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Has anyone used Language Smarts from the Critical Thinking Company?


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I don't own Level B (Grade 1). I own Level C (Gr. 2), D (Gr.3), and E (Gr.4 - final book in series).  To explain, I had my language arts averse Grade 5 son go through all of Level C (maps to Advanced Grade 2)  from Sept. 2020 - Feb 2021.  He has a very advanced vocabulary, he just abhors language arts ("I'm going to be a Youtuber!! I'll never have to write a sentence!!")   Now we're on Level D. 

I can't speak to Level B, but out of curiosity I just looked at the TOC at the Critical Thinking website, and it looks like it's in the same format as the rest of the series:  Phonics, parts of sentence (Grade 1 level), antonyms/synonyms/homophones/homographs and lots of Editor in Chief (which is an excellent separate book, btw, we're doing that, too, at the earliest level, Beginning 1).

I can review Level C.  Like I mentioned above, Level C maps to advanced Grade 2 in my opinion:  Lots of full sentences, paragraphs.  Lots of grammar that wouldn't probably typically be done in Grade 2 (simple subject/predicate, adjectives, adverbs).  Fact or opinion pages, Fairy Tales vs. Fables.   Writing Detective pages (mild critical thinking).  Nothing too outrageous, but definitely more thorough than standard Grade 2 workbooks.  Pages have color with simplistic non-distracting drawings.  Simple concepts on each page that are explained and re-explained.  The bad is that the book itself is not spiral, so the front of the book is all phonics, then parts of the sentence, etc. and the pages are not perforated, so you either have to flip around the book to vary the student's assignments, or cut the pages out.  I cut them out.  We did the entirety of the book, excluding the pure writing pages.  My son refuses at this point. (Later....)

Level D (Grade 3) has a lot of the same material as Level C, just a bit more in depth and lots more of Editor in chief pages (which I am in favor of).  If there's something specific that you're wondering about, let me know.

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I used the Language Smarts series with both my children.  They completed B through D as part of their language arts curriculum for 1st through 3rd grades.  My youngest also completed E. E had not yet been published when my oldest was in 4th grade.

It has been years since we used the books (my baby is in 7th grade), but I recall the series as being open and go.   Most exercises were a single page with simple and clear instructions written to the student at the beginning of the exercise.  By second grade we considered the workbooks independent work to be completed during the sibling's math lesson.  For at least the beginning of first grade I did read aloud the instructions to be sure the child understood what he was being asked to do.  

One caveat - while the initial reading level of volume B is low, it does assume the child is at least a beginning reader.  A child off to a slower start in reading would not be able to complete the exercises independently.  The amount of writing the child is expected to do ramps up from single words to complete sentences as he progresses through the workbook.    (I skipped around in the book to avoid assigning multiple pages requiring writing on the same day.)

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you both. I do have some follow up questions:

 

1. Did you use anything else to supplement handwriting, phonics, spelling, any other language arts? If so, what?

2. Clickie, how did you decide what order to complete the book since you didn’t go in order?

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Language Smarts was our supplement.  

  • Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears
  • Phonics: my children were early readers.  1st through 4th grades we buddy-read selected works for fluency.  
  • Spelling: 4th grade: Spelling Works 
  • Other language arts:
    • Child 1 - 1st grade: Writing With Ease, Level 1; 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades: Junior English 
    • Child 2: 1st grade: Aesop's Fables: My Book About  Reading, Writing, Thinking; 2nd and 3rd grades: Junior English ; 4th grade: Wordsmith Apprentice and A Crow Doesn't Need a Shadow 
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We've been using them this past year as worthwhile busy work. The main purposes I have for them and the other worksheets I put in our "independent work" packets each week are to have something for one child to do while I'm working with another and to help them build executive function skills. They are good reinforcement and not miserable for the kids to do. We aren't going to use them next year because we'll be meeting these goals in other ways, but I may get them in future years at some point.

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The Language Smarts series is open-and-go, as Sherry in OH noted, so that you can pretty much grab any page from the book, and teach/review.  So I would grab say, a "Sentence Fragment" page, a "Use Quotations" page, an "Identify Adjectives " page, etc. to create a spiral program where my son was constantly being reminded of the parts of the English language.  We would do about four single sided pages a day.  He now creates sentences with proper quotations (comma, open quote, end punctuation, end quote), can recognize standard parts of sentences, etc - even adverbs modifying adverbs, which is saying something for him.  He doesn't care for language arts.

For phonics/spelling, we went back to basics with an excellent phonics book: "Basic Phonics Level D" (Grade 2-3) by Evan Moor publications. Fabulous, and I believe I paid full price (that's saying a lot....)  My son's spelling jumped up a grade or two just after completing those pages.  Book can be previewed at the evan moor website.  That's the final book of the Basic Phonics series.

Then we moved onto MCP Plaid Phonics Level C (Grade 3) (at the time best priced at Rainbow Resources), which is great value and fun.  The coordinating books to MCP Plaid Phonics is Spelling Workout at the same level, which teaches spelling and cursive at the same time, which we will start soon.  I would have done them together, but I didn't realize they were a coordinated series.

Editor in Chief Beginning (and onwards) is excellent for sentence correction.

Vocabulary Virtuoso for increasing vocabulary. Critical Thinking Company.  Note: The book cover is lame IMO (author got a student to design the covers of her series...).  The book is waaay better than the cover, just saying.

Vocabulary Fundamentals (Grade 3) for learning how words are constructed. Evan moor, can preview book on the evan moor website.  Compound words, prefixes, suffixes, root words, idioms.  The end of the book has a language play page section.   Very useful for learning how the English language is put together.  Open-and-go.  We're on Vocabulary Fundamentals Grade 4 now.  It's a great series.  If a student were to thoroughly learn the contents of these books, they would be at least at grade level.

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