Virtual Curriculum Fair: Language Arts

If you've read any of my homeschooling posts, you know I am homeschooling only one child, a precocious little 4th grader. In a series with other homeschool bloggers called the 2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair, we are going to talk about different academic categories--what works and what doesn't--Language Arts, Math/Science, Social Studies, and Arts/Electives.

First up: Language Arts

My child does not beg me to do English or Language or Reading, but once we get started, she really does shine. 

Here are our choices for her 4th grade year:  

  • Wordly Wise 3000-Book 4
  • BJU Press English 4
  • Vocabulary Spelling City 
  • Writing--No formal book, although she was taught Handwriting Without Tears.  We practice cursive writing with assignments across all subjects now. 
  • Reading: Again, nothing formal here.  See below for more. 
  • Foreign Language:  Spanish for You!

Reading: I use a huge variety here.  I have reading textbooks I have found at thrift stores, you know, the kind of textbooks that many of us grew up with in public schools.  These work wonderfully because they have discussion questions and author biographies at the end of each reading. But we also use chapter books from the library, based on her interests, and sometimes I allow her reading of her science textbook (Apologia) to count as her reading since it is a bit challenging for her.  But mostly I try to find fun, age-appropriate books for her to read so that she will develop a love for books.  I choose a lot of Newberry Medal winners and a lot of classic literature.  I feel a huge obligation to expose my child to the classics, before they are lost forever in a generation.  We have come a long, long way in her reading since we began homeschooling in Kindergarten.  It is not near the struggle it used to be, and I praise God for that.  If you've ever had a struggling reader, you know the pain it can cause the teacher. 

Wordly Wise 3000 is a series of vocabulary books, which I think are excellently done. They offer around 20 new vocabulary words each lesson.  The words are then followed by five activities, such as definition, word association practice (like those found on SATs), and a reading passage using the new words.  It is very challenging, and Abbey usually can't do a whole lesson without help, but she is learning so many new words.  How do I know? Because if she hears any of her new words anywhere else that week (on TV, radio, in life) her eyes light up and she excitedly reminds me that it is one of her new vocabulary words.  Even weeks later, she will be doing the same thing. So the WW formula works! We also have the test booklet, which offers 25-question, multiple-choice answer, tests.  She takes these tests on Fridays.  Their website also offers more activities for practice each week, but I have found the workbook to be plenty for her.  I highly recommend these books. 

Bob Jones University Press English 4 is a Christian-based series of textbooks.  My favorite part about these books is how they are laid out.  One chapter is about grammar and language arts, and the next chapter is about writing.  So after the student learns new grammar rules, they are expected to apply the rules through a series of writing assignments.  Abbey just completed a comparison/contrast essay.  She researched tigers and lions (I let her choose the subjects) and their similarities and differences.  Then we made a Venn diagram as recommended by the text, and developed the rough draft from there.  I allow Abbey to type her essays on the computer, because it cuts down on a lot of frustration over not being able to write fast enough.  Every mom is different, and for us, it works. I allow her to get writing practice on shorter assignments such as letter writing and such.  Essays are just too overwhelming for her. Check out all the great curriculum choices from BJU Press here.

Vocabulary Spelling City--this is a comprehensive website that is only getting better with time.  We originally started using their free version two years ago, and then were blessed to be able the review the site, and got a premium membership.   You can use predetermined lists based on the student's reading level or grade level, or you can create your OWN lists each week.  A ton of fun, fun activities are included for each word list so the student can learn the new lists in creative ways.  A spelling test is provided at the end as well, but not until they are ready.  My  goal in using this is less about vocabulary (since we are using Wordly Wise) and more about learning to be  a better speller.  So we focus on the activities that force her to spell the words correctly before moving on.  We also take practice tests on paper, away from the computer, prior to her taking the online test.  I encourage you to explore this site.  It goes way beyond spelling and vocabulary and they are constantly improving.  I wrote an in-depth review of this program here.

Foreign Language:  Last year, we studied Latin, so the transition from Latin to Spanish was very smooth.  The two languages are so closely related.  I chose a great curriculum, written by a homeschool teacherThe curriculum is Spanish for You! It is a very relaxed curriculum, with lots of play and fun activities involved.  Their website has dramatically improved over the last six months as well, and includes a ton of FREE activities that you can use with any Spanish language program of your choice. One of the best features of this curriculum is that your purchase includes downloadable MP3s of the vocabulary words being spoken and pronounced correctly, so you don't have to guess as you teach your child.  It's a wonderful program and Abbey begs me to do Spanish, even on days when it's not on the schedule. I wrote an in-depth review on this program here.

There you have it-- a glimpse in the Language Arts side of our homeschool day.  Feel free to ask questions about any of the products you see above.  Until next week, when the 2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair bloggers will visit Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic and Science. Click the different links below the button to see what other homeschooling families are using for Language Arts: 

Nurturing Novelists = Building Strong Writers by Susan Anadale @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Building Blocks of Education--Learning to Read  by Kristi Kerr @ The Potter's Hand Academy
Finding Our Way Through Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
How Does a Unit Study Teach Language Arts? by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun 
Our Language Arts Adventure by Linda @ Homeschooling6

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words:  The Language Arts by Leah Courtney @ As We Walk Along the Road
Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me
Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Language Arts by Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool
Writing Help in a Critical Thinking book? by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings
Virtual Curriculum Fair: Foreign Language Immersion in the Homeschool by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch
Formula for Reading by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness
Words and Learning by Annette @ A Net In Time
A Custom Designed High School English Credit by Tech Wife @ A Playground of Words
Virtual Curriculum Fair 2013: Still Loving Language Arts by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots
Word Play by Lisa @ Golden Grasses
Loving Language Arts by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

Learning Language Arts ~ 2012-2013 School Year by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World

Virtual Curriculum Fair - The Language Arts Department by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Playing with Words:  The Language Arts by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy: The Story of Our Life
Playing with Words:  Language Arts by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs and Curriculum
What Language Arts looks like in our house - Are we doing it right? by Hillary M @ Our Homeschool Studio


  1. wordly wise sounds like an interesting piece to an overall curriculum. Thanks for telling me about it.

    Just stopping by from the VCF.

    Annette @ A Net in Time

  2. Stopping by from the VCF! Vocab Spelling City sounds like something I'll have to check out!

  3. Anonymous08 January

    Wordly Wise sounds like something my kids would love. Thanks for the recommendation!

  4. My oldest son uses Wordly Wise for fun. I purchased the CD so he can hear the words as well. He really likes it.


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