Writing Lessons from Literature, Book 3 – Clara of Strawberry Fields

Just in time for a new school year, here is the third book in our FREE Writing Lessons from Literature series. And it’s based on Clara of Strawberry Fields, a story of a dreamy, imaginative girl growing up on a farm and her perpetually-growing family. It’s a historical novel that will make your daughter laugh and cry as she reads about the misadventures of this impulsive young girl living in the Patapsco Valley of Maryland right before the Civil War.

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Writing Lessons from Literature, Book 2: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Here’s the second in our series of FREE Writing Lessons from Literature, and it’s based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s heartwarming tale of friendship and generosity: A Little Princess. Like Book 1 in our Writing Lessons from Literature series, this is a nine week course suitable for children in grades four to six. If not used as a writing course, it can be used for reading comprehension or for a book club.

The main goal of this series is to teach children how to write by studying and analyzing passages from novels and by imitating writing techniques used by the authors. The secondary goal is to help children develop an appreciation for the novel by looking at the underlying themes and character development.

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Writing Lessons from Literature Book 1: Heidi, by Johanna Spyri

Do you have a daughter who loves to read and write stories? If you do, here is something I think you’ll both appreciate. It’s a resource you can use for reading comprehension, for a book club, or for writing lessons.

For years I have thought that a wonderful way to teach writing would be to help students study and analyze the actual writings of accomplished authors. It’s how musicians learn to compose music (at least back in the day when I was studying music theory and composition.) We’d study the music of the great composers by analyzing the chord progressions and melodies, taking note of the structures of the compositions, investigating the composers’ use of instrumentation, and so on. And then we’d try to imitate their style in our own compositions.

I have looked and looked for a similar approach to teaching writing. However, I have not been able to find exactly what I was searching for. So last year my college-age daughter and I wrote Writing Lessons from Literature for my youngest daughter. They include the following:

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A Free Literature Guide to “Swift Rivers”

In the preface to his recent book, Literature: What Every Catholic Should Know, Joseph Pearce gives a compelling case for the study of great literature. He writes:

The great works of literature help us to know ourselves…. In the great works of literature we discover a deep understanding of man’s being and purpose. We discover that the human person is homo viator, a pilgrim or wayfarer who journeys through the mortal life with eternal life always in mind.

Indeed, the theme of journeying into the great unknown is evident in many of the great works of literature. In children’s literature, we see this in The Odyssey, The Hobbit, the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and so on.

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Story of Civilization Vol. 2: The Middle Ages – Book List, Literature Guides, and History Dates

This year we are once again delving into the Middle Ages. This is my favorite time period in history because we witness the blossoming of Christendom despite barbarian invasions, the spread of heresies, the Crusades, a devastating plague, and division in the Church. Indeed, we can see the hand of God guiding the Church through all of this turmoil, raising up great saints to spread the Gospel. I just looove the Middle Ages.

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How We Use FaceTime to Improve Writing and Reading

A little background….Mary and I met over 15 years ago in Tempe, Arizona when our husbands were in graduate school at Arizona State.  We have been great friends for such a long time.  God has blessed our families with kids who are the same age and sex and obviously, the call to homeschool.   We now live in different states but try to get together several times per year.  The kids disappear for the weekend, the husbands work on research, and Mary and I laugh, serve meals, and talk about all kinds of great stuff!

A few years ago we decided to meet weekly via FaceTime to work on writing.   We wanted our oldest daughters especially to have more time together.  What we didn’t realize was how effective our weekly meetings would be.

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Free Classic Literature Guides!

When my oldest daughter entered middle school, I wanted to discuss the books she was reading.   When I was a kid, I loved to read and even more, I loved to discuss the books I was reading.  It helped me to discover details that I missed and look at the story from a little different perspective.   So I began a quest to find curriculum that would serve as a basis for these discussions.  Kolbe Academy has an extensive literature program with reading comprehension questions as well as paper ideas.   Rainbow Resource has Christian Novel Studies that include questions, vocabulary, recipes (in some cases), and background information.  I own parts of each of these program, but for sheer money-saving purposes, I felt that I needed to write some of my own.

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