Category Archives: Language Arts

Writing a Friendly Letter

thank-you-515514_1280Although we live in an age that is centered on communications in technology, writing a friendly letter is still a practice among those who desire to be more personal in their communication, whether to a friend afar or to thank a potential employer after a job interview.

As a teacher, I still wrote thank you  notes to my students who provided me gifts of appreciation. The children loved to receive them. With the small gesture, they knew the appreciation was returned.

My own children love to receive cards and letters in the mail.
I know, I’d sing atop a mountain if I was  to receive one that isn’t a bill.

While business communications make  the most of the efficiency of an email or messenger program, nothing says “tender love and care” like a hand written letter.

Here, I have put together some resources for teaching and applying the art of letter writing through the friendly letter.

Letter Generators
We recently picked up a book from the library in the children’s non-fiction section called How to Write a Letter. It included format, conversation topics, and how to address a letter . They have a series on different types of writing that we have been checking out one at a time. One of the things I love about using books over something online is that my 5 year old will see my 7 year old using it to learn how to write a letter and then she begins pulling out paper and pencil with him. Nevertheless, we find many useful tools on the internet for learning to include  four interactives for writing last year when my son was less than willing to put pen to paper. One  of these focuses on writing a friendly letter.

We love having a book in hand and I encourage the keeping of a journal in at least one subject. However, we have less space  now, so online learning is convenient , but also fun and interactive.  I’ll talk more about online learning in another post.

I love the Read Write Think site! Here is an interactive template or Letter Generator guiding the student through each step of the letter writing process.

Step-by-Step Guides
Here is an activity for writing a friendly or personal letter including a step by step visual guide and other friendly letter links.

Wiki How provides another step-by-step guide to writing a friendly letter. This is for the more mature writer as the content of the sample letters includes great depth and detail.

Lessons and Literature

Teaching with TLC has some resources and letter writing activities including suggested books to inspire the beginnings of a writing habit.Carey Jane Clark shares a lesson integrating reading a writing of a friendly letter along with other book ideas for the theme.Teach Kids How provides some suggestions on how and what to teach to different age levels, providing a way to differentiate for students of all ages.
Activities and Worksheets
DLTK has letter writing resources geared toward the younger writer that include a “stamp glue recipe” and templates for envelope and stamp.
 You can find some printable worksheet sources here,  such as  visual aides, templates, and written assignments.
Addressing Envelopes

Read Write Think and ABC Teach both have templates and instructions for addressing the letter.

I haven’t paid the bills via snail mail in so long that it wasn’t until my daughter and I both began writing someone out of state that I realized I no longer remembered how. Very humbling.

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Our Favorite Grammar Books in the Public Domain

monkey-236861_1280I love these grammar books and find it difficult to say which I love more. They are simple and to the point but each of the authors has been so creative in the way grammar is approached, making it a lovely experience for all involved. These can be read aloud by the parent or used for independent study. For those that have questions and exercises, I found most are handled well with an oral discussion. Few lend themselves only to a written response. Both of my older students are using their for independent study this year. I let them choose the one they wanted, so grammar is never a subject they avoid. Many of these darling little books only contain 35-40 exercises allowing them to be the perfect supplement to your writing curriculum. My children usually focus on the lesson 1-2 days which opens the rest of the week to writing assignments for other subjects. Other books in this collection are teacher guides for oral exchange and have daily lessons including theory and practice.


The Child’s Own English Book
is just plain adorable with its personable read aloud style and games to play with child after Mommy has read. The games provide a combination of both oral and written exercises for customizing a lesson for your little one. For the younger student, best read orally than in independent study.

First Lessons in English is mostly exercises for the child, so that the child can learn and then use what he has learned often. Included are both oral and written exercises including cursive copywork.

Primary English Grammar is simple and straightforward. This book covers the basics in the eight parts of speech. In completing one section, it provides 40 weeks of learning.

Grammar Made Easy for Beginners speaks directly to the reader, this charming little book teaches the parts of speech thoroughly. This book was written specifically to make a regularly boring subject pleasing to the reader.

Each part of Speech plays its own part in Grammarland. The kids get lost in all the drama and learn the grammar in the process. You can use this as a read aloud alone or can add these Grammarland Worksheets. Here are some alternative Grammarland Worksheets and Game. Librivox provides Grammarland Audio for readers as well.

Harvey’s Elementary and Composition even further breaks down grammar and the written word. Heavier on the written exercises to focus on the polished and effective composition of text. Thorough in its explanation and graduated in exposure of material for the ease learning.

Elementary Grammar is a more advanced and in-depth look at Grammar, with over 130 exercises and 62 lessons.

There are our favorites, but here are more you may like:

Elementary English Grammar

First Lessons in English Grammar

browsing-15824_640
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Lessons in English

Excelsior English Studies in English Grammar

Hart’s Elementary Grammar

An Elementary Grammar of the English Language

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Free 19th Century Readers by James Baldwin

James Baldwin was published during the turn of the century was a teacher, writer, and was a man of Christian faith. He wrote  over 50 books including readers, adapted stories for young children, history text, literary analysis, classic literature, and apologetics. Read more About James Baldwin.

The first set is the only complete set, which means the other books were not found or have a price tag. I will continue to search for them and add to the list. I have noted special characteristics of each set or book.

book-goggles-348090_640I have listed them in sets, in order of edition. This is somewhat misleading because many of the books were for 12-16 months use, so a book would be used for longer than our modern grade levels, in some cases.  Most times the level’s name was simply indicative of coming after the one preceding it.  Because of this I tried to find readers of the same publisher and author. Some series are not as complete as others, usually meaning that the missing book had a price tag on it. I will update as I find missing books from a series.

Find out where your child should begin reading by having them read, either silently or aloud, and asking some basic comprehension questions or asking your child to retell a story after reading a  short piece. Use the reader that is appropriate, moving forward in the series.

Some  readers will have phonics lessons for the little ones and oration lessons for older students. Others have spelling lists, language instruction, and exercises, or questions to check comprehension. I will make a note at the introduction to each set to indicate any special features.

 

The Baldwin Primer I just love this little book with color picture, beautiful cursive, music, and hands on activities. It’s a perfect beginning reader!

Baldwin School Reading by Grade: First Year

Baldwin School Reading by Grade: Second Year

Baldwin School Reading by Grades: Third Year

Baldwin School Reading by Grades: Fourth Year

Baldwin School Reading by Grade: Fifth Year

Baldwin School Reading by Grade: Sixth Year

Baldwin School Reading by Grades: Seventh Year

Baldwin School Reading by Grade Eighth Year

 

These have so much to offer. They include a variety of genres, along with exercises requiring response to the literature(expression), phonetic exercises(in the back of the book) and spelling exercises.

figures-54851_640The Bender Primer

Baldwin and Bender’s Fourth Reader

Baldwin and Bender’s Fifth Reader

Baldwin and Bender’s Sixth Reader

Baldwin and Bender’s Eighth Reader

 

These also include a variety of genres, along with exercises requiring response to the literature(expression), phonetic exercises(in the back of the book) and spelling exercises. The teacher’s manual imparts better understanding to the exercises in the readers. I do wish to find the complete set.

Reading with expression: a teacher’s manual to accompany …

Reading With Expression Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Years

 

More Readers

Perhaps to use in place of the missing 2nd and 3rd readers to the sets above.

Fairy Stories and Fables: a Second Reader

Another Fairy Reader: Companion to Fairy Stories and Fables

 Old Greek Stories: a Third Reader

The Golden Fleece: More Old Greek Stories: Companion to Old Greek Stories

 

mill-208571_640Adapted Versions For Young Children

Stories of Don Quixote: Written Anew for Young People

Robinson Crusoe: Written Anew for Children

Gulliver’s Travels Into Some Remote Countries:Written Anew for Children

 

Fifty Famous Stories Retold

Thirty More Famous Stories

Fifty famous people, short stories

 

Old Stories of the East

An American Book of Golden Deeds

A Story of the Golden Age

Stories of the King

The Story of Siegfried

 More James Baldwin

 

Bonus: The Industrial Primary Arithmetic

Free 19th Century Readers

Here are some 19th Century Readers. I have listed them in sets, in order of edition. This is somewhat misleading because many of the books were for 12-16 months use, so a book would be used for longer than our modern grade levels, in some cases.  Most times the level’s name was simply indicative of coming after the one preceding it.  Because of this I tried to find readers of the same publisher and author. Some series are not as complete as others, usually meaning that the missing book had a price tag on it. I will update as I find missing books from a series.

Find out where your child should begin reading by having them read, either silently or aloud, and asking some basic comprehension questions or asking your child to retell a story after reading a  short piece. Use the reader that is appropriate, moving forward in the series.

Some  readers will have phonics lessons for the little ones and oration lessons for older students. Others have spelling lists, language instruction, and exercises, or questions to check comprehension. I will make a note at the introduction to each set to indicate any special features.

steinbach-56641_640

This set of Readers has no primer. Selections include fables, fairy tales, rhymes, myths, nature stories and stories about life. Each book is graduated  to ensure a comfortable transition from one year to the next. This is a typical characteristic of the Readers.

New Century Readers Book 1

New Century Readers Book 2

New Century Readers Book 3

New Century Readers Book 4

New Century Readers Book 5

These readers are also graduated in form, starting with phonics  and sight words in the primer and focusing more on vocabulary and comprehension in the latter years. The exercises in the books include enunciation, spelling, vocabulary, mechanics of writing, articulation and comprehension. The speller covers enunciation, phonics and the mechanics of writing. It includes over 500 exercises covering years of spelling instruction.

Sander’s Union Pictorial Primer

Sander’s Union Reader: Number One

Sander’s Union Reader: Number Two

Sander’s Union Reader: Number Three

Sander’s Union Reader:  Number Four

Sander’s Union Reader: Number Five

Sander’s Union Reader: Number Six

Bonus: Sander’s Union Speller

This set  includes oral exercises in articulation and inflection, new vocabulary defined, reading notes and blurbs about select authors. The Speller includes dictation exercises and enunciation marks. Words are grouped by pattern and language uses.

McGuffey’s Readers Online Tutor -an online tutorial for using the texts.

McGuffey’s Eclectic Primer 

McGuffey’s First Eclectic Reader 

McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader

McGuffey’s Third Eclectic Reader 

McGuffey’s Fourth Eclectic Reader

McGuffey’s Fifth Eclectic Reader

McGuffey’s Sixth Eclectic Reader

Bonus: McGuffey’s Eclectic Spelling Book

The New McGuffey First Reader

The New McGuffey Second Reader

The New McGuffey Third Reader 

The New McGuffey Fourth Reader

The New McGuffey Fifth Reader

I’ll be on the lookout for the rest of this set.  They include includes oral exercises in articulation and inflection, spelling and vocabulary words, and comprehension questions. The Speller includes dictation work and words in their various parts of speech.

McGuffey’s New First Eclectic Reader

McGuffey’s New Fourth Eclectic Reader 

McGuffey’s New Fifth Eclectic Reader

McGuffey’s New Sixth Eclectic Reader

Bonus: McGuffey’s New Eclectic Spelling Book

Other McGuffey Readers

The Eclectic Second Reader: Consisting of Progressive Lessons(McGuffey)

McGuffeys’ Alternate Fifth Reader

Mcguffeys’ Fifth Reader of the Eclectic Series

High School Reader

 McGuffey’s High School Reader

Bonus: A History of the McGuffey Readers You can find out more about the McGuffey series and the levels here and here