English

December 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm 2 comments

This is the first year I’ve really used English as a subject. I used to always do all their reading and writing as part of their history subject. Grammar was mostly done through online games. Spelling and vocab was just part of reading and writing. As I have more school-aged kids I’m getting more focused on teaching English more systematically. It also works best for the online curriculum I’m working on to assign books by grade level. History books have become more of an extra family-read-aloud thing since I keep all my kids studying basically the same thing for science and history.

I have two littles, a first grader, a fourth grader (all boys), and then my daughter is in sixth grade. I’ve been choosing their reading books from the Robinson and Ambleside book lists. I have used the books in several different ways. My first grader copies sentences from his book, which I often do by copying and pasting a sentence into this handwriting worksheet maker. I sometimes use this to have him write a sentence using something from the sentence. For example, once he copied a sentence with the phrase “worried wife.” Then he had to write a sentence with alliteration. I made a list of family members for him to choose from. He wrote a sentence about “grandma’s gum.” We have also used those sentences he has copied to learn about nouns. The rest of the time he just has to tell me what happened in the chapter. In first grade it’s normal to have to ask questions to get the narration from them. My first grader has been reading books from the Bailey animal books series. He’s only done one “book report.”

My fourth grader made it through the whole Swiss Family Robinson book. I actually put in the curriculum to make a diorama scene from the book, but he asked to pass and my daughter did one instead. I have not made him do full out book reports. He has used a couple of different forms to fill out after reading a book.  One from Jimmie  One I made   He has had to do writing assignments based on his books. He wrote comedy after reading The Peterkin Papers for example. He has had to write a biographical essay and an autobiography. He also has to write descriptive pieces and does lots of creative writing with prompts based on what he’s reading. The Little Princess turned out to be great for vocabulary, so while he is reading that there are lots of vocabulary exercises–puzzles, writing stories using the words, etc. I visit vocabulary and spelling from time to time. They aren’t something we do daily or weekly. I don’t like ruts. I tend to teach in circles. We leave and come back to things.

My sixth grader slogged through Captains Courageous. I used literature questions that I found online for that one. She laughed her way through Penrod. She learned about satire and read Gulliver’s Travels. She just finished Black Beauty and is writing a persuasive essay on animal rights. She has had to write full book reports. For Black Beauty she is reading literary criticism and writing her own opinion. I love using example essays online to teach how to write different forms. There’s a great autobiographical incident example for sixth grade. One of her books is Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott. Alcott has such great sentences that I have my daughter copy her sentence structure. We take a sentence. Then break it down. Here’s an example below. I like to put in bold any words I’ve recently introduced. I keep them in the forefront until they become part of the natural vocabulary. This is not an introduction for any of these words.

  •  While Jack was hopping gayly about on his crutches, poor Jill was feeling the effects of her second fall, and instead of sitting up, as she hoped to do after six weeks of rest, she was ordered to lie on a board for two hours each day.
  1. This is the first sentence of the chapter you read today. Let’s write one like it.
  2. First step. Write a dependent clause starting with “while.” Don’t forget to follow it with a comma. Then add an independent clause, one that could stand alone as a sentence. Example: While I was waiting, a dog came up to sniff my shoes.
  3. Next, Alcott uses a comma and a conjunction (, and). Let’s skip that part for now.
  4. The second part of her sentence starts with another dependent clause (which I believe is specifically called an adverbial phrase, but you don’t need to know that.) That’s followed by an aside, an extra description. Then the sentence is finished with an independent clause.
  5. Right now let’s write a dependent clause followed by an independent clause. Don’t forget to separate the two with a comma. And remember this has to go with your first sentence. Example: Until he was satisfied that I wasn’t the source of whatever scent he was chasing, he eagerly circled me.
  6. Now, add in a clause after the first comma and make sure to use a comma after it. Alcott added there, “as she hoped to do after six weeks of rest.”  Example: Until he was satisfied that I wasn’t the source of whatever scent he was chasing, as he obviously was after something, he eagerly circled me.
  7. Now, we have to combine the two together. Use a comma and a conjunction between the two sentences you just wrote. Example: While I was waiting, a dog came up to sniff my shoes, and until he was satisfied that I wasn’t the source of whatever scent he was chasing, as he obviously was after something, he eagerly circled me.
  8. Add a particle adjective and maybe a metaphor or simile. Come on. See what you can do. Example:  While I was waiting, a dog came up to sniff my shoes, and until he was satisfied that I wasn’t the source of whatever scent he was chasing, as he obviously was after something, he eagerly circled me, a frozen statue on the corner of 24th and Main. (I underlined my participle adjective. I added the metaphor of comparing myself to a statue.)
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Entry filed under: Homeschool.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Misty  |  December 20, 2011 at 6:19 am

    You are an amazing teacher! I cannot wait until your curriculum is ready next year! I have already been telling my friends a co-op about it. 🙂

    Reply
  • 2. The King Will Make a Way  |  December 20, 2011 at 8:05 am

    When I read your comment, I screamed “AAAAHHH” in my mind. I love sharing and being able to help, but I’m a very shy person and hate putting myself out there. It’s hard for me to let others read what I write, etc. But, I do hope people will use it and that it will help people. The format has made our school year really smooth. Thanks for spreading the word. It will only be partially complete by summer. I am only writing up what my kids are doing. 1st, 4th, 6th and one “program year” will be done. By summer I will be starting to work on 2nd, 5th, 7th and another “program year” which will be ancient history and biology (along with art, music, Bible, PE/health, computer and thinking). My elementary school kids finish in an hour to an hour and a half. The oldest takes two to two and half hours to finish each day.

    Reply

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