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Need help with 3rd grade grammar curriculum

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I would love some grammar curriculum suggestions for my 3rd grader.  We are very behind in grammar. We just finished Level 1 of First Language Lessons a few days ago. We both disliked it and I had a hard time making her do it so it took us 2 years. Last year I tried adding in Critical Thinking Co Language Smarts B for grammar but it just had so many pages that it was hard to make any headway in it while also doing the other subjects as well as vision therapy and OT. Also, I don’t think Lang. Smarts teaches grammar explicitly enough for her. She is an excellent reader but still struggles with writing and grammar.  We are about a third of the way through Writing with Ease Level 2 and we like it much better than FLL but we don’t love it so I would be open to a new writing curriculum as well.  Thank you for any help you can offer! 

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If Christian curriculum is o.k. with you,  I highly recommend Rod & Staff's English curriculum. It covers both grammar and writing, it's very affordable, and the texts are hardback so they will hold together very well if you plan to use them with other children. The first level they offer is Englsh 2 (2nd Grade) but you do not have to start there. You can jump right into English 3. They do a lot of review and it's very thorough so it will do a great job of filling in any gaps. A couple of things to know, 1) They offer a lot of practice meaning, if the student is learning to identify the subject or predicate of a sentence, for example, they'll be given 10-15 sentences to copy and then they'll be asked to underline the subject once and the predicate twice. This is waaaay too much writing for a young child. These books are written for classroom use that's why they offer so much practice. What I have my kids do is, depending on what the point of the exercise is, I have them either write only the answer (not the complete sentence) or if it's important for them to write the whole sentence down, I'll have them do just a few: 2-5 sentences, again depending on the point of the lesson.  You can see samples here: https://www.milestonebooks.com/item/1-123--/?list=Building_Christian_English_Series  Hope this helps.

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First of all a 3rd grader cannot be behind in grammar. I know there is grammar curriculum out there that is aimed at lower elementary but covering grammar at that age is totally unnecessary. My approach is to focus on phonics and reading for grades 1-3. We also do penmanship. Once they are reading fluently, usually around 3rd grade, we start spelling. I don't start grammar or writing (except for penmanship) until 4th grade and I have waited as late as 6th. We use Rod and Staff and I start in the 4th grade book. One can start with the 4th grade book in 6th grade and get through the 7th grade book by 9th grade. Once done with the 7th grade book the student will be prepared for high school. 

Susan in TX

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I think it kind of depends on what you are hoping to cover in grammar. 

With my first graders, my goal is them knowing the basic parts of speech.  We accomplish this through the Sentence Family, Grammar Land, parts of Basher Basics: Grammar, and Brian Cleary books.  They also learn to start sentences with a capital, capitilize proper names, and end sentences with punctuation (taught through WWE copywork).

In second, my goal is more sophisticated punctuation.  We work our way through the Basher punctuation book and pull various free worksheets from the web to reinforce punctuation rules.  These concepts also come up frequently in their WWE work.

In third the student and I read through Michael Clay Thompson's Grammar Island which gently introduces phrases, clauses, objects, etc.  We also work on the Practice Island book together...it is hard and even I stumble on it sometimes, but it helps us both explore how words work in various sentences.  At the same time, the kiddo starts working independently through Daily Grams.  It reviews all those nitty gritty details like capitalizing Aunt Sally but not just my aunt, or putting a comma after the salutation in a letter.

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I highly recommend FLL 3.  It is different from FLL1 and 2.  I had a hard time making us do 1 and 2, but 3 was a great fit.  And it is beginning level - it's definitely okay to start with 3.  We did not do all the memory work, but the scripted lessons and gentle exercises are a great introduction.  

For writing, you could do written narrations without a guide or textbook.  If that's appealing, I would start with Aesop fables.  They are self-contained and short enough to make narrations a little easier.  If your dd is not ready to write them on her own yet, she can tell it to you, you write it down and have her copy it over.  Then gradually have her do the initial writing.  When that's fairly easy, go to longer stories like chapters from Fifty Famous People.  

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  • 3 weeks later...
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Welcome! By your post count I see you are new. 🙂

First, I want to encourage you -- your DD can NOT be behind in Grammar if she's only in 3rd grade. MANY schools and MANY homeschoolers do not even START ANY formal Grammar until 3rd grade -- and some wait until 4th or 5th grade! (Similarly with Writing -- often homeschoolers do not start any formal writing program until 3rd or even 4th grade, to allow children a chance to get solid with reading, phonics, spelling, and handwriting.) So rest easy -- you are NOT behind! 😄 

Second, you mention vision therapy and OT... If you have a program you really like, but it's visually busy for DD and/or too much handwriting for her, you might try adapting. You can do it together, and do all or some of it orally. Or you scribe for DD while she dictates her answers to you.

For my DS#2 with mild LDs (stealth dyslexia) in Handwriting, Writing, and Spelling, we did a lot orally, but I also went with some programs that were more visual and less writing oriented. For Grammar, we used Winston Basic starting in 3rd grade. The program has the student use cards to label each part of speech of the sentence, and has a "clue card" with tips on it about each part of speech. I adapted the program and would write 4 sentences on the whiteboard, and then DS#2 would use colored markers to label each part of speech and then use arrows, underlines, circling, etc. to show what each word was doing (a form of "parsing" rather than diagramming).

For Writing and Grammar suggestions -- these 2 programs came out long after my boys were that age, but from the comments of others on these boards, I think these could be a great fit:
Treasured Conversations (also called Teaching Writing Guided Analysis) is a lovely, gentle program that combines Grammar and Writing, and is geared for grades 3-5
Writing Tales (level 1 = gr. 3-4; level 2 = gr. 4-5) is a similar 2-year program

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I would agree you cannot be behind in grammar. 🙂

My suggestion, since you would like both writing and grammar, would be to look at English Lessons Through Literature.  Level C reviews the parts of speech, has copywork and beginning writing instruction.  You are free to omit any part of the program that doesn't work for you, like we don't do their dictation or picture study.  We do our own.

I would also suggest finding a copy of Grammarland.  There's a free ebook of it floating around and Amazon sells reprints, but it's a lovely romp through a land where the parts of speech are all put on trial.  It makes them much more interesting than memorizing lists or just definitions. 

Writing Tales and Treasured Conversations are also very solid, good programs that are gentle but firmly teach with explicit instruction.  Since Treasured Conversations is a 36 week program meant for 3rd-5th graders, it's easy to slow it down to half speed and use it over two years, taking your time with each activity as they get a bit longer and more involved.

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PS -- you might also consider taking a break from formal Grammar for the rest of this year to recover from the dislike of FLL and instead do some fun informal Grammar:

- Schoolhouse Rock: Grammar Rock videos -- parts of speech
- Mad Libs, and, Grammar Ad Libs -- parts of speech
- Grammar Gorilla -- online game; parts of speech
Punctuation Pow or Missing Punctuation and What Gets a Capital Letter -- free downloadable/printable games
   (more ideas at My Joy-Filled Life blog: 30+ Grammar Games Kids Will Love)
- Brian Cleary books on parts of speech: 
   - A Mink, A Fink, a Skating Rink: What is a Noun? 
   - A Lime, A Mime, a Pool of Slime: More About Nouns
   - To Root, to Toot, to Parachute: What is a Verb?
   - Slide, Slurp, Scratch and Burp: More About Verbs
   - Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What is an Adjective?
   - Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What is an Adverb?
   - I and You and Don't Forget Who: What is a Pronoun?
   - Under, Over, By the Clover: What is a Preposition?

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On 10/22/2019 at 11:11 PM, Paradox5 said:

OP, be aware these teach VERY differently from anything else we have suggested here. Be sure to look at the samples quite carefully before purchasing. 

Yes, they do! And it’s exactly why we love them (and why my 3rd trader is currently using them).  My kids, on the whole, do best when they know the big picture - the whys and hows and where things fit in - first. And MCT does that, beautifully, gently, yet thoroughly.  It isn’t for everyone, certainly, but it is for many for whom the “anything else we suggested” programs are not effective.

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