Monday, January 9, 2017

Finding the Right Words - Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 2

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Finding the Right Words - Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 2 on Homeschool Coffee Break @ #hsCurriculumFair #homeschool #LanguageArts

Welcome to "Playing with Words" and Week 2 of the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair, hosted by Homeschooling Hearts & Minds! This week's focus is on Language Arts - English, Grammar, Writing, Literature, and more.

The abilities to communicate and to learn are, in my opinion, the most important skills a student needs in order to be successful. Reading, writing, and understanding words and using them effectively is foundational to communication and to learning. And one of the things I love about homeschooling is the flexibility we have to use just the right approach for each student - Finding the Right Words to help each one learn what they need to know.

The following resources are the curricula we are using this year for Language Arts.

For Composition (Writing Non-fiction)
Finding the Right Words - Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 2 on Homeschool Coffee Break @ #hsCurriculumFair #homeschool #LanguageArts

We were able to review The Power In Your Hands last summer, and as we expected, it was a great fit for Kennady, so we are continuing with it through the school year. The book is written directly to the student, so she can work quite independently. The tone is relaxed and personal, with a bit of humor thrown in now and again. It's a great fit for Kennady, because she can work mostly on her own, and she likes the conversational tone. It's a good fit for me too, because the numbered lessons make it easier to keep track of work (this is an update from the first edition), and the Teacher's Guide offers specific grading grids to make evaluations easier. Students learn to write a persuasive essay; a compare-and-contrast essay; a biography; a literary analysis; and a research paper; and will be prepared for the new SAT essay and for college writing. We also like the collection of 14-Minute Power Surges found in the Teacher's Guide. These writing prompts encourage students to write without necessarily being graded on it. But those could wind up as "starter material" for essays that they will be graded on.

The Power in Your Hands (Writing Non-Fiction in High School) from Writing with Sharon Watson - A Homeschool Coffee Break review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew on

You can read more about The Power In Your Hands from Writing with Sharon Watson in our full review: The Power in Your Hands (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

For Grammar (parts of speech, punctuation, vocabulary, etc):
Institute for Excellence in Writing, A Schoolhouse Crew Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @

We've found that Fix-it! Grammar (from IEW) is a great fit for Kennady, since she is a story-teller and that's the format of this grammar resource. A story is told, a sentence at a time, and students look for the intentional errors and correct them, learning about parts of speech and their functions as they go. They re-write the corrected story in their own journal, in their nicest handwriting. Kennady definitely enjoys this part! This course can be used for all ages, and teaches parts of speech, punctuation, and everything else grammar related. Younger students can go through the book(s) much more slowly than older students and learn the same material. The instructions are to work on one sentence per day for four days, but since Kennady has a great background in grammar already, we do a week's worth or more of Fix-It! lessons at a time, and in just a short sitting. As the concepts get more complex, we'll be prepared to slow down if we need to.

Institute for Excellence in Writing, A Schoolhouse Crew Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @

We originally got started with Fix-It! as part of our review of the Student Writing Intensive Level C from IEW a couple years ago. If you're looking for a writing course for high schoolers that is taught by someone other than you, give the Student Writing Intensive a look. It's a four-DVD set with basically all the teaching done by Andrew Pudewa. This curriculum was a good fit for both of my kids that year, despite their different learning styles and interest in writing, because they started by focusing on developing good writing skills without worrying about the content.

Institute for Excellence in Writing, A Schoolhouse Crew Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @

(Find out more about Fix-It! Grammar and the Student Writing Intensive in our full review: Institute for Excellence in Writing (A Schoolhouse Crew Review))

For Literature (poetry memorization, and literature study):
Finding the Right Words - Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 2 on Homeschool Coffee Break @ #hsCurriculumFair #homeschool #LanguageArts

This is another product from the great people at the Institute for Excellence in Writing, and it feels like we are doing this purely for fun! This is Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization - which may not sound like fun, but trust us, memorizing these poems really is enjoyable and painless. We don't have a set schedule to work on these, and to be completely honest, we've neglected it recently, but what we do is keep the CD and the Student Manual in our car, and when Kennady and I go for a drive, we work on our repertoire of memorized poems. We recite all the poems learned so far, then listen to the new poem several times before trying to recite it ourselves. Kennady was a little skeptical at first, and the first few times she was reluctant to put much dramatic effort into her recitation, but as we went along she became more animated. We even enjoy a bit of friendly competition too, as I am memorizing along with her. We do need to get back into the habit of working on this, which has been difficult while we're sharing vehicles with others in the family and therefore spending less time driving on school days. We may need to actually work on it at home instead of just while driving!

Poetry Memorization with IEW - A Schoolhouse Crew Review of Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization on Homeschool Coffee Break @
Reciting one of our favorites: The Yak by Hilaire Belloc
Poetry Memorization with IEW - A Schoolhouse Crew Review of Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization on Homeschool Coffee Break @

 Find out all the details in our full review: Poetry Memorization with Institute for Excellence in Writing)

During high school, our literature study is part of our history study because we use Exploring World History and Exploring America (both from Notgrass). This year Kennady is studying Exploring World History, so her reading list includes things like:

The Cat of Bubastes by G.A. Henty
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Animal Farm by George Orwell

I plan to talk more about Literature during Week 4 of the Virtual Curriculum Fair, so please check in then for more! In a nutshell though, my approach to literature study is that I want my kids to be reasonably well-read, by which I mean they are familiar with a selection of classic works of literature; and I do want them to enjoy the stories as much as possible. The books chosen to go with the Notgrass history studies are written about, or during, the time periods studied, so that adds interest. Hopefully! We don't read every book in the list, but choose a few of them, and I don't require detailed analysis or long writing assignments for each novel. Instead, we focus on reading for enjoyment and understanding of the story and historical setting. (Kennady will be writing a literary analysis essay using The Power in Your Hands, so that will be covered!)

Not surprisingly, Finding the Right Words for Kennady's high school studies turned up different curriculum choices than those that were good fits for my boys! For example, in his 11th grade year, Landon used Analytical GrammarLandon is a "just the facts" kind of guy, and just wants to get right to the point and move on. This no-frills presentation grammar course worked great for his learning style. Find out more about this one by reading our full review: Analytical Grammar (Schoolhouse Crew Review)
Finding the Right Words - Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 2 on Homeschool Coffee Break @ #hsCurriculumFair #homeschool #LanguageArts   

What are some favorite Language Arts resources you've used? Leave a comment and let me know! Also, please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers as they share thoughts on "Playing With Words" in this week's Virtual Curriculum Fair.

This post is part of the Virtual Curriculum Fair 2017. This year the Virtual Curriculum Fair is hosted by Susan at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds. Visit my fellow bloggers listed below and see how they are "Playing With Words" (all posts will be live by noon EST on January 9, 2017)!

Finding the Right Words - Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 2 on Homeschool Coffee Break @ #hsCurriculumFair #homeschool #LanguageArts

Delight Directed High School English by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Act Your Part Well- 2017 VCF by Lisa @ Golden Grasses
The Search For Language by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Our Top Picks for Language Arts by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool
Multiple Approaches to Language Arts in 2017 by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
How We Cover the Language Arts in Our Homeschool by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Use Your Words by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
The Art of Perfecting Macarons by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life
Loving Languages Every Day by Jen K @ A Peace of Mind
Speech Therapy & Elementary Latin by Yvie @ Gypsy Road
The Readin' and Writin' Part of Homeschool by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Children Who Love Books by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Customizing High School Language Credits by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
A Poetry Feast by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Teaching Language Arts without Curriculum by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
I know your pain and it is worth it! by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Language Arts: Our Style by Annette @ A Net in Time
Words! Words! Words! by Lisa M @McClanahan 7
10 Wonderful Word Games (+1) by Lori @ At Home: where life happens
Finding the Right Words by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
What About Reading Comprehension? by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset
Teaching Grammar and Writing Through Discussion by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

Finding the Right Words - Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 2 on Homeschool Coffee Break @ #hsCurriculumFair #homeschool #LanguageArts

Now it's your turn! We invite you to join the conversation about words by linking up your posts about your curriculum choices in the area of Language Arts:

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grtlyblesd said...

Fix It Grammar was a favorite here, too. :)

Four Little Penguins said...

Oh, what a lot of great curriculum!!! I think the only one we haven't used an loved is Power in Your Hands and we are planning on using it with my 9th grader next year!

Michele said...

Those are a lot of good choices! Glad to see you are enjoying so many Crew review items!

Susan said...

I just started Fix It grammar with one of my middle kids---so far we like it a lot.

Brittney said...

We love that Poetry course!

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