are only two books in so far this year:) Its set up for the teacher to have a reading station with the reproducibles ready to go and the student picks three activities for each book s/he reads instead a traditional book report. It's normally around $15-I picked a copy up on Ebay. Its recommended for grades 4-8 so I think its a great resource for a few years.

08-26-2010, 03:17 PM
I was just looking at Sandi Queen's Language Lesson Series (CM inspired), it sounds great, so far, but I can't find out the religious content :(

Journey of Life mama
08-27-2010, 11:42 AM
thanks everyone--gonna look into currclick and would like any feedback on michael clay thompson if you know much about it--do you only need the teacher manual and practice book?

08-27-2010, 11:45 AM
MCT teachers manuals contain the entire student book so yes, you can share them with your kids, aside from the practice books. Its a very different approach, but thats usually what i like

08-27-2010, 04:32 PM
I was just looking at Sandi Queen's Language Lesson Series (CM inspired), it sounds great, so far, but I can't find out the religious content :(

I can offer some info on that program. I have used four of the different levels in the lang lessons series, and we really love them - not just me, my kids love them.

But here is what I have noticed on the religious content. There seems to be one occasion per book that is heavily religious in tone. For instance, in the one I have right to hand, Lang. Lessons for the elem. child (for my 10 yo dd) , lessons 114-120 are copywork of Psalms 104:16-30. This doesn't bother me, as the Bible is a legitimate topic for literature study as far as I am concerned. Other copy work includes Robert Frost and Rudyard Kipling.

I remember one of the very early books in the series had the song "Jesus Loves Me" as a poetry reading. There was maybe a painting with Jesus in it for a picture study. It is some religious content, to be sure, but it is well within my tolerance range as I don't pretend Christianity doesn't exist LOL. As I said it is isolated lessons, so they could be skipped or removed if you like.

Considering the tone of some of the Queen materials and their website overall, I think she showed admirable restraint in crafting these Language Lessons books. I hope that helps your decision - I hate to see the secular homeschooler avoiding this excellent resource due to worries about heavily religious content. It isn't at all as much as you might expect.


08-29-2010, 10:31 AM
Thanks so much Gem! I don't mind religious content in the context of art or literature or sociology, I just didn't want the whole series to be Bible stories!

08-29-2010, 04:49 PM
We accidentally ordered Rod & Staff's "Following the Plan" without realizing how Christian-focused it was (I know I know... I'm still not sure how we missed that one) ... and after getting it went into a panic trying to find the right program. Not much seems to exist.

Anyway we ended up getting MCT. I went through Grammar Island and Practice Island to familiarize myself with it, and to make sure I really understood the material myself before doing it with my kids, and I really like the approach it takes. As other have said, it does seem to involve much more parent/teacher involvement and there isn't much in the way of exercises or practice material ... but there is a teacher's section with some exercises at the back. We're probably going to try taking some notes and doing the exercises at the back of the book etc. as we go through it.

Edit - We did consider sticking with Rod & Staff since it's "just grammar" ... but this is our first year of home-schooling and the reason we pulled our children out of PS was because, after 5 years, we began to see that PS has inadvertently taught them confusion. Our mission is to teach them reason and logic as means of survival and the last thing we want to do is undermine that goal. Once we get our bearings and are able to measure our progress then we will be in a much better position with regards to evaluating heavily religious material in context.

08-30-2010, 11:13 AM
She is pretty advanced in reading and writing--or so the public schools she attended have said--being a teacher myself and a pretty hard critic, I think she is average or maybe a bit above.

Michael Clay Thompson (http://www.rfwp.com/mct.php)is definitely worth a look. It was created for "gifted" classrooms, but can really be used by just about any student. The MCTLA yahoo group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MCTLA/) is particularly helpful when determining where to start.

We're using MCT for grammar, vocabulary (word roots-based), writing, and poetry, and Sonlight for literature (and history/geography). I also bought one of the Suppose the Wolf Were an Octopus (http://www.rfwp.com/series24.htm) books from Royal Fireworks Press (which publishes MCT's LA books), which series takes certain works of literature and provides discussion (NOT just reading comprehension) questions.

08-31-2010, 02:34 PM
I know of a very comprehensive alternative curriculum model that includes language arts. It's called the Carden Method, and you can check it out at http://www.cardenschool.org. Hope that helps in your search!