Fun and Games with "Language Arts"

Babytalk: Problems? Advantages?

English: Oddities, Trivia and Mystery


Teach vs. Learn


Silent Reading

Communicating with Kids Practicalities of conversations

"Bad words"


Do You Speak American?

The Story of English
(book, cheap; not yet on DVD; tapes not cheap, but library might have)


This reminded me of a bit from a recent article in our local home ed mag (I'm in Melbourne, Australia). A mother is writing about "learning not to question children about their motives."

She writes:

She read the "Babysitter books" (and everyone will tell you how BAD that is!) in both the Australian and the American editions; the same book twice, that is. Quite a long time later she chuckled to me, "They are *hilarious* those books, they translate all the language into metric, so when one of the characters says,'I wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole', they rewrite it as 'I wouldn't touch that with a three metre pole.'" — leading to amused speculation about the interchange, "Jamie, you've grown another foot since I saw you" and the riposte, "No, I've still only got two" and it's metric equivalent. This little game with language and mathematics absorbed her attention for a long period of time. A stern librarian would never have known about the jokes, and would have thoroughly irritated her by pushing her to read "better" books.



Wiktionary, a collaborative free multilingual extravaganza, with a Random Page generator. There is a "Things to Do" link at the bottom of the main page if you want to contribute information, translations, and such.

Lingo Z: "As LingoZ is still in Beta stage and as we strive towards adapting it to the needs and suggestions of our user, we regard your feedback as highly precious."

Omniglot has hundreds of languages with their writing systems, pronunciations, and information on who uses each language where. Very fun.

Urban Dictionary— Current slang with etymologies (sometimes movie references, which is cool!); can be rough, so don't go if you're easily offended. Here's a sample:

dumbass: Someone who looks up the word "dumbass" in a dictionary.
Some entries have illustrations, and THAT's fun—they're shown at the bottom. It becomes a humor site very quickly.
What's meant by "Language Arts"?

As a school subject, "English" doesn't cover everything that's taught and those in the classes usually already knew English, so the idea of "language arts" was adopted by schools for use when describing a curriculum involving language skills. Unschoolers don't need it, except maybe in the way of considering how very many things in the whole wide world qualify as "language arts." I'll start a list here of those things language arts classes have covered, and if any readers think of other things, please write to me. [email protected]

The list at left is not a recommendation to teach those things. It's about school. Unschoolers will eventually come across most of it, especially if you can find little fun bits of trivia. Discussing movies, writing reviews at amazon or netflix, sending post cards—all kinds of real-life things would "fulfill requirements." Some related things:
Writing Little Gems and Short Bursts
Artistry with Small Words Reading Etymology Connections
English Books Movies
rhyme, alliteration, forms, lyrics, metaphor
show'n'tell, public speaking, storytelling, debate
short story, novel,
technique and technicalities, exposition, fiction (and all of the above)
history, levels of formality, "rules"