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Feeling overwhelmed with language arts education in your homeschool? Join hosts Pam Barnhill, Meg Angelino, and Laney Homan, in episode nine of Homeschool Better Together, as they discuss how literature-based learning can revolutionize language arts education for your family. Discover the transformative power of integrating grammar, writing style, literary analysis, and vocabulary activities through high-quality literature, all within one flexible program.

Explore the hosts’ personal experiences and insights as they discuss the benefits of using literature to teach grammar, the adaptability of the program for children with different ages and abilities, and the positive impact it has had on their own read-aloud sessions with their kids. Gain a deeper understanding of how this holistic approach to language arts offers an enriching and enjoyable learning experience, without the tedium of traditional grammar programs.

Don’t miss out on this insightful discussion that will bring clarity and inspiration to your language arts journey. Whether you’re a seasoned homeschooler or just starting out, this episode is for you!

Pam Barnhill [00:00:04]:
Are you ready for homeschooling to feel joyful again? Do you wanna build closer relationships, remove some of the stress around planning, and enjoy learning with your children? Welcome to your morning basket. I’m Pam Barnhill, a homeschool mom just like you, and I’m going to show you the magic and fulfillment that morning basket or morning time can bring to your homeschool. Grab your coffee or tea, and let’s get started. Hey there. Today, I am joined by Meg Angelino and Laney Homan from the Your Morning Basket team, and we are gonna be talking about one of our new products that we released just this past year on Black Friday. And families have been using it all through the spring months, including Meg and Laney, and it is language arts together. We are super excited about this, and we thought it was time to tell you just a little bit more about it. And you might be wondering, what does language arts together have to do with the morning basket? And it is how you can do language arts in your morning basket.

Pam Barnhill [00:01:09]:
So we are super excited about this. Ladies, welcome.

Meg Angelino [00:01:13]:
Thanks, Pam.

Pam Barnhill [00:01:14]:
Well, really quickly, just for the purposes of this particular podcast, because you’ve been on the podcast before and people have heard about your families before, but tell us who you’re using language arts together with because I know you’ve got kids that you’re not using it with, Laney, because, like, 4 of yours have graduated. So you’re not having them come to your house and do language arts. So, Laney, what about you?

Laney Homan [00:01:37]:
So I have a 13 year old, a 12 year old, a 10 year old, and an 8 year old, and we’re doing language arts together with those 4.

Pam Barnhill [00:01:45]:
Okay. And then, Meg, you have 2 kids, but you’re only really doing it with 1?

Meg Angelino [00:01:50]:
Yes. I’m only doing it with my 12 year old.

Pam Barnhill [00:01:53]:
Okay. And so, Meg’s older child, 14 now, it is actually moving into some more, like, upper middle school, high school classes, and things like that. And we’re gonna get to what age ranges in just a few minutes. But let’s talk about exactly what is language arts together and how does it work. Do one of you guys wanna take a stab at it? And since I created it, I can tell you if you’re right or wrong.

Meg Angelino [00:02:20]:
Meg, you go ahead. Oh, thanks, Laney.

Pam Barnhill [00:02:22]:
Laney’s like, I’m not touching this one.

Meg Angelino [00:02:26]:
So Language Arts Together is a program with, well,

Meg Angelino [00:02:33]:
we’ve included your grammar. We’ve included a portion of how to write like the author, so you’re reading a high quality piece of literature, and then you’re pulling bits of grammar, bits of writing style, and basically incorporating an entire Language Arts program from reading high quality books. And we’ve taken the approach of doing several different books throughout the year, so you’re hitting different parts as you move through the program.

Pam Barnhill [00:03:04]:
Oh, you did such a good job. You did such a good job. Yes. I knew too. Right. But, yeah, we also include some vocabulary in there, and then we we use something we call a four square story chart, which covers different elements of kind of, like, literary analysis without I feel like it does a pretty good job using that four square chart without picking the story to death, honestly, and we could talk a little bit more about that. So we have some literary analysis in there, some vocabulary. Like Meg said, we have touches of grammar and touches of writing, and we think those touches are perfect for those elementary to early middle school ages because that’s what age range we created this program for.

Pam Barnhill [00:03:54]:
Is kind of like taking anybody in your house, kind of like at Laney’s house, who’s 13 and below and reading them one good quality book, doing these exercises with them. And other than learning to read and learning to spell, which you would use a different curriculum for, you’re getting everything you need with a single read aloud. Does that sound right?

Laney Homan [00:04:17]:
It does. What I will say is that we were already doing a read aloud in our morning time. That’s just something I have been doing forever, and the kids enjoy it. It’s something they expect. It would it’s just a part of our rhythm and routine. When I added language arts together, all I did was just make the read aloud that we were doing, the book that we were covering in language arts together. My kids never even knew that we were all of a sudden doing a new language arts program. We were just reading a read aloud, and all I was doing was just reading through the guide and implementing the discussion and adding in these little bits of grammar and the writing style stuff and the vocabulary words, They were having a richer experience with the novel that we were reading, and I felt like I was actually checking the boxes of language arts in ways that I had not previously done with my younger kids.

Laney Homan [00:05:17]:
And even my 13 year old, I remember the first book we did was The Magician’s Nephew, and the piece of grammar that is covered in that particular book is nouns. And my 13 year old was walking a little bit. He was like, mom, do I have to do this? I already know what a noun is. And I was like, there is something in here for you to glean from it. So you might have already known what a noun is, and you’ve gone through your grammar program, but it didn’t really do a good job of covering concrete nouns and abstract nouns and the types of sentences, these types of things. And, actually, I think I might have said that the nouns were in the wrong book just for that caveat there. It might have been another book, but the types of sentences, I believe, was actually the magician’s nephew.

Pam Barnhill [00:06:03]:
Yeah. I think Magician’s Nephew was types of sentences, and then nouns was maybe Best Christmas Pageant Ever?

Laney Homan [00:06:10]:
I think so. Those are the two that we had done, and we’re actually getting ready to roll into Farmer Boy.

Pam Barnhill [00:06:15]:

Laney Homan [00:06:16]:
skips Trumpet of the Swan. We had read that book a couple of years ago, and I already had just had a on my heart to read Anne of Green Gables this year, and so that is what we’ve been filling our time with. But that actually brings me to another really important point. After having used language arts together for the Magician’s Nephew, and then we immediately did The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, I picked up Anne of Green Gables and was like, we’re just gonna step away from the language arts together program for this book, and then we’ll go back to it. But I found that it was actually changing the way that I read aloud to my kids and what I was drawing out of the story and continuing to have those same types of discussions with them even though I didn’t have a very specific guide for it. So it has been a great blessing to our homeschool.

Pam Barnhill [00:07:07]:
Oh, I love it. I love it so much. Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about how Language Arts might be different than what you’ve used before because you mentioned your 13 year old having done a grammar program. And what we’re trying to do here with language arts together is to keep kids from having to sit and go through the tedium of a grammar program that, honestly, when you start a new grammar program, they all start back in the same place. Right? Like, when you like, they all do nouns. There’s always this, like, review that’s built in. And I think so many of our kids who are they’re like your 13 year old.

Pam Barnhill [00:07:49]:
They’re like, do I have to do this again?

Meg Angelino [00:07:53]:

Pam Barnhill [00:07:54]:
But can you learn grammar using this method, do you guys think?

Meg Angelino [00:07:58]:
Oh, I think so. I think so. Because it’s giving the kids an opportunity to look at grammar in an actual literature setting instead of I think sometimes, like, when you look at, like, a workbook or something like that, it’s this made up sentence that’s made specifically for whatever grammar topic they’re trying to cover. But when you see grammar used within actual writing, then you have, I think, a deeper and richer understanding of how that grammar is actually used.

Laney Homan [00:08:31]:
Yeah. Well, I think the important thing is to think about what the point of learning the grammar is, and it’s really just to have a better understanding of our language and how words are used and how to communicate ideas. And when we’re looking at grammar through a lens of literature, well written literature, then we’re kind of giving it life that it has on its own, but apart from just having, like, a sentence that you’re diagramming. And I’m not knocking diagramming sentences for anybody that’s listening that I just offended their sensibilities for. But, I I think that experiencing small bits of grammar, especially in those younger years without a formal program, makes it something that’s tangible and that they can grasp. And then as you get to an age where you feel like you want to expand their grammar instruction, they’re what they have through language arts together is a foundation that has been seated there without a whole lot of, like, rote memory work or worksheet type material. And depending on your child, can be harder to get them to engage in. Or they feel like it’s something else they have to do.

Laney Homan [00:09:49]:
And like I said, that’s one of the biggest things that I have seen is my kids don’t notice that we’re doing a language arts program. For them, we’re just doing a read aloud. And mom’s asking different questions, and we’re writing some stuff on the whiteboard. But, overall, they’re just experiencing a great story.

Pam Barnhill [00:10:08]:
Okay. Yeah. I like that. I like that a lot. Okay. So we’ve alluded a couple of different times to younger kids, older kids, and different ages, and things like that. So let’s talk very specifically about the age range for language arts together. So I mentioned earlier elementary school to about that 8th grade level, and we do, in the program, kind of offer your basic level of understanding, and then we also provide some level ups for slightly older kids.

Pam Barnhill [00:10:43]:
So you have kind of the basic activities that you’re doing with the whole family together, and then we have a few additional activities that your slightly older kids, I would say, depending on the abilities of your children, 11, 12, 13 year olds could go and do on their own to expand on what you’ve done. So some little additional activities that you would do away from the together time. Right? But we also recommend that by the time you have that junior high school student, that 7th grader or 8th grader that you are starting to add in potentially a grammar program, but and that’s something that I just did naturally anyway was we never started grammar as individually until my kids were in middle school. And then, also, definitely a writing or a composition program, unless you’re, like, leaning heavily Charlotte Mason, and all you do is some kind of narration or something like that. But for most of us, we follow some kind of composition program, and that’s the kind of thing you would bring in in middle school. So we’re not saying that language arts together replaces that for middle schoolers and definitely not for high schoolers, but we are saying that it is really good. It’s a great I hesitate to use the word gentle because I do think it I do think it’s gentle, but I also think it’s robust if you’re having all these conversations, but it’s it’s really good for those elementary school years.

Meg Angelino [00:12:11]:
Well, I think it can be as gentle or as robust as you need it to be just based on, you know, if you have those younger elementary children that don’t need, like, maybe some of the meatier portions of writing or grammar that you just leave that part out for them and do the clockwork and do you know, talk about the story and, you know, point out some of those things like sentence structures, nouns, and adjectives, etcetera. But it doesn’t have to be something where they’re doing a lot of the, like, heavy lifting. And when you have your older students, then, you know, you incorporate more for them and, you know, like, have a a higher level of expectation in terms of what they’re producing in terms of writing, whether it’s a a narration or one of the activities that we’ve suggested. And I think that with that that this actually makes it a great program for kids with, learning disabilities too because you’re able to meet your child at their their need and their level of ability as opposed to going, oh, this is they’re an 8th grader. They have to do an 8th grade program when really their ability level is maybe 4th grade, what you know, as I say in air quotes. You know? Right. But you’re you’re able to meet them and and use this this curriculum because there is a lot of space in it to make it as robust or gentle as needed. There’s a lot of space in it to to meet your child where they need to be met.

Laney Homan [00:13:47]:
Yeah. Right.

Laney Homan [00:13:48]:
And I think when you’re using it with multiple ages and you’re doing some of those level up activities or you’re having a meatier discussion, even if it’s targeted towards the older kids, when you have younger kids at the table, they’re just gleaning some of that. My 8 year old answered a question the other day that directly I can’t remember exactly what we were talking about, but it was some piece of grammar. I guess we were just talking about end punctuation, and it wasn’t something that we had spent a lot of time on in specific instruction to her. But I was pointing out end punctuation, and we were talking about reading. She still is, like, a struggling learning to read student, and she immediately answered my questions. I realized when she did that she had learned that by sitting at the table with the 12 year old and the 10 year old that were learning that at the time, then it was more targeted towards them. They were they were really my primary audience, but she had picked that up by sitting at the table. And I was like, that she’s that’s something that she’s already had exposure to that she wouldn’t have because I’m very much like you, Pam.

Laney Homan [00:14:58]:
I don’t really start a formal grammar program until they’re a little bit older. And so she’s picking up on some of those concepts where she’s having kind of a foundation laid for that. Even if we do move into a formal grammar program later, she will have some kind of context for building on the knowledge that she’s gleaned from using language arts together. And the other thing I wanted to add was you mentioned, like, that there are some level up activities to do, like, away from the table. And I did say that, like, we just do this at the table and my kids don’t even know. We do do the copy work and the dictation depending on the ages of the kids, and that is always a part of their independent work. Whenever I’m doing dictation, that’s something that I do individually with a child on a 1 on 1 meeting. And copy work, depending on the child, is something that I either sit at elbow watching them for letter formation or is something that I know they’ve already got their letter formation solidly down, but I need them to just continue to practice the handwriting.

Laney Homan [00:15:55]:
And, again, copy work serves much more than a handwriting purpose, but so that kind of I level out depending on the child, and those types of activities tend to fall in their individual schoolwork rather than during our morning time.

Pam Barnhill [00:16:10]:
Yeah. Well and when we designed the program, we wanted to use some really good solid pedagogical practices, some proven ones, and so we included things like narration in there. We also included copy work. We included dictation. We did some vocabulary study. We do that with games mostly because that’s some one of the things that my kids enjoy, our games, playing games with the vocabulary. So we give a number of different ideas for games, and that’s something that you can do together. And then we do include a vocabulary quiz, but it’s completely optional for families that want to do that, that feel like they need that particular grade.

Pam Barnhill [00:16:49]:
And when we do the copy work and dictation, we provide 5 different levels of copy work and dictation. So there are 3 levels of well, there are 2 levels of straight copy work, one that’s kind of a guided dictation where a lot of the words are printed on the page and they’re just filling in certain words and certain pieces of punctuation, and then we move on to a shorter dictation passage and then a longer dictation passage. So we really did try to make this go broadly for, you know, all the different age groups. The very first piece of copy work is one sentence, one very short sentence as much as possible for those youngest kids. And they could even break it up over a few days if your youngest child can’t write that entire sentence in one sitting. They could certainly do it over a period of a few different days. So there are so many different ways to adapt the program. And I really wanted to make it as open and go as possible.

Pam Barnhill [00:17:48]:
And so each lesson is on its own page within the guide, and all you have to do is print the guide. There are no links in there or anything like that. You just print the guide, and every you turn the page, and there’s your next day’s lesson. And each lesson is structured with reviewing the previous lesson, which is very important in your teaching, and then setting the stage for today. So talking about what you’re gonna be reading about and learning about today, reading your chapter in the book, and then moving into some guided practice. And then for your youngest kids, the guided practice may be all they do. But then for the older kids, we give some independent practice as well. And so each lesson follows that very similar structure, and so I think it’s easy to fall into a rhythm with doing this program.

Laney Homan [00:18:39]:
Yeah. I think the other thing I don’t think we’ve mentioned it yet. Sometimes the activities have to do with, like, following a rabbit trail in the book. Just something that piqued your kid’s interest or somebody asked a question about. And the fact that we have those built into the program, means that I’m far more likely to actually take the time in our morning time to maybe answer a question. Maybe we’re gonna do a quick Google search and look at some images of something that maybe they’re not familiar with or, you know, if they ask a question that we don’t know the answer to, it gives us a little bit of time to explore that option without feeling like we’re gonna be behind in the program or something like that. And as far as it being open and go, like, I don’t know what Meg’s experience was. I truly never like, I skimmed through it right when it came out, and I, like, started using it the next day.

Laney Homan [00:19:36]:
And I never, like, read ahead to see what we were gonna do that, like, there were no, like, extra supplies or crate like, it was just all really I didn’t even print it. I just looked at it on my phone. I I downloaded the file to my phone, and I could read right there when I needed. The only kind of I suppose if you wanted to call it prep work would be that I would print the pages for the copy worker dictation that was appropriate to my kids. And like you mentioned, we skipped the vocabulary quizzes even though we did cover the vocabulary, and we talked about the vocabulary words, but we didn’t do any kind of formal testing or quizzes over that.

Pam Barnhill [00:20:16]:
Yeah. So it is flexible. Okay. Meg, you’re using the program with one child, so you’re having a little bit of a different experience. So your language arts together experience is the experience of you and this child together. Right?

Meg Angelino [00:20:31]:
Well and I I actually think that it’s kind of nice because we do so much together as a family, especially with our morning time. This actually carves out a little space for just my daughter and I, which, you know, otherwise, it’s just like math, which, I mean, like, who math is that’s always a pain point in, I think, just about every, you know, homeschool. But this is a place where we get to do something fun, just her and I. And, I actually talked to her about language arts together this morning, and she was like, this, I really like it because it’s a place where I get to read a book that I really enjoy because she loves our literature choices and where I get to, you know, kind of do some writing and and exploration from there. And because it’s a place it’s a book that she enjoys. It’s a point of pleasure in her morning time and in her homeschool, and there’s usually not a lot of fuss. Like, we just get to kind of, like, cozy in and enjoy learning a little bit about language arts with just the 2 of us, and I think that that’s kind of special because there’s so much that we we end up having, you know, you know, harder subjects and where there’s maybe a little bit of head butting or, you know, like, both like, siblings are involved, and so it doesn’t feel like it’s just mom and 1 kiddo. Like, this is you know, it can be a really special place in your homeschool, I think.

Pam Barnhill [00:22:07]:
I love it. I love it. Okay. So let’s talk about some of those literature choices. So how we’ve done language arts together so far is we started off by selling it as a building bundle. And so we started off with 1 book and the idea was we’re gonna see how this goes, see how well it’s received, and whether or not we do another bundle. And, yay, I was so I was so happy that the our community just received it so well and have really been positive in their feedback about how easy it is to use and, you know, how it it really I think sometimes all the different moving pieces of language arts is something that gets lost in the day to day when you have multiple kids, and then moms just have a lot of guilt about that. Like, oh, I should have been doing this or, oh, I should have been doing that.

Pam Barnhill [00:22:56]:
And I feel like I haven’t been doing it because it’s like who can do grammar for 4 kids? Who can do and teach them to read and do spelling and, like, vocabulary and make sure everybody’s reading a book and having literature discussions, and my kids hate filling out all the blanks in the literature discussion workbook. And so this really alleviates all of that. So we created the first bundle, and we’re very happy to say we have a second bundle coming back for next year. But now as of the time of this podcast, you can also purchase titles individually if you would like to try a title out before you commit to the next bundle, which will be coming out in July of 2024. So the first bundle included the magician’s nephew. I’m a need your help, ladies.

Meg Angelino [00:23:45]:
Trumpet of the swan.

Pam Barnhill [00:23:46]:
Trumpet of the swan. Yes. I was like, Meg wrote Farmer Boy, and then I was like, Meg wrote Trumpet of the Swan.

Meg Angelino [00:23:51]:
Oh, and Winn Dixie.

Pam Barnhill [00:23:53]:
Because of Winn Dixie. Yes. That one came out in the spring.

Laney Homan [00:23:57]:
And then the best Christmas pageant ever was kind of a bonus title?

Pam Barnhill [00:24:01]:
Yeah. Best Christmas pageant was a bonus title. And so those 4 titles in that bonus title, which is not available right now, that was a Black Friday special. Like, just letting you know it might come back next Black Friday too. Those four titles were the first bundle because we were starting a little bit later in the year. So now as we move into next year, so the 2024 2025 school year, which you can do these at any time. If you like some of the titles in the first bundle, you can just buy the titles by themselves, or you could buy the bundle, you know, at any time. But coming up, we’re we’re moving into we’re gonna continue the Narnia and the Little House theme for those of you who really, really like having those series books.

Pam Barnhill [00:24:48]:
We know that, like, there are some of you out there. So the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. And with Little House, we’re going right to Little House in the Big Woods. Right?

Meg Angelino [00:24:58]:
Yep. Little House

Pam Barnhill [00:24:59]:
in the Big Woods, and

Meg Angelino [00:25:00]:
then we’ve got Tarantula in My Purse, Adventures with Waffles, A Place to Hang the Moon, and A Single Shard. So we’ve got a lot of different topics, different writing styles, different authors, and then we have a couple of those series that people really, really love.

Laney Homan [00:25:18]:
Yeah. I’m excited about a lot of these titles that are coming out to use for next year. So

Pam Barnhill [00:25:23]:
Yeah. I think it’s gonna be so much fun. And, like, even Tarantula in My Purse is a book that I talk about often. It’s a memoir. And so how often do you get kind of that nonfiction memoir in your literature program for young kids? And so I think it’s gonna be and and it’s Jean Craighead George, so it’s just gonna be wonderful. So that is the bundle for the coming school year. So that will be releasing in July. But if you wanna try just a single book, you can go back and pick up one of the ones from last year and just purchase one of the single ones for sure.

Pam Barnhill [00:25:59]:
So what did you think, just very specifically, other than the idea that you’re bringing all of your kids together to do language arts, and we’ve done that differentiated instruction. We’ve kind of touched on some of the philosophy today, but we do have a workshop that you can watch that really kind of digs into how do you do this kind of language arts, how do you differentiate instruction, how do you make sure that everybody’s getting what they need at their own level for this elementary to early middle school ages? We’ve got a workshop for you. We’ll include the link in the podcast description. But other than doing it together, what do you think, sets language arts together apart from other language arts programs that are out there if you had to pick one thing?

Meg Angelino [00:26:48]:
Ease of use. Big time. Like, I know we’ve talked about it earlier in the podcast, but, man, like, the ability to just open and go, if I want, I can use my vocabulary list as a spelling list. I can build on vocabulary, whatever like, all these little parts and pieces. But like Laney said earlier, it’s open and go, and there’s not a lot of fuss. And I can make it as hard or as challenging for my child as I needed to be for that day. And I I just think that by doing that with a high quality book, man, it makes all the difference.

Laney Homan [00:27:30]:
I am with Mag. The ease of use makes it doable, first of all. So it’s actually getting done in my homeschool because of that, but I have to say my favorite part is that it’s fairly pain free. It is it’s not causing a new pain point in our homeschool because I introduced a new program. And I can’t say that about most language arts programs I have used in the past. Even if it’s just because a child just doesn’t want the tedious nature of something or what whatever it is, like, it’s anytime I introduce something new in my home school, maybe I’m alone here, ladies, but it usually it it at least creates some friction as a little bit of a pain point because they feel like I’m adding something to what they’re already doing. And truth is, I am. You know, that like, often, that is that’s true.

Laney Homan [00:28:14]:
You’re getting older. You have more work. We’re we’re slowly adding things to what you accomplish every day in your schoolwork. So new programs often create that kind of tension where they’re like, do I have to do this too? I didn’t have any of that when we started language arts together. It was just very pain free, very smooth transition. If you’re already reading aloud in your homeschool, I find that, like, this is just the smoothest transition ever to just pick up the guide and start using it. And what I love, it’s not full of a bunch of, like, other literature guides that I’ve tried to use in the past because I felt like I need kinda like you were talking about with that guilt. Oh, I need to do something.

Laney Homan [00:28:54]:
So I would buy a literature guide, and they were dry and boring, and the kids didn’t like them. And I felt like all we were doing was regurgitating just, like, comprehension questions. And this just felt different. And I don’t like I said, the kids weren’t balking about it at all. It just gave us some really rich prompts for discussion. I loved the write like the author section. I love the ideas for doing that together as a family where you’re not necessarily and as Meg said, you certainly could if you wanted to make it something that was a little bit beefier. You could certainly assign that as, like, individual assignments, but, you know, the suggestion in the guide is to write something as a family and write those sentences up on the whiteboard and then take a picture of it.

Laney Homan [00:29:44]:
It like, it’s so laid out for you in a way that they’re really getting a lot, but it also kinda helps me learn how to teach literature, and that is also another big bonus.

Meg Angelino [00:29:59]:
Well, I think it it does it in a way that doesn’t pick the book apart so that the pleasure of the story is lost. And that is really big because a lot of other literature guides I’ve used are so, like, nitpicky about comprehension and grammar and so on that the pleasure of what you’re reading is gone, and I don’t want to do that with my literature. I want my children to enjoy good books. So I think that that’s another really important part of language arts together.

Pam Barnhill [00:30:37]:
Well, you know, it’s interesting because we wanted to provide enough structure that mom felt like she knew what to do next. But we didn’t wanna provide so much structure, kind of like the fill it like, the ask a very specific question and fill in the blank structure that it did feel like you were picking the book apart. Now I did say we had somebody ask, like, does it tell you the answers? And when you look at the 4 squares story chart, in some ways, it does, and then in some ways, it doesn’t because, like, the four squares of the story chart are characters and setting and then ideas and connections. Right? And so in the characters and the settings, we’ve given you some like, we’ve told you who the characters are. Like, we don’t want you to have to go looking up all the characters. We’ve, like then you’d be doing our job. So we did that for you. We told you what the settings were that you’re gonna be adding to your chart as you go.

Pam Barnhill [00:31:32]:
We’ve even hinted at some of the ideas just in case you’re not sure what to talk about. But the connections, those are totally yours right there. So we’ve put nothing in that square because that’s that’s something that your kid is going to have to make.

Laney Homan [00:31:47]:
Yeah. Because that’s gonna be different for each family. Whatever your kids have experienced a different body of knowledge than my children have. And so when they come across a particular idea in a book, it’s going to cause them to draw a connection to the information that they have in their brain and the experiences that they have had, and so we can’t really provide that. We might be able to provide some basic examples, but I think when you start reading it, the kids actually just kind of take off with that.

Meg Angelino [00:32:16]:
Right? Well and we do also provide, like, answers to the vocabulary quiz and things like that too. But that being said, if you are using the program as it’s intended as a language arts together and you’re reading aloud to your children, you’re gonna find that you know these answers just by participating and being an active participant yourself. And I you know, even though, like, I’m pretty solid in terms of my my language arts, I really love the fact that it’s a kind of a refresher for me to kind of go in and read through and be like, oh, yeah. That’s what that is. And, you know, and to take notice of those things yourself, you’re gonna make connections yourself, and you’re gonna figure out things yourself as you’re reading along with your children and reading aloud to your children.

Pam Barnhill [00:33:06]:
Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s definitely no fear within the book, you know, that the story made them like the book, you know, that the story made them uncomfortable or there was something about it that was disconcerting or something that they didn’t like. I mean, I’ve certainly not liked every book I’ve ever read, but they’re gonna have a lot greater ownership of it because they have made those connections to other things and thought about those ideas for sure.

Laney Homan [00:33:39]:
Yeah. Well okay. So one other thing I wanted to say is that the another common question that I hear asked is how long are the programs, but that depends upon the book. Mhmm. We’ve broken it up by reading, like, kind of a a doable daily reading section. So, obviously, the programs on longer books are going to be a little bit longer and have a a greater number of lessons in them, and the shorter books are gonna have a fewer number. But we’ve tried to make each day’s lesson be something that’s very tangible for the mom.

Pam Barnhill [00:34:12]:
Can you give me an estimate of about how long it takes you to do a lesson every day? I mean, obviously, you’ve got to read the chapter, and some chapters are a little bit longer than others.

Meg Angelino [00:34:22]:
So for us, it depends. So one of

Meg Angelino [00:34:25]:
the things that we found, for instance, Magician’s Nephew was broken up into half chapters because they are longer meatier chapters than, say, Winn Dixie. And so, I mean, in all actuality, I would say, like, if I followed it exactly as it was written, maybe 15 to 20 minutes for the reading and then maybe 15 minutes for the discussion. But I often found that my my daughter was ready and eager to read the entire chapter. And so sometimes we would go for a lot longer just because we were covering a larger portion than was scheduled, and I just kind of followed her lead. And, you know, if we did that, one of the things that I would do is I would maybe not do it every day. I’d put some space. We’d do it maybe 3 days a week instead of doing it 4 or 5 days a week. And so I it kind of depends on on your child’s interest, eagerness, and ability to sit.

Meg Angelino [00:35:32]:
And I know Farmer Boy, for instance, was 29 chapters long, and so, you know, like, that’s a longer book, but those were you know, some of those chapters are a little shorter, a little longer. So I would say the biggest portion is is your reading.

Pam Barnhill [00:35:47]:
Yeah. Yeah.

Laney Homan [00:35:47]:
And I would agree with Meg exactly on that. I was gonna say, you know, whatever time it takes you to read, however much you’re reading, and that’s we’ve broken it up to where it’s usually somewhere around a half half a chapter to a chapter a day depending on the length of the book or, you know, the length of the chapters. But then the actual work that you’re doing for discussions or activities, that kind of stuff, I’m gonna say, like, 15, 20 minutes. Yeah. For me, that was not very much time to add to because we were already reading aloud. So the the time that it took for the reading wasn’t quite as much of an issue. But, yeah, I think that the reading can easily be done in, you know, 15, 20 minutes or so if you’re doing it as written.

Pam Barnhill [00:36:30]:
And then I mean, you know, I’m getting language arts done for 4 kids in an additional 15 to 20 minutes. I mean, where else did that happen? You know?

Meg Angelino [00:36:42]:
And another thing I’ll say with the reading is if you’re a mom that does not love to read aloud or if, like, you’re just not the mom who are like, if you’re just not as good at reading aloud as, say, some of these wonderful audiobook narrators that are out there, I highly recommend, especially for, like, the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe series as well as the little house series. Like, those audiobooks are unmatched. And so there’s nothing wrong with using an audiobook to do your read aloud portion.

Pam Barnhill [00:37:18]:
Yeah. And you can even do that over breakfast or or something like that and then just move right into the activity. And I just wanted to clarify, Meg had mentioned, like, 15 minutes for the discussion, but that discussion includes, like, discussion of the grammar topic or discussion of the writing topic and, like, doing those activities together as a family. So you’re not reading for 15, discussing for 15, and doing an activity on top of that. That’s not typically, you know, how it goes. I would say, just in my estimation, like, because I don’t have elementary students anymore, one day maybe I’ll have grandchildren, and I can use this program with them. But in my estimation, it was, like, 30 minutes or less for, you know, doing language arts for as many kids as you could knock it out with in that particular

Laney Homan [00:38:04]:
time. Is that something Meg said earlier made me think of another kind of benefit or for using it as a program together Because because we’re doing this as a read aloud and it’s designed that way, it’s a little bit different from other programs because you’re not handing your child a book to go and read on their own and then, like, coming back to discuss with them. Because when you do that, so many so many times I hear, especially when you have a a number of children that you’re teaching is, like, how do I preread everything? How do I, like or you’ll get the advice that you don’t actually have to read the book that your child is reading. You can just ask them, you know, certain questions. And I there there is a place for that. But as a mom, you’re gonna have a better discussion with your child about a book that you have read and engaged with yourself than you will if you haven’t read the book. And so this gives you a way to you’re you’re not having to find time to preread or to read alongside your child apart from them. You’re developing the connections and your relationship by reading to them and reading aloud together, But you’re also, like, now I’ve read this one book aloud to all of my children or at least, you know, whatever ages that you’re choosing to use it for.

Laney Homan [00:39:19]:
And I have read the book. I am now prepared for the discussion that is going to be we’re going to be having, and it’s just that’s the only time it takes. There’s no time outside of that, and I’m not trying to keep up with where my kids are in different books.

Pam Barnhill [00:39:35]:
Yeah. And then your your child is free to choose to read what they wanna read for their own free reading, and they don’t have to read school books during their their free reading time. And so, you know, of course, every family is gonna have their own ideas about what’s appropriate and inappropriate. And, you know, maybe you give them a selection to choose from. Maybe you give them free rein, whatever you wanna do, but it’s not tied to, you know, their language arts time, for sure. Yeah. I like that. And then another thing I wanted to touch on that Meg said earlier, it’s like, you know the the level of your child and and where you need to meet them in the program, but she also mentioned you could you could meet them at different levels on different days.

Pam Barnhill [00:40:18]:
So if you’re working with a hormonal middle schooler who’s having a bad day, like and you come to day 12 in the program and it says, okay. Like, do all of this and then level this up for your middle school kid, and you’re like, that’s not happening today. It’s okay. It’s okay to just do the basic thing and then move on to the next day and not worry about it. And so sometimes with middle schoolers, that can be golden.

Meg Angelino [00:40:50]:
Right. Or even if you have, you know, like, little baby at home or toddler that’s causing, like, holy terror or the washing machine floods or the dog throws up. You know what? You have that room in your program built in to go, I I can’t do this today, and that’s okay. Go on to the next chapter. Do the next thing tomorrow, and let today be today.

Pam Barnhill [00:41:14]:
Yeah. I love it. I love it so much. Okay. Well, ladies, last question. What is one gift or benefit that you’ve seen from using this with your kids?

Meg Angelino [00:41:28]:
What I’ve seen with my daughter is a she’s looking at books that she loves already. We’re revisiting I mean, we’ve read a lot of these already, but we’re revisiting books that she loves already, and she’s gaining a deeper understanding of the book and of the literature. And we’re doing it in a way that is pleasurable and joyful. And that, I think, is huge for learning because when you have a child who enjoys what they’re learning, they hold on to it better. And I think for my family, that is the greatest benefit.

Laney Homan [00:42:13]:
Yeah. And I think for me, I would have to say just the gift is the ease of use for the multiple ages. I as I mentioned before, I I don’t usually start some of these types of things. We don’t add a formal grammar program or a formal writing program until they’re a little bit older because there’s just one of me, even though there are many of them. And I don’t find that it’s, like philosophically, I don’t find that it’s essential for their education. So I’m not necessarily communicating them. I’m just dropping pieces because I don’t have time. But I’ve made very strategic decisions about when we’ll introduce certain things when I feel like they’re ready.

Laney Homan [00:43:01]:
But this is giving me a way to incorporate some of those things gently in their younger years. And what I am already starting to see the fruit of even after just a few months of doing this is that it’s building a foundation in those younger kids that is going to help whenever they do transition into those other programs. So it’s really just that knowing that I have added something that is beneficial to them, and it’s so easy to use that it’s doable.

Pam Barnhill [00:43:35]:
Oh, I love it. I love it so much. And yeah. So just to reiterate, if you have younger kids, you’re going to want to have a reading program because this program does not teach them to read. You’re gonna want to teach them to form their letters because the copywork does not go through the instruction of letter formation. And most kids would probably benefit from a spelling program unless you have just, like, a supernatural speller. Not a supernatural speller, but a super natural speller. And then, you know, once that child gets to be 11 and 12 and 13, depending on their abilities, you’re going to want to also incorporate most definitely a composition program.

Pam Barnhill [00:44:17]:
And then at some point, probably just a 1 year run through of a formal grammar program just to fill in any gaps or anything and and set them up. And I think grammar is something that’s overdone a lot of times. Mhmm. So I think, you know, 1 year of a good program for most people is is probably is probably enough, especially if you’ve laid a foundation like this. But do come and check out that workshop that we have that talks about how to do this and why we’ve chosen the different things that we’ve chosen. And, also, we would love to have you check out either a complete bundle, and the new bundle will be coming out in July, or a single title and see if it’s something that that could potentially bless your family. Well, ladies, thank you so much for coming on with me and chatting about this one today. I appreciate it.

Pam Barnhill [00:45:09]:
Thanks, Pam. Thanks so much for listening to your morning basket. If you are ready to spend less time planning and more time engaged in learning with your children, join your morning basket plus, a monthly membership with everything you need to start a morning time practice in your homeschool. To join, head on over to, and I’ll see you there.

Links and Resources From Today’s Show

The Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets: True-Life Stories to Read AloudThe Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets: True-Life Stories to Read AloudThe Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets: True-Life Stories to Read AloudAdventures with WafflesAdventures with WafflesAdventures with WafflesA Place to Hang the MoonA Place to Hang the MoonA Place to Hang the MoonA Single ShardA Single ShardA Single ShardAnne of Green GablesAnne of Green GablesAnne of Green GablesThe Magician's NephewThe Magician’s NephewThe Magician's NephewThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever: A Christmas Holiday Book for Kids (The Best Ever)The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: A Christmas Holiday Book for Kids (The Best Ever)The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: A Christmas Holiday Book for Kids (The Best Ever)Little House in the Big Woods (Little House, No 1)Little House in the Big Woods (Little House, No 1)Little House in the Big Woods (Little House, No 1)The Lion, the Witch, and the WardrobeThe Lion, the Witch, and the WardrobeThe Lion, the Witch, and the WardrobeBecause of Winn-DixieBecause of Winn-DixieBecause of Winn-DixieThe Trumpet of the Swan 50th AnniversaryThe Trumpet of the Swan 50th AnniversaryThe Trumpet of the Swan 50th Anniversary


Key Ideas About Simplifying Language Arts With Books

  • Discover the benefits of using literature to teach grammar, emphasizing a deeper understanding of grammar through actual writing.
  • Learn how unintentional learning occurs for younger children when participating in discussions or activities targeted at older kids.
  • Explore the structured yet adaptable nature of the program, with solid pedagogical practices like narration, copy work, dictation, and vocabulary study.
  • Understand the flexibility and independence the program allows, including space for independent exploration, with minimal preparation required.
  • Hear about the ease of incorporating the language arts program into homeschooling, emphasizing the lack of added stress and friction.
  • Gain insight into the program’s approach to teaching grammar through literature, preserving the pleasure of the story while providing structure without being overly rigid.

Find What You Want to Hear

  • 00:04: Introduction
  • 01:14: Introduction to Langauge Arts Together
  • 02:33: Grammar 
  • 07:58: Grammar in a literary setting 
  • 10:43: Working with slightly older children
  • 14:58: Copywork
  • 16:10: Overview of Language Arts Together design based on pedagogical practices
  • 20:31: Meg Angelino’s experience with using Language Arts Together for one child
  • 34:12: Overview of time spent daily on each lesson
  •  41:14: Gift and benefit of using Language Arts Together
  • 45:09: Closing

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