Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Classical Take on 6th Grade Language Arts

This year I'm again participating in the Virtual Curriculum Fair hosted at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds.  It's not that we have everything figured out; far from it.  I just love to read other blogs and get ideas on how to better our homeschool and thought my little bit of information might help someone too.

This week let's begin with Language Arts.  It encompasses so much of our homeschool day and even when we are working on other subjects we are still practicing our Language Arts skills. 

This year for 6th grade, unlike 5th grade, we have made no mid-year adjustments to language arts.  It took us a couple of years, but we have eventually found the right fit for Amber.  We homeschool with a mostly classical model, and that is reflected in our Language Arts choices.

Grammar: We absolutely love BJU's English 6 grammar lessons.  In fact, we bought the curriculum just for the grammar and skip every single writing unit.  It's not that the writing lessons are unacceptable, but just not the type of instruction Amber needs.  The grammar lessons, though, are exactly how Amber thinks.  The lessons are scripted in the teacher's guide, but we rarely go by the script.  However, I do like the sample sentences from the teacher's guide so that I'm not trying to make up endless examples.  Amber honestly looks forward to grammar each day and would willing do more than one lesson per day if I let her.

Writing: I am entirely sold on Writing With Skill.  Amber's writing abilities have be bounding forward ever since we started.  To be entirely honest, Amber has been sick for the majority of the time that we've been using Writing With Skill, so our progress is a little slower than I hoped.  These past 10 months have been a combination of extremely productive school days and minimalistic school days.  Writing was usually dropped on the minimalistic days.  We love that the curriculum is directed to the student with still enough teacher guidance that Amber can feel confident in her learning.  The early portion of the curriculum was quite a learning curve, but now it has evened out.  The curriculum emphasizes outlining, narration and using good writing (from literature) as samples.  While this is not Amber's favorite subject, there rarely is any grumbling about the lessons.  As an added bonus, Amber has recognized how much better she writes now and is also in agreement that Writing With Skill is a necessary part of our homeschool.

Spelling: I waffled this year on whether we would continue with spelling, but in the end it really takes such a short amount of time and the benefits much outweigh the time spent.  Again we went with BJU for Spelling 6.  We like the way it is structured, the additional dictionary work in each lesson, and the weekly dose of word etymology.  This is another subject that Amber happily completes.

Loves her grammar.  We do lots of diagramming on our dry erase wall.
Literature: We moved to literature based reading lessons midway through 5th grade and saw a huge leap in Amber's already advanced reading skills.  We use a combination of books that compliment our history studies and age appropriate literature.  I'm enamored with Memoria Press literature guides to fascillitate our discussions, but alas they do not have one for every book I'd like to use.  Instead we use an array of resources to make our discussions more interesting.   If you'd like a complete listing of our literature books for the year, with study resources, check out our 6th Grade Curricula page.

Poetry:  We also like to include a little bit of poetry study on occasion.  Between each grammar unit we take a few days to delve into The Art of Poetry.  Amber adores poetry and the small break between each grammar chapter is perfect for preventing burnout.  Our chosen curriculum teaches the reader how to closely read a poem, understand the symbolism, feel the emotion, and comprehend their own reactions to poetry.  It is a hefty book that we intend to use for several years, but is entirely appropriate for the middle school grades as well as high school.  Classical works of poetry are featured heavily in this book.   

Creative Writing: Amber has a great love of creative writing, but we have floundered in the past trying to find a way to channel this and improve upon her skills.  She participated in the NaNoWriMo Young Writers program with success, but felt it was pretty much a one time thing for her at this point.  For 6th grade we went with a book from the publishers of Writing With Skill, The Creative Writer.  Both fiction and poetry are covered in The Creative Writer and it is designed so that you can have formal lessons only once a week. This fit into our schedule beautifully.  Again, with Amber's illness these lessons were often skipped in favor of rest time or simply finishing the basics.  However, Amber absolutely adored each and every lesson and is more than a little irritated with me that I have not found time for it more often.

Latin: I waffled if I wanted to include this in a post on Language Arts, yet the truth is that as a dead language the main benefits Amber receives from learning Latin is in her English language arts subjects. Direct objects in English grammar gave Amber such difficulty the first time through, but after learning direct objects in Latin she became a pro with them.  Latin even helps with Amber's spelling and vocabulary.  Amber has been studying Latin since a month after we began homeschooling back in January of 2012 (4th grade).  We use Classical Academic Press' Latin for Children.  Currently Amber is working through Primer B, but you can read my review of Primer A.  The video lessons have just the right balance of humor and instruction, and the book does a good job of explaining a difficult subject.  Amber greatly enjoys the translation work in the reader and it gives her a sense of accomplishment that she is doing more than memorizing facts.

Latin video lesson
We have been entirely pleased with our selections for Language Arts this year and unless I find something even better in my addictive search for curriculum, we will continue with the same structure for 7th grade too. 

Stay tuned for next week's entry in the Virtual Curriculum Fair on the topic of Math, Logic & Science.

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Please visit these other great homeschool bloggers who are also participating in this year's Virtual Curriculum Fair:
3 Reasons to Read to Your Teens by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Language Arts {Virtual Curriculum Fair} by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses
A Classical Take on 6th Grade Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
The Power in a Word by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays
The Latin Road to English Grammar Volume 1 by Kristi K. @ The Potter's Hand Academy
Starting a Foreign Language in Elementary School by Amy @ Eclectic Homeschooling
These are the words we say by Christa @ Fairfield Corner Academy
A Peek into our Homeschool: Language Arts by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Our Curriculum Choices 2014 ~ English by Renata~Sunnyside Farm Fun
Virtual Curriculum Fair: A World of Words by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
It Starts with the Alphabet by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset
Playing w/ Words-Charlotte Mason Style by Lynn P @ Ladybug Chronicles
2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Playing with Words: the Language Arts by Jennifer @ a glimpse of our life
Our PreK-1st Grade Language Arts Mix by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker
Fun (or Not) With Spelling by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun
Word Nerd Love by Lisa N@Golden Grasses
Our Favourite Resources For Teaching Elementary Language Arts by Kim @ Homestead Acres
Unconventional Reading Lessons While Homeschooling by Lori@My Journeys Through Life
My Favorite Writing Curriculum for our Boys by Monique @Living Life and Learning
Virtual Curriculum Fair: Playing With Words - Language Arts  by Stacie @Super Mommy To The Rescue
Fun With the Language Arts by Mary @ Winecup Christian Homeschool
Our Grammar Path by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
Virtual Curriculum Fair !!! by Jessica @ Modest Mama
Creating a High School English Course (or two) by Debra @Footprints in the Butter
Language Arts in Our Homeschool This Year by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World


  1. I love the Memoria Press Literature guides. (I've only used the ones for early elementary, but I plan to continue with those for my younger daughter.

  2. As an English major, I found that studying and writing poetry had a dramatic (and positive) impact on my overall writing and reading skills---every word counts in poetry. I'm always happy to see other homeschoolers incorporating it into their overall language arts program. Thank you for sharing!

  3. We have enjoyed several of the resources that you shared. Writing with skill is new to me, I'm planning to look into that.

  4. I'm glad you found some things you were happy with. I always tend to love, love, love something--for about two months. I don't think we've ever made it through a whole school year without changing up!

  5. The list of language arts activities is so long we struggle to fit it all in with everything else. I'm in awe of all the different topics you manage to cover with illness too.