Language Lessons for Children: Primer One and Two
These courses are thoroughly Charlotte Mason - more interaction with language than memorization; more thoughtfully intuitive activities than pages of drill - but the well-constructed lessons would be excellent preparation for a classical approach to both composition and language arts skills, as well. These are simple language lessons for the primary grades - twelve weekly lessons in each of the three books that make up a Primer series. Lessons are all prepped and ready-to-go which means a teacher's valuable time can be best spent interacting with her student. Most lessons include a task that can be completed alone so they fit well into a busy mom's schedule.
The Primer 1 series provides grammar and spelling lessons, examination of basic sentence skills, word usage (particularly antonyms, synonyms, and homonyms) and word rhyming. The Primer 2 series reviews concepts from the Primer 1 series, introduces the parts of speech, as well as simile, personification, onomatopoeia, and alliteration.
Let's take a look at one lesson - just to get an idea of how the lessons flow. Week 3 of Primer 1, Autumn, is centered around a passage from Anne of Avonlea. The two-paragraph passage talks about the simple little pleasures of ordinary days. Each of the four days in the lesson starts by having the student write the day, date, and year. Each day also has a copywork assignment (part of the two paragraph em>Anne passage). [On the fourth day the passage is written from dictation.] Days 1 and 3 include a fable or other story to be read and narrated preceded by vocabulary study and completed by story illustrations done by the student. Next comes the copywork portion of the lessons followed by a short bit of grammar instruction; in this case, reviewing past tense and plurals. Day 2 starts with drawing a picture of what is seen out of a window on the east side. "Directions" are on-going - part of the weekly Nature Study, so this week's practice is stating what direction you travel to get from home to various places (i.e. post office, church, etc.).
Copywork is followed by a rhyming words activity. Day 3 is another fable or story with preceding vocabulary study and follow-up picture drawing. Copywork is followed by usage (or after w). Day 4 is a picture study and then the passage dictation and a review of the abbreviations for the days of the week.
As you can see, instruction is gentle and well-integrated with the passage and other literature selections. It's also teacher-student interactive. Passages (usually around 100 words) are taken from a wide variety of sources - poetry, children's classics, the Bible (NKJV), and historical accounts. The Primer books are sequential in skills and have a seasonal focus so you'll most likely want to follow the seasons of the academic year (i.e. Autumn, Winter, Spring). Lessons are short, gentle and emphasize the intuitive nature of language development. Twice a week, stories (from various sources) are read and the student is expected to narrate these back. Space is provided for the student to also draw pictures illustrating the stories. The Nature Studies are much broader than the example above and include constellations, plant and animal studies, etc. Students observe, draw, or collect (if possible) nature specimens from your yard or a nearby park. Picture Studies focus on two artists for each Primer (teacher selects the artist), looking at six different examples of the artist's works. Grammar, word usage, and spelling lessons are short and drawn from the daily copywork.
Before starting the Primer 1 series, the student should have some beginning spelling and phonics, be able to read simple words comfortably, and be able to copy basic words and sentences (i.e. 2nd/3rd grades). Students should have intermediate spelling and phonics proficiency (i.e. 3rd/4th grades) before starting the Primer 2 series. They should also be able to read beginning chapter books with basic fluency and be able to copy sentences and short paragraphs. Students can begin the series at their current skill level.
Primer Books are consumable student books. These include the weekly passage, space for copywork and/or dictation as well as the vocabulary, grammar, picture and nature studies. Copywork space is provide in the Primer 1 books but Primer 2 students are expected to write their copywork in a separate composition book. The Primer 2 books include noticeably more space and time for grammar and usage instruction and exercises.
The Teaching Helps book is used for all three Primer books in a series and includes instructions as well as information for the nature study plus tips on teaching grammar and spelling and answer keys (when applicable). There is one book to accompany the three books of the Primer 1 series and another for the Primer 2 series. In addition to specific teacher notes for each of the daily lessons, there are introductory sections on general pedagogy and practice, weekly routine, and optional enrichment ideas. You'll want to spend a little time going over this and becoming familiar with the general instructional methodology but daily prep is all done for you and the daily teaching notes coupled with the student books are very user-friendly. Appendices include letter/phonogram sounds as well as spelling rules/tips and literary terms. Additionally, the author/publisher has thoughtfully provided useful web-based resources to further keep your prep easy and inexpensive. Primer Resources is a webpage that has links to online and other resources needed for the picture and nature studies. A free Picture Study PDF download provides images needed for the picture studies. Information on both of these web resources is in the Teaching Helps. Primers are 127 pgs, pb. Teaching Helps are 104 pgs, pb. ~ Janice