It's really pretty funny--I was just looking at my first post for the Virtual Curriculum Fair last year, and how I was soooooo excited for all of the things we were using.
Now we aren't using any of them.
Times change, circumstances change, kids change, we change.
This family, personally, has seen a ton of change this year--not all of it positive, at least that we can see from our perspective right now. And a curriculum change is the very least of it.
I still love a lot of the things we were using last year--even at the beginning of this year--but for one reason or another, not a whole lot of is still working for us now, especially for my Firefly.
One of the big changes we've seen was in ME--how I had decided our school would run, how I wanted the days to go, how much I decided we would accomplish.
In about October, I threw up my hands and put schoolish-stuff back in the hands of He who it actually belonged to, and in doing that, sat down with Firefly and asked her what she wanted to learn about--what she was interested in.
"Dogs!" said she.
Ummm, OK--dogs it is.
We've dabbled a little in Unit Studies before--Bug and I spend some time with Five In A Row occasionally, Heart of Dakota can be seen as a giant Unit Study based on history, and last Christmas, we first jumped on the Amanda Bennett bandwagon. But this was our first, official, "this-IS-our-curriculum" Unit Study adventure.
And we are very officially immersed in all things dog around here.
And it's working out beautifully! Firefly is (relatively) happy, I am (mostly) happy too, and our own dog, Max, is super-happy to be our guinea pig with all of the new, cool things that we are learning!
What is a Unit Study, anyway? Well, it's summed up rather nicely (by my new friend) in this post, for those of you who may not have heard about this idea before. I was pretty unsure how it would work, myself, and how much of the learning I could compartmentalize into a nice box to "check off" to say that it was completed.
(I'm learning, ladies and gentlemen. It just takes me a while.)
All of this introduction gets me to the point of this post: how does a unit study teach language arts?
Please remember, I'm from the old school that says we have grammar lessons, spelling lessons, reading comprehension lessons, phonics lessons, and writing lessons--preferably from a workbook.
Well, since we've begun our unit study learning about dogs, Firefly has kept a beautiful notebook, that is getting full-to-the-brim with doggy learning: stories about dogs, the history and geography of different breeds, vocabulary related to dogs, idioms about dogs, journal entries, a reading list of dog-related stories and books she has read, creative writing entries, and on and on and on.
Some of that, I'm sure, addresses Language Arts, in some form or another.
making sentences with said canine vocabulary words (and talking about what makes a sentence a sentence),
idioms defined (and "what is an idiom" defined),
a writing assignment summarizing what we learned about Seaman,
and journal entries about different dog topics (working on sentences, paragraphs, spelling, etc.--and don't examine this entry too hard for all of that!)
AND (wonder of wonders), for a kid who Hates (get it? hates with a capital H, haha!) to write, look at all of the writing she has done just in those pictures! Most of it without rolling around on the floor and screaming!
No, it's not completing pages in a structured workbook. It's not chapters in a grammar book. And, yes, maybe we are continuing with our beloved spelling program just because I couldn't give up ALL control.
But it's vocabulary, reading, reading comprehension, grammar, writing, composing, and thinking.
And for now, that works for us!
What are you using for Language Arts in your homeschool? Have you let go of the reins, like me, and gone more unstructured? Is there that ONE program that you love, love, love?
I'd love to hear about your experiences, and I'd love for you to read about some others joining the Virtual Curriculum Fair with me. Check out what they have to say here:
href="http://homeschoolheartandmind.blogspot.com/2013/01/nurturing-novelists-building-strong.html" target="_blank">Nurturing Novelists = Building Strong Writers by Susan Anadale @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds