We did something crazy in our language arts a couple of years ago. Basically we ditched all the things. The workbooks were nixed and replaced with our read alouds and Brave Writer Arrow and Boomerang guides. Now, just to clarify, we have added back in our favorite grammar workbooks, Easy Grammar, to use once a week or so. And my kids also do a spelling list from a workbook about every three weeks or so. See our curriculum details on the Learning Well Community Curriculum Directory.
But wait. You ditched all the language arts workbooks for a whole school year?
Don’t we need grammar books, spelling lists, and workbooks to do all these things?
Learning Well LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Affiliate links from Amazon or other programs are used on this website. For more info, please refer to our disclosure statement.
Well, maybe. But we skipped them all.
And it worked amazingly! Here’s all the details, plus a video of exactly how we use the guides in our house…
Get the 6 Secrets to a Simpler Mom Life
Ditching the workbooks for living books
I’ve long been in love with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. Over the years of homeschooling though, we’ve reverted to much more workbook-y people than I’d like to admit.
So much paper.
So many blanks to fill in.
We had workbooks for grammar, handwriting, vocabulary, spelling, and whatever else I’d pick up when I had a freak-out moment.
For a while now, I’ve thought about how we could use our read aloud books in a more encompassing way.
We’ve used Cindy West’s Living Literature Grammar and love the concept.
Just our read aloud, the guide, and a composition notebook for each kid.
How we use Brave Writer’s Arrow + Boomerang guides
Arrow guides are for approximately 3rd to 6th grades.
Boomerang guides are for approximately 7th-10th grades.
Each year, Brave Writer chooses 10 new books for Arrow and Boomerang and releases one per month.
You can purchase the whole year’s bundle of guides or choose to purchase individual titles.
We choose individual guides rather than the whole bundle because, even though I love BW’s book choices and we read many of the current picks, I also have a list a mile long of books I want to read with my kids.
Nobody puts baby in a bundle.
UPDATE: Although I’ve never purchased the full bundle of Arrow + Boomerang guides before, the line-up for 2018-19 is SO stellar, I will be purchasing the bundles. The titles are almost ALL on our TBR list already…it’s just too good to pass up! See the Boomerang line-up HERE and the Arrow line-up HERE!
I’ve found that there are so many of these guides I almost never pick a book that there isn’t a guide provided.
Breaking down the guides
When you purchase the older guides you will notice they are a little different from the current guides.
- The lessons are broken down into four weeks.
- Each week begins with an excerpt from the book to use as copywork.
- There’s a grammar lesson each week that is pulled from the copywork passage.
- The guides end with discussion questions.
- The Arrow guides also include a writing project that goes along with the writing style of the completed books. (These have been SO much fun!!)
Older guides look a bit different that there are not discussion questions in the Arrow guides.
Older guides are also shorter in length. But the lessons are still just as great.
Our week with these guides
Language arts this year takes a lot less time. Read more about our Brave Writer Lifestyle Routine.
On Monday, we grab our composition notebooks.
These notebooks are split into three chunks. (Next year I think I will buy special subject notebooks for this.)
- Writing (freewrites, writing projects)
The kids copy their passage for the week.
Tuesday we look over what they copied. We check for neatness, spelling, punctuation, and any missed grammar.
Then we dive into to the grammar lesson.
Sometimes we will take notes on the pages following the copy work.
For instance, the other day we learned about conjunctions and we learned an acronym for remembering them: FANBOYS
Things like this we write down in their notebook to remember them.
Wednesday, we’ll do freewrites, which isn’t technically part of the guides.
Thursday we tie up any loose ends from the week’s lesson.
Sometimes there’s a few spelling or vocabulary words pulled from the passage and we’ll work on those too.
At the end of the month, we will go over the discussion questions and do the writing project. These projects sometimes take a few days to complete.
I love the simplicity.
This way of doing language arts might not be for everyone. I’ll be honest, it was sort of a leap of faith to toss our normal regime. But I see the fruits of using read alouds for language arts.
I love simple.
If you want to try it out, you can download a sample guide for free. I’d be willing to bet you’ll be downloading more though. 🙂
You also might like: