Throughout the middle school years our children’s use and understanding of language will increase dramatically! This is the perfect time to find creative opportunities to help children build skills needed to express themselves through written and spoken words through the subjects of language arts and literature.
During this time children will begin to analyze situations, form opinions, and look for ways to share their ideas with others. Encouraging students to fine-tune their writing skills, engage in discussions about their favorite books, and learn the meanings of new words will give them tools needed to succeed in high school and beyond.
Although subjects like spelling, grammar, reading, and writing don’t typically bring to mind fun and creative hands-on project ideas like you would find in science class, we have found some! Our kids learn best when they involve all of the senses in the learning process and language related learning is no different.
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Here are some of our favorite tools for homeschooling middle school language arts and literature.
Spelling Smart! – Spelling has been a challenge for our family, thanks in part to my son’s dysgraphia. We have tried many programs over the years but this was a good tool for us to use during early middle school years. This program helps to reinforce spelling patterns by using word lists and various writing opportunities.
Vocabulary from Classical Roots – With this series children learn groups of words derived from classic (usually from Greek or Latin) root words. This program has not only helped to expand our children’s vocabulary, it also helps them understand the meaning of new words they encounter based on the word root.
Fortuigence – This online, self-paced writing program has helped my reluctant writers address their writing concerns by learning how to get started (no more “blank page terror”) and how to follow a consistent 5 step writing process. Students submit their revised essays after each writing lesson and get personalized, constructive feedback from a veteran writing teacher.
Wordsmith Apprentice – We used Wordsmith Apprentice during the early middle school years because it was very creative. Throughout the book students pretend to be a small town newspaper reporter as they complete various writing assignments.
Teaching the Classics – This has served as our literature guide for several years! By using the ideas in “Teaching the Classics” we have helped our Book Club students become familiar with the elements of literary analysis. Our children can now engage in meaningful literary discussions thanks to the Socratic approach outlined in this guide.
World for Learning – These hands-on unit studies make reading classic literature fun and relevant for kids! Along with a friend and fellow homeschool mom we created the World Study Guides for our own kids as a part of our middle school Book Club co-op. Your family will enjoy bringing literature to life with recipes, crafts, maps, discussion questions, and much more.
Books and Games
Bananagrams – Reinforce spelling and vocabulary skills by using letter tiles to build crossword puzzle grids.
Educational Insights Blurt! – This fun and fast-paced rapid recall game will help kids (and parents) improve their vocabulary skills!
Story Cubes – Use images on the story cubes to create one-of-a-kind stories, improve communication skills, and build problem solving abilities. Fun for kids to use independently or with a group.
Mad Libs – With these fun word puzzles my kids don’t even realize they are practicing parts of speech! We love to use these in the car to keep everyone busy during road trips.
Reading Roadmaps – This supplement to “Teaching the Classics” offers literature recommendations by grades, along with summaries of the book’s plot, themes, literary devices, etc. We used this guide each year to help select the books for our middle school Book Club.
The Well-Trained Mind:A Guide to Classical Education at Home – This was one of the first homeschool resource books I ever purchased. I refer back to it every year as we map out our new schedules and plans. Inside you will find suggestions for spelling, grammar, reading, and writing resources as well as book lists to accompany each era of world history.
Hands-on Learning Activities
Literature Studies: Chaucer – A Retelling of a Knight’s Tale from Angelicscalliwags
Writing Enrichment: Make a Book from Karen Trina Childress
High School Skills: Analyzing Text from Blog She Wrote
Cause and Effect Card Game Activity from Education.com
Having Fun With the Penderwicks from the Library Adventure
Make a Travel Diary – Practice writing skills on a family vacation from Education.com
Make a Diorama of Dante’s Inferno from Angelicscalliwags
Robert Frost in Words and Craft from Campfires and Cleats
Hands-on Activities from the Education Possible Archives:
- Join Us For a Practically Perfect Tea with Mary Poppins
- Hands-on Activities for Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree
- Peter Pan – Learning Activities
- Around the World in 80 Days – Book Study & Activities
- The Secret Garden – Book Study & Activities
- How to Improve Creative Writing Skills with a Game
- Kingdom Keepers Quests at Disney’s Magic Kingdom
- Easy Games to Build Language and Literacy Skills
Here are more clever ideas for teaching middle school language arts from our homeschool/blogging friends:
Project Gutenburg – Over 45,000 free ebooks (ebooks are free in the US because the books’ copyrights have expired). Many classic literature titles included.
LibriVox – Free public domain audiobooks, read by volunteers from around the world.
The Ultimate Guide to Coaching Writers in Your Homeschool from Blog She Wrote
The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Reading Culture in Your Home from Blog She Wrote
Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum Reviews from The Curriculum Choice
10 Tips for Reading Aloud to Kids from Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Online Resources from the Education Possible Archives:
- Fun With Writing for Teens: Online Product Reviews
- Literature Lessons from Disney’s Magic Kingdom
- How I Teach Writing to My Child With Dysgraphia
- Books for Young Disney Fans – Gift Ideas
- How I Teach Keyboarding to My Child With Dysgraphia
- Biography Report Form/Organizer [FREE Printable]
- Learning with Other Families: Start a Middle School Book Club
- Which Biography Series is Right for Your Middle School Student?
- Reluctant Writers: How We Improved Writing Skills in 3 Months