Hearth & Story Language Arts

Hearth & Story Language Arts

Hearth & Story plans to develop complete language arts programs for those wanting secular resources. They have begun with the fifth-grade course and a significant part of sixth grade. These courses cover grammar, writing, spelling, literature, poetry, and critical thinking. The study of novels and short stories is a major part of the complete course, although you can pick and choose components to cover particular aspects of language arts. Coursebooks show alignment with the Common Core Standards for Language Arts.

These digital courses are downloaded as sets of PDF files (or as individual files if you don’t want to use the entire program). The files are very professionally designed with graphics and full color. Lessons and assignments are laid out for students to work through independently for the most part. Students will write on many pages, so you should print out the files and keep them in a binder or have them bound with a spiral or comb binding. Answer keys, when needed, are at the back of the files.

Hearth & Story’s courses remind me of those from The Good and the Beautiful because both have lots of variety, creative activities, and colorful layouts. Students who appreciate these features are likely to enjoy the courses, while students who prefer predictable lessons that always follow the same pattern might not.

Fifth Grade Complete Course

I will describe the components of the complete program for Hearth & Story Fifth Grade Language Arts.

The Planner and Resources file explains downloading, printing, organizing, and scheduling the program. It includes a printable schedule and two book log pages (where students can draw illustrations for covers of books they have read.

The Brain Food file provides one lesson per week on a wide range of topics and skills, among which are logical fallacies, idioms, research, short writing assignments, discussion prompts, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and a multi-week biography project (students read a biography and create a video presentation about it).

Grammar for Writers has 86 lessons, reviews, and an answer key. The Planner suggests completing two or three of these brief lessons a week. They cover grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure with many different types of exercises, including some that require writing a few sentences. Lots of variety keeps it interesting.

The goal of Fifth Grade Writing is that students learn to write all types of five-paragraph essays. Along the way, they also learn editing skills. The 32 lessons should be completed at the rate of one per week. Students are walked through the essay-writing process with instruction, examples, graphic organizers, and rubrics. They need to have someone else review their essays and provide feedback using the provided form.

Fifth Grade Spelling focuses on commonly misspelled words, confusing homophones, words with Greek and Latin roots, and selected words from the novels studied this year. Words range in difficulty in difficulty from to, too, and two through brachiosaurus, claustrophobia, and dendrophile. The final list throws in an unusual word just for fun, hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, telling students to look up the word’s meaning online. (It isn’t included in my huge Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary!) The 25 spelling lessons work on ten words per week with different activities for every lesson.

Fifth Grade Poetry is used along with another file, Literary Term Flashcards. Students complete one lesson per week. The course’s 30 poems are included in the last half of the book, each on its own illustrated coloring page. The lessons have two parts. The first part guides them through reading the poem and other activities, such as reviewing the “Rhyme Scheme” flashcard and determining the rhyme scheme of the poem, pondering an idea or feeling raised by the poem, identifying poetic devices such as personification or simile, and identifying the speaker in the poem. The second part of the lesson is reading a brief analysis of the poem.

Literature is taught with four novels (obtained separately) and three stories using seven Hearth & Story files. The four books used are Over the Moon by Natalie Lloyd, Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins, The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat, and The Giver by Lois Lowry. The novel studies have a thematic core, “The Stories We are Told,” that the publisher’s website says, “invites students to ponder the stories that shape our perceptions, encouraging introspection and inspiring a quest for personal and societal growth.” The three short stories (available in the public domain) are included within their files. These are “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” and “The Nightingale,” all by Hans Christian Andersen. The novel studies should each take a month or longer to complete, while the study of each story should take three days. Students learn both reading skills and literary analysis through a variety of exercises and short writing assignments. Recipes are included in three of the novel studies.

Sixth Grade Literature Bundle

The sixth-grade poetry and literature components are available, while other components are under development. Novels to be read are Double Dutch by Sharon M. Draper, Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin, and Watership Down by Richard Adams. The thematic core for these novels, “Better Together,” develops the idea that people can be “stronger and more resilient when they work together” as evidenced by the heroes in these books. The short stories are “Hansel and Gretel," "Rumpelstiltskin," and "Little Red Cap," all from the Brothers Grimm. The Poetry course presents another 30 poems in a format similar to that of Fifth Grade Poetry.

Summary

Hearth & Story is a new entry into the arena of language arts courses, but I think what I’ve seen thus far is outstanding and should be welcomed by those looking for secular curricula.

Pricing Information

When prices appear, please keep in mind that they are subject to change. Click on links where available to verify price accuracy.

complete 5th grade language arts - $25, language arts without literature - $17, individual files - $3 to $8 each
6th grade literature bundle - $18

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Instant Key

  • Need For Parent or Teacher Instruction: low
  • Learning Environment: all situations
  • Grade Level: grades 5-6
  • Educational Methods: traditional activity pages or exercises, real books, lots of variety, highly structured, critical thinking, creative activities
  • Technology: PDF
  • Educational Approaches: traditional, eclectic
  • Religious Perspective: secular

Publisher's Info

Note: Publishers, authors, and service providers never pay to be reviewed. They do provide free review copies or online access to programs for review purposes.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."