Language Arts is one of those subjects that you are either passionate about or loathe. I happen to be in the first camp and absolutely love grammar, creative writing and even literature. It was one of my best subjects in school and I even tutored it through college. Unfortunately, my children have not yet found the same passion. So, this is one subject where we struggle in our homeschool. But, that doesn’t keep me from searching and seeking out the best curriculum out there.
I have several tried and true favorites for the elementary ages, as that is where my children have been. Now with my oldest entering 6th grade, it has been a bit of a challenge to find curriculum that is both thorough and challenging for him. Today, I have broken down the curriculum into subjects that fall under the Language Arts umbrella – phonics/reading, handwriting, spelling, grammar and creative writing.
Explode the Code – We use Explode the Code with our children from the beginning. It has worked well and includes both phonics/reading and handwriting, which I love. This series begins with books A, B and C for younger children. It works through letters and their sounds through a variety of activities, which gives them a great foundation. Then beginning in book 1, students learn to combine letter sounds and start forming words. My kids love the fun activities, which don’t seem like work, but more like games. There are 8 levels in this curriculum series.
Abeka – After my children learn to read and sound out words, we move on to Abeka readers. Truthfully, this is the only part of their curriculum I use, but I love the readers. They are easy to read and progressively get more difficult. As they progress through the series, there are comprehensive questions after each short story to help them learn to retain what they read as well as communicate it to me.
All About Reading – All About Reading (AAR) is an intensive phonics program for preK through about fourth grade that consists of two main parts: the Pre-reading program (teaching essential pre-reading skills) and the Reading program (consisting of Levels 1 through 4). AAR is a highly interactive multi-sensory program that needs to be taught by the parent or teacher. However, the open-and-go lesson plans are scripted and illustrated, making it simple for the inexperienced parent or teacher to present the lessons with little or no prep time.
Happy Phonics – “Simple, yet entertaining and educational, these phonics games are printed on colorful, sturdy cardstock ready to cut out. Included is a mother-friendly guidebook which contains the details on how I teach phonics and reading, how to pronounce and teach the phonics sounds, how to make your own simple beginning readers, and step-by-step teaching info for each phonics sound. Happy Phonics covers beginning to advanced phonics and is the sum total of my experience.” -Diane Hopkins, author
The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading – Using a construction theme, this program builds on the basis of spelling to help kids learn to read. This program is for Kindergarten through fourth grade.
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons – Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is a complete, step-by-step program that shows patents simply and clearly how to teach their children to read. Twenty minutes a day is all you need, and within 100 teaching days your child will be reading on a solid second-grade reading level. It’s a sensible, easy-to-follow, and enjoyable way to help your child gain the essential skills of reading. Everything you need is here — no paste, no scissors, no flash cards, no complicated directions — just you and your child learning together. One hundred lessons, fully illustrated and color-coded for clarity, give your child the basic and more advanced skills needed to become a good reader.
Phonics Pathways and Reading Pathways – The phonics book teaches reading using sounds and spelling patterns. These sounds and patterns are introduced one at a time, and slowly built into words, syllables, phrases, and sentences. Simple step-by-step directions begin every lesson. Reading pyramids begins with one word, and slowly build into phrases and sentences of gradually increasing complexity. As the student moves from the pinnacle to the base of each pyramid, the phrase or sentence becomes a more interesting and expansive, and the student’s confidence grows with each line completed. Progressively building up the amount of text per line increases eye span, strengthens eye tracking, and develops reading fluency.
A Reason for Guided Reading – A Reason For Guided Reading® offers an academically sound alternative –
Online Reading Programs
Reading Horizons: Discovery – The Discovery program, designed for ages 4-9. Through this online program, readers will learn to decode and pronounce multisyllabic words, improve their spelling, strengthen their comprehensive skills and finally become a confident reader.
Reading Kingdom – This online program uses the Six Skill Integrated method to teach reading and proficiency. Geared for K-3.
Reading Eggs – Reading Eggs makes learning fun and engaging through games, songs and activities that motivate them to earn golden eggs and other rewards for their progress. This is a great program for PreK+ and runs only $10/month or $75/year.
Rosetta Stone Reading – Rosetta Stone® Reading for Homeschool is a research-proven, technology-based approach that helps homeschool students in grades pre-K to 5 build foundational reading skills. It is proven to accelerate reading skills development, help ensure homeschoolers meet their year-end performance goals, and provide individual action plans to help you tailor your teaching to each child. This dynamic, interactive curriculum will lead homeschoolers through a structured, self-paced path, Rosetta Stone® Reading for Homeschool helps that builds foundational skills to read confidently and fluently, develop listening and reading comprehension with complex text and learn academic and domain-specific vocabulary to improve comprehension
VocabularySpellingCity.com – When my oldest was breezing through his spelling words, I found this wonderful site. It helped push him in his spelling and increase his vocabulary as well. The nice part about this site is is can be used with any homeschool curriculum. Simply input your child’s spelling words and they can play games to increase their spelling abilities and vocab. There is a free version, which is what we used, but you can also use the paid version for just $29.99/year – for up to 5 students!
Spelling Wisdom – Learn today’s 6,000 most frequently used words presented in the writings of great men and women of history! Parents can have the confidence that you’re teaching the words your student needs to know, using the Charlotte Mason method of prepared dictation. Spelling Wisdom is easy – teaching spelling and punctuation in just a few minutes a day, thorough, effective, interesting, inspiring, flexible and saves time by using it as copywork as well.
Natural Speller – It’s said to be the only book you will ever need to teach spelling. Includes lists for grades 1 through 8. Latin and Greek roots and word lists can be used to build vocabulary in higher grades as well. Word lists are organized by both sight and sound patterns for use with students having diffiulty with long-term retention. Includes phonic, spelling, and punctuation rules, as well as teaching tips. Activities include practice with grammar, dictionary, and composition skills. Allows individualized pace. This award-winning book has been popular with homeschooling families for over a decade.
Sequential Spelling – For grades 2-12, this program teaches students to spell even the most difficult words by using patterns – all without ever needing to study and in just 15 minutes a day!
Spell to Write and Read – Rather than merely memorizing words, as in traditional spelling programs, students are taught how to analyze the reasons behind a word’s spelling and pronunciation, giving them a strategy to learn any word they encounter. Reading is a natural outgrowth of spelling instruction. Most spelling or phonics programs are based simply on what’s been used before. SWR is based on solid physiological research and historical precedent and will amaze you with its simplicity, conciseness, and completeness. It is a time-proven method with over 50 years of success throughout the States. This program covers phonics-based spelling through 12th grade.
Spelling Power – Spelling Power is an award-winning program that teaches solid back-to-basic spelling skills using research-proven approaches and 21st century technology. Your students will use systematic, simultaneous, multi-sensory steps to master the 5,000 most frequently used and misspelled words. These words are divided into eleven levels of frequency, rather than traditional grade levels, to aid immediate improvement in daily writing. The included placement tests help you decide at which level your student should begin. Everything you need to teach spelling skills through the college level is included.
Spelling Workout – This is a workbook based curriculum with instruction given to the student. The teacher manual gives scheduling options and reinforcement options making this a fun hands-on approach. This curriculum is based on cross-curricular reading selections that are sure to keep your child interested in the material. You’ll also have access to puzzles, riddles and activities that put a new spin on Spelling education. This program includes 1st – 8th grades.
Spelling You See – Currently, Spelling You See has 7 levels beginning with new readers that are just learning letter names and sounds. This is very teacher intensive, relying heavily on dictation and copywork. That being said, “many children have become confident, successful spellers using the methods taught by Spelling You See. The design of the program allows students to develop spelling skills naturally, at their own pace, with the direction and encouragement of the instructor. This innovative approach was developed by Dr. Karen Holinga during more than ten years of research and experience tutoring children who struggle with spelling.” –Spelling You See site
All About Spelling – This is a seven level program that provides complete and comprehensive instruction using the Orton-Gillingham approach. Using a multi-sensory approach, built-in review system, hands-on activities and building block program, spelling skills stick. Teachers and parents find this program easy to teach as well. With 7 levels of instruction that use colored squares to break down words and engage multiple senses while utilizing a building block progression, students learn easily and rapidly.
Editor in Chief – These fun, highly-acclaimed products teach grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and critical reading in a standards-based thinking approach to language mechanics instead of the usual drill and practice found in competing products. Each level has easy-to-understand lessons that explain and illustrate the mechanics of writing followed by activities that require students to carefully analyze and edit stories, letters, and articles that contain mechanical errors. This effective method allows students to gain mastery over concepts that will translate into their own writing.
The Language Mechanic – The lessons and activities in this 184-page book use fun examples to teach English grammar and punctuation. It not only teaches the rules of language mechanics; it reinforces the rules by explaining the logic behind them. This book shows examples and gives practice in applying the rules. Finally, students will understand the “why” behind the rules of the English language!
Harvey’s Grammar – A language study done in 3-parts with composition woven throughout, this text begins with words, moves to simple sentences and later to complex sentences, easing the child into grammar along the way. The eight parts of speech are studied along with punctuation.
Winston Grammar – “The purpose of The Winston Grammar Program is to help students understand the structure of language and comprehend the principles of traditional grammar. The Winston Program uses innovative means to achieve conventional ends. It does away with the traditional grammar textbook, lecture approach, and heavy emphasis on memorization. Instead, it gives students a set of color-coded clue cards and a book of exercises, which together generate multi-sensory activities.” –Winston Grammar site
Rod and Staff Grammar – A good understanding of language is basic to the study of any subject and for communicating with others. The Building Christian English series is designed to develop such an understanding of English. This series teaches traditional grammar and mechanics (capitalization and punctuation), and it takes a conservative approach in matters of usage. The lessons carry a Biblical tone and promote Christian virtues. Exercise sentences deal with a broad range of topics—Bible stories and concepts, Christian living, family life, and historical and scientific facts.
English Lessons through Literature – English Lessons Through Literature is a unique program which combines the gentleness of Charlotte Mason’s methods with the thoroughness of classical methods. Level 1 is intended for first or second grade. Each level of this program has three lessons per week for thirty-six weeks, for a total of 108 lessons per year. Each lesson includes copywork, a literature selection to be read aloud, a poem, and an Aesop’s fable. Copywork selections are from the literature, the Bible, poems, and maxims.
The Mother Tongue – The structure of the English language is decoded and examined to allow students to better understand it and express their ideas. This also means that grammar is explored in depth. Students will study mood, case, clauses, infinitives, gender, number, and all things in between (and the parts of speech, sentence construction, etc.). Things like capitalization and punctuation are relegated to the appendices, so that students can spend their time studying the real meat of grammar.
Stewart English – “Grammar with a purpose is the overriding philosophy of this program as it seeks to demonstrate the connection of grammar instruction to reading and writing. The lessons are interesting, even appealing. After an explanation of the topic, samples are presented from great literature, so the student can see the technique or rule as used by successful authors.” –Rainbow Resource Center site
Sentence Composing – “Sentence Composing is an approach to teaching improved sentence structure by using respected professional writers as mentors whose sentences become models for students. Using those models as a starting point, the approach uses four sentence manipulating activities–unscrambling, imitating, combining, and expanding–to provide practice in learning from the mentor how to write similar sentences.” –Sentence Composing site
Life of Fred – Although at first glance these may look like a 2nd grade reader, in typical Fred fashion the story line is quirky, and through it the reader encounters all sorts of miscellaneous information along with grammar, etc. These four books contain 19 daily lessons each, which can be used each year as great review.
Logic of English – Predominant reading methods require students to break the complex code of English without help. By revealing the logical patterns underlying 98% of English words, Uncovering the Logic of English eliminates the need to guess and provides a logical solution to English spelling.
First Language Lessons – This is a completely scripted curriculum, in that everything you need to do and say is written out for you. A complete beginning grammar text that uses copywork, narration, picture study, and other classical techniques to develop the young student’s language ability. Scripted lessons give the teacher direction and confidence, while exquisite pencil reproductions of great paintings are used to encourage children in oral composition.
Easy Grammar – Grammar concepts taught through a prepositional approach. Also Daily Grams workbooks for grammar review and Easy Writing to teach complex sentences.
Writing with Skill – “This groundbreaking new writing series combines time-tested classical techniques–the imitation and analysis of great writers–with original composition exercises in history, science, biography, and literature. It is designed as the perfect next step for students who have completed the Writing With Ease series or an equivalent composition curriculum.” –Writing with Skill site
Cover Story – Lessons are done via DVD or cloud (your choice). “Cover Story takes middle school students – 6th through 9th grade – on a guided tour through the universe of Story. Through the process of creating the content for their own magazine in a single school year, students are led, step by step, on a fun, thought-provoking journey of exploration and creation. They write poems, short stories, non-fiction articles, letters, and many other short pieces.” –Cover Story site
One Year Adventure Novel – “The One Year Adventure Novel writing curriculum guides students (grades 8–12) step by step through the process of writing a compelling, fully structured novel in one school year. Video-based and self-directed, it is ideal for home school students but also works in co-ops and schools.” –One Year Adventure Novel site
Institute for Excellence Writing Primary Arts of Language – IEW’s unique approach provides the structure that students need to develop confidence in the writing process, while gradually guiding them toward greater independence and creativity. They will learn nine structural models (note taking, writing paragraphs, stories, simple reports, writing from pictures, research reports, creative writing, essays, and critiques) to help them organize any type of composition. Additionally, stylistic techniques (strong verbs, quality adjectives, sentence openers, and more) are taught incrementally to gently move students from the basics into more sophisticated writing.
Writing Strands – “A full language arts program includes writing, reading, and speaking. Our Writing Strands books; including Writing Strands 1 through Writing Strands 7, Creating Fiction, and Writing Exposition; cover the writing component. Our book on analyzing literature, Reading Strands, and our book on oral communication, Communications and Interpersonal Relationships, cover the other two components. The combination of these books provides a full language arts program.” –Writing Strands Site
Writing and Rhetoric – The Writing & Rhetoric series is a classical and creative school or homeschool writing curriculum for the modern student. It is comprised of twelve books, each one designed as a one-semester course. Using two books per year, the series will fully train and equip students in writing over a period of six years.
Writing with Sharon Watson – Unlocking the Secrets of Writing and Literature: Practical, easy-to-use writing and literature courses for homeschools, christian schools, and co-ops by Sharon Watson.
WriteShop – Engaging, step-by-step lessons present students with the building blocks of the writing process and help you edit and evaluate their work. Curriculum available for K-12.
Brookdale House – A Homeschool Writing Curriculum that works! If you are teaching an elementary student to write, and you’re also teaching history and handwriting, then you can definitely save time with this homeschool writing curriculum.
Philosophy Adventure – Philosophy Adventure™ is designed to help students 6th-12th grade cultivate and defend a biblical worldview by teaching them how to write skillfully, think critically, and speak articulately as they explore the history of ideas.
Online Spelling/Grammar/Writing Programs
Learn that Word – This is a fun online game for vocabulary and spelling reinforcement. The site tracks what you know and makes it easy to learn words “by heart.” Their multimedia resources bring words to life! Progress hassle-free with smart adaptive coaching make it fun, fast and…it’s FREE.
Time 4 Writing – This online program offers 8-week courses for elementary, middle school and high school are taught by a certified English Teachers. The teacher provides one-on-one instruction and feedback for weekly assignments. I like this idea, as I am not the “bad guy” when correcting my children’s writing assignments.
WriteAtHome – WriteAtHome is an online program for middle school through high school. WriteAtHome does more than just evaluate writing. Their writing courses provide a structured curriculum, including weekly due dates. Coaches work with students through the writing process, providing both positive and gently critical feedback, guiding students expertly toward better papers and improved writing skill.
IXL Language Arts – This online program makes the world of words come alive with fun visuals and interactive questions. Build great writers through playful skills that pique students’ curiosity about language!
Logic of English – Foundations – In Foundations students gain phonemic awareness, learn to read and write the 74 basic phonograms, and increase reading fluency through structured but playful activities. The innovative Rhythm of Handwriting™ method aids students in developing fluid handwriting. Step by step, students grow as readers, moving from phrases to sentences to paragraphs to books. Using evidence-based reading instruction methods, Foundations combines multi-sensory learning with the latest in linguistic research to provide students the best possible foundation for education: strong reading and writing skills.
Learning Language Arts through Literature – This is an all-encompassing curriculum that includes grammar, reading, spelling, vocabulary, writing mechanics, creative writing, thinking skills and more. This requires teacher interaction while incorporating literary analysis, grammar and writing all in one. Grades 1-12
Annette has been married to her husband and best friend since 2003. Together they are raising their six children to follow the Lord’s will, no matter what. Annette longs for the day when she will meet her angel babies who have entered heaven before her. She enjoys creating UNIT STUDIES and FREE PRINTABLES for homeschool families. You can follow her crazy life at In All You Do where she blogs about homeschooling, homemaking and marriage while trying to maintain her sanity. She is also the owner of Thrifty Homeschoolers where she shares her tips on homeschooling without breaking the bank.