Language Lessons for Little Ones V3
Phonics: double vowels, double consonants, ed endings, silent consonants, digraphs, trigraphs, syllables. End-marks, comma, titles. 68 pgs
Charlotte Mason's approach to teaching the language arts are extremely different from the more modern fill-in-the-blank, drill young children in how to write methods. Sandi Queen's Language Lessons books are an incredible tool in actually following Miss Mason's methods. I used to use another big name language program, and I saw some success in ability to write...but my child HATED writing. This year, I bit the bullet and completely switched her to Queen's Language and I WILL NEVER GO BACK! Miss Mason teaches to let the child narrate orally starting at 6 years of age. By the time the child has a few years of oral composition, they can start transitioning into written narration. There is no need for tedious lessons on how to construct a paragraph. The work they have been doing in their heads, naturally turns into the writing. I have seen it work! Thank you, Sandi, for stepping forward with this amazing language program. :o)
We started using this language arts curriculum this year. We love it! We're using Charlotte Mason-based materials more and more, but this was our first dive into the language arts materials. I wasn't sure if it would be 'meaty' enough for my 4th grader, but it has been. He's actually 'getting it' when it comes to language mechanics which I must admit I'm pleasantly surprised by. This book isn't boring and repetitious like the other language arts programs we've used. Mrs. Queen does such a great job at varying the lessons and mixing it up a bit. One lesson might be picture study and the next may be asking the student to write a short story based on his interpretation of that picture. Before I bought this book, I was unsure how picture studies and copywork (not too much) could be a benefit in a language arts program, but now that we've done more of this type of activity, I can see how this truly makes students think outside the box. My son had a picture study this week and then wrote a long and creative story about the picture. I think he got so caught up in the moment of trying to make the story come alive that he didn't realize just how much he was writing. Just so you know, he hates to write! Poetry is introduced nicely. And the grammar rules are really meaty, but in a more enjoyable way. Mrs. Queen explains everything in a simple way that every language arts program should do, but doesn't. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who is dreading the thought of yet another boring language arts lesson.
I like a lot of Sandi Queen's homeschool products and was thrilled when Rainbow Resource began offering many of her products. I have four kids and therefore always have four different volumes in use each school year. We've used 8 different volumes so far ~ beginning with the first Little Ones Volume on through the first Secondary Child Volume. My kids don't write in our books ~ they either write their answers out on a separate piece of paper or we work together and they answer the questions orally ~ this way, the curriculum is an affordable option even on our limited budget. Another reviewer commented that she was disappointed in this program, stating that "after using First Language Lessons 1-4 by Jessie Wise with their older child a placement in either volumes of Language Lessons for the Secondary Child would have been below his level." This reviewer felt there was very little in these workbooks, especially noting that the artwork was pixilated and not worthy of picture study. I have some friends who would most likely agree with that negative review and after flipping through any of the Language Lesson volumes would have no interest in implementing the program. But, I don't think that opinion is a reflection of the quality of the program; instead, it is just an honest reflection of the personal style and homeschool method of the homeschooling mom. This course is described by the author as "an informal course in the language arts with a Charlotte Mason flavor." I think the "informal" part is what is wholeheartedly embraced by the many positive reviewers of this curriculum (not to mention the positive reviews of the kids who are using it ~ mine included) but I think this "informal" part is also the cause of the negative review as well. If you are considering purchasing this curriculum, ask yourself if what you want is an informal approach or do you expect a more formal, grade-level, master-each-skill-before-moving-on kind of curriculum. Charlotte Mason embraced what she called a "gentle" learning. Your student will find a variety of skills that he/she will be introduced to sprinkled throughout each of these volumes with an occasional opportunity for review. For example when the student is introduced to adjectives, the use of adjectives are explained along with sample sentences. Later in that lesson, or sometimes not until the next lesson, the student is given opportunities to locate the adjective in several brief sentences. The next lesson might offer sentences for the student to fill in the blank with adjectives of their own and then the next day's lesson offers the same opportunity only in paragraph format. Often times the curriculum then moves on to other topics and may later review adjectives much later in the course. If you want sentences to diagram or definitions of the part of speech to memorize, you won't find it. If you like this approach but want those details, supplement with your own resources or purchase a curriculum that provides those details. My kids have been able to pick up enough grammar to suit me and I haven't seen any evidence that a more difficult or time-consuming method actually produces better writers, so I'm happy. But, I have friends who wouldn't be happy because they want that more formal approach. That's certainly allowed - just keep that in mind when deciding your curriculum. You also need to keep in mind that the author says this curriculum has a "Charlotte Mason flavor" not that it is exactly what Charlotte Mason herself would have used. Take picture study for example, Charlotte Mason believes that a student should be exposed to one artist a semester with a different piece from that artist displayed for a week or two at a time and giving the child opportunity to see about six different pieces from that artist. The children are to be exposed to the art and are then encouraged to make their own observations. Now, the "Picture Study" that Sandi Queen offers in each of these volumes wouldn't meet this ideal because you are not studying one artist and in fact, each kid is not even being influenced by the same artwork since they are working in separate volumes. Not to mention that the past reviewer is accurate in her observation of the quality of the printed art ~ some of our Language Lesson Volumes have higher quality print resolutions than others and I think that is due to the edition (she improved the resolution of the art prints in her more recent editions). But, here is one example where I think the author intended to expose us to just a "flavor" of the Charlotte Mason approach. I personally intend to have a family picture study going where we do study one artist and I attempt to have that artist's work on display in my home and encourage the kids to study the details of that art and let the influence of the painting impress upon each child in a personal way. But, what I intend and what actually happens are not always the same thing; therefore, I am glad to have the picture study in the Language Lessons volumes so that my children are being exposed to some of this wonderful "flavor" even when I am not able to make the actual method happen as I had hoped. Plus, as another reviewer stated, often times the pictures have a creative writing assignment and most often it is this "Story Starter" that is the true gem, more than the actual picture study. All of this brings me to what I really like best about the Language Lesson Volumes - I love the Charlotte Mason approach and because I really agree with her approach I try to implement her ideas in our school day, but I honestly get overwhelmed with nature study, picture study, hymn study, composer study, poetry study, hero study, handi-work, copywork, dictation, foreign language, etc. added onto the regular schedule of math, spelling, reading, history, science, etc. With Sandi Queen's Language Lessons, I rest in the knowledge that even though I may not be able to get to all these great ideas, I at least am successfully offering each of my children a "flavor." So, some weeks this is just the flavor and I successfully quench their thirst with nature study, picture study, composer studies complete with the listening of classical music, etc. and sometimes life happens and the "flavor" that Sandi Queen has put together in her Language Lesson Volumes is the only taste they receive. Is it perfect? No. But our schedule isn't perfect either, which is exactly why I intend to keep offering this "flavor" year after year!
We are coming to the close of the last three-fourths of our school year (yes, our schedule is different than most!). We have spent this last year using Sandi Queen's Language books, Copywork books, Spelling and Pictures in Cursive books, as well as the Bible Study books. We have eight children ages 2-17 still in the home, with the youngest "book student" beginning at 4 years using the Language Lessons for Little Ones vol. 1 thru the oldest using the Language Lessons for the High School Student vol. 1. There is little, if no, teacher prep. and covers all types of learning styles. I have been implementing the Charlotte Mason approach for almost 10 years and I would like to say that in all the categories she (Charlotte Mason) had her students learning, I feel that Sandi Queen's Language Lessons series captures many of them beautifully, all in one book! Like the review above mine, I, too, feel that gathering all the different materials that Charlotte would have used can be cumbersome, and finding this study has been a major time saver! (and on days-or weeks-of "life" bearing down I feel that these language books fill all the gaps of Charlotte's methods beautifully!) Before stumbling upon these gems, I have used various, more strenuous, language programs only to have "burnt out" my older ones leaving no desire to write, let alone use their imagination, which was never really developed in the first place! All my Charlotte Mason-only "guinea pigs" have thrived in the language arts and can express themselves orally as well as in the written word, thanks to narration and picture study. I was using Serl's Primary and Intermediate Language Lessons before these, which are very similar to Queen's, but what I loved about Queen's was the fact you could write in them and they were in color. By the end of the year you have a final treasure of work, a keepsake for your child to look back on and "remember". Not to mention if you live in a state which needs recorded proof, you have one. I am a creative person who has, in the past, made something similar from time to time for some of our older children. It is a time consuming process of research, typing, cutting and pasting, copying, etc., a process which is worth it for your children, but now that I have found Sandi's, I do not feel I need to do my own thing any longer. The character building poems, historical items and wholesome pictures found in these lessons are exactly what I would have chosen (and have)over the years. I feel truly blessed to see my younger ones learning poetry like "The Village Blacksmith" by Longfellow, (that my older ones have learned from my own choosing) waiting to be copied in Language Lessons for the Elementary Child vol.1! I whole-heartedly encourage anyone seeking a "gentle" approach to learning that you seek out these precious books written by a home school mother, just like us. Truly a great year of study we have had. I am now in the process of gathering the items from this supplier for our next year of home schooling! May God bless each of you as you seek His face in your decision for a language program. (Do not forget to check out the Bible, Spelling and Copywork books, also by Sandi Queen.)