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I need some ideas for grammar for this next year. We've been using FLL all the way through (DS levels 1-3; DD levels 1-4 and then Rod and Staff this year), and I'm having to acknowledge to myself that I just don't think it's working. Both kids can rattle off definitions and lists like nobody's business, but ask them to actually identify parts of speech in a sentence when we HAVEN'T just spent five minutes talking about that part of speech, and they look at me like deer in headlights. My son can easily tell you that "A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought" and "All sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark" - and yet he routinely begins his sentences with lowercase letters. 🙄 The memorization just isn't making its way into practical use.

I'm looking for something that, ideally, would cover grammar in a thorough but incremental manner, in about 15 minutes a day, with CLEAR explanations, plenty of practice, and in a format/presentation that's attractive and interesting to my kids. DD11 is an artistic, dreamy soul who'd love to spend her whole day drawing and listening to audiobooks; DS9 is a budding engineer who's preoccupied with Legos, pistons, gears, and the like. They both blanch at the sight of densely-packed or tiny text on a page, and each has a tendency to get lost in their own thoughts if something doesn't hold their attention.

I don't even know where to begin looking. We've never used (nor really looked at) anything but FLL, and I've kind of been waiting to see if all the memorization would begin to pay off in practical application...but I'm just not seeing it, and I think I'm facing the fact that we need to try something else. Thank you so much for your help!!!

Edited by Megicce

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Have you looked at Winston Grammar?  It is a different approach.  It uses color coded cards to explain parts of speech and build sentences.  I loved this program.  It was one of the best choices I made in our entire homeschool. 

Growing with Grammar is a more traditional approach. 

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1 minute ago, HollyDay said:

Have you looked at Winston Grammar?  It is a different approach.  It uses color coded cards to explain parts of speech and build sentences.  I loved this program.  It was one of the best choices I made in our entire homeschool. 

Growing with Grammar is a more traditional approach. 

We don't use Winston, but this is the approach I use for introduction to grammar.  I combined GrammarLand and Montessori-based characters to do an approach that combines colors, shape families, and personalities of the various parts of speech.  It works with kids from ages 6 and up.  I'm using it now with an 11yo who has graduated to just using colored lines to dissect a sentence and started diagramming with The First Whole Book Of Diagrams.  It is easy for him to see you can't put an orange, round adverb between a blue triangle article and large black triangle noun.  A darker blue triangle adjective has to modify the noun.

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13 hours ago, Megicce said:

I need some ideas for grammar for this next year. We've been using FLL all the way through (DS levels 1-3; DD levels 1-4 and then Rod and Staff this year), and I'm having to acknowledge to myself that I just don't think it's working. Both kids can rattle off definitions and lists like nobody's business, but ask them to actually identify parts of speech in a sentence when we HAVEN'T just spent five minutes talking about that part of speech, and they look at me like deer in headlights. My son can easily tell you that "A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought" and "All sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark" - and yet he routinely begins his sentences with lowercase letters. 🙄 The memorization just isn't making its way into practical use.

I'm looking for something that, ideally, would cover grammar in a thorough but incremental manner, in about 15 minutes a day, with CLEAR explanations, plenty of practice, and in a format/presentation that's attractive and interesting to my kids. DD11 is an artistic, dreamy soul who'd love to spend her whole day drawing and listening to audiobooks; DS9 is a budding engineer who's preoccupied with Legos, pistons, gears, and the like. They both blanch at the sight of densely-packed or tiny text on a page, and each has a tendency to get lost in their own thoughts if something doesn't hold their attention.

I don't even know where to begin looking. We've never used (nor really looked at) anything but FLL, and I've kind of been waiting to see if all the memorization would begin to pay off in practical application...but I'm just not seeing it, and I think I'm facing the fact that we need to try something else. Thank you so much for your help!!!

Probably that's why R&S's English covers grammar in depth every year, because most children can't identify parts of speech after just one year. 🙂 Also, is it vital for children to identify parts of speech, or is it vital that they write correctly constructed sentences? Because it is possible to write well without knowing parts of speech.

Also, it isn't enough to teach stuff; it must be used. So whenever your ds begins sentences with lower case instead of upper case, not only do you correct the errors, you lower his grade for that paper. Or you grade the paper for content, and have a second grade for mechanics, which you lower.

Possibly you are already doing that; if so, just ignore me. 🙂 

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Fix It Grammar has been great for my DD for 4th and 5th grade. We switch to Analytical Grammar in 6th-8th, but Fix It was perfect for her in those grades. 15 min/day tops and she did use the grammar in her compositions more consistently.

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MCT Grammar Island and Sentence Island are really great for seeing the "big picture" of grammar and sentence construction. It might help your kids see why they have been memorizing all those definitions. It's a bit expensive if you buy the whole curriculum, but you can just get the teacher's manual of GI and SI to test it out. There are also free samples on the website.

I modified some of the activities by printing out some Montessori symbols for the parts of speech and having my son label the exercise sentences with the symbols instead of writing it all out. I suppose that is a bit like the Winston approach, although, I haven't used Winston myself.

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1 hour ago, M.K.22 said:

MCT Grammar Island and Sentence Island are really great for seeing the "big picture" of grammar and sentence construction. It might help your kids see why they have been memorizing all those definitions. It's a bit expensive if you buy the whole curriculum, but you can just get the teacher's manual of GI and SI to test it out. There are also free samples on the website.

I modified some of the activities by printing out some Montessori symbols for the parts of speech and having my son label the exercise sentences with the symbols instead of writing it all out. I suppose that is a bit like the Winston approach, although, I haven't used Winston myself.


Ohhhh, these look lovely.... These would definitely speak to my artist daughter. The material might be simple/boring, but I'm really just looking for it to SINK IN as it hasn't before. What is the daily flow like with these curricula? Do they write in the student book, or on a separate piece of paper? How long is a typical lesson (ballpark)? Is there a lot of teacher involvement, or is it more student-directed? I'm just trying to make sure that whatever we land on fits into the flow of our days this coming year. 

And can I ask those same questions for the vocabulary and poetics books? I love the look of those, too. 🙂

Thank you very much!

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There are no official lesson plans or schedules for MCT. They recommend you take about a month or two for the grammar book. Then, you are supposed to alternate between the practice book, the writing book (sentence island), the poetry book, and the vocab book.  They also recommend reading lots of age appropriate, high quality literature.

Except for the practice book, the books are all intended as read alouds. The teacher's book is the same as the student book, but with added discussion points and activity explanations.  It took 10-15 minutes a day to read aloud. Then, if we did an activity, it would add about 20-30 minutes. My son needs a lot of prodding and help with focusing, but other children could probably do the activities in the writing book independently.  The practice book is just sentence analysis so once they get the hang of it, it is definitely independent work. It's also the only book they write in. I skipped the vocab book because he already learned about Latin roots in his spelling curriculum.

My son and I really enjoyed reading the books aloud. Sentence Island is a nice, funny story. It's intended for gifted students so it's more conceptual than other grammar programs. There's not really any memory work.  I guess gifted kids don't need that kind of repetition. I like it as a supplement for my bright (but probably not "gifted") kid.

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Have you done copywork and do your children read books for themselves.  I have noticed my children naturally write correct sentences even though we don't do formal grammar and writing yet, because we have been doing copywork for years and as soon as they could read they had to read books for themselves... Maybe continue with the grammar, but make copywork a priority. 

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