From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


12/15/2011 11:53:05 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Homeschooling on a Shoestring--Spotlight On: Language Arts

HSLDA's Homeschooling Toddlers to Tweens Newsletter
Homeschooling on a Shoestring--Spotlight On: Language Arts


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Dear Friend,

A few months ago, we introduced this series on homeschooling "on the
cheap" with our Spotlight on Social Studies, , followed by Science on a
Dime and Math on a Budget . This month, we'll wrap up
the series with a quick review for newer readers, and then some
inexpensive, fun, multi-level ideas for language arts!

What does it cost to homeschool?

While the average cost is roughly $500 a year per child, this figure
usually goes down with subsequent children, since resources can be
shared, membership costs are not multiplied, etc. During the four
years that we were without a full-time income, I was able to
homeschool seven children at a time for less than $100 total in a
year, once I had accumulated a few non-consumable resources.

It is possible to homeschool with just a Bible and a library card, but
most of us will buy at least a few things. You'll want to invest in
your core curriculum materials first, then add other items as your
budget allows. (See sidebar for more ideas.)

How to Save on Textbooks and Other Curricular Materials

> Use multi-level, language-based study materials such as Prairie
Primer (based on Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series of nine
books) , Five in a Row
(based on Caldecott- and Newbery-Award-winning books), Wisdom Words
( , or Sonlight materials .

> Borrow or rent books--check with your local support group.

> Use a curriculum guide such as Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach , a Bible, and library

> Purchase used books. Some
sources include used curriculum shops, exhibit halls, library sales,
support group sales, online swap boards (and of course, the HSLDA
Curriculum Market! ).

> Combine a framework such as Language Arts at Home with your Bible, children's
classics, and an online grammar guide such as KISS Grammar .

> Provide educational "wish lists" to family members for gift-giving
Use your state's standards of learning as a guide to check out
appropriate library books. [Search for Standards of Learning + State>. You are not required to use these standards, but it can give
you a starting point.]

> Use World Book's typical
course of study with library books.

> Use a major textbook publisher's language arts scope and sequence .

> Use What Your Child Needs to Know When or The Checklist (or Teaching Children by Diane
Lopez) as a guide to what to teach, then use library books or
living books. (Are you sensing a pattern here that includes library
and card?)

> Search online for free homeschool ____ (spelling, handwriting,
grammar, composition, vocabulary...).

> Laminate your books and answer keys with clear Contact paper for

What is Included in "Language Arts"?

Language arts encompasses various subjects involved in communicating
in your native language, such as:

> phonics/reading instruction
> reading/literature comprehension
> listening skills (sometimes called auding)
> handwriting
> grammar
> composition
> spelling
> vocabulary
> speech
> study skills

Language arts study is a skills-based subject (as is math); most
content is covered sequentially. For example, a child progresses from
letter sounds to words, then to sentences, which are the building
blocks of paragraphs. It is realistic to expect a child to write a
cohesive report only after he can organize his thoughts into
paragraph, which may not happen until third grade.

Most children cover only some facets of language arts at any given
time, depending on maturity and skills. For example, a very young
child who is just learning to read will generally focus on decoding
the words, but cannot easily comprehend what he is reading. A primary
student might focus on spelling, while an older elementary student who
has mastered most spelling rules might concentrate on vocabulary

Everyday Activities for Language Arts for Lean Budgets

Because language arts is a sequential, skills-based subject, most of
us will use a textbook or organized teaching approach of some sort to
teach it. However, the most effective learning--or at least
reinforcement of concepts--often takes place in the context of
everyday living or family activities, and many are free or very

> Read-alouds for all ages.
Don't quit reading aloud when your children learn to read on their
own--it is still a valuable family activity! Hearing good literature
read aloud encourages in children a love for language, builds
vocabulary, motivates them to read, and encourages them to use their
imagination. They have a much higher receptive vocabulary than reading
vocabulary, so it's okay to read books aloud that are well above their
reading level, and stop to let them narrate back to you or to
dramatize what you've read. Leave time for discussion and enjoy the

> Brain teasers and puzzles help build logic and thinking skills as
well as spatial reasoning.

> Jigsaw puzzles teach visual discrimination, a pre-reading skill, as
well as other spatial skills.

> Read the Bible to not only learn God's instruction and His
character, but to appreciate the loveliness of Scripture, the poetry
of the Psalms, and the patterns, imagery, and application of other
literary terms throughout the various books.

> Cook together, letting your child read the recipes. Check out
Single-Serve Recipes by Joyce Herzog.

> Do you feel guilty building an occasional household catch-up day
into your lesson plans? Putting the Legos away, sorting the Matchbox
cars, tidying the colored pencils vs. the markers, reorganizing the
linen closet or sorting the pantry, and other such tasks are
classification and organization--valuable language arts, science, and
math skills!

> Collections can also encourage organization and classification
skills, and can provide opportunities to teach alphabetical order.

> Play language games such as Scrabble, Guggenheim, Taboo, The Play's
the Thing, Scattergories, Balderdash, MadLibs, etc. Click here for more information on using
games in your homeschool.

> Keep handy a few reference books such as a dictionary, thesaurus,
and grammar or usage guide.

> Do you have a tape recorder or video camera? Language Arts is about
communication--not just the written word, but also oral communication.
If your child is more interested in video than book work, a taped
interview or video report could substitute for a written project.

> The computer offers word processing, desktop publishing, and
research opportunities, as well as online sites with "word of the day"
emails, etc.

> Toss a sheet or tablecloth over a tension rod in a doorway, add some
dollar store or lunch bag hand puppets, and you have a puppet theater
to encourage your children to write skits, develop characters, etc.

> Read Shakespeare and other
plays. Let your kids write their own!

> Set up reading and writing stations.

> Encourage your child to write to a penpal to build letter-writing
skills. No cousins or grandparents? The children of missionaries (or
the missionaries themselves) would probably enjoy news from home.

> An online search for student essay contest or student writing
contest can motivate your children to write for an audience outside
the home.

> Start a book report club in your local group or community.

> Visit a book signing at your local bookstore to show your child that
authors are simply real people who shared their thoughts on paper. (Of
course, use your discretion--the child may then want to read the

> Many of the language arts catalogs you collect at the homeschool
convention contain book lists, many even by categories or reading
level--these can provide a great starting point to select books at the

> One of my girls learned to read when I gave her a spiral notebook
with some magazines, child-size scissors, and gluesticks. By cutting
out things that make a B sound and gluing them onto the B page, then
cutting out M words and gluing them onto the M page, and so on, she
learned to listen for sounds in words.

> Debate develops listening
skills, writing proficiency, research skills, speech composition and
delivery, and more. Capitalize on the logic stage of the average
middle school student!

> Explore other alphabets such as the military alphabet,, Morse code, or sign language

As we celebrate God's ultimate expression of love for us, His
communication of grace through the incarnation of His Word, I wish you
and your family a blessed Christmas.

Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Toddlers to Tweens consultant

More on homeschooling on the cheap:

"Homeschooling on a Shoestring Budget" HSLDA Homeschooling Toddlers
thru Tweens

"What Does It Cost to Homeschool?"

"Navigating the Used Curriculum Route" by Vicki Bentley, Practical
Homeschooling magazine

"What Should I Be Teaching?"

"Where Do You Start? Placement Tests and Other Orientation Tools"
Includes reading assessments.

Use multi-level curriculum. Use grade-specific materials for each
child for skills subjects such as language arts and math, then use
multi-level materials for content-area subjects such as science,
social studies, character/Bible, art, health, etc, working with all of
your children together, to economize on time and money! (See the
earlier newsletters in this series for more suggested multi-level
curriculum ideas.)

"Five Must-Have, No-Cost Resources for Homeschooling" by Terri Johnson

Search for free homeschool + subject

From Scripture

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool
gushes folly."
(Proverbs 15:1-2, KJV, emphasis added)

"I will not allow before my eyes any shameful thing...."
(Psalm 101:3, The Complete Jewish Bible)

"Be very, very careful what you put into that head, because you will
never, ever get it out."
(Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, Archbishop of York, Prince-Bishop of

A few language arts resources:

"Write Now" by Cathy Duffy (originally printed in Practical
Homeschooling No. 4, 1993)

"How to Run a Super Story Contest for Your Group" by Linda Burklin
(from Practical Homeschooling No. 60)

Sounds Like Learning! Audio CD from Discovery Toys (preschool,

Mathematical Reasoning through Verbal Analysis series from Critical
Thinking Press

Think-It-Through tiles team children with a series of progressive
booklets and an ingenious system of double-sided tiles that actively
engage students in the lessons and supplement their studies. Each
booklet features 24 pages of math or reading challenges of increasing
difficulty. Sets range from preschool through elementary. For example,
the three-booklet Unlocking Word Power set is appropriate from age 7
years through elementary school and covers synonyms, antonyms, usage,
word meanings, homophones, sentence and paragraph structure, and

Timberdoodle language arts resources

Learning English with the Bible
Comprehensive Composition ,
Natural Speller , and Critical
Conditioning guides from
Kathryn Stout's Design-a-Study series ; for all ages

Movies as Literature by
Kathryn Stout

Learning with the Movies by Beth Holland

Many homeschool online groups have subject-specific content. For
example, the Workboxes Yahoo group highlights ideas for English,
language arts, and/or literature on Wednesdays.

Composition tutoring programs such as The Writing Well or Write at

Curriculum Resources listing at HSLDA's Homeschooling Toddlers thru

Other FREE e- newsletters:

Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer, HSLDA High School Consultants, author a
free monthly newsletter that provides practical information, advice,
and encouragement for families teaching high school at home. Past
topics have touched on preparing teens for college, creating
transcripts, recordkeeping, teaching life skills, reading lists for
teens, testing, grading guidelines, and much more! Families are
invited to subscribe to the high school newsletter and view the
archive of back issues in order to equip and build confidence to
homeschool their teens.

Faith Behrens, Dianne Craft, and Betty Statnick, HSLDA's Special Needs
consultants, provide a monthly newsletter for families of children who
have special needs or struggle to learn. To subscribe or to view the
archives, visit .

Art Contest Coming Soon

HSLDA is excited to announce our 10th annual art contest! This
contest is designed to give students the opportunity to develop their
artistic skills and showcase their talents at the same time. Cash
prizes are awarded to the top five entries in each category, and the
winning artwork will be posted online. For complete contest details
please visit our contest page at:

-> How many acorns can a chipmunk hold in its cheeks?

We don't know! But we do know that gathering little by little
enables ordinary folks to prepare for hard times. That principle
is behind HSLDA's payment plan: by paying a month at a time,
families can receive an annual HSLDA membership. Meanwhile, they
can feel secure as they homeschool and focus on other priorities
-- their children. Don't go nuts trying to pay for membership all
once. Choose one of our convenient payment plans.

More reasons to join HSLDA...

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