2015-2016 School Plans: Language Arts

I'm continuing to share our brainstorming for the 2015-2016 school year one subject area at a time. Up today: fun with reading and writing.

(Note: Our plans for math, as well as some general info on how we structure our school year, can be found here.)

Our language arts studies can be broken down in to five areas.


Choosing age- and theme-appropriate works from a variety of genres, including non-fiction, fiction, historical fiction, folk tales, fairy tales, poetry, and short stories. Quantity is definitely not a problem here; between the books we read together for core subjects (e.g., science and history) and the books the Senior Agents read independently for "fun" we will easily total in the hundreds this year, and I expect the trend to continue.


Understanding what is read and being able to discuss or write about it thoughtfully. Being able to answer questions about characters, plots, and themes. Both girls are capable of reading books well above what is typically listed for their "grade level" but sometimes I need to step back and review with them to make sure the knowing is really sinking in. I would also include here understanding similes and metaphors, as well as common idioms and sayings.


Being comfortable putting pencil to paper for a wide range of reasons, whether it be answering reading comprehension questions in a workbook, drafting a short story or poem, journaling, or writing a paragraph about a particular science or history topic. We did not spend as much time as I had hoped on writing this year, so we intend to make this more of a focus going forward. I would add here the ability to proofread and improve one's own work.


Grade-appropriate understanding of grammar, parts of speech, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization, as well as developing vocabulary and sentence structure. I originally thought it would be kind of crazy to introduce diagramming sentences—because I mean really, who needs to know how to do that?—but honestly Agent E would be all over this exercise. I think it would help her to visualize the parts of speech and encourage her to compose longer, more varied sentences.


Using a dictionary and thesaurus, alphabetizing and categorizing, finding resources (library and online), using table of contents and index, improving handwriting. I plan to specifically include here a review of the library classification system (i.e., good old Dewey). The jury is still out on introducing cursive writing (again). Agent E can read it well, but not really write more than her name. Both Senior Agents are interested, though, so maybe we'll revisit it. I don't anticipate either of them writing it on a regular basis, but believe being able to read it is useful.

For the coming school year we will be using the following resources:

Agent E (4th)

 Brain Quest Workbook: Grade 3 by Workman Publishing

(Note: As with math, we'll be finishing up a few of the reading/writing sections from grade 3 at the beginning of grade 4 because we did not discover Agent E's love of BQ workbooks until half way through this school year.)

 Brain Quest Workbook: Grade 4 by Workman Publishing

(Prides itself on being "great practice for standardized tests"—which we will have to deal with at some point (yay, NY)—so should come in handy. My mom actually picked this up for us. She always grabs books a year ahead, because 1. she knows I always have tons of stuff on hand for the current year, and 2. she assumes (correctly, cough cough) that her grandchildren are brilliant.)

Agent J (2nd)

 Star Wars Workbook: 2nd Grade Reading by Workman Publishing

(Note that this link is to the second grade version; I couldn't find the third grade one online. I should probably also point out here that the words Common Core neither excite nor enrage us, it's just a workbook as far as I'm concerned.)

Agent A (K)

(As with our chosen math workbooks for K, this may be a mid-year start, depending on when he seems ready.)

For both Senior Agents, we'll also be utilizing our favorite go-to websites for free language arts printables, including education {dot} comKidzoneTLS Books, and Worksheet Works {dot} com.

Other random plans we have include reading the "complete" versions of classics we've so far only read the "abridged" versions of, introducing plays (beginning with this Shakespeare Can Be Fun! series), and once again giggling our way through the books by Brian P. Cleary and Lynne Truss. Both girls have also taken an interest in composing stories, so we will encourage and expand on that as well.

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