Early in my homeschool mom career, language arts caused a lot of confusion for me. There are so many subcategories within the subject – I just didn’t know where to begin.
Handwriting, reading (including phonics and sight words), spelling, grammar, composition, poetry, literature, public speaking…. What do I teach when? And how? Ahhh! 🤯
Over the years, I’ve been able to make better sense of it all. My curriculum shelves, however, still reveal the winding journey of trial and error I’ve gone through in the search for language arts resources for my kids.
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Without further ado, here are the homeschool resources…
… On Our Language Arts Shelves
I store our language arts school resources here:
Curricula That Worked For Us
Starting on a positive note, we’ve absolutely loved All About Spelling. We started with Level 1 and intend to work all the way through their 7-book series (my oldest will be starting Level 6 next fall). Levels 2 and 5 aren’t shown in the picture because they’re the ones we’re currently using.
These more plain-looking books pictured below are resources I found offered online for free and had spiral bound. Once my kids have shown signs of reading-readiness, I’ve had them read through these straightforward, no-bells-nor-whistles, old-school phonics books to give them a solid phonics foundation.
If you’re interested in checking them out, you can find them on Don Potter’s website (although it appears they’re no longer free).
Curricula That Didn’t Work For Us
I’ve also kept some of the curricula we tried and didn’t keep using. It’s not that they’re bad products – they just weren’t a good fit for us at the time. I’ve held on to ones that I think might work for one of my other kids down the road.
Miscellaneous Language Arts Books
Just like other subjects, I have a stash of miscellaneous language arts resources to use as supplements. They help break up the routine of other year-long curricula and provide some variety.
As I’ve mentioned before in this series, the trick is remembering I have them on my shelf when I need them!
I had high hopes for the giant cursive letter poster cards. I thought my kids would like tracing huge letters with their fingers to practice. I was wrong. But I’m still hanging on to them in case my youngest likes them.
We also have several notepads of primary-ruled paper and dollar-store whiteboards (which are, in my opinion, something every homeschool family should have on hand).
We use the whiteboards every day for spelling and quick work (sketches, brainstorming, etc). I’ve talked more about these and other whiteboards we use here.
Early Education Resources
Once kids learn to read and write, they phase out of handwriting workbooks and phonics programs. But I still have a preschooler so, for now, we still have quite a few PreK, Kindergarten and early elementary resources on our shelves.
I’ve gotten dozens of reading and writing workbooks at garage sales and curriculum sales for pennies. They’re a great supplement and my youngest loves working on these colorful pages so she can “do school” with her older brothers.
We also have this Phonics series by Teacher Created Materials which I plan on trying with my youngest in the next year or two. I can’t remember where I got it…. these things seem to just appear and multiply on my shelves…
These Bob Books are another great resource for early readers.
All three of my kids have loved these laminated tracing pages. We’ve got ABC practice pages and pictures to complete with shapes, lines and other objects to trace.
When I first got my laminator (more about that here) these tracing pages were first on my “To Laminate” list and we’ve used them dozens of times since then!
… In Our Language Arts Storage Bin
Many of the language arts resources I’ve used with my older kids have been online or in digital form, so a lot of our “older kid” curricula hasn’t been represented in this tour of our shelves.
For example, we’ve used and loved several Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) products (you can take a look at our favorites here) but the teacher and student books are digital files. The lesson DVDs, however, we store in the bin on our shelves.
You saw some of the All About Spelling books earlier and we keep the non-book parts of the curriculum (like phonogram cards from years we’re not currently using and the phonogram sounds disc) in our storage bin.
Games & Flashcards
Games and flashcards are great supplements for every subject so we keep some of those in our storage bin, too.
Over the years I’ve also made some DIY language arts games like the ones pictured below. Some were from formal curricula (like the CVC [consonant-vowel-consonant] word strips which were part of the Sing, Spell, Read & Write curriculum) and others were ideas I found in books or online (like the “Phonogram Sound Shake” game in the parmesan cheese container or the homemade “Silly Sentence Maker” flip chart).
It can be hard deciding whether to DIY or buy a supplemental resource (or just skip it altogether). But it’s fun to try some of them sometimes and I’ve found quirky homemade games are often the ones my kids enjoy the most!
Other Stuff That Needed a Home
We have another phonics curriculum set that doesn’t sit well on our shelf so I keep those in our storage bin.
Since there was still some empty space in the bin, I also use it to store my grown-up coloring books and old magazines we use for collages and crafts. Empty space doesn’t stay empty for long around here.
That’s all for today. Next week we’ll take a look at the last section of our curriculum shelves and wrap up the tour. Stay tuned!
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