Sunday, January 6, 2013

Writing help in a Critical Thinking book?

Welcome to the 2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair!  This week's topic is Playing with Words: The Language Arts. Last year I shared An In Depth Look at All About Spelling.   Spelling certainly falls under Language Arts.  So why am I sharing Building Thinking Skills with you this year?  Surely that would be better suited to next week's topic--Math, Logic & Science.  Well bear with me here.  First-- I already have a great math topic to share.  And second--this book really has helped my son learn how to pick just the right word and how to form great sentences & paragraphs.  Half of the book deals with figural skills --matching and drawing shapes, but even there we have some opportunity to practice describing attributes of shapes and their relative positions.  The second half of the book covers more verbal (actually written) skills. 

 Full Disclosure:  I picked up a 1998 edition of this text.  I have looked at the sample pages available on the Critical Thinking website and they seem to still cover the same material. 

The material is learned in baby steps.  We started by reading a short paragraph and pulling out the characteristics of the subject.  Here we learned about pizza and butter.
 To begin, we read the material together and I explained that we're looking for adjectives (which we covered in grammar).  We underlined them and then he copied the words in the appropriate spots.  After the first example he could do these exercises by himself (I love that!)    There were eight exercises to make sure we mastered the concept and then we were only given a subject and he had come up with the characteristics on his own.  I allowed him to use single words or phrases but he still needed four.

Again, there was plenty of practice -- 15 exercises on common animals, foods, vehicles, and occupations.  There was one page with geography terms so we also had to add the skill of looking things up in a dictionary and a children's encyclopedia.

Moving on... now we'll be building short paragraphs of our own using characteristics.  This time the page prompts us on important things to include:  appearance, origin, kinds, structure, value, and purpose for objects;  who, when, where, why, how, and significance for events.   Our current exercise involves beans. We need to go back to our Apologia Botany book and look up the structure of a seed (a good review since that was four year's ago) before he can write his paragraph.

 There are 6 such exercises in the book, but best of all is the blank form that I can use with any subject I choose.  One of Fritz's merit badge assignments is to write about the Space Shuttle and we'll be incorporating this form.

Sometimes I use Building Thinking Skills to supplement our grammar program.  You want to work on synonyms and antonyms?  There are pages and pages of multiple choice questions and others where you have to supply the word (if they can't come up with one on their own it's the opportunity to teach how a thesaurus works). 

Another execise we've enjoyed is the Word Web.  Take a word like good--it can have multiple definitions in the dictionary.  This form covers just four.

In our Institute for Excellence in Writing lessons we learned that "good" is not a "quality adjective" because it has so many meanings.  With a form like this, my Schnickelfritz can focus in on which attribute of "good" he's actually trying to describe and choose a more appropriate word.

Writing doesn't come easy to my son (he's the type of boy Andrew Pudwa says would "rather build forts all day") so I'm glad to have these short exercises that he can work on his own.  I don't actually refer to them as his writing lesson for the day, but it does help boost his vocabulary and writing skills.

Now this is a Virtual Curriculum fair and every participant can have a totally unique aspect of how Language Arts fits into their day so you'll want to visit their blogs as well. 

Building Blocks of Education--Learning to Read  by Kristi Kerr @ The
Potter's Hand Academy

Finding Our Way Through Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected

How Does a Unit Study Teach Language Arts? by Nicole @ Schooling in
the Sun

Our Language Arts Adventure by Linda @ Homeschooling6

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words:  The Language Arts by
Leah Courtney @ As We Walk Along the Road

Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me

Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Language Arts by Dawn @ Guiding Light

Writing Help in a Critical Thinking book? by Missouri Mama @ Ozark

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Foreign Language Immersion in the Homeschool
by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch

Formula for Reading by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness

Words and Learning by Annette @ A Net In Time

A Custom Designed High School English Credit by Tech Wife @ A
Playground of Words

Virtual Curriculum Fair 2013: Still Loving Language Arts by Pam @
Everyday Snapshots

Word Play by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Loving Language Arts by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

Learning Language Arts ~ 2012-2013 School Year by Laura O in AK @ Day
by Day in Our World

Virtual Curriculum Fair - The Language Arts Department by Joelle @
Homeschooling for His Glory

Playing with Words:  The Language Arts by Christa Darr @ Fairfield
Corner Academy: The Story of Our Life

Playing with Words:  Language Arts by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs and

What Language Arts looks like in our house - Are we doing it right? by
Hillary M @ Our Homeschool Studio

Getting lost and finding our way in Language Arts by Piwi Mum @
Learning and growing the Piwi Way


Susan said...

This is great...there's really no such thing as this subject and that subject, those are all artificial lines drawn by school boards. Real knowledge knows no bounds.

Thank you for sharing this with the Virtual Curriculum Fair!

Annette said...

neat read! :)

Annette @ A Net in Time

Kristi said...

I would never have thought to look at a Critical Thinking book like this! Thanks for sharing!

Leah C said...

I do like the Critical Thinking book. I've never thought of using a resource like that.

Homeschooling6 said...

I'm going to have to look into this. Thanks for sharing about it. I'm sure I've seen this book at Half Price Books before. Must be on the look out.

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