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Category: Language Arts

That’s it. I am finally convinced that we’re going to continue to use First Language Lessons, but we’re going to ZOOM through it! Satori’s got a good memory, she memorizes the poems after I say them a few times, she’s got the grammar definitions down and understands it all.

I thought we started a bit early with this program, so we were only doing a few days a week. This month I pushed that up to 4x a week, and today I decided to do TWO lessons at a time. Each lesson only took a few minutes anyway. Life is getting more exciting now that we moved out of nouns and learned two new things, woah! Satori now knows about pronouns, and easily picks them out of any sentence I read. We’re just started verbs, with an introduction to action verbs. That’s Lesson 54.

I wrote a few sentences on the white board today, and Satori marked them with an “n” for noun and a “v” for verb.  It was easy and kinda fun!

After we finish FLL 1/2, I think we will be moving to MCT Grammar Island, perhaps this winter or next spring. This program starts at Third Grade, but I’ve seen a few families who started it early. The sample pages look easy enough for us to start, but I’m open to advice here if anyone is using it…

If I could describe a day in the life of Satori lately, half of her waking hours would be spent writing! She started the day writing a story in an entire 28-page Bare Book. She then wrote in her new Animal Journal. In the afternoon, she gave me a few letters. And so on… I’m very proud of her to do all this, but it also overwhelms me. Should I be concentrating on giving her the skills to write better? In particular, all this makes me want to go faster in spelling so she spells her words correctly… go faster in grammar so she knows how to write proper sentences… go faster in writing so she knows how to organize her thoughts… My perfectionist tendencies are making me very anxious about all this, I feel like I’m going too slow for her in certain subjects.

But she’s only five, so I should just relax, right?

We follow the Well-Trained Mind philosophy closely, and they discourage creative writing until 5th grade I think. We are using their curriculum on both 1st grade writing and grammar and these are very gentle and appropriate for this age. But I’m wondering if they are too slow for our situation, with a very eager little writer. I rarely talk about these new programs we started using this year on this blog, but I’ll go over them now.


For grammar, we are using First Language Lessons (I refer to this as FLL). This was easy enough to start a year ago, but you’re supposed to start when the child is reading at a certain level, so we stopped and then officially started again this spring in January 2010. We do it a few times a week and all spring we only covered nouns. Only this week did we start pronouns! We also covered several poems, which Satori memorizes very fast. I think it goes very slow and has lots of repetition, so I’m wondering if we could use a different curriculum. Or perhaps just go at a faster pace? As of this month we are going to do FLL 3-4 times a week instead of just twice a week, we’ll see how that goes. Below is the lesson we did today, we are on Lesson 50. The book we have covers both Year 1 and 2, and there are books that cover Year 3 and 4.

This is the only grammar program with which we have experience, so I am not sure how I feel about FLL. I’ll try it throughout the summer and hope it picks up. We are not doing any of the copywork it has in the book, as we do enough of that in other subjects. However, today, Satori wrote down the pronouns we’ve learned so far on her own accord.

Although I’m not 110% gung-ho on First Language Lessons, it is doing the job and it is one of the easiest things I teach her (as is anything by the WTM team). It also is nice as it covers things such as days of the week, months, poem memorization, and more. If it sounds appealing to you and you want to use this program, a new version is coming out this September, which is supposed to go better with the writing program I’ll be discussing next. The main difference is that they took out the redundant copywork that is also covered in the writing book.

If anyone has any suggestions on a good grammar book that might be more fast-paced and engaging, I’m all ears! Oh, I forgot I do have Painless Grammar Junior, which supposedly is meant for grade 3, and I do think we’d need at least one more year before we start that one. Oh, and I can’t wait to re-learn grammar myself, I used to love diagramming sentences. (Is that nerdy?) Anyway, it’s been such a long time and I think I forgot a lot. Am I putting apostrophes in the right place?


For writing, we started The Complete Writer: Writing With Ease: Strong Fundamentals which also covers 4 years. I’ll refer to this program as WWE, everything has an easy acronym. Another very gentle and super easy-to-teach program. You’re supposed to do it four days a week and each week covers a piece of quality children’s literature. (We only do this two times a week.) The first day you do Copywork, writing a simple sentence, pointing out the sentence structure such as capital letters, end marks, capitalizing proper nouns, etc… You get a choice of two sentences, one very short and simple and the other a little longer.

The next day you read an excerpt from the literature and there’s a short series of questions your child answers in complete sentences. Then you ask her to narrate one thing she remembers from the story. All pretty easy, although I sometimes I end up reading the passage two times for her to answer the questions correctly. Her narrations started out as summarizing the entire passage, but lately we’ve gotten that down to one sentence, which is the point anyway when first starting out.

Here’s her copywork. You don’t need their student workbook, but I downloaded a PDF so I had them all printed out. You could just as easily use your own paper. Obviously Satori doesn’t pay attention to the lined paper they use.

I love getting the teasers of the literature they use as well as the practice listening and narrating. I do enjoy the copywork, but hope it will rub off soon in her own writing. I’m just not sure it’s enough in our particular situation. She just writes so much, I want to formally go over sentence structure with her. You’d think she’d understand what a sentence is after all this copywork, but she says she doesn’t understand what a sentence is when she writes on her own.

So in one of my next posts, I’ll talk about a new writing program we’ll be easing into this summer. I think we’ll still do Writing With Ease a few times a week.

During the time it took me to write this post, I got 3 pages of letters/drawings from Satori. She asked me what my teacher’s name was when I was a little girl, and then she presented me with “Your Old Class”, subtitled “Miss Osin” and a picture of me in a classroom with Miss Osin. Then she drew a picture of the Scooby Doo gang and they all had something to say about me. Daphne says “I think Angela is so prity!” Velma says “Angela is smart”. Shaggy says “Shes with me”. Scooby says “Shes a heerow!” Ah, a nice little laugh before bedtime.

Today Satori and I did our “Three Little Pigs” Literature Pocket. Daddy was busy watching football, so we didn’t have the pleasure of his company.


Satori usually likes to act  out stories like this with dad, myself and her, but since we only had two people, I decided to spice it up a tad by creating the story physically.

We didn’t have a Big Bad Wolf or 3 little Pigs, but we did have an Andrewsarchus (prehistoric wolf-like mammal predator) and 3 little Penguins. 🙂 All the materials were within 3 yards of our deck.

First house – flimsy straw!


Second penguin’s house made of sticks (and bark):


Finally, a house made of stone that the Big Bad Andrewsarchus could not blow down! 🙂


Okay, so it’s not an actual treehouse, it’s the playset my dad built in July. I thought we’d do two lessons in the “treehouse” today for fun. Every now and then we’d be enthralled with a beautiful hummingbird, a loud whirring grasshopper thingie, and a “whiff” of flowers (“whiff” being one of the words we learned today).


I love how the OPG book cover matches the sky here! I should have brought my camera up in the treehouse, the view was beautiful.

Satori has been learning so fast lately, I hardly feel I am “teaching” her. Here’s what we worked on for reading today, you may want to click the picture to see it better.

OPG Lesson 63

OPG Lesson 63

We use a small whiteboard for our lessons, we don’t use any flashcards that are optional to purchase with the book. Most days we use a little bit larger whiteboard, the size of the book itself. Then we can fit multiple sentences/paragraphs on it. It is magnetic and has a blank white side, and a lined side. Lately, we’ve been using this tiny one word/phrase lined whiteboard.

Satori is not picking up her own books yet and reading them, even though I have BOB and Nora Gaydos books laid out in strategic spots, but I am not worried. Just yesterday we were at Sam’s Club, and all of a sudden she was saying “Sam’s Club” over and over excitedly. On the shopping cart handle, were the words that she read. She continued to read all our groceries: GLAD, EGGO, and much more.

Here’s the All About Spelling lesson we did today. She’s learned SH, TH, and CH pretty well now. Normally we do most work on the 2’x3′ magnetic whiteboard, but we couldn’t fit that in our treehouse today. Besides, she loves to write on paper. Here I dictated words and short 2-3 word phrases and she wrote them on her paper.

AAS - Lesson 12

AAS - Lesson 12

She’s a pretty good speller actually, she masters everything we learn. The only issue she’s having is sometimes she spells “e” for the short “i”. I ask her to read what she wrote, and then she’ll quickly redo it with an “i”. Also, about 50% of the time, she will use a “z” for an “s”, like in the word “has”, but she’s getting better.

To non-homeschoolers, this stuff sounds pretty meaty for a 4 year old, but we only do lessons when she wants to, and keep them short. I simply introduce something new and she learns it and we practice it a few times. We don’t make lessons long and boring. If I can tell she isn’t enjoying herself, I stop. If I feel she doesn’t like the curriculum we’re using, I am not afraid to switch to something new, as we did with math by switching to RightStart.

Oop, I just got 10 letters, most of them asking to go to the library! We better go to the Boulder Creek Festival now and hopefully see our friend and her new baby girl! “Mom  Can you go to the library. You can get books. You better bring a list mom. – Satori”



A drizzly stay-home Saturday on a holiday weekend… I decided to pull out our Evan-Moor Literature Pocket – Folktales & Fairytales. There are 7 favorite stories, from Goldilocks to Little Red Riding Hood, and activities to do with all. You make a “pocket” to put your finished items in. The whole family joined in to do these activities.


David acting goofy. Here he is helping cut while Satori is coloring her first book “The Little Red Hen”.


The Literature Pocket cover page:


Doing one of the activities, matching animal sounds to the animals and making a book. Satori knew how to sound out all the sounds except for “neigh”.

Here’s our completed “Little Red Hen” pocket! Satori wanted to do another story immediately, but we will have to wait until next weekend. 🙂


Next, we did the first lesson out of Draw Write Now drawing books. We did a little duck way back in February for Ping, today, we did a hen and made her red to go along with our Satori.


Draw Write Now our fun drawing books suitable for Satori’s  young age, and also has some copywork, which we did not do today, all Satori wrote was the name of the book. Here’s her finished drawing:


Today we did Lesson 6 out of First Language Lessons, I haven’t been focusing much on this, as it’s for first-grade level, but we both enjoy it and it’s super simple and easy. I then read this poem “The Caterpillar”, which was our 5th time of hearing the poem. I did not narrate this poem as many times as the book suggested. I haven’t ever required her to recite it nor did I expect her to anytime soon, but an hour later, I overheard her reciting it from memory today! I grabbed the video camera and asked her to do it again. 🙂 She didn’t get the author’s name exactly right (Christina Rossetti), but the rest she got down perfectly!

The Caterpillar
by Christina Georgina Rosetti

Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry;
Take your walk
To the shady leaf or stalk.

May no toad spy you,
May the little birds pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.

Today was Friday and Daddy was working from home. We waited to do school until he was done with work, so he got a glimpse of our day. 🙂

In AAS lesson 2 they start you listening for the sounds in words. One of the tools you’ll use is their colorful translucent tokens that you line up, and pull towards you as you say each sound in a word. Satori has a thing about lizards and amphibians ever since we studied them this summer, so as a reward for sounding out a word, she gets to free one lizard. Then they all line up and get to watch Satori work!

AAS Tokens and lizards

AAS Tokens and lizards

I found these lizards at Target for $2.99 in their party favor section, and Satori went nuts over them. They match our AAS tokens quite nicely! However, I’m not sure it’s ideal to have these little lizards around, she starts playing with them a tad too much…