GrammarPlanet: A TOS Crew Review!

GrammarPlannet Grammar is one of those areas many homeschooling moms find intimidating. I’m a self-proclaimed word-nerd so it grammar doesn’t intimidate me personally, but teaching it can get a little more complicated. We haven’t had very many bumps along the way as my girls love words too, but I always love reviewing new-to-us grammar products! GrammarPlanet is the brain-child of the same family who gave us Analytical Grammar, a much loved product among homeschoolers everywhere! The author dreamed of having an online resource available for everyone regardless of economic background or school setting. She has sadly passed away, but her family has worked to make this dream a reality. We eagerly jumped in with gusto to check out this new resource! 
GrammarPlannetThe interface of the program is easy to use and follow. Students are first instructed in a portion of grammar. They learn what a noun, pronoun, very, etc. is and how it functions in the setting of the sentence. Then students are given example sentences and must assign labels to the words. They are only asked to assign those labels which they have already learned. After a student finished the lesson they may move on if they succeed in completing a certain percentage correct. If not, they should redo the lesson and master the concept before moving forward. 

 I love that as the parent/teacher I can see exactly what mistakes my daughters made. This helps me be able to re-instruct or further explain areas which may have been confusing. One of the more confusing areas for my daughters was learning the same word can be two different parts of speech depending on how it is used in a sentence. For instance, house is usually assigned as a noun, but when used in the phrase house arrest, house is then an adjective. In the same way arrest is most often thought of as a verb, but in this same example it is a noun. This was a harder concept for my Grace, who is eight, to fully grasp.  One of the things I did not like as much was in a noun phrase, specifically with proper nouns, if one did not choose the correct direction for the dashes to indicate the beginning or end of the phrase, it was counted incorrect. In my thinking this does not exactly show incorrectness, just a misunderstanding of how the program works.

This is usually my complaint with most online or computer-based programs. It is impossible for there to be fully fluid dynamic learning because computers cannot be intuitive enough to know what the intent of the student is. A computer can only assess right or wrong based on a specific answer. With my girls, they felt a little discouraged to see something was marked incorrect for this reason.  

This is a portion of Rose’s practice in progress.

My children have had deep grammar instruction from 2nd grade and moving forward. My oldest daughter has placed at a college writing level based on her assessment testing last year. She struggled quite a bit, but the struggle was very good for her because she learned how words can be used differently and really analyzed the sentences more accurately as she progressed. My younger two just felt discouraged. They did not want to use it very much. 


Here is what the page looks like for the teacher to see what was missed and the reason why. You can see the example of knowing the word was a part of an adjective phrase, but missing the correct assignment of dashed lines to indicate the beginning and end of that phrase.

Based on this and my own use of the program, I think it would be excellent for high schoolers who have not had any grammar instruction (not uncommon in the homeschooling community) or middle schoolers who have had deeper instruction and this can work as a solid review. I also think it would be excellent for adults who may be going back to school or just want to improve their writing skills and need a refresher course. The complexity is a little much for elementary students in my opinion, even word nerds like us!  Check out what my Crewmates had to say! *Grammar Program Online {GrammarPlannet Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Language Lessons for a Living Education 2: A New Book Review Crew at NLPG Review

Language arts is one of the trickier subjects in younger grades. Some schools of thought say to not teach grammar or writing at all until upper elementary or even middle school. Another group says to pile these things on heavily as young as possible. I do not personally fall into either camp and was pleased to see that Language Lessons for a Living Education 2 from Master Books is a very happy balance. It will teach your student some basics of grammar, review phonics, introduce literary analysis, and even address spelling and rhyming all in a gentle, Charlotte-Mason friendly approach. 
Instead of the traditional moans and groans language arts elicited from most of my classmates, I think children will find this a delightful subject to learn. 
The pages are consumable with traditional writing paper lines used for the written work. This is perfect for the younger ages who are still working on remembering how to form their letters. There are only small spaces given for answers which I think is brilliant. Young kids can become easily overwhelmed and frustrated when they feel an assignment is too hard or is asking too much of them. Seeing a full sheet of paper with blank lines can cause some kids to fall apart. This course gives just the right amount of space, not to little or too much. Lots of review is included throughout the book, but not in a way that feels tedious or overdone. The directions are perfectly Charlotte Mason with a conversational tone, written directly to the student. 
What brings all of this together into a fantastic course are the beautifully illustrated pages. The images are sweet and kid-friendly while not too babyish. This is great for kids who may need to work at a lower level while their technical grade level is higher. 
One of my favorite aspects of this course is the introduction to literary analysis paired with the traditional style of Charlotte Mason narration. It is never to early to begin discussing literature with kids! While you may not use the formal terminology for a few years, exploring characters, settings, and especially themes or feelings is perfect for younger kids. In helping them become comfortable discussing literature with simple stories now, you will find this much easier in the older years. I particularly love the discussions about poetry. So many students dislike poetry and my theory is that it is because of a lack of exposure or a negative perspective put upon them by someone else.

As with all material published by Master Books, God’s Word is woven throughout. This is not in any way forced, but simply woven in as a matter of conversation, just as we do with our children in our every day lives already. My daughters are beyond this beautiful title, but I will be recommending it for language arts for young learners from now on! 
Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the New Book Review Crew at NLPG in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

English Grammar Teaching Method from English on a Roll: A TOS Crew Review!

English on a Roll

Before I became Mommy, I was an English teacher to middle school students who were sadly lacking in basic grammatical understanding. I tried to teach what I could, but I was fresh out of college and struggled to know how to bring them up to an acceptable middle school level. Grammar is viewed as very tedious to learn and teach, but it doesn’t have to be! My daughters are growing up learning the parts of speech, how to diagram sentences, and how to speak and write in an intelligent way and it has been rather painless. Giving them a good foundation for sentence building has been my goal and I look for fun ways to do so.  I was highly intrigued by the English Grammar Teaching Method
from English on a Roll.
English on a Roll
When I opened our box my girls were intrigued as well and wanted to know when we were going to play the new grammar game! It does look like a game for certain with the many worded cubes and fun lesson book. Everything you need comes neatly packaged with incredibly clear instructions in the first few pages. The great part about this is that even though it looks like a game, it is really all about hands-on-learning through manipulatives, a technique proven highly useful for mathematics and now ingeniously applied to grammar instruction!

These little cubes will work in just about any learning situation you can imagine. They are intended for students who are at the mental maturity to be understand how to structure a sentence, about 5 years old. Some examples given by the company are teaching homeless children to sight read and spell, giving students on a higher level of academics a base for writing complex sentences, using them in English as a second language classes, special needs classes, or adult literacy classes. Our homeschool is just traditional, no special needs or non-native speakers, so I was really excited to see how this would work for us.

The teacher guide includes reproducible pages to give as handouts for each student. This was the first really cool part about English on a Roll. While my girls all learn grammar, they have just begun 2nd, 5th, and 7th grades. This does not typically lend itself to group grammar lessons! It was great to have something we could do all together.

The beginning lessons were fairly easy for them because they do already have a grammar base. What I noted is that this would feel easy even for students who do not have a solid grammar background, which is exactly why it is so great! Grace has the least experience with structured grammar and really enjoyed the fill in the blank lessons. Beth enjoys anything hands on and is a thinker, so greatly enjoyed the dice. Rose, who has a very strong understanding of sentence structure and word usage, did a great job helping her sisters understand with the cubes. It was really neat to see her take over as teacher without even realizing it because the word cubes lend itself to very easy instruction. This was great to see because I know it means they would be easy for everyone to use, not just English teachers like me! 

Set-up and prep were just a matter of copying a few student pages and setting the cubes out for use. Each lesson shows you at the very top exactly which cubes you need and a handy cube guide along with color coded word dice make this super easy and efficient. I was able to read through a lesson once and feel ready to move forward with the teaching. I do also really like that there are a variety of options for games, conversations, and activities to teach the same concepts. This may be the most open-and-go grammar curriculum I’ve had a chance to use.

This is hands down my new favorite addition to our homeschool. I love that I can teach the girls all together and that they had a great time using it! 

Take a look at what my Crewmates have to say!

English on a Roll {Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Jensen’s Grammar Review: A Moms of Master Books Review

Jensen's Grammar 

Strong English skills are very important to me. My background is Middle School English. I taught full time before our girls came along and I’m starting my 7th year teaching English to homeschooled middle schoolers at a homeschool learning center. So when I look to teach grammar to my kids, I want to make certain that the materials I use are high quality and will lead my daughters to have a solid foundation which will help lead them to become excellent writers.

For elementary we have been using Rod and Staff Grammar, which is very solid, but I was ready to move forward to something different for middle school and high school. My oldest daughter is a 6th grader this year so I’ve been looking at my options and I’ve found where we will settle!

Jensen’s Grammar is an excellent program whether your child already has a solid grammar base or your are building the foundation from the beginning. Each lesson is short, simple, and easy to follow. Best of all if you feel nervous about teaching grammar there is a DVD available to do the teaching for you! Because of my background I do not feel the need for the DVD and I am not reviewing that portion of the program.

My favorite curricula have the teaching included in the student books. This allows for the student to look back at the teaching instruction whenever they have need. I also like programs that are easily broken down into more than one day. For middle school I intend to do one lesson each week and break down the exercises to a few each day. This will give adequate time for the lessons to sink in and the practice will be short. Since my husband teaches the girls on Mondays while I’m teaching my class I plan to do the initial lesson instruction on Tuesday and then have Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Monday for practice.

We follow the Charlotte Mason theory that short practice every day is better for retention that longer lessons.The broken up lessons will be great for middle school, but as we progress I may modify this schedule. For high schoolers it possibly should be completed at a faster pace. Really this is just a preference and the important thing, as with any curriculum, is to figure out how best it will work for your personally.

Tests are also provided. I love the test booklet. Each test is only one page long. There are two tests for every 5 lessons. The second test is only if a student struggles to master the first test. Also all answers are provided in the test booklet for both the textbook and the test booklet.

Finally one of my favorite features is that both the text and test booklet are reproducible for your family! This is such a huge thing for homeschooling families with multiple students using the same curriculum whether at the same time or in the future like ours.

My assessment is that this is a solid, academically sound curriculum which will prepare your students to become excellent writers, which is the purpose of learning grammar. As far as value this is one of the best buys for English I have ever seen.

Disclaimer: I received this product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.