Looking for the best language arts curriculum for the middle school years? Today I’m sharing thoughts on Learning Language Arts Through Literature and why it’s an especially great fit for homeschooling middle school.
*This is a sponsored post, but I’ve happily used this curriculum with my kids for years. Also, I received a complimentary copy of Learning Language Arts Through Literature: The Tan Book for review purposes. See my disclosure for further details.*
If you’re making plans for the middle school years of homeschooling, you know how tough it can be to bridge the gap between the elementary and high school years. Part of that process involves selecting the best resources to help your kiddo step into this new season.
With that in mind, I want to talk about transitioning to middle school with one of our favorite resources, Learning Language Arts Through Literature from Common Sense Press.
You may remember that Learning Language Arts Through Literature (LLATL) has been a mainstay in our homeschool for years. Between my two kiddos, I’ve used every level in the series at some point. Needless to say, it truly is our go-to language arts curriculum.
Our Go-to Middle School Language Arts Curriculum
I’m happy to chat about how LLATL lays a language arts foundation in the elementary years and equally happy to discuss how it guides teens through literary analysis at the high school level, but I’ve found this curriculum to be just as solid in the middle school years.
Before I share why this is such a great language arts curriculum option for middle school, here’s a general overview of LLATL.
Learning Language Arts Through Literature Curriculum Overview
Learning Language Arts Through Literature is a comprehensive language arts curriculum for first grade through high school. Each level consists of 36 lessons and covers reading, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and writing mechanics, though the approach and intensity vary across levels.
All of these lessons and language arts skills are all taught through carefully-selected literature passages and related exercises. In addition to the literature passages that go with the weekly lessons, each level includes four or five classic literature selections (usually available at a library) to be read aloud or independently for novel studies.
From a budgeting perspective, you only need to purchase one Student Activity Book per student and the matching Teacher Book to use the curriculum effectively. (It’s always nice to give your homeschool budget some breathing room, right?)
We’ll focus on the middle school levels from this point forward, but it’s worth noting that the first two levels approach the literature passages and book studies differently since they focus heavily on learning to read. With that said, here’s a look at LLATL for middle school.
LLATL for the Middle School Years
Learning Language Arts Through Literature offers three levels for the middle school years: The Tan Book for sixth grade, The Green Book for seventh grade, and The Gray Book for eighth grade.
I’m currently preparing to use The Tan Book for the second time, so I’m writing with it in mind. Even so, the structure and flow of The Tan Book are the same for the seventh and eighth-grade levels.
Learning Language Arts Through Literature: The Tan Book
Like all of the LLATL books, the lessons are divided into five daily sections that start with a dictation exercise. That dictation is followed by one or two quick grammar exercises and an opportunity to identify spelling mistakes from the dictation and add them to the list of weekly spelling words.
Days 2-4 generally reference the literature passage from the first day to teach or review grammar rules or writing principles. These daily segments also incorporate activities that build on previously-introduced skills.
Day 5 concludes the week with a final dictation, spelling test, and sometimes another follow-up exercise to practice mechanics or composition skills taught in the lesson. Enrichment and review activities are also included for most lessons.
As for the specific skills addressed in this level of LLATL, The Tan Book features sixth grade skills that build on grammar, spelling, and writing skills covered in earlier levels and emphasizes prefix and suffix studies and research skills.
The Tan Book also features book studies on some of our favorite homeschool read alouds:
- The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
- Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
- The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
- Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard
Four assessments, teacher instructions, answers, and a skills index round out the Teacher Book.
Middle School with Learning Language Arts Through Literature
Now that you know more about LLATL, here’s why it’s the best language arts curriculum for the middle school years.
1. There’s a gentle transition to the upper grades.
Throughout the middle school levels of Learning Language Arts Through Literature, the amount of independent work increases quite a bit. The great thing about this is that there’s also a nice mix of no-prep teacher involvement, so these levels provide an ideal transition to the independent work that’s predominant in the high school years.
Along with more independent work, the middle school levels are helpful in preparing kids for the upper grades. This especially comes into play with the emphasis on research and composition covered through the three volumes.
2. Consistency matters… especially in middle school.
Now that I’ve been on both sides of the middle school levels, I appreciate the consistency and continuity found in this gentle approach to language arts even more than I did before. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been known to take an occasional deep-dive on trouble spots or spend extra time honing in on a specific language arts concept, but I can say with certainty that consistency makes all the difference in middle school.
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By choosing a language arts curriculum that carries students from early elementary to high school, I can provide my kids with a familiar lesson structure that scaffolds and allows their understanding and mastery of language arts to mature with them. This means they can continue to build their reading, spelling, grammar, composition, and comprehension skills without adjusting to new lesson formats, maneuvering other teaching methods, or navigating content changes.
If you’ve got kids like mine who thrive with structure and familiarity in their homeschool days, you know this kind of consistency is crucial. That consistency is one of many reasons LLATL remains our go-to language arts curriculum.
3. It’s an open-and-go language arts curriculum.
Though there’s a lot of work involved in preparing students for high school and beyond, I love how this language arts curriculum is still open-and-go, even in the middle school years.
I’m like my kids when it comes to thriving with consistency in lesson structure and knowing what’s required of me. Even in The Tan Book, The Green Book, and The Gray Book, nothing changes on the teacher end. Everything is already mapped out for me and it’s just as easy as ever to guide my kiddo through the lessons.
All that to say, I’m grateful that my role as a teacher doesn’t change with the middle school levels for LLATL. I didn’t necessarily recognize that the first time around with my oldest, but I appreciate the open-and-go, no-prep nature more than ever now that I’m balancing homeschooling with working part-time and being a full-time college student.
Get Connected with Common Sense Press and Learning Language Arts Through Literature
Ready to learn more about tackling middle school with our favorite language arts curriculum? You can visit Common Sense Press to order or view a sample from The Tan Book.
Not sure if The Tan Book is the best fit for your kiddo? These LLATL placement tests can help you determine the level you’ll need for the upcoming homeschool year. Better yet, Common Sense Press offers fantastic customer support, so you can always call 321-419-8163 if you need to chat about curriculum, homeschooling, or need a word of encouragement.
Feeling lucky? You can enter to win a fantastic language arts curriculum package from Common Sense Press through the widget below.
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In closing, I remain so grateful to have Learning Language Arts Through Literature as a mainstay in our homeschool. After all these years, preparing for another round of middle school has reminded me that there’s no better language arts curriculum to bridge the gap between the elementary and high school years of homeschooling.