Ben and Me
Although people have always regarded Benjamin Franklin as one of the most famous inventors in American history, few people realize that his genius was, in fact, a mouse. Yes, that's right - a mouse named Amos, who found his way to Benjamin Franklin's home one cold night. As one of those closest to Ben, Amos found it necessary to write this (amusing) portrayal of Benjamin Franklin to counter all of the stories written by those who had never even met Ben and certainly never knew that Amos was responsible for a great many of the much esteemed inventions. This classic has been amusing young readers for more than sixty years. 114 pgs. - Melissa
Language arts programs listed in this section cover most areas of language arts (reading/literature, writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting) in one curriculum, although some skill areas may be covered with less intensity than a focused, stand-alone course.
Please note that a brief synopsis of many of the books included here are provided in our Library Builders section. Study guides for the same book are often available from several publishers, so we found it more efficient to give a description of the book only once.
The set of all 12 literature units at each level are intended as a complete language arts curriculum teaching vocabulary, grammar, writing, spelling, story elements, and figurative language in the context of popular children's books. However, they are more than this, bordering on unit studies because of their strong social studies, science, critical thinking, and art/design components. Available at five levels (ages 7-9, 8-10, 9-11, 10-12 and 11-13), they correspond to concept units in the Moving Beyond the Page curriculum.
These use literature as a springboard for investigation, exploration, research, creativity and expression; the focus moves outward from the book. This is unlike most purely literature study guides which bring everything in toward a focus on the novel itself. Another unique attribute is the amount of creative expression involved, from identification with particular characters in the book to developing plotlines or stories having some common theme - there is much more running with a train of thought stimulated by the book than responding directly to the book. Motivated, artistic, imaginative, creative children will love all of the extension activities here! They will have many opportunities for creative expression as they write stories, draw and design things, use critical thinking skills, journal, reenact scenes, and mentally put themselves in the characters' shoes. Also striking is the rigorous nature of some of the assignments, especially at the lower levels. I can see why these are recommended for gifted students. Since these guides were originally created to enhance a science and social studies driven curriculum, there are many activities that get fairly deeply into these subject areas. This is especially the case in pre-reading activities as you set the stage for the time and location of the novel. The author utilizes these research opportunities to maximum advantage - and it does help to put the book in context. Often, this facet of literary analysis is skipped or passed over too lightly when we read a book, making it difficult to really understand some of the conflict, circumstance and social culture/customs that are critical to comprehension. While it's difficult to get a bead on the comprehensiveness of the guides for spelling, vocabulary, and grammar with only a small sampling, I can say with certainty that there's plenty of composition integrated into the units. Besides a large number of writing activities, the student keeps a journal which is used for some of the discussion question responses each day. In some guides, the journal is also used for other creative responses (such as retelling part of the story as diary entries through the eyes of Anna each day in Sarah, Plain and Tall). Other language arts areas seem to be covered in a solid, serious, and thorough manner, based on the samples I've reviewed. Vocabulary work is significant with children looking up words and writing definitions and using target words in compositions. Students learn how to use a dictionary and thesaurus to their advantage. Many activity pages are devoted to grammar, mechanics, and punctuation. Spelling lists, including common and challenge words, appear at the end of each guide.
Each literature unit is in a standard format. Lessons are structured and easy to use. There's no guesswork involved. Each one includes most of the following elements:
Questions to Explore - the Big Picture ideas and concepts for the lesson
Facts and Definitions - any knowledge or vocabulary learned during the lesson
Skills - objectives, identified by subject area
Materials - everything needed for the lesson, even included activity pages
Introduction - exactly how to introduce the lesson to your child (almost scripted)
Activities - generally from 1-4 of these which vary widely by lesson
Conclusion - summing up the ideas from the lesson along with response from your child
Real-Life Application - an extension activity which takes a concept from the story and applies it to a real person or situation
While the format is standard, the lessons themselves are extremely varied. In one lesson, the concentration may be on a grammatical or literary aspect. The next, you may have a lot of social studies related activity. One lesson will have your child writing a persuasive paper; the next a poem. She may study prefixes and suffixes today and be baking cookies tomorrow! Today a science experiment; tomorrow planning a party! You get the idea. Moreover, there are often several options for an assignment, so you can choose the most appealing or beneficial one. If you are using these guides as the basis for a language arts program, you will probably want to leave most of those activities intact, but you may still want to moderate some of the writing assignments. And while the lessons are easy to use and complete, there is still a lot of parental involvement required. Some activities are challenging, others need adult help and guidance - which is not unusual at these grade levels. Lessons that include reading in the novel have a series of questions about the chapter(s). These are not all recall questions, but include more in-depth and subjective discussion questions. You should read the book in tandem with your child in order to assess her responses.
The number of lessons varies by guide. Some of the units include other books and resources (see below). Typically, a unit will last from 2-3 weeks, though you may take longer with some lessons, especially with some of the more involved activities. Every unit ends with a final project, some of which may take a few days to complete. There are three literature units for every concept per level. Using all three would allow your child to compare and contrast themes and characters across novels within a thematic framework. Literature units and novels also become more advanced through each level. Please note that this is not a religious curriculum. It does, however, encourage character development.
Concepts and units by age are listed below. Each literature package contains the literature unit guide AND the corresponding novel. Where other components are included, they appear below the package in italics. NOTE: Student Activity Page sets are NOT INCLUDED in the packages. A single copy of each is in the study guide. Although you are not allowed to reproduce these pages from the guides, they are all single-sided and usable, so you do not have to purchase a set of student pages unless you want to leave your guide intact.
Beginning with ages 9-11, the guides are "Student Directed Literature Units." All instruction is written directly to the student in a conversational tone and the guides are a worktext with no separate student activity pages. Each package contains the SDLU, the corresponding novel, and sometimes other books (listed below the package in italics). Occasional tests are provided with an answer key at the back of the unit. Also in the back are several references/helps: spelling lists, handy guides to writing and grammar, and a writing rubric.
The new guides for ages 12-14 are structured around two semesters, with five literature guides per semester. Publisher recommends the literature guides be completed in order. Each literature guide provides 12 lessons and a final project. In-depth analysis of story elements and figurative language, challenging essays and comprehensive grammar assignments will enable students to appreciate and emulate the craft of great writers. Thematically, guides will aid students in gaining a deeper understanding of everyday life in the past through the selected literature and reading assignments.
Teaching language arts often seems messy and disorganized. The appeal of an integrated program is almost irresistible. Instead of a book for reading, one for grammar, one for spelling, one for vocabulary, one for handwriting, one for composition, and one for thinking skills, why not wrap all of these studies around quality literature? This is exactly the approach suggested by the veteran educator Ruth Beechick. Starting with her sample lessons, the authors of the Learning Language Arts Through Literature series, Diane Welch and Susan Simpson, developed more lessons of their own and eventually collaborated with Dr. Beechick in the preparation of this series. Now after some twenty-five years of publication and a second significant revision, the 3rd edition series continues to be an easy-to-use favorite among homeschoolers. Countless students have proven that written language is best learned by reading fine literature and by working with good writing models.
In addition to the new 3rd edition covers and clearer day-by-day instruction, there are updates throughout the series to reflect changes in how research is conducted. Also, there is clearer direction for making personalized spelling lists. Some lessons have been "switched-out" to give students exposure to more classic literature. Since the original series was written over several years by two different authors, this 3rd edition has been tweaked to make it more consistent. A few out-of-print books have been replaced as well. Some specific changes include: Yellow - ten lessons replaced. Orange - thesaurus and editing activities have been added to most lessons and the book has been reorganized. Purple - reorganized with added vocabulary and spelling activities. Tan - reorganized with three lessons replaced. Green - The Mysterious Benedict Society has replaced Adam and His Kin book study; several lessons replaced and reading comprehension and writing activities have been added to many lessons. Gray - Daddy Long Legs has replaced Across Five Aprils as a book study. In-depth analogy studies have been added.
At the heart of this approach are lessons based on excerpts from great literary works. Each week a passage is introduced to the student. At the younger levels, the student copies the passage after hearing it read. At higher levels, the student writes the passage as it is dictated sentence by sentence. The rest of the week is spent on instruction based on the passage. As an example, Lesson 10 from the Tan (6th grade) book starts with a paragraph from The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong. On the first day, the student is expected to write the passage from dictation after taking note of the usage of quotation marks. Words missed in writing the dictation are incorporated into a spelling lesson which also includes coverage of words spelling the long /i/ sound with igh as in light. Next is a study on homonyms centered around the usage of "hole" in the passage and how the meaning would be changed if "whole" were used. Other homonyms are also studied and then the student is asked to write a sentence using a homonym pair. The second days lesson starts with an examination of point of view from which a story is told. The student examines this passage as well as other stories to look for various points of view and then is asked to rewrite the passage from a different point of view. Lesson work on the third day is on an example of independent clauses linked by semicolons included in the passage; it then progresses to a general discussion of independent clauses versus phrases. Again the student is asked to rewrite the passage making changes in the sentence structure. Also included in this days lesson is a study on the emotions in a story and how good writers use descriptions to draw the reader into the action and to create a mood. The lesson concludes with a short writing assignment (paragraph) and a review of spelling words. Day four is a study of plot utilizing a helpful plot line graphic organizer and including another short writing assignment. The weeks lesson is concluded on day five by choosing one of several activities including writing a short story containing the five plot elements. Each weeks lesson is followed by a page of Review Activities. The teacher can choose any or all of the review activities.
There are full-length book studies (usually four) included with each course. For example, The Bronze Bow is studied in the Tan Book. Starting with an introduction and summary (found only in the Teacher Book), the study continues with a vocabulary worksheet and discussion questions. A list of eight activities concludes the study with the student being instructed to choose one or two. Some of these studies incorporate activities from other disciplines such as the mapping exercise from the Carry On, Mr. Bowditch study found earlier in the Tan Book. Occasionally, there are special instruction segments like the How to Research section in the Tan Book.
There are 36 week-long lessons in each course each of which is an in-depth book study or a passage-based lessons. The passage-based lessons are drawn from a wide variety of literature. To give you some idea of the breadth of these literature selections, here is the list from the Tan Book: Bambi, The Eagle, Little House in the Big Woods, The Story of a Bad Boy, Prince Caspian, The Bronze Bow, King of the Wind, The Wheel on the School, Jest Fore Christmas, Swiss Family Robinson, Swallows and Amazons, Big Red, Kidnapped, Robinson Crusoe, Wind in the Willows, Caddie Woodlawn, The Gettysburg Address, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Railway Children, Psalm 136:1-5, The Horse and His Boy, The House at Pooh Corner, Anne of Green Gables, The Crow and the Pitcher, Little Women, Invincible Louisa, and Matthew 5:13-16. Assessments are included periodically.
These courses are very user-friendly. Obviously, a portion of every lesson includes teacher-student interaction but teacher preparation is minimal and students are often given assignments to work on independently. The Teacher Book provides all necessary background and instructional information; laid out step-by-step for the teacher. These contain all the content from the Student Books in 2/3 page width columns placed side-by-side in the center of the book (two-page spread). These inside columns sometimes contain information not found in the Student Book such as the introduction and background information for the book studies. The outside 1/3 page contain teachers notes as well as all the answers.
The Student Book is consumable and contains some instruction and background information directed to the student as well as generous space to write assignments. These books also contain Enrichment Activities that are found only in the student book although the answers are in the back of the non-consumable Teachers Book.
Although there is a great deal of overlap between the teacher and student book, there are enough differences that both are necessary. You will need to have access to several reference books - dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedias - but you easily use the library or internet for those. In addition to the book study selections (often available from the library but which we sell for your convenience), you will need only general school supplies - pencils, paper, colored pencils, drawing paper, notebook, file folders, and construction paper.
The books are designated by colors but correlate with skills taught at specific grade levels. Since some parents are unsure of where to begin their child in the series, we have placement tests for each course from Common Sense Press available on our website. A biblical and Christian worldview is evident in all courses. ~ Janice
A set of Literature Units (LU) is a complete language arts curriculum teaching vocabulary, grammar, composition, spelling, story elements, and figurative language in the context of popular children's books. LUs each explore one facet of a concept that ties three units together. Each unit has a primary book that is studied for 2-3 weeks and may include additional
"Its just common sense!" Yes, everything about this program is common sense. A very complete program organized around quality children's literature and covering phonics, reading, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, handwriting, and higher-order reasoning. Phonics instruction is systematic, introducing a few sounds at a time and providing opportunities to read a "real" (small story book) book which uses those sounds. The literature component (carefully selected children's favorites) reminds students that the reason for all the hard work in phonics is the joy of reading wonderful books. And woven through both of these elements is comprehensive instruction in all aspects of language arts. Relying heavily on Ruth Beechick's principles for teaching reading (including her letter dice activities), the program includes a wide variety of activities appealing to all learning styles.
The current 3rd edition features updated covers and clearer day-by-day instruction; there are also updates throughout the series to reflect changes in how research is conducted. Also, there is clearer direction for making personalized spelling lists. Some lessons have been "switched-out" to give students exposure to more classic literature. Since the original series was written over several years by two different authors, this 3rd edition has been tweaked to make it more consistent. A few out-of-print books have been replaced as well.
The Teacher Book is a homeschooler's dream; all the work has been done for you, taking you step-by-step through the 36-week/36 Lesson program. The Lessons are grouped into "Parts" and each is divided into five days of detailed instructions. New skills are listed for each lesson and necessary supplies are included at the beginning. There is virtually no teacher preparation needed; you teach as you read. All answers are provided within the lesson. Examples and diagrams are user-friendly including the easy-to-follow references to the Student Book. Periodic assessments are provided to help you determine your childs readiness for the next "Part." The Student Book contains the materials (except for household and school supplies) needed for cut-and-paste, word wheels, flip books, picture sequencing, story-telling puppets, and handwriting pages. The comfortable, natural handwriting method that isnt exactly traditional, modern, or italic was developed by the authors. This handwriting instruction is coordinated with the phonics and includes pages for children to carefully complete and display or give as gifts. The Student Book is consumable with perforated pages. Even the back cover is put to good use providing the miniature book covers to be added to the personal reading chart that marks the childs progress. Phonics concepts are reinforced in separate beginning Readers. They are small-sized for little hands and include black-and-white illustrations. Stories are engaging which is a good thing since the weeks learning activities are built around them. The student uses puppets to retell the stories, completes sequencing activities with a series of reader-related events, and answers comprehension questions. One interesting aspect of the teacher-student interaction concerning these readers is that the weeks lesson starts off with the teacher reading either the small book (Blue) or a part of a reader (Red) to the child. After several lessons thoroughly covering the new phonics concepts and practice reading parts of the story, the student concludes the week with the successful reading of the same reading selection. This is an effective variation of the typical approach because the goal of reading the book is always before the student. The Materials Packet (Blue Program only) is a useful collection of color-coded letter and word cards for learning and review along with cards used for reinforcement games and, of course, the letter dice (to be assembled from cardstock patterns). While this part of the program is not exactly consumable - you could use the various components again - the components do get a workout. If you are expecting to use the program with another child, you'll want to save these items, possibly laminating them. However, we sell additional Material Packets as well as Student Books and Reader Sets so you can easily use the program with a second student. Well-known children's literature (Read-Aloud Library) is suggested each week, so at the same time your child is learning phonics, he is also learning other important reading skills such as literal recall, comprehension, predicting outcome, and drawing conclusions. These books are an integral part of the program and the Student Activity Book relies on them. Although usually available at the local library, for your convenience we also sell them. ~ Janice
Very comprehensive and versatile study guides from a Christian perspective for selected novels. According to the publisher, the focus is on "teaching thinking and communication skills using literature as a base." A myriad of skills are covered here: reading comprehension, analytical and critical thinking, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, writing, and listening (I guess that's the "Plus"!). Total Language Plus is really both literature and language arts combined in one program. Novels have been carefully selected to either display a high moral tone, or to provide a basis from which to teach Biblical discernment. Most are Newbery Medal or Honor books; all are generally thought of as quality literature, have depth, and are high-interest.
One small teacher's manual presents the how's and why's of the program. It provides an overview and philosophy of the program, sample lesson plans for a typical week, and instructions for teaching each component of the program. The appendix contains a writing helps section and a summary of basic spelling rules. Also included here are answers to common questions about the Total Language Plus program. The program requires minimal teacher involvement as students work through most of the material on their own. While some work is done on separate paper, most exercises are worked directly in the student worktext, which is not reproducible. The only condition under which copying is allowed is when teaching multiple students simultaneously out of the same study guide.
The beginning of each book contains a variety of critical thinking activities, correlated to chapters in the novels, which include projects, drawing, writing assignments, and a puzzle. Some of the writing assignments require research or lengthier essays, while "Personally Thinking" questions require shorter written answers to questions that apply concepts in the story to the student's life or require the student to think and make judgments about story events and characters. These activities can be used at any time during the unit at your discretion, but you will probably want to use several of the shorter writing assignments per week if you want to include composition skills in the program.
The rest of the guide is broken down into weekly units. Each week, the student reads a section of the novel and answers comprehension questions pertaining to those chapters. Daily oral language exercises contain short paragraphs to be dictated to the student, practicing listening and memorization skills and reinforcing spelling and grammar. Passages are chosen to emphasize Bible truths that relate to the story or are actual excerpts from the literature. Other exercises practice an assortment of English skills, with Friday's exercise a summary of "problem words" for the week. Each day, students complete a section of their vocabulary worksheets, including the compilation of a glossary of vocabulary words for which students supply definition and part of speech. Vocabulary review sheets are included at the back of the book, and you can assign these to review and reinforce learning. As a culmination of vocabulary work, a final review test and answer key is provided. Daily spelling exercises also revolve around words from the novel. At the end of each week, a spelling test is administered on the words studied that week. As you can see, far more than reading and comprehension is covered here! Using this program you should not need separate spelling or vocabulary programs. Depending on the activities you choose, and the emphasis you place on composition skills, this may suffice as your total English program. Each book contains 5 to 8 units and will take about 8 to 10 weeks to complete. Plan on using about 3 to 5 guides per year.
Guides are available at five grade levels. Advanced high school guides contain more extensive writing activities that teach composition techniques, showing the student how to organize and plan their writing, as well as suggesting what points to include. They also contain oral readings for the selections to incorporate speech and drama into the program.
Lower-priced guides (see Out of the Dust and From the Mixed-Up Files...) are Focus Guides, which "focus" on specific writing skills and omit many of the varied language arts activities found in the other guides. While containing comprehension and analysis questions like other guides, they also feature comprehensive writing assignments relevant to the novel. Focus guides have less content overall than other guides and will take about 3 weeks to complete.
Topics covered: Grammar, Vocabulary, Reading Skills, Spelling Skills, Penmanship, Research, Journal Writing, Poetry, Newspaper and Creative Writing, and Higher Order Thinking Skills, Debbie Strayer, author. Passages from: Boxcar Children, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Tale of Anabelle Hedgehog, Ben and Me, and Sign of the Beaver.
New 3rd edition offers a reogranized book along with thesaurus and editing activities added to most lessons.