Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Language Arts: Piwi style

After 2.5 years of homeschooling, I still consider myself a rookie. Two of these years were with a virtual school. This school year, Second grade, is the first time we have made our own curriculum choices. For a longer version of our how we came to Homeschool see our Piwi classroom page.

By chance, I came across the Virtual Homeschool curriculum fair this weekend. A first I didn't even think I had a lot to offer in advice about curriculum. I began blogging so that our spread-out family could see what the kids were doing. Later it became more about our Homeschooling. However, I feel compelled to give back by trying to follow in the footsteps of some of the great bloggers out there who have unknowingly helped us in our Homeschool journey.

Our workbox planner
This week we are posting about Language arts. I was just outlining what we are doing this year for second grade. That was the plan until I realized (while folding laundry) that that wasn't really helpful unless I also included how we got to this point. I will try to keep it short. I come from a family who are notorious for making a short story long.

How we got to 2nd grade.

The curriculum for Miss K's Kindergarten and First grade year was sent to us our virtual school. Initially this was what we needed. I was freaking out about whether I could teach her. My DH  reminded me that in our current school district the Kindergarten teacher to student ratio was 28:1. Yes, I agreed, I could do better than that. The virtual school had a totally scripted program, what could go wrong?

Math went great, Social studies, Science, Language arts... and then we got to Phonics. After the first week, I called our support teacher, Ms. L, for help. It was not pretty, Miss K was upset she couldn't read yet.  All the lessons were about phonetic sounds and she was over it. Just bringing out the magnets caused a melt down. I was worried that maybe she wasn't ready. After a visit with Miss K,  Ms. L assured me that if we could just get through this first short unit, we would get to the sight words next and then Miss K would be fine. I was skeptical, but sure enough, once Miss K started memorizing sight words, she quickly started reading. Phonics have remained something she really disliked through first grade. Online programs like Time 4 learning helped. More recently Phonics have made a sneaky appearance back into her LA curriculum. The curriculum we use includes it in a very natural way. We are also working in Test prep guides which are making her think more phonetically. Whether we need to go back and revise phonics will become apparent soon.

Language arts in Second grade

Prior to this year, I had not heard of  Learning Language Arts Through Literature.  It is actually an entire LA curriculum. It sounded too good to be true but it definitely works for us. We supplement it with creative writing (Miss K writes has an ongoing series about the secret identity of our cat) and additional book studies. It would be fine to use alone but there is always something Miss K wants to explore further. This is one of the blessings of Homeschooling on your own (as opposed to virtual schooling). You are free to follow interests. There is a sense of peace in knowing things aren't set in stone. Of course the peace comes after a near panic attack about choosing the right curriculum (instead of having it arrive pre-packaged in a 5 big boxes).
Saints Note booking pages

We use unit studies, lap books and note booking to study Science, History and Geography. Along with everything she learns about the subject, the process has really helped her Grammar & Spelling.  Handwriting had been something I had relaxed about after being reminded how bad mine was as a kid. Our more Classical friends suggested Copy work. Recently we found the Catechism copy work at St. Annes Helper.  Catechism review and handwriting practice in one! Miss K is taking a lot of pride in her work.


We don't use an actual curriculum for spelling. We have a list of words to know by the end of second and third grade. Each week we have a list of 15 words to learn. She uses the See/say/spell/write method to learn new words. These words come from the list and from words that Miss K wrote incorrectly during creative writing or any other writing she did during the week from  unit studies, lap books or even math word problem answers. This was how we did it growing up in New Zealand and it works for Miss K.

The one thing that has remained the same throughout our journey, is our love of books. Most weeks we  return one mountain of books to the Library and check out another.

So that's a summary of our LA journey with Miss K, now 7. We are now beginning the amazing journey again with Mini Piwi, 3. Thankfully, this time around I have a head start. I know that kids learn in their own way, and in their own time. It also helps if they are enjoying the experience.

visit the other bloggers participating in this week’s edition of the Virtual Curriculum Fair:
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