Posted in Our Adventures, Writing & Penmanship

Super Sentences


I was very impressed with these two sentences that Delightful, 10, wrote as part of her Christian Light Grade 5 Reading course.  The assignment was to use personification:

The ocean ate hungrily at the beach, devouring all the sand.


The volcano belched and heaved up great clouds of sulfur and acid.

Now, if only I could get her to consistently produce this level of quality writing!


Posted in Grammar & Vocabulary, Homeschooling, Our Adventures, Reading & Literature, Subject English, Writing & Penmanship

Designing Our Own “English Lessons Through Literature”

Enfant écrivant-Henriette BrowneThis past year, Delightful worked her way through English Lessons Through Literature Level 3.  I really enjoyed having everything in one place and ready to go.  For next year, I was considering using Level 4 and asked Delightful what she thought about that.  Her response?

“Well, I want to do ELTL exactly how it is but with different poetry and different books and less diagramming because it’s too hard!  But I still want to read the short stories because those are really good!  So maybe you could buy me Level 4 so I can read the short stories and then I can do different things for the other parts?”


Ultimately, I agreed to make our own version of ELTL (I do still highly recommend the program, although it does move quickly and the grammar is quite challenging).  Here is the “plan” we came up with, although we never end up sticking to our plans:

Artist study:  Already done with the family once a week, so no replacement needed.

Poetry: Favorite Poems Old and New

Fables: I am considering Indian Fables, West African Folk Tales, and/or The Red Indian Fairy Book, all free at the Baldwin Project.  I am also considering Christian Light’s 5th grade reader. This is too easy for Delightful to read (she can read and understand their 12th grade literature text with ease) but I like the God-centered focus of the stories and would like to use some Christian materials in addition to the type of stories included in ELTL.  Starting at the 5th reader will give us the opportunity to enjoy a reader a year up to Grade 8, as well as two texts for high school.  I also have the McGuffey readers.  I schedule about 1/3 of a reader each year for reading comprehension and oral presentation.  Since Delightful completed the Second Reader, which is for Grades 3-5, a couple of years ago, I may just start her on the Third Reader this year.

Literature: Miscellaneous books chosen from our bookshelves.  I’m waiting until the end of summer to finalize our list since Delightful is already reading one of the books I was considering using.

Grammar: Fix It! Grammar Student Book 1: The Nose Tree (Grades 3-12)

Writing: Writing With Skill 1 and possibly Write With The Best 1 (writing component only), mainly because I already have these programs on my shelf.  This would be accompanied by oral and written narrations and creative writing as Delightful chooses.

Technically, following a Charlotte Mason method, no writing instruction is needed in Grade 5 beyond working on written narrations.  However, Delightul is quite proficient at written narration and also writes 10+ page typed stories for fun.  As such, I thought she could handle WWS1 and might learn some ideas for honing her writing from it.  WWTB1 would fill in instruction on different types of documents such as letters.  I would use that once a week and spend about a month completing each lesson.

So that’s the plan-in-progress.  It will be interesting to see how close to reality it ends up being.


Posted in Homeschooling, Our Adventures, Subject Bible & Theology, Subject English, Writing & Penmanship

A Funny Oral Narration, Grade 1

In which Sunny, 6 (she asked for a name change from “Feisty”), attempts to narrate an entire book and gets some of the details mixed up:

Jesus is Alive: The Amazing Story

(Note: this books covers Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection)

923448Jesus took three disciples with him somewhere.  “Stay here and sit down and pray while I go to a different place and pray.  I will come back.”  When he comed back, they were all asleep.  The frightness had made them all exhausted.

Once, twelve of disciples went out to fish.  When they came back, they sawed Jesus standing on the beach waiting for them.

He said, “Do you have any food?”

They said, “no.”

“Put the net in one more time” and when they did this, it was full of tons and tons of little tiny fish.

Then Jesus got captured and he got crucified.  He was put into a cave.  A big stone was rolled on the entrance of a cave.  And there was a chicken, too.

But he rose from the dead and said, “Peter, you denied me three times.  And when the cock crows you’ll come back to normal.”

And Peter sat near the fire and the chicken.  Someone pointed at him and said, “You are Peter.  You were with God.”

And Peter said, “I do not know the man.”

Then she pointed out again, “You are a disciple.  You are one of God’s followers.”

And then he said, “I told you, I do not know the man!”

Then she pointed out again, “You are one of God’s disciples.”

Then Peter said, “I telled you two times.  I will tell you once more.  I do not know the man!  Wataa!”

And then the cock crowed “Cock-a-doodle-dooooooooooooooooo” and Peter was the same.

“I have denied Jesus three times” and he started to cry.

And three women came to see Jesus, but when they got there the stone was already rolled away.  And they all said, “Wataa!”

And then, someone was crying about Jesus and she told to a man what had happened.  And then he said, “Mary.”

Then Mary knew that it was the son of Jesus and she said, “Woo hoo!  Jesus is alive!” And she hugged him.

And she lived on a farm with pigs, chickens, cows, horses, ducks, and a rooster.  And they lived ever after Amen.

The End.

Posted in Subject English, Writing & Penmanship

Beyond the Five Paragraph Essay

August Müller TagebucheintragA teacher argues for abandoning the 5-paragraph essay in favor of Aristotle’s 5-point model, which is:

  1. Introduction
  2. Background information
  3. Confirmation
  4. Refutation
  5. Conclusion

Read more here:

For help with moving beyond the 5-paragraph essay, see this website:

Kem’s Utterly Merciless Guide to Essay Writing

Posted in Homeschooling, Our Adventures, Subject English, Writing & Penmanship

Written Narration Progress, Grade 4

Myles Birket Foster A school girlAmbleside Online suggests starting written narration in Grade 4.  The suggestion is to start with one written narration a week and increase the amount of weekly narrations over the next couple of years.

As this is Delightful’s Grade 4 year, I decided to start written narration with her even though she is only 8.  This is due to the fact that she is proficient in oral narrations and doesn’t want to just do copywork every day.  At the same time, however, she isn’t a huge fan of writing and needs to ease into the process slowly.

Here are some samples of how Delightful, 8, has progressed with written narration over this past year (originals reproduced as closely as possible):

Sample 1 – August 24, 2015, based on Hero of Faith – Katharina Von Bora:

Katie said goodbye and they were off.

Sample 2 – September 10, 2015, based on Tree in the Trail:

The Cottenwood grew, and birds nested seventy feet abov the pond.  Owls nested in a hollow burnt by lightning.  Growing wood had long since covered the iron arrowpionts.  The Cottenwood was now a 100 years old.

Sample 3 – October 7, 2015, based on The Burgess Seashore Book for Children (done in cursive):

When low tide came Jimmy and Reddy always whent to the shore to try to find somthing to eat.  One day when they were doing just this, Graywing came just as Jimmy was looking at a fish in disgust.  “What is that?” asked Jimmy.  “That,” said Graywing, that is a common skate.  “A what?” asked Jimmy.  “A common skate,” Said Graywing.  “Why not look for his egg?” asked Graywing.  “All right,” said Jimmy.

Sample 4 – November 2015, based on Classic Myths to Read Aloud:

The Riddle of the Sphinx

Once upon a time, the king and queen of Thebes, Laius and Jocasta, had a son, and they took him to the oracle at Delphi (Del-phee).  A priest said that one day their son would kill Laius and marry Jocasta.  So Laius called a servant to take the child and kill him.  The servant could not bear to kill the boy so he tied him from his ankles to a tree and left.  Then a shepard came along and took him down.  He had been atraccted to the boy’s crys.  This shepard now brought this child to the king and queen of Corinth.  The king and queen were delighted and named him Oedipus (ed-e-pus).  The queen whose name was Merope, took him to a moutain and said to him, “Son, one day all this land will be yours.  You must reign it well.”  So Oedipus wen to the Oracle at Delphi.  He then found or thought that he would kill the king of Corinth, and marry Merope.  He set off at once to try to escape his fate.  On the way he met Laius and dashed his head.  Then, he went to Thebes and found that a Sphinx was guarding one of the main entrances.  Oedipus then said “I will go and try to defeat this famous Sphinx.”  But the people said, “If you defeat it you will be king.  But listen, if you cannot defeat it you will be eaten!”  So Oedipus went to the Sphinx and it said, “Ahhh another dainty morsel!  Come, and I shall tell you my riddle.  What walks on 4 legs in the morning, 2 in the afternoon and 3 in the evening?”  Oedipus thought for a moment and then said, “Alas!  It must be a man!  As a baby a man crawls, as a man on two legs beacause he is strong, and when he is old supports himself with a cane.”  Then the Sphinx cried “Alas!  I am done!”  So the Sphinx dashed itself to bits on some rocks.  Then Oedipus went back and was crowned king.  He also then married Jocasta.  Then, they had three children, two girls and a boy.  One of the girls and the boys name I do not know but the youngest girls name was Anigone (An-tig-on-e).  Then it was found that Oedipus accidentily killed the king and now had to go to the forest of Furies.  Antigone went with him until he went in.

Sample 5 – December 9, 2015, based on The Wise Goat and the Wolf as told in English Lessons Through Literature 3 (some of this was dictated to me as I wrote and Delightful watched):

The Wise Goat and the Wolf

Once upon a time, there was a herd of goats living in a hill.  One day, the wolves ate all of the goats, except for one who was wiser than all the others.

One day, a wolf said to his mate, “Let us play a trick on that wise goat.”  So they played a trick on the goat.  This was what the trick was:

The boy wolf lay down on the ground and pretended to be dead.  Then, his mate went to the goat and said, “Look.  See my mate is dead.  I have no more friends.  Come with me and bury him.”

Then the goat said, “I will not come with you because I think you are trying to play a trick on me.”

“What harm can a dead wolf be?” asked the wolf.

“I suppose you are right,” said the goat.

So they went down and soon the goat said, “I think you should go in front.”  So they switched places and almost as soon as they did this the boy wolf lifted his head and the goat ran back home.  After that his wife scolded him and said they should try again.

So this time they invited her to a tea-party.

The goat said, “oh yes yes i shall be glad to go but i shall bring three friends.”

“W-what are the friends” asked the wolf timidly.

“Oh, they are Old Gray, and Young Tan, and Four Eyes with their mates.”

And the wolf was gone like lightning.


Posted in Charlotte Mason, Homeschooling Methods, Subject English, Writing & Penmanship

The Best Writing Program Advice

Albert Anker Schreibender Knabe c1908

Bookworm on the Simply Charlotte Mason forum gives the best writing program advice I have ever read:

“Well, do you really want my 2 cents?  I have been EXACTLY where you are, and if I could go back and change ONE thing in my homeschooling, it would be to never, ever, ever, EVER do a “writing program”.  EVER.  And DEFINITELY not Writing Strands. A fourth grader does NOT need a writing program.  A fourth grader needs to learn to do written narrations.  I have a long and complicated history that I’ve probably detailed here more than once, but I’ll give you the upshot one more time.  I panicked regularly with my oldest, that copywork, dictation and narration would not be “enough” and that he needed to write more.  So every year or two we’d buy yet another stupid program, spend money, invest time, tears and tantrums–and his writing would be no better and he would, in addition, hate it one exponential degree more.  If you are really interested, ask me about the Zoo Paper, and the Stupid Duckling Story My Mean Mother Made Me Write (Writing Strands assignment, incidentally.)  We tried, I think, FIVE programs before he turned twelve, and all were disastrous flops.

I want to be very clear.  Written narrations are not the product of a “writing program.”  A “writing program” will not teach a child to do written narrations.  Narration is the building block–out of narration will come the writing, the “composition.”  The other way is to put the cart before the horse.  She’s only fourth grade.  The age at which my chldren have been able to turn out a multi-sentence, relatively coherent written narration is, in order, twelve and a half, twelve, and not yet (eleven and a half.)  If she occasionally writes stories, terrific!  Encourage her.  Hope she has fun with it.  She does not  need a habit of writing stories.  She needs a habit of narration.  How is her oral narration going?  The transition to written narration can be rocky, should be gradual, and takes time.  At first, written narrations will NOT equal oral ones.  That’s OK.  It’s hard work, taken a step up in difficulty.  In my experience, the keys to good written narrations are 1) Enough time to allow handwriting and basic skills like spelling and punctuation, to be relatively comfortable for the child.  It’s HARD when trying to write your thoughts when physical writing is hard.  If there are physical problems preventing writing, then teach the child to type before expecting much in the way of written narration.  2) The right book to narrate.  And this will differ for each child.  The key to my oldest nature-loving son was a book up his alley.  His first “real” written narration after giving me efforts that were basically a collection of bad sentence fragments saying nothing, was the chapter on “ant cows” in the Storybook of Science.  All of a sudden I got TWO pages on ant cows.  And 3) patience from mom!  This WILL take time.  There will be days all your friends’ kids have sheaves of little brainless written compositions and your kid is still turning out “This guy was in a war and he did something.”  Trust the method.  Trust the narration.  Narration is doing a work in your child’s mind that you haven’t even fully realized yet.  There will be a time and a place for helping turn the raw output of narration into different forms, like persuasive essays.  This time is NOT fourth grade for any but the very  most unusual kids.  Focus on the basics.  Make sure spelling, handwriting, basic mechanics and oral narration are going well.  Then begin nudging into written narrations, but consider a year like fourth grade as the very opening year of a multi-year process.  You wouldn’t expect a baby learning to walk to cross the room on the first day, but to take one or two steps before toppling over.  A one-line written narration is the first ‘step” before falling over and she just needs practice.  Just like she eventually crossed the room, she’ll eventually write down what she needs to communicate about what she’s read.  She’ll HAVE to, if the books are right, and if you insist on getting some narrations in written form, because when you narrate that’s how your brain works–you eventually HAVE to put out some “output” or you’ll blow up.  LOL  It’s why grownup CM moms have blogs, or write reviews on Goodreads, etc.–we are narrating.  LOL”

Source and read more:

Here are some articles that have helped me with improving the narration process:

Posted in Subject English, Writing & Penmanship

Looking For Free Copywork?

Albert Anker Schreibender Knabe

Here is a great link to oodles of free copywork if you are interested:

The Ultimate Guide to Free Copywork