Year in Review – English Language Arts Year 3

Language Arts year end wrap up continued…this time C-Bear’s year in grade 3!

She was itching to learn cursive so I knew that would be part of our schedule this year.  She learned one letter per week using these awesome printouts I found for FREE at Kidzone.

I love how the letters are grouped together according to common strokes, and the student can even learn to properly form the letters without someone showing them how to, thanks to the obvious tracing steps.  Once we made it all the way through the alphabet, we started transitioning to using cursive for her daily copy work.  Then she eventually moved to using cursive for her spelling dictation too near the end of the year.  Next year we’ll tackle typing!  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I decided to use English Lessons Through Literature Level 2 with C-Bear this year since I wasn’t sure what kind of instruction in grammar and punctuation she had had in previous years when she attended school.  Level 2 is said to be written for grade 2 or 3, and I figured it would be better to start at a level she would feel capable in and build her confidence.  I think it was a good move because I am not sure she had learned the parts of speech before or had any experience identifying them in sentences.

Copy work was something she didn’t like at the beginning of the year, and it was a struggle to get her to complete it NEATLY!  She tended to rush through it, not realizing the goal was perfect execution, not speed.  Thankfulky she has slowed down and taken more pride in her copy work.  Here are a couple of examples to give you an idea of the length of passages in Level 2.

This sample is from the beginning of the year.


Here’s a more recent passage since transitioning to cursive for her copywork.


In addition to a passage from her literature chapter each day, there was also a second passage to copy (a verse of scripture, a couple lines of a poem, or a maxim).  Narration was scheduled once every other week.  I would read her a fable, and she would tell the story back to me.  Usually I typed as she narrated, and then I would choose a portion of her narration for her to use as copy work on that day.  Here’s a recent example… 

As you can see, I cannot get her to slant her cursive.  I have to laugh.  Her guides are all slanted cursive and yet she writes so vertically.  Her younger sister has vertical manuscript guides for her copy work and often slants her printing!  C-Bear has tried to slant her cursive, but it just doesn’t seem to work for her.  I am just happy she has learned how to form all her letters and can read cursive with no problems.  I am not going to lose sleep over it!

Each of the 108 lessons for ELTL Level 2 had a fairly lengthy chapter from the literature list to read.  Thankfully, C-Bear is such an advanced reader that she had no difficulty completing the readings on her own.  This saved me a lot of time since I was also reading the literature selections from Level 1 to Boo each day.  Here are the books C-Bear has worked through this year for her English lessons…

  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • 13 stories from The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
  • Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll
  • A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys by Nathaniel Hawthorne

All of these books are in the public domain, and I was able to download them for a dollar or two or even for free to the Kindle.  C-Bear read these by herself (occasionally aloud, to Daddy if he happened to be around that day).  Each lesson also had a poem and a fable that she would read aloud to me.  Then we would move into the grammar exercise for that day.  Usually it involved finding nouns, verbs, adjectives, and the like in her copy work passage and labeling them.  The exercises were never too involved or stressful for her, and we would often sit and work on them together.

I wanted to incorporate some spelling into C-Bear’s lessons this year but wasn’t sure exactly how to go about it.  Then I discovered the power of prepared dictation for teaching spelling.  It made so much sense to me (perhaps because I myself am such a visual learner).  Spelling is something my husband has always struggled with, and he is more auditory in his learning; so I really wanted to start working on building my daughter’s capacity for visualizing correctly spelled words, taking mental pictures of them.  I never did feel comfortable with those spelling exercises that show a child misspelled words to correct!  That’s just putting the wrong picture in their heads so that they will always waffle about which is the correct way to spell it.  I did some poking around online and found Wheeler’s Graded Studies in Great Authors – A Complete Speller as a free download.  What a gem of a book!  Each lesson deals with a different “family” of spelling words.  Instead of having her copy every passage from the lesson (most lessons contain 7-10 quotes from great authors of the past), I would have her write the words from those passages that pertained to the spelling rule for that lesson (eg. “oa” words like coat, boat, throat, etc.) on the chalk board.  Then she would choose one of those passages to study.  When she was sure she could spell every word and knew the correct punctuation, I would dictate it to her slowly as she wrote it in her spelling notebook.  It was that easy!  Next year we will be moving on to ELTL Level 3 which includes passages for prepared dictation, but I will be a little sad to say good-bye to this beautiful book and might just have to pull it out from time to time for variety!

The only other thing to mention in regards to English Language Arts for C-Bear would be a list of free reads, books she read on her own time this year.  But I’m not sure I could list them all.  She is a voracious reader, the type who can polish off a novel in 24 hours if it captivates her!  She always has a stack of books beside her bed she’s working through, and she picks out books at the library each week that interest her.  A few that I did jot down on her reading list this year that I know she finished were:

  • Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Mansion by Julie Campbell
  • a couple of Third Grade Detectives books by George E. Stanley
  • By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  • Dear Hound by Jill Murphy
  • Hour of the Olympics by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  • The Secret Garden by France’s Hodgson Burnett (not sure she finished this one, but it’s on the list for ELTL Level 3 next year anyway)
  • Cleopatra VII Daughter of the Nile (The Royal Diaries) by Kristiana Gregory

That wraps up our tour of third grade language arts in our house this year.  Hope there was something helpful for you in these notes!

One thought on “Year in Review – English Language Arts Year 3

  1. Hello! Thank you for sharing how you used Wheeler’s Graded Studies. I’m looking into using it for my soon-to-be 8-year-old’s copywork.


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