September 20, 2013

Language Arts Lessons

 We try to adhere to the simplicity of Charlotte Mason's idea about language arts which leans heavily on narration and on copywork. By using CM's method language arts can spill over into many subjects as reading and writing are the primary tools in education, however, we also have specific skill building lesson to keep these tools sharp and ready for use. Handwriting, reading practice, and phonics we do in the morning just after breakfast in our Three R's Rotation.

Handwriting: We are transitioning from print to cursive. After doing some cursive only last year and seeing the boys missing some fundamental things I thought this book would help them see the little bits more clearly as well as to review each letter individually. I also like the Proverbs so Print to Cursive Proverbs was a great fit for us. The boys copy the proverb in print one day and then copy the cursive letters one by one in context of the verse. They also practice other words using that letter. As one letter is introduce every other day they get a good chance to copy and read the letter in in all the positions, first, middle and at the end of a word.

Phonics: We are still using a phonics book, Phonics Pathways. Seems we use a different one each year. I have been puzzling over why the boys simply don't seem to assimilate and use the phonics they have learned. They still struggle to know when to when to use the silent e rule etc. But I am learning to be content with slow progress and they are getting better and better at reading each year. I take them through a 5 minute lesson every day and then as they are reading or doing other things highlight that lesson in their real life language usage. Hope this gets it more home. I often wonder if it just isn't something they care about or their minds don't need this information just now, so it keeps getting set aside. One day as we continue to add this knowledge to their icebergs of knowledge it may come to the surface.

Reading: I don't know why we did this but we are reading through five different books one each day of the week. The books are very similar in difficulty and content so it doesn't seem to break continuity of we read three pages from one book, set it aside until the next week and pick up the next book to read three pages from it. The boys are reading the passages out loud to me as I work in the kitchen. I do very little monitoring except to be close at hand to correct a lazy reading or to help them when they get stuck on a new or difficult word. Mostly I am letting them be alone with their book and learn to develop strategies for working out how to read new words using the rules or knowledge they already have, ON THEIR OWN. They are enjoying this. I let many mistakes go by but in the end they have been stopping themselves to make it right as they want to know what the books is saying. What will happen next? This is why I love to read, and it has motivated me to read harder and harder books so I can get the knowledge out of them or to know about the people in them or how the story will end. 

After each reading I get to hear from them what they story was about. This is narration. We also do narration from book I read aloud to them in other subjects like history or literature, but they do very good narrations from reading to themselves too. In the future they will be doing more and more of this as their reading ability increases.

These are the books the boys chose to read from, you can find them all at Yesterday's Classics or ( From left to right: The Sandman His House Stories, Rollo At Work, Rollo at Play, The Sandman more farm Stories, The Sandman His Farm Stories.)

Grammar study/Poetry and spelling are three more language arts lesson we do during the week. CM does not suggest a grammar or spelling lesson per say but both of our books are CM friendly so they work well with a CM education. Three days a week we work through lesson in Primary Language Lessons by Emma Serl which includes poetry memorization, picture studies with narration and dictation practice etc. I let the poetry lessons in this book take the place of a separate lesson on poetry just now as it meets our needs beautifully and simply.

Two days a week we also do a lesson from our Spelling Wisdom book. Spelling wisdom simply puts spelling words into a sentence which can be prepared by the student ahead of time for a dictation. By following the course Sonya has developed you will learn the basic spelling words but with an idea attached. Brilliant! and so much easier to remember than the old fashioned spelling list. We just began Spelling Wisdom this year so we are on book one. Also since the spelling wisdom gives the boys adequate dictation practice I skip the dictation exercises in Primary language lessons when they occur in the book.

Lastly under Language Arts is Literature, my favorite. Literature for us happens at the end of the day and I read aloud to the boys before bedtime. We don't narrate this lesson just enjoy the stories, so when I chose books for this lesson I keep that in mind. Here is our Literature list for this year:

Tales From Shakespeare by Charles Lamb
Ou Island Saints by Amy Steedman
The Lantern Bearer by Rosemary Sutcliff
Adam of The Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
Traditional Irish Fairy Tales by James Stephens
Rolf and the Viking Bow by Allen French
The Viking Adventure
Princess Adeline by Julie Sutter
Stories of Beowulf
Monk's Hood by Ellis Peters
A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters
One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters
Knight of the White Cross by GA Henty
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
Selections from: Anderson's Fairy Tales
Selections from: Grimm's Fairy Tales
The Lion of St. Mark by GA Henty
Selections from: One Hundred and One Read-Aloud Celtic Myths by Joan C. Verniero 
Men of Iron By Howard Pyle
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by AVI
The Wise Woman and other stories by George McDonald
The Grey Wolf and Other stories by George McDonald

and, if we have time this year we will read the following, otherwise they will have to wait until next year...
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
Return of the King

Language arts is not the boys best subject but I am holding fast to Charlotte's advice regarding the reading lessons and resting in my own sort of contentment knowing giving them a secure foundation is more important than arriving at the finish line in a certain time frame.

"The teacher must be content to proceed slowly, securing the ground under her feet as she goes." from Volume one, page 204.

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