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Language arts is one of the main content areas covered in a child’s education. Language arts generally encompasses the skills of reading and writing. Listening and speaking may also be included in the language arts content area. This post will cover the grammar and spelling aspect of language arts curricula.
Links to past Language Arts Curricula posts:
I have already written posts covering reading and writing.
CLICK HERE to read my review of elementary writing curricula.
CLICK HERE to read a review of phonics reading programs.
CLICK HERE to read an overview of whole word reading methods and programs.
CLICK HERE to read about methods to improve reading comprehension.
Language Arts Curricula That Teach Grammar
I have used two different programs to teach grammar. There are other programs available; however, I am limiting this review to curricula I have personally used.
Michael Clay Thompson Language Arts Curricula
Michael Clay Thompson is advertised as a complete language arts curriculum. It is written with the gifted child in mind. The Content covered is rigorous but written in a user-friendly way. There are 7 levels covering 3rd grade through high school. Each level includes 5 separate books and a literature trilogy. My review is limited to levels 1 and 2 as these are the books I have used.
The books are fun to read. The grammar books are written as a narrative with the content woven into the story. The literature trilogy has challenging language, but are also interesting to read. The Caesar’s English books cover Latin roots and work to build vocabulary.
Some of the literature books (e.g.., Peter Pan) include mild language. I would personally prefer to avoid such terminology, particularly with a 5-6 year old.* The second level sentence diagramming practice book became too difficult for my son, so we stopped using it. Although advertised as a complete writing program, I thought that the “writing” books did not provide any practice writing practice. They covered how to form sentences and paragraphs. At that point, I began looking for another writing curriculum. Overall, the books series can be expensive. The basic homeschool package is advertised at $150 on the website (price based on when I viewed Fireworks Press website on July 7, 2017).
*Side note: The authors recommend using the books once a child is reading fluently, so I started the books before 3rd grade.
I would probably only recommend portions of this series. This program may be beneficial for gifted children and children who enjoy learning through narrative. I found the grammar and vocabulary books helpful with my son. The writing books also explain the parts of sentences and paragraphs.
Michael Clay Thompson products can be purchased directly from the publisher. They can also be bought used off of eBay. CLICK HERE to see current Michael Clay Thompson product availability on eBay.
First Language Lessons
This homeschool series is designed to provide grammar instruction through short lessons. There are 4 levels. Initial instruction is provided orally and all of the lessons are scripted. I have used levels 1-3.
The lessons are short and to the point. The program is affordable and provides a solid based for understanding grammar.
As the program progresses, lessons become gradually longer. I adapt the lessons to my child’s attention needs by taking as many days as we need to cover a lesson. Also, the poem memorization was not a good fit for my child and I have skipped this component of the program past level 1.
I do highly recommend this program for grammar and language instruction. The full series can be adapted by shortening lesson time and covering the content over as many days as needed. If the poem memorization component is not a good fit for your child, this requirement is simple to shorten or exclude.
My Favorite Spelling Curriculum
All About Spelling
All About Spelling is a program that teaches the rules of spelling using an Orton-Gillingham approach. The program utilizes multi-sensory input by using letter tiles when spelling new words. There are 7 levels available. I have used levels 1-5.
The lessons are relatively short and teach children to spell using phonetic rules rather than memorization of word lists. I wish I had been taught to spell using this program. The use of letter tiles may be very beneficial for children who thrive with multi-sensory teaching methods. The letter tiles may also be helpful for children who have difficulty with handwriting. Each lesson tells the instructor what to teach step-by-step, so the program is easy to implement. I consider this to be an “open-and-go” curriculum with next to no prep work required.
The author recommends spending about 20 minutes on the program each day. This was too long for my child. We complete partial lessons daily that better align with my child’s attention span. I also stopped using the letter tiles within the first level. My son did not have a problem with writing out the words and the tiles were actually a distraction for him. I will probably use letter tiles when I start using the program with other children.
I have found All About Spelling to be a high quality curriculum that has been appropriately sequenced. I like it so much, that I have not found a need to consider other spelling programs. After level 1, I have only purchase the teacher’s manual to use as a guide. Other instructors may wish to purchase the full set for each level.
Rather than using letter tiles, I have been using the Level 1 program with my first grader using spelling blocks. CLICK HERE to read more about how to make your own or where to buy pre-printed unifix spelling cubes.
The lesson books and supplies can be purchased new directly from the publisher. Amazon and Ebay also have a used selection. CLICK HERE to view current All About Spelling offers on eBay.
Conclusion on Language Arts Curricula
There are a variety of language arts programs available for parents to choose from. For spelling and grammar, I have found First Language Lessons and All About Spelling to be high quality options. As with any high quality program, not every component will work with every child. I have found these programs easy to adapt to my childrens’ learning needs through 1) shortening lesson sessions and 2) changing some of the required content.