Language Arts Archives - Eva Varga

October 14, 2015

Welcome back to Finishing Strong! We had so many wonderful posts shared last week. I hope you had a chance to visit several of the participants posts.

We thank each of you for supporting our link-up by coming by every week to see what incredible posts are shared with us and for sharing your own. As before, in addition to our featured post, each of the participating bloggers will be selecting our personal favorites this week. Be sure to stop by each blog to see if your post was selected.


Heather at Blog She Wrote

Heidi at Starts at Eight

Megan & Susan at Education Possible

Finishing Strong #63 @EvaVarga.netI loved Annie’s post, Opportunities My Teens are Missing Because We Homeschool High School. It is is no wonder it received the most visits this past week. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so.

While college admission requirements is a few years off, I enjoyed BJs post, Our Journey Towards College: Writing a Winning College Essay. I love that she provided examples of current prompts as well as walked readers through the steps she and her daughter undertook.

Another post I enjoyed was Sara’s Top 10 Middle School Vocabulary Tips. This is perfect for us! With our recent travels to Italy and Greece – studying Latin and Greek are on the top of our list. Together with her other ideas, we will knock out that college essay with finesse and pizzaz!  😉


What are you going to share with us this week?


  1. Link up to 3 posts from your blog. Make sure you use the exact URL to the post, not to your home page. You can add any post related to homeschooling middle and high school students. Posts unrelated to that will be removed.
  2. Please no advertising, individual Pinterest pins, Facebook, Twitter, or other link-up links!
  3. Grab our button to add to your post after you link it up. Each week we will be choosing our favorite posts to highlight on all 4 sites. If you were featured, we would love for you to use the “I was featured” button.
  4. The linky will go live on each co-host’s blog each Wednesday at 6am EST, and will be live until Tuesday at 11:55 pm.

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April 4, 2015

It’s National Poetry Month!!

Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month, held every April, is the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.

Poetry is the perfect vehicle for capitalizing on moments whereby science overlaps with language arts. Poets, like naturalists, find their subject matter and inspiration in the natural world. Poetry is a means to study nature, as is science.

Science and poetry use language in a fundamentally different manner. Though each attempts to find a language for the unknown, to represent accurately some carefully observed aspect of the world. While the two disciplines employ language in different ways, they are kindred spirits in their creative process.

It is thereby the perfect time to share with you a few resources the blend poetry into your science units throughout the year.

Blending Science and Poetry @EvaVarga.netScience & Poetry Activities

There are many ways to integrate poetry into your science curriculum. Most simply, science themed poetry can be added into activities that are already a part of your schedule. Set aside time to read poems that tie into the curriculum, for example, to accompany a study of insects or the night sky.

Create a Found Poem ~ Use a descriptive paragraph from an non-fiction text, news article, or an encyclopedia. Ask students to underline or highlight words that they think are important. List these underlined words on a separate piece of paper and a poem will begin to emerge. Can you make it more poetic by rearranging them? Are there some words that aren’t necessary?

Copy the Masters ~ Find inspiration from master poets and use one of their poems as a framework for your own as my son did in his poem, I’ve Known Rivers.

Celebrate the Spoken Word ~ Poems can be read and reread in very little time. Try reading one together or memorizing a favorite to perform as spoken word. Invite students to read aloud poems written for two voices like Joyful Noise.

Try Blackout Poetry ~ Photocopy a page from an old textbook or use a newspaper article about a current event to create blackout poetry.

Nature Journaling ~ Copy poems – either those written by you or by others – into your nature journals to complement your sketches.

Poetry Tea Time ~ Set aside time each day for a break from the fast-paced demands of homeschooling, parenting, and household running. Slowing down to sip tea (or hot chocolate or cider or coffee or lemonade or juice) creates the perfect space to contemplate rhymes and riddles, limericks and sonnets.

Blending Science and Poetry @EvaVarga.netScience & Poetry Selected Works

There a many wonderful books of poetry that incorporate ones love of nature and the outdoors. I’ve selected a few of my favorites to share with you.

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleishman is written to be read aloud by two voices ~ sometimes alternating, sometimes simultaneous. This collection of charming poems celebrates the insect world, from the short life of the mayfly to the love song of the book louse. I found an audio version to which we listened first – and then we had a blast reading them together.

Another book by the same author is I Am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices celebrates the sound, the sense, the essence of birds.

Gecko on the Wall

Her jaws dart out
To crunch up flies.

Her tongue flicks up
To wipe her eyes.

She climbs up walls
With eerie cries.

Her tail comes off:
A wriggling prize!

She sprints and leaps
and slinks and spies . . .

Don’t you wish you were a gecko?

The Haiku pomes in The Year Comes Round are accompanied by beautiful images illustrating the time of the year presented in the poem. At the end of the book the reader is given an explanation of Haiku form, the cycle of life, and each of the seasons through which this delightful little book has just taken the reader.

In A Strange Place to Call Home, fourteen poems by Marilyn Singer celebrate the unusual animals that have adapted to equally unusual habitats where competition is light and safety from predators is great. A variety of poem styles are utilized, including free verse, rhyming, haiku, triolet, villanelle, and terza rima.

You’ll love Joyce Sidman’s collection of nocturnal musings of plants and animals who inhabit the night world in Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night. Each poem describes the habits and behaviors of a special nocturnal plant or animal in imaginative poetry.

Another book by the same author is Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow takes us on a tour through an open meadow, beginning with the rising sun and ending with twilight, encouraging us to watch for a nest of rabbits, a foamy spittlebug, a leaping grasshopper, bright milkweed, a quick fox, and a cruising hawk.

The Tree that Time Built organizes poems from various poets into an exploration of the trees and branches of Darwin’s tree. The main trunk is life, and the book is organized into sections covering birds to dinosaurs and everything in between. Classic works by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, and the like, and selections from contemporary poets are included, as well as translated works.

“… high above
there is the Earth,
rushing oceans, racing clouds,
swaying fields and forests.
Family, friends, and strangers,
everyone you’ve ever known,
everyone you might–
the good and lonely Earth,
glowing in the sky.”

February 25, 2015

Happy Wednesday and welcome to Finishing Strong. We are a link up that supports families as they homeschool their middle & high school children.

Finishing Strong ~ Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years #44

Make sure to visit our co-hosts: Aspired Living, Blog, She Wrote, Education Possible, Eva Varga, & Starts at Eight

As our kids grow, we are given unique insight in to their passions and potential future goals. Recently, a number of bloggers shared their personal experiences raising children with distinct paths and interests.

Not only were they fun to read, but they were also some of our most popular links from last week.

How to Grow a Reader from Blog, She Wrote

Growing an Introverted Warrior from Education Possible

Growing a Musician from Eva Varga

Homeschooling a Horse Lover from Our Journey Westward

4 Tips for Raising a Crafty Kid from The Sunny Patch

What makes your child one-of-a-kind? What endeavors are you fostering while homeschooling your teen?

We would love to hear about your family’s experience teaching middle & high schoolers at home, so link up with us below.

Bloggers, by linking up, you may be featured on our co-hosts’ social media pages or our Pinterest board. We may even select you to be featured in a future post!

Guidelines for the hop:

  1. Link up to 3 posts from your blog. Make sure you use the exact URL to the post, not to your home page. You can add any post related to homeschooling middle and high school students. Posts unrelated to that will be removed.
  2. Please no advertising, individual Pinterest pins, Facebook, Twitter, or other link-up links!
  3. Grab our button to add to your post after you link it up. Each week we will be choosing our favorite posts to highlight on all 5 sites. If you were featured, make sure you add an “I was featured” button.
  4. The linky will go live on each co-host’s blog each Wednesday at 6am EST, and will be live until Tuesday at 11:55 pm.

Share the love.

Add our button to your post.

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Was your post featured?

Grab an “I was featured” button!

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

We love people who SHARE WITH US!

*By linking up, you agree for us to share your images, always with credit!

So tell us, what have you been up to?

We want to see your best posts that focus on homeschooling middle & high school students. Share your ideas, unique learning approaches, and encouragement.

February 19, 2015
I received free materials in both digital and print format as well as compensation for my time to give an honest review of these products and services. All opinions expressed are true and completely our own. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

PACreviewMy daughter is now in seventh grade and thereby her high school years are fast approaching. We haven’t utilized a formal grammar curriculum in years and a little voice in my head has been prodding me to find an independent study course. When I was offered the opportunity to check out the new Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum (PAC), I jumped at the chance.

In our homeschool, we read a lot of living books, study nature, dive deeply into history, and immerse ourselves in other cultures via geography and language studies.  With the exception of math, neither of my kids had previously used a workbook/textbook approach.

As my daughter has gotten older, she has been completing more and more of her work independently. When I shared with her the work-book based approach of Paradigm Accelerated, she was delighted to give it a try. “That’s just what I want, Mom!”

As my daughter began to work through the chapters on her own, she would share snippets of what she learned and quote from the vignettes. This intrigued my son and he soon began to sit next to her and do the assignment alongside her. I loved watching them work together. Paradigm ( is a perfect alternative to traditional textbook learning.


About English Grammar Skills

The English Grammar Skills course consists of 5 Work Texts5 Activity Texts, and a Teacher Resource Kit, complete with teaching instructions, and answers to all activity assignments, quizzes and tests. Each chapter begins with a vignette of real people who have modeled persistence, courage, and fortitude to overcome adversity.

The course is applicable to both regular classrooms or guided, independent learning programs. Each lesson and the corresponding activity questions are based on a vignette or story of a real person. These vignettes are what my children found most appealing – real life examples of people overcoming adversity – with lesson vocabulary interspersed. In the activity texts and assessments, grammar rules and parts of speech are covered multiple times in sentences drawn from the vignette.

I think PAC is a great fit for gifted middle and high school aged kids. We have been using the English Grammar program geared for eighth graders with both our seventh (independently) and fifth grader (with guidance).

Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum is a workbook-based program with a standardized format which is perfect for independent learning. Both digital and print curriculum are available, thus eliminating the tedious chore of lesson planning and test preparation. PAC’s uniquely structured system enables each teen to accelerate learning according to his or her personal ability and initiative.

The full course kit comes with:

  • individually saddle-stitched text books (broken down into 5 separate booklets)
  • individually saddle-stitched student activity books
  • a teacher guide that includes tests and quizzes

Click here to download an English Grammar Skills text sample and activity sample.

PACDigital Options

Besides the print option, Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum also offers a digital version of their course with an audio enhancement to appeal to those kids who need the auditory piece. They are also working toward adding in QR codes to allow kids to access extra content via their smartphones.

Not only is the curriculum available in workbook form, it is also available in an online interactive format and can be used on laptops, tablets, or even smartphones.*

(*Please Note: PAC is in the process of incorporating QR codes into all of their courses which will allow students to access extra content via smartphone. As of now, the only course with this capability is biology.)

There is also an audio-enhanced format, which is perfect for students who are auditory learners or those who struggle with reading due to dyslexia or other learning disabilities.

Upon purchase of the print curriculum you will receive:

  • 5 (or 6, depending on the course) individual chapter Text Books
  • 5 (or 6, depending on the course) individual chapter companion Activity Workbooks
  • a Teacher’s Resource Kit containing answers to activity questions, section quizzes, chapter tests, and answers
  • a Transcript Planner to chart courses for a high school diploma
  • an Academic Goal Chart to plan weekly and daily lessons
  • an Academic Contract (which makes better sense for a private school — not our homeschool)


What We Love Most About Paradigm Accelerated

1. The materials are user friendly! Everything is open-and-go, giving students the ability to guide themselves through the course.

2. The materials are flexible! The various formats allow for different types of learning (computer based, book-based, audio) and can be used at home, in the car, or online.

3. The materials require very little teacher interaction for success – perfect for independent learners!

Get to Know Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum

Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum also offers science, math, and history programs in addition to English Grammar and other language arts courses. These programs were created for at-risk high school students, and can be used for high school credit.

If you are wanting to direct your teen(s) on a more independent course of learning, I encourage you check out Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum. And don’t miss out on these generous discounts:

40% off for

  • homeschool groups (minimum purchase $1000)
  • single parents

20% off for

  • ministry families
  • military families
  • farmers and ranchers
  • first responders
  • foster parents

Call PAC at (325) 649-0976 for a discount code to use during the checkout process if you fit into one of these categories.

Check PAC out on social media:

December 13, 20141

In the month of November, we read Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief for book club.  When we gathered for Writer’s Workshop, I gave each student a Percy Jackson word search puzzle. For about 2 to 3 minutes, they were allowed to find as many words as possible. This was a great segue to our lesson on Blackout Poetry.
Blackout poetry focuses on rearranging words to create a different meaning. Also known as newspaper blackout poetry, the author uses a permanent marker to cross out or eliminate whatever words or images she sees as unnecessary or irrelevant to the effect she’s seeking to create. The central idea is to devise a completely new text from previously published words and images, which the reader is free to interpret as desired.

Austin Kleon is the person who is credited with first creating this process. He has even published a best selling book with these types of poems, Newspaper Blackout.
When you are starting out with black out poetry do not read the article as you normally would. Look at the words as raw material. See the words as tools to be manipulated. You may toggle between two articles or remain within one. Your creation does not have to relate to the original article in anyway. You should take the authors words and twist them in to your very own creation. You are making fiction out of nonfiction.

Tip: Do not linger over one article for too long. If an article does not spark inspiration MOVE ON!

The kids had a great time creating their own black out poems.  My daughter has even dedicated a book with which to use specifically for this style of writing.

Have you explored this style of poetry yourself or with your children? Share your work in the comments!

August 5, 2014

With summer in full swing, family vacations may already be a treasured memory, or a much-anticipated pleasure. In Northern California, a family holiday often means a trip to a lake, creek, or river.

summer natureWhether your summer holiday is still fresh in your memory or an adventure you are all yet looking forward to, I thought I would pass along some resources for turning your outdoor nature experiences into art and writing opportunities.

Summer Nature Activities

If you have additional suggestions, please let us know. Leave a comment here or post your suggestion on my Facebook page. I hope you and your children have wonderful nature encounters.