Caught Ya!, a creative approach for practicing and reviewing grammar and writing skills, caught my attention years ago. So I was interested when the same publisher came out with Take 5! for Language Arts. Even though it is by a different author, Kaye Hagler, it follows in the same light-hearted vein as Caught Ya! This is not your core program but a supplement to be used with students in grades six through twelve.
Take 5! was designed to be used at the start of each class session, to give students an interesting task related to language arts that also challenges students’ critical thinking skills. Tasks are supposed to take about five minutes each. However, they are tagged for individual, pair, and group (collaboration) work. While most pair and group activities will work just fine for an individual, they will take longer. Even some individual activities could easily take more than five minutes.
A few examples will give you an idea of what Take 5! is all about. On page 67, “Going Purple” reminds students of the meaning of “going green.” for this assignment it says, “Now, however, a new trend is taking place: ‘Going Purple.’ What is the message behind ‘Going Purple,’ and what can people do to help support this cause?” A collaboration task on p. 96, “Mind Your Manners,” discusses manner and etiquette briefly then suggests that manners in our present day society might be quite different from those for “cavemen, desert nomads, cannibals, or knights in armor.” It continues, “In today’s task, each team will select a particular group of people and then create three rules of etiquette for them. Instead of writing the rule down, however, each group will create a brief skit demonstrating the use of this rule.” While a single student can come up with manners for other cultures or groups, you would have to then decide whether the student would pantomime or act out the manners on his or her own or just write them down.
Many activities include teacher tips with extension activities that expand the activity into further research, writing, art work, or other activities that build upon the original concept. You could easily use some of these for regular course work in language arts. However, these activities should generally be used for motivation and mental stimulation rather than as regular course material. Many of them stretch student creativity more than language arts skills. However, an evaluation rubric at the front of the book might be used occasionally to stress conformity to the rules of grammar and the structures of compositions. A student self-assessment form seems less helpful as it deals more with how a student feels about the tasks and their own “performance.”
Homeschoolers might not relate to some activities such as those about a school mascot and dealing with bullies at school, but with 180 to choose from, skipping a few is just fine. Note that some activities build on one another; students complete one activity, then the next one uses the previous day’s activity as the jumping off point. In these instances, lessons are labeled as I and II so it is obvious. I spotted only one instance where three activities were related to one another.
This is a secular resource. It includes references to well-known literary works such as Animal Farm and Slaughterhouse-Five along with sports, popular culture, fantasy, mythology, and other topics. Generally, these references help provide context for the activities. Occasionally, they require that students be familiar with the subject. For example, “Movie Editor” on p. 103, has students select a scene from a popular movie that they would edit out of the movie then explain how that would have changed the outcome of the movie.
You can easily have students from various grade levels work on these tasks--even students below sixth grade level on many of them. You can use the book for an entire school year, or use it occasionally over a few years. Take 5! might be a great resource to use in the winter months when school sometimes seems to drag everyone down. While average and bright students might well appreciate the opportunities to be creative and have some fun, you might also find these activities a helpful stimulus for the unmotivated student.
Take 5! is available in print and downloadable editions. Capstone also offers it in sections a la carte, a great way to try it out.