If your kids are struggling with grammar, writing, spelling, and literary analysis because language arts are, well, boring… it’s time to dial up the fun! You can even use quarantine as an excuse to take a break from the usual routine and focus on skill-builders for teaching homeschool English. I’ll give you a peek at what I’m doing with my kids right now and maybe it will spark some ideas!
When teaching homeschool language arts…
Remember that homeschool teaching doesn’t have to look like classroom teaching! In my years at home and in co-ops, I find that it’s really easy to apply that to science and social studies, but not so easy with math and English. I still haven’t figured out how to make math more natural for my kids, but we’ve been able to find ways to make learning language arts more relevant and fun than the kill and drill of most textbooks.
I would say that the biggest influences on the way I teach language arts have been Brave Writer and a workshop from Brian Wasko of WriteAtHome. Check those out if you need some teacher inspiration!
Our quarantine language arts…
Ok, #truthbomb time… I’m struggling with routine right now. Actually, I struggle with that ALL the time, but general busy-ness keeps me focused so I can get everything done. Having long days at home makes me feel like I have all the time in the world, and by the time I actually get moving with anything meaningful, it’s 3 pm and the kids are checked out already.
In any case, I think the reason we took a break from our routine language arts curriculum right now is that I needed something different enough to actually do it on the regular.
What we haven’t changed is literature. We’re still reading together almost daily. We even read through The Tell-Tale Heart (Poe) because of a bizarre hunt for the preschooler’s toy stethoscope that was thump-thumping without anyone touching it!
(It’s those kinds of moments that I absolutely love about homeschooling, btw! It went something like this:
Me: Ok, y’all. What’s that noise? Please tell me I’m not the only one hearing it.
Teens look up from their phones.
Teen1: Oh yeah. I hear it too.
All start searching, and find the stethoscope under a couch cushion.
Me: Wow. I was having a real Tell-Tale Heart moment there.
Teen2: A what?
Me: You’ve read that, haven’t you?
Teen2 shakes her head. I look at Teen1 who shrugs.
Me: Well, then… have a seat!)
We’re also working on reading plays and talking about writing dialogue and stage direction in that way. Obviously, I need to look it up and practice myself.
Besides the reading, I’ve encouraged the kids to keep Quarantine Journals. They’ll want to look back on this time and share it with their families, I hope! My daughter’s journaling has become a real outlet for her. She picked up some nice journals and pens and is approaching it like a bullet journal. So cool!
As for grammar – this is my favorite part right now – I found a really interesting book through Amazon’s suggestions for me. It’s called Caught Ya! Grammar With a Giggle by Jane Bell Kiester. It seems to be a lot like IEW’s Fix-It Grammar, but I’ve never personally used that so I can’t directly compare.
It was incredibly easy to dive into. The kids rolled their eyes at first, but we’re on day 21 now, and we all look forward to the continuation each day of the saga of Hairy Beast and General Animal Hospital.
There are some how-to’s at the beginning of the book and a selection of stories designed for different levels. We decided on the story in Chapter 7 as a good way to quickly brush-up on grammar in writing.
I don’t have a whiteboard to use right now, though, so I’ve been typing the incorrect sentences in WordPad and projecting my display to our television via Bluetooth. Then the kids text me the corrected sentences… from across the room! Haha! Unconventional, maybe, but it’s working!
I actually ran into a couple of sentences already that tripped me up. I knew how to correct them, but didn’t know how to explain why. So I’ve been digging into my handy dandy grammar reference library a lot. Here are the books I use when I… uh, I mean we… need to review a concept.
Not leaving the preschooler out…
Our preschool activities during quarantine have involved a lot of books in a lot of different formats.
We still have the library books that should have been returned over a month ago. They’ve been pretty much memorized. And, actually, the little guy does seem to have an affinity for memorizing his favorite books. Top of his list right now are Dragons Eat Noodles on Tuesdays by Jon Stahl and The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach. Both are so fun! Since they are written in dialogue, my little buddy likes to take turns being one character or another while I read the other part. He can’t read at all yet, so he just memorizes. It’s pretty amusing theater, actually! Especially when he tries to pronounce “metamorphosize.”
For his 4th birthday and in his Easter basket, he got lots of puzzles and a few write and wipe workbooks. They’ve all been a big hit and keep him busy for a long time! We’ve done some work on pencil grip, and other fine motor exercises, too.
But in the morning, we spend some cuddle time with Vooks (free for a year for all teachers including homeschoolers!) and Kindle books from Prime Reading. I didn’t know Prime Reading had such a large selection of titles, especially kids’ books, but you can “check out” ten at a time like the library. Loving this!
I hope you and your family are doing well through quarantine, and continue to enjoy the homeschooling journey!
Are you doing anything different while the stay-at-home order is in place? Please send me a message and share!