Language Arts

Movie Wednesday

Last year, I told you about our Language Arts curriculum, Brave Writer’s The Arrow.  Today is Movie Wednesday, but we didn’t watch a movie.  We watched a show that aired on ABC last night – Countdown to the Oscars: 15 Movies That Changed American Cinema.  I saw the show on the guide several minutes after 10pm, turned on the TV and hit record.  When we watched it this morning, it only captured #14 through #1.  I’ve searched the internet and cannot find what #15 was, so if you saw the show, please let me know!  Anywho, watching this 54 minute show provided lessons in not only Language Arts, but also History (of our country and the movie industry), Civil Rights and Cinematography.  B wants to make movies when he grows up.  He really enjoys doing it now and this show gave great, historical insight.  In the future, we will watch almost all of these movies for the content and ingenuity they will lend to B’s education.

Language Arts

The Brave Writer Lifestyle teaches us the importance of word selection in stories, whether they are told in books or movies.  When you read a great line in a book, the delivery is yours, in your head.  The tone of a book B reads may come across completely differently when I read it.  With movies, you hear an actor in character saying an iconic line; see the expression and emotion on their face as it’s delivered.  How many lines from movies stick with us, do we use in our daily lives?  Lines from movies decades old, movies we’ve seen years ago, still stick with us and we want to make that impression on others when we write (or act). Every movie on last night’s show had lines like that.  This show also reminded us when it’s fitting to not use “proper” English; when the local and/or historical way of speaking should be used. See if you can tell from which movie these lines came:

  1. “Whuzzah happenin’, hot stuff?”
  2. “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
  3. “STELLA!”
  4. “Well, when I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.”
  5. “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!”


Ever movie is on this list because it made cinematic history.  The Production Codes were created in the 1930s to censor future movies after I’m No Angel was released.  The multi-plane camera was invented in order to bring the first, full-length animated movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to the screen. Easy Rider was the 1st indy film that became a blockbuster.  2001: A Space Odyssey birthed the Sci-Fi genre.  Jaws showed us that the score of a movie can make a villain.

So many times during this show, we paused to discuss not only the what and why of a storyline, but also the filming.  The shower scene in Psycho was a great topic!

B: [Janet Leigh’s character] was ridiculous in the shower!  She just stood there and kept letting out short screams while the bad guy took forever to raise his knife.  She should have attacked him or knocked him over and run.
Me: She didn’t scream that long.  She gave one scream, and the director chose to play it over and over again, at different angles, to prepare the audience for what was about to happen.  Otherwise, the scene may have gone by before the audience could absorb it and they might have missed it.  (I hit play again and B listened to commentators on the show describe how Alfred Hitchcock reinvented fear in this movie.  Audiences had not seen anything like this before and it was so horrifying without even being gory.)
B: I get it!  No one was expecting a murderer.  No one was expecting that character.  The director had to give the audience a second to get what was about to happen so that they could get and be afraid of it as it happened.  Cool!

But these movies also taught us about our History.  In clips from The Birth of a Nation, B learned that KKK members not only dressed in white but also covered their horses.  Although Hattie McDaniel was nominated for, and won, an Oscar for Gone with the Wind, she was not allowed to sit at the same table with her cast mates.  She was segregated to her own table in the back.  We discussed the significance of a black man cast as the main character of a motion picture (Lillies of the Field) in 1962 and Sidney Poitier winning an oscar.  B watched Halle Berry’s emotional acceptance speech in 2001 with shock that a woman of color had not won best actress until the 21st century.  Easy Rider was created by, for and about the 60s generation.

Oh my goodness, I can go on and on about this show and the wonderful lessons we got from it today, but I have to stop and make dinner now.  I can’t wait to watch one of these films next Wednesday!

Teatime Tuesday – Well, Sort Of

Tea Time Tuesday

As I’ve said on here before, we love, love, LOVE the Brave Writer lifestyle and it is our Language Arts/Writing curriculum.  Julie Bogart, the brilliant created of Brave Writer, suggests having a poetry teatime each week, on Tuesdays – Teatime Tuesday.  This week, however, we did not read poetry.  The current book selection from our LA curriculum, The Arrow, happens to be Chitty-Chitty, Bang-Bang and it’s due back to the library today.  Therefore, we dedicated to read as much as we possibly can before having to return it.  I’m unable to renew the book because someone else has reserved it.  And, although I feel the late fees would be worth it, I won’t keep it.  I know I don’t like waiting for a reserved book because someone else has not returned it on time, so I will not do that to another.

We also decide to to hold teatime until after the hubs got home from work today.  I made a batch of brownies and set out some mango salsa and chips.  B made a plate of cheese, crackers and pretzels.  Ice tea was poured into the teapot and the table was set.

When the hubs arrived, we all sat down, ate and took turns reading until the daily afternoon knock came at the back door, and the voice asking B, “Can you come out and play?”

I just love our life!  :o)

Brave Writer’s The Arrow


Last month we added Brave Writer’s The Arrow to our Language Arts studies and I’ve noticed the difference in our homeschool already. We’re having so much fun with “The Brave Writer lifestyle”. Our own language as well as our awareness of language around us – written, spoken and performed – is heightened. Here are some examples of what we’ve done.

Two weeks ago, on Movie Wednesday, we watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off! Beforehand, we discussed the meanings of plot, plot twists and climax. I paused the movie as we went and we discussed who the good guy and bad guy should be according to the rules of right and wrong and who the good & bad guys were in B’s eyes according to their personalities. We discussed how important the script writing and each actor’s portrayal of their rolls were in getting us to root for Ferris and relish Principal Rooney’s mishaps.

I stopped it a number of times for B to tell me what the plot was, what he thought would happen next, his reaction to the “next” not being what he thought it was, etc. When it was over, he excitedly told me when he thought climax began and when it ended. We had this long, animated discussion about how people are not just black and white; we are all full of grays – good and evil, making right and wrong choices for the right and wrong reasons, etc.. It was so wonderful to see him expressing and discussing without just using the words, “Awesome” and “Amazing”.

Yesterday, I asked him to write using descriptive language. I wanted him to paint a picture with his words. His writing in the past has been, “I played outside with my friends.” I asked him to use words to describe the feel of the sun or the warmth of that Spring day. Playing outside was just an example I gave him; he could write about whatever he wanted.

He chose to describe tasting a macadamia nut, which he did for the first time earlier that day. I have to share his description with y’all.

“Today I tried a macadamia nut and it was awful!!(There was a frowny face with a tongue sticking out under the 2 exclamation points.) It was so unbearable and repulsive I had to regurgitate it into the trash.”

Now, he didn’t try to describe what he thought it tasted like, an old gym sock, for example, but that’s something to work on. The fact that he wrote more than, “I hate macadamia nuts.” or “Macadamia nuts are awful.” and he wrote two sentences makes me very happy. He took the assignment seriously and I can give more detailed direction in the future.

Most importantly, he’s enjoying language and writing. He’s getting how important it is to his understanding and entertainment and we’re (Julie Bogart and I) are stoking the desire in him to write like that for others.

The Flexibility of Homeschooling or Honoring My Child’s Interests

I couldn’t decide between the two titles for this post, so I used them both.  ;o)  After we spent a couple of weeks on the Knights and Samurai chapter of Story of the World, B decided to do something else for a bit.  He spent the next couple of weeks reading books he likes, drawing comics for the book he’s decided to “publish” and sell and write some stories.  The freedom of homeschooling allows you to follow your child’s lead and honor what he or she needs.  B only turned the TV on during breakfast to catch up on any Phineas and Ferb episodes that had taped while he slept and then he went off by himself the rest of the day.  He reread all of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, Captain Underpants books and Big Nate books he had.  He wrote fictional stories in the Write Your Own Story Book by Usborne Books.  He gathered together all the comics he’d drawn over the years, corrected the spelling, organized them and created a cover for the book he wants to publish.  There are so many articles and how-to’s out there on how to get your children to read or how to instill a love of reading in children.  We’ve been blessed that our love and desire for books and the worlds they expose us to has been passed onto him organically.

There was no way I was going to deny him when he wanted to do nothing but read, write and create for a couple of weeks.  We honored his interests.  I love this boy and his appetite for learning and books and his endless creativity!  It’s amazing how much my child yearns to learn and enjoys learning when he has a say in what we learn and how much of each topic he is ready to take in.  He’s still a boy with impulses and self-control issues, who cries when he’s frustrated, who wants his parents to tuck him in a night, who dissolves into fits of giggles when the words “pee”, “poop” or “butt” are said.  But he is also mature enough to ask me if I need anything, says “yes, ma’am” and “no, sir”, runs ahead and opens a door for someone with their arms full and appreciates the difference between a want and a need.  I am so lucky and blessed to be with him everyday, to learn along side of him and guide him to become the man he is meant to be.  Homeschooling was a gift we thought we were giving to B, but we have received so much from it, ourselves.

Homeschool Notes and Laundry

A few weeks ago we read Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfeld as part of a History lesson.  I really did not like this book but B, of course, did.  The 1st sentence on the back cover is, “A hilarious whodunit in Ancient Rome.”  Not.  I did find one line, near the end, funny but nothing was hilarious.  I’m glad we’re done with it.  But, once again, love that I am pushed out of my reading comfort zone to expose us to new works.

Recently, B was spending forever on a creative writing assignment one day and we were not able to get anything else done that day.  I was getting impatient, but then realized he is just like I was with creative writing assignments in school.  I remember the days in elementary school when we were given a Xerox (do kids nowadays know that word??) picture and told to write a story about what was happening in that picture on one side of loose leaf paper.  While some kids struggled to fill a page, I was on page 4 and still going when the teacher told us time was up and we had to turn in our one-pagers.  I consistently got marked off for my lengthy stories.  The teachers said that, although they appreciated my creativity and ability to spin a tale, I was unable to follow directions and contain my story to one side of a sheet of loose-leaf paper, so I lost points.  I will gladly postpone B’s History and Science lessons now to allow his creative juices to flow…

B was recently reading to me about weather and I was following along.  He came to the word, “disappear” and read “disapperate” instead, and I thought nothing about it!  We seriously need to detox from Harry Potter.

B told me the one thing he misses from public school is yearbooks.  He looked forward to getting those at the end of the year and getting his friends’, and teachers’, signatures.  So, we are going to have to make us a yearbook!

B and I were in the car and One Republic’s song Secrets came on the radio.  A line in that song is – “I’m gonna give all my secrets away.”  B says, “Maybe one of them will be the lady’s secret from Moves Like Jaggar and we’ll finally know what her secret is.”  LOL!  I love how that boy connects dots!

The hubs is notorious for spilling whatever he is eating or drinking on his clothes.  And over the years, out of necessity, I have become an expert at stain removal.  Since I have been working on the opposite schedule as the hubs, he hasn’t been able to communicate to me what clothes of his have stains.  Evidently he’s been placing the stained clothes in places where he thought I would see them.  I haven’t seen them.  So recently, I discovered his new strategy – he placed his stained clothes in my hamper.  LOL!  Very smart of him!

Random Things

“Paid” was one of B’s words in October involving the rule of 2 vowels in a single sylable word usually have the long sound.  Anytime I said “paid” I couldn’t help but break into song with “Just Got Paid”, the N’SYNC version.  Ben watched me in awe b/c I know all the words and when I was done he said, “You’re cool.”  MY SON THINKS I’M COOL.

He cannot pronounce the Czech Republic correctly.  He says “Chess Republic” and I am trying very hard to be patient.  So, I told him to call it Check-Mate Republic in order to get the 1st word correct and then we will drop the mate and work on the spelling.
B says to me: “Spell How.  Add an I at the end and then a damn L.  Guess what you have?  Howie Damnel!  It’s Howie Mandell!”  Uhm, no.  It’s not.
He is now recognizing when he writes his numbers backwards and is correcting them immediately without me saying a thing.  :o)
I want B to work independently on certain things while I do something else.  He was writing a sentence and I got up to do something for 90 seconds.  I came back and he had not written a single letter since I’d been gone.  I asked if he was still thinking about what the rest of his sentence was going to be.  “No,” he said, “I know what I’m going to write.  I was just waiting for you to return.”  He wouldn’t write it w/o me there.  *sigh*
The following have nothing to do with homeschooling and are rants of my opinion:

If the reason for your divorce is your infidelity, I don’t think you should keep your ex-husband’s last name.  Go back to your maiden name.  I get that it’s a pain to change your name back, but it’s your fault it has to be done.  Keeping the name disrespects not only your ex-husband but also his new wife.

If the man breaks off the engagement, the woman has a right to keep the engagement ring if she chooses.  However, if the woman breaks off the engagement, and the man bought her the ring, she should return that ring.

I feel better haven gotten those 2 things off my chest!

My Little Poet

B was sitting on his stability ball in front of a window this morning, bouncing, staring out and talking to himself while I did some house work.  After about a half an hour he said, “Mama, I wrote a song.  Do you want to hear it?” “Yes!” I answered.  He did not sing his song; he spoke it.  I would call it a poem, but he insists that it is a song:

Migration, migration.
Like a Winter vacation.
You’ll find lots of food
To avoid starvation.
But when you go on
This big migration,
Just never forget –
It’s God Creation.
And that’s migration!

A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y and W

When you were a child, did you learn that the vowels were, “A, E, I, O,U and sometimes Y” or “A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y and W”?  I learned the latter.  I went to Catholic school; I don’t know if that makes a difference or not, but we learned it with the “W”.  I don’t ever remember being taught exactly when a W was a vowel, but that’s what I was taught and if you wanted to get the question, “What letters of the alphabet are vowels?” correct, you tacked on the W.  Catholic school was full of memorization so we didn’t question this one.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine and her family moved across the pond.  When her children told her they had learned “A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y and W” at school, she was surprised.  She had never heard about the W.  She questioned the teacher about the W and was informed, yes, W can be used as a vowel at times, no the teacher could not give her an example of when the W is used as a vowel but it can be and that is what the school teaches.  My friend asked Facebook land if anyone else had heard about the W and and it was an almost even split of friends who had or had not heard of the W.

Well, my friends, I am giddy with excitement to inform you – I have a W example!  Dun-dun-DUUUUN!  Get back up off the floor, close your mouth and read on.

Part of B’s Language Arts work today contained this rule: “If a one-syllable word has two vowels, the first vowel usually stands for the long sound and the second vowel is silent.” (Sonlight Language Arts curriculum)  After the rule, examples are given – flute, rope, doe, row.  Row has a little foot note “1” next to it and the footnote reads, “1. The letters Y and W are sometimes considered vowels.”  So, in the word “row”, both the O and the W are vowels.  According to a previous week’s rule, “If a one-syllable word contains only one vowel, that vowel usually stands for the short sound.”  Examples are ask and nap.  So, in the word “row”, if the W was a consonant, than the O would have a short sound and the OW together would be pronounced “ou” as in “outstanding” or the exclamation most of us say when we feel pain.  However, we pronounce the word “row” as “roh”.  Therefore, according to the grammatical rules, the W in this word, as well as in the words “throw”, “thrown” and “bow” (the hair ribbon or package decoration, not the curtsy) is a vowel.

You have no idea how excited B and I were to finally find a justification for our “…and W”!  We tripped over each other, running to the hubs and kept speaking over each other trying to be the 1st one to tell the hubs the news!  He got it, he was appreciative of us clearing it up, but he did not exhibit the appropriate amount of excitement.  *Insert huffy breath*  But I know a certain someone over the pond who will finally get some closure with this news.  ;o)

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