Category Archives: grammar

Daily Grammar Lessons for Jr. High and High School ~ A Crew review

Daily Grammar for middle and high school

One thing we don’t focus too hard on as a family of readers is grammar and spelling. This is a mixed-bag of benefits so I was happy when a simple solution came available for review to have the girls brush up on these skills. Easy Grammar Systems has a series of easy-to-use products that doesn’t take a huge amount of time while showcasing huge results. Both Miss E (10th grade) and Miss L (8th grade) have been using  Easy Grammar Ultimate Series:  Grade 9 with Easy Grammar Ultimate Series:  Grade 9 Test Booklet. In just 5-10 minutes a day, the girls are getting solid practice and refreshers on all the necessary components of grammar.

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I have two students using this and that is because Easy Grammar Systems has a copyright statement in the front of the lesson book granting permission for more than one student to use the book for non-commercial use. It may not be used school-wide in districts and such but one family may use it for multiple students. This is a great blessing.

There are 180 daily lessons in the Easy Grammar Ultimate Series:  Grade 9. The text is considered a teaching text because it has explanations for new concepts as they come up. There are also examples for those new ideas. This allows the student to see and then use the concept – a great way to learn. Some of the ideas and concepts at the beginning are designed to be a review, especially if this is not the first book from Easy Grammar Systems the student has used. As the lessons progress, the information becomes more advanced. As a teaching text, this has the answer key included in the book.

20190912_133634Concepts in this level include but are not limited to:

  • adjectives
  • adverbs
  • analogies
  • types of sentences
  • conjunctions
  • dictionary skills
  • interjections
  • nouns
  • phrases
  • clauses
  • prefixes, roots, suffixes
  • prepositions
  • pronouns
  • sentence combining
  • sentence problems (run-on, fragment, etc.)
  • spelling
  • subject/verb agreement and identification
  • verbs

This program runs the gamut on grammar skills. Each of the 180 daily lessons includes the same five basic parts: capitalization, punctuation, two areas of grammar concepts, and sentence combining. The lessons are printed in the book and can be copied (notice the cover says reproducible!) or can be copied down into a notebook or on a piece of paper. My girls are using a notebook and writing the answers for each section down in the notebook.

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Samples are available on the website.

The answers are included in the back of the book. The book also has indexes and listing of the concepts with related page numbers. This would make it possible to look up concepts that a student needs practice on and have the student use just those parts.

We also received the test booklet. It contains reproducible tests that occur every 10 lessons. We use it the same way we use the daily lessons. It is formatted the same way the daily lessons are, also. The girls copy the answers for the lessons into their notebooks and then we grade them. So that they don’t forget to have me get the test booklet out, we have written “get test” before lesson 11, lesson 21, etc. The answers are included in the test booklet.

Each day the girls get out their language arts notebook and write the corrected sentences and answers into their notebook. We discuss any questions that arise during the lesson. Then, answers are checked and they are done with it for the day. It truly takes no more than 10 minutes and more often, it is about 5. Sometimes it takes them longer to find the book since there are two using it than it does for them to do the lessons at this point.

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I do expect it to take them a bit longer as the concepts become more advanced. But I have already seen benefit of this program for us. Since most of our grammar understanding comes from experiencing the usage in context of reading, this is pulling out the details and having them focus on the detail one at a time. Even if it is something they know, having to take just a moment to examine it and determine that, “yes, I do understand how this works” is a very good thing. Both of the girls are more certain with their responses and I have heard them speaking with more confidence when helping their younger sister in her grammar work.

I am pleased to see that they have additional levels. I feel confident in saying that this will remain in our arsenal for the long term.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

daily grammar

There have been Homeschool Review Crew families using this and additional products.
Easy Grammar:  Grade 1 
Easy Grammar:  Grade 3 
Daily GRAMS:  Grade 3 
Easy Grammar Plus
Daily GRAMS:  Grade 7
Easy Grammar Ultimate Series:  Grade 9
Easy Grammar Ultimate Series:  Grade 11

Please visit the Crew blog to read about their experiences by clicking on the image below.

Easy-Grammar-Daily-GRAMS-Easy-Grammar-Ultimate-Easy-Grammar-Systems-Reviews

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Reading Eggs Workbook Grade 5 ~ a Crew review

a quick and easy, all-in-one reading skills workbook

There are some things that it is just nice to have in a simple, compact, easy-to-use format. Grammar, comprehension, and spelling are all packaged up simply and effectively in the Reading Eggs workbook, 200 Essential Reading Skills for Fifth Grade, that Miss J has been using for the past few weeks. Reading Eggs has set it up to work right alongside their online program, which is Reading Eggspress for this level. The website requires a separate subscription purchase.

Reading Eggs cover

The softback workbook is set up by the week and contains one page for each day. Day 1 and Day 2 are comprehension lessons with excepts from a text that can be read in full on the website library. The comprehension lessons help the student learn to annote (or mark up) a text, noting the important parts and learning reading strategies. There are also two or three questions each day to answer regarding the reading of the text. Some of these are very simple but some require some inference from the reading, which does a great job of stretching understanding.

Reading Eggs workbook comprehension

Day 3 and Day 4 are spelling lessons. These lessons have a different spelling “rule” or pattern each week and the words all correspond to that.  The activities vary quite a lot to help focus interest and memory. The student might sort, work with phonics, count syllables, determine meaning, or have to fill in blanks. The second day is a more challenging day with the words being at a higher level and more complex spelling patterns. This day might also include things like unscrambling words or proofreading for spelling mistakes.

Reading Eggs working hard

Day 5 is a grammar lesson. These lessons each focus on a different grammatical term that helps the student understand the English language usage. The student might work on commas, dashes, clauses, or types of sentences. These are just a few of the terms that might be dealt with and the activities could be marking where they should go or finding mistakes in use, underlining, or completing sentences. Each day has a few different activities to help the student really understand.

Every 9 weeks, there is a comprehensive review. If you are working on a 36 week schedule and want to complete the whole book in that period, this will probably mean you have to double up at the end of week 9 to stay on schedule. For those of us on a more relaxed schedule, one page a day just means the review days are just “another day” and part of the norm.

 

The Reading Eggs workbooks contains everything needed for reading comprehension, spelling, and grammar learning. The table of contents shows you week by week what is going to be learned. If you are a more visual based person and need a calendar look at it, you have that, too. Following the student pages, there is an answer key at the back of the book.

Reading Eggspress website

The Homeschool Review Crew working on this review were offered a four week access to the Reading Eggs website since the workbooks sit alongside the website so nicely. We have had access to the website before and were thrilled to have it again. Reading Eggspress is the branch of the website designed for 7-13 year old students. It includes over 2,000 ebooks and has individualized learning to help all students boost their language and literacy skills.

 

Miss J works in her workbook every day and it takes her maybe 15 minutes. Two or three times a week, she also works on the website. She plays games to strengthen her spelling and vocabulary. She can access the full story that corresponds to the reading passages in the workbook for when she finds the excerpts interesting. She will spend a hour on the website if I let her. For this reason, I often make her do it after her other schoolwork is completed so she can spend as much time on there as she wants to. With rewards and fun activities, it is an exciting way to strengthen language arts skills.

Overall ThoughtsReading Eggs review image

I really like Reading Eggs. When we first started homeschooling, I would not have thought that Reading Eggs was something I would appreciate but I am glad to say I have been wrong! I have wondered what would have happened had we tried it out sooner but, regardless, we have it now and it is really benefiting Miss J. She enjoys the simple activities in the workbooks, even when they are super challenging, and she has a good time when she is working online with Reading Eggspress. We definitely would recommend Reading Eggs.

Claim 4 Weeks for Free:

Just in time for Back to School: Sign up today and watch your child become a stronger reader this Back-to-School season! A multi-award winning online learning program for children ages 2–13, Reading Eggs supports the essential foundations of reading with its highly engaging lessons, games, and e-books!
Claim Now by clicking this link – (https://readingeggs.com/giggly/)

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the experiences other families have had with Reading Eggs. They have used reading workbooks from K-grade 5 and math workbooks from K-grade 2. Click on the banner below to read more reviews.Reading-Eggs-Math-and-Reading-Reviews

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Lightning Literature & Composition Grade 4 ~ a Crew review

Hewitt Homeschooling Lightning Lit 4

While my youngest girl loves stories and being read to, she doesn’t always have the drive to read for herself in a constructive and discerning manner yet. Hewitt Homeschooling Resources has a series of literature and composition curriculum that I have long been interested in. We were actually a part of their grade 3 beta program a few years ago and used it for several books. I liked the way it flowed and so when we were given the opportunity to work with the Grade 4 Lightning Lit Set, I was glad to do so. It came with the Teacher’s Guide and the Student Workbook, both soft cover books.

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While Miss J is often considered 5th grade for this coming school year, I took a good look at the samples for the level on the Hewitt Homeschooling website. It showed me enough to know that since Miss J is a strong reader but is not always able to answer comprehension questions about the reading easily, this might be a really good fit for her. The books are pretty challenging, in my opinion, for a 4th grader who is not a super strong reader with strong comprehension. Take a look at this list.

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There are a total of 12 books on the list. Not included in this picture from the Student Workbook is Tuck Everlasting and The Borrowers. I also felt that the grammar includes so many skills and covers so many concepts that she has not yet dealt with that this would be a very good challenge for her. With a total of 36 weeks of materials, this is easily a full literature, composition, and grammar curriculum.

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I really like the way the Student Notebook is put together. The pages are perforated and set up by week. I can easily take one week’s worth of work out of the book and staple it together. Miss J then only has to deal with those pages and not the whole 400+ pages of the workbook.

Miss J started at the beginning of the workbook and has worked through several of the weeks. She is currently working on the book The One and Only Ivan. She has completed The Earth Dragon Awakes and Morning Girl. Each week is set up with four days. The fifth day is left as an optional day where additional work could be completed on the composition project or maybe completing an optional workbook page. Each week from the Student Workbook has a cover page that indicated the week and the pages of the book that will be read during that time.

Lightning Lit

The second page of the week has a checklist that shows what will be done during the week. It includes the readings, broken up into four parts. There is also the grammar pages to be completed on each of the four days and what they are, such a common and proper nouns. The composition is also included here and broken up into four parts, as well as any extra activities that can be completed if assigned. I did assign the extra worksheet pages, as I felt they were really helpful and Miss J completed them on day 4 of the week.

 

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The readings did a great job of putting the story into smaller chunks for each day. There were daily comprehension questions to go along with the reading. These always asked the student to think deeper than the surface understanding of the story. For example, in The Earth Dragon Awakes, there were questions regarding the understanding one of the characters has of another. In Morning Girl, the student was asked to recognize the emotions of the character and to use examples from the text to support the answer.

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The grammar portion of the work builds slowly upon the work that comes before it. This level started with nouns on the first day. Then it added the recognition of common nouns and proper nouns. The week ended with abstract nouns. Week two dealt with verbs, including linking verbs and helping verbs. Week three added types of sentences and week four added adjectives.

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a simple start to diagramming sentences

Each week, there was also diagramming sentences, beginning in week 3. This is something I have never done formally and so it was a learning experience for both Miss J and myself. The diagramming is handled very well, adding very small chunks each week. It is not overwhelming and the Teacher’s Guide is really helpful for me here.20190613_135255

Speaking of the Teacher’s Guide, let’s take a look at what it offers. It does include the expected – answers for the workbook pages the student completes each day. But there is quite a bit more to it. It is quite a bit more compact that the Student Workbook as it contains only around 250 pages. It begins with the table of contents listing each of the books for the weeks. The information is also listed by week, after the initial “How to Use This Teacher’s Guide” section.

Don’t skip the “How to Use” section. It includes a lot of information about why the curriculum is organized the way it is and why the choices were made to include things. There is information that will help with understanding the best ways to guide your student and suggestions for modifying where needed.

Each of the week’s lessons have additional information for the teacher that will help you be prepared to address concerns with your student or to guide them in discussions. Each section of the student’s workbook pages have a section in the Teacher’s Guide, giving answers or suggestions.

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I do wish that the Teacher’s Guide has a listing of all of the aspects of grammar and composition that are specifically addressed. This information would be really helpful if you are coming to this from a different curriculum or need to go to a different one for next year. (Grade 5 is in progress for Lighting Lit. See their website for the listing of books and outline of what is coming in Grade 5.)

The grammar and composition pretty well go hand-in-hand throughout the study. What is being worked on in grammar is often part of what they are being assigned to include in the composition. The concepts covered include:

  • nouns
  • verbs – from basic verbs to linking and helping verbs to the different tenses of verbs
  • adjectives
  • pronouns
  • conjunctions
  • articles
  • homophones
  • poetry – terms, types, rhyme, stress
  • punctuation – commas, quotations marks, ellipses, etc.
  • capitalization – sentences, in poetry, in letters, names and titles, etc.
  • figures of speech – onomatopoeia, simile, metaphor, personification
  • writing techniques – alliteration, assonance

Through the lessons, the grammar portion circles back to review concepts and ideas that had been previously taught and to take the student a little bit deeper. This is done through intentional reviews or by including the more complex form of the concept, such as specific types of clauses or different tenses of the verbs.

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Yes – this is my handwriting instead of Miss J’s. It was a hard day but she walked me through what to do and I did the writing for her. She learned the diagramming information, regardless of who did the writing.

And almost always, this is tied into the skill of diagramming a sentence. Teach the idea; practice the idea; diagram a sentence with that included. This is the process and I feel like it is a strong model for continued growth and learning.

We chose this for Miss J and I feel like the material covered, and the way in which it is covered, will more than challenge her this coming year as we continue on with this program. Hewitt Homeschooling Resources seems to have an advanced program so definitely take a look at the samples when you are getting ready to order materials.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Click on the banner below to read the reviews of others who were reviewing materials from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources. These materials included:

Grade 1 Lightning Lit Set
Grade 2 Lightning Lit Set
Grade 3 Lightning Lit Set
Grade 4 Lightning Lit Set 
My First Report: Solar System, Grades 1-4
Chronicles of __ State History Notebook, Grades 3-8
Joy of Discovery w Learning Objectives Adult/Teacher
Gr 7 Lightning Lit Set  
Gr 8 Lightning Lit Set 
American Early-Mid 19th Century Gr 9-10
American Mid-Late 19th Century Gr 9-12
Speech  Gr 9-12.
British Early-Mid 19th Century Gr 10-12
British Mid-Late 19th Century Gr 10-12
British Medieval Gr 10-12
Shakespeare Comedies Gr 11-12
Shakespeare Tragedies Gr 11-12
British Christian Gr 11-12
American Christian Gr 11-12  

Lightning-Literature-My-First-Reports-State-History-Notebook-Joy-of-Discovery-Hewitt-Homeschooling-Resources-Reviews-2019

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GrammarPlanet ~ a Crew review

GrammarPlanet online

A new website to assist with grammar is available – GrammarPlanet. This site is a complete grammar, punctuation, and usage curriculum. GrammarPlanet is truly a complete curriculum, including formal parsing and diagramming of sentences.

The folks behind this free program (free version supported by advertising) want everyone to learn how to correctly use the English language and so they have created this curriculum. This program is based upon the teaching methods of Analytical Grammar, which has been on the homeschool market for around 20 years.

Easy to use, it is aimed at students aged 10 and up. This is a fairly solid age to begin. We did try to have Miss J use it but at age nine, she was not ready for this program so I took over her account to see how the program worked. Miss L is using it and at age 12, she is able to benefit from the program. Challenging? YES! But she can do it.

student dashboard 2

So, how does this work? Let’s use me for an example, here. Each student has their own account with their own login. When I am ready to work, I login to my account and then click the bright green button in the upper left that says “continue progress.” That takes me right to where I left off last time and I can continue on. Each unit begins with a set of notes to print and a video to watch. This video is interactive and pauses periodically to have the student answer a question, ensuring attentiveness during the lecture. After the video is over, the student clicks the button to move them into the practice questions.

screen shot of video

Each practice is a sentence. The student reads the sentences, ensures they understand it, and then begin parsing, or marking, the sentence – nouns, adjectives, articles, pronouns, etc. This is done on the computer with a point and click setup – click the word you want to mark and a pop-up box appears with the choices in it, click your choice and the pop-up disappears but your choices is now marked above the work in the sentence. After you have marked everything you feel is needed, you click the continue button. You get immediate feedback on what is correct or incorrect.

sentence example with selections madeselections popup

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Continue on through the practice sentences until the program has determined you understand enough. Then it moves you on to the test. The test is the same set-up as the practices. If you have mastered enough of the unit test, then you will move on to the next unit. This program is a dynamic program, designed to give you more practice questions if you are struggling and fewer if you are answering correctly.

test image of question

It is recommended that the student be working on this program around 15 minutes at a time, every other day. This is to allow the brain to focus and really absorb the material.

At this time, there appear to be 13 units. The schedule on the website indicates that there are plans for 60 units when all is said and done. You can see this schedule by visiting the main website page and scrolling down to the bottom right. In the question “How does it work?” there is a link for the unit outline.

Now for the nitty gritty – do we like it? Yes and no.

Yes

  • this is a rich, challenging, growth-producing program. The units are rigorous. They do not allow for half-way and GrammarPlanet pushes the student hard. There is no easy way out with this program.
  • If you want to strengthen your English language skills so that you become a better writer and more confident in your usage, this program is going to be right for you.
  • If you are seeking a formal and classical usage program that will teach diagramming and all the skills that go along with that, this program is what you are looking for.
  • Resetting the unit is an option when the student is struggling and needs to repeat from the beginning to view the video again.
  • Notes are available for reprinting or viewing (opens in a PDF) while in the practices.

No

  • It is difficult to begin this program when you have not had already had a rigorous grammar program but understand a good bit about the subject. Even with the nouns, there are words used in a way that is different than I have ever been taught, or taught my girls. Add in things like the pronouns and it is a whole new world. I understand that there are not “different rules” that govern these things but it certainly feels that way when you get things wrong that you feel certain you understand.
  • It is frustrating to the student to be told over and over that they have gotten all of the questions, or even most of the questions, in a set wrong. When this happens, the student is locked out of the program until it is reset or unlocked by the parent or teacher managing the account. Requiring this gives additional teaching a chance to happen.
  • It is a difficult program to work through when you do not have an explanation of why you got something wrong. We referred back to the notes, over and over, but still end up guessing about why things are marked wrong a lot of the time. It is difficult for this program to be able to give individual feedback but at the same time, not having that kind of feedback means that there is no growth in understanding of the mistake so it will not be made again.

GP OK ku revision

Overall Thoughts –

  • You need to check this program out. GrammarPlanet is free and it might be just right for your family. If you love it, you might want to pay for the upgrade so that you don’t have to deal with the advertising that helps keep the program free and your students can focus on their learning.
  • View the welcome video on the page to experience an interactive video and learn more about the program.
  • There is a link on the main GrammarPlanet page at the top for Frequently Asked Questions. Definitely check that page out as there is some information there that is not covered in this review.
  • Miss L will probably continue using this, at least for a bit, if she still continues to make progress. We will discontinue it when the frustration overrides the progress made.

Visit their site and see what they have to offer. It just might be the program you are looking for.

Blessings,
At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew anchor post to read additional reviews of what some other families thought about this program. There are a wide range of families using GrammarPlanet so please visit some of them.

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Interactive Grammar Notebook for Elementary Students

interactive grammar notebook

Miss J enjoys learning with hands-on activity. So, when we were talking about how to do some grammar work with her this year that would be fun, we hit upon doing a notebook using printables about grammar. I had no idea at the time that most people refer to these as interactive notebooks. But hey, even I learned something this way!

Before I began anything else, I made a list of all the things we wanted her to review and learn:

  • nouns, common nouns, proper nouns, etc.
  • verbs, linking verbs, etc.
  • pronouns
  • adjectives
  • adverbs
  • sentences, including types of sentences

Then, I did a bundle of searches to come up with freebie printables that fit what we were wanting her to learn. In the process, I found some other grammar concepts that were perfect to add to her notebook. I saved all of these files on my computer and then I spent some time printing them all. I used colored printer paper to keep it fun and alternated the pages so that she did a different color for each page. Some pages had two or more colors.

There were foldables, lists, matching, lift-the-flap, and more. I found a good variety and we were able to print off enough to do several a week for the entire fall semester. She used a composition notebook to put them in and now she has a complete grammar notebook that she can refer back to if she needs a refresher. I am keeping it handy for that but also so that if I find more, we can add to it as she gets older and works on different parts of grammar.

The areas that she ended up with in her interactive notebook include:

  • subject/predicate
  • nouns, including common nouns, singular nouns, possessive nouns
  • pronouns
  • verbs, including verb phrases, being verbs and action verbs
  • adjectives
  • adverbs
  • prefix and suffix
  • synonyms and antonyms
  • punctuation
  • types of sentences
  • cliche, idiom, hyperbole, personifiction, simile, metaphor, alliteration, onomatopoeia
  • writing details
  • how-to practice
  • opinion writing
  • plot
  • important fact identification
  • reading responses

I often pulled out Grammar Rock from the Schoolhouse Rock series to go along with a new topic in her grammar notebook. After all, who doesn’t like a some to help you remember?

You can find some of what I saved in my Pinterest board but a lot of it that I used, I did have to give an email for. I didn’t mind and will be considering purchasing one or two options for additional activities for the more advanced concepts. Especially since I saw a couple on Pinterest that I didn’t print for her. Yay – more for her to do.

She was actually sitting here, helping me flip through her interactive notebook to make the above list and was asking to do more. She’ll be happy for me to print some more things for her to do.

What are your favorite grammar resources? I would love for you to share your favorites with me in the comments. It might give me something new to do with her and it might help someone else who is reading along here.

Blessings,
At Home.

Linking up with the Homeschool Review Crew through their weekly linkup.

Jolly Phonics & Jolly Grammar ~ a TOS review

Jolly Literacy review

I never thought I would see the day when Miss J begged to do multiple phonics and grammar lessons. This is the case every almost every school day since we began using Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar, which are both by jollyliteracy.com.

Jollyliteracy.com, also known by the official company name just2ducks LLC, is quite a different program than any I have seen. I’ll be honest and tell you I really don’t like teaching phonics. It seems almost a waste time to me but that is because reading has come very easily for everyone in our family. Even so, jollyliteracy.com has helped me to see the value in teaching phonics, even after a student can read.

Miss J is beginning 2nd grade, reading very well, and knows quite a bit about phonics through general day-to-day reading and discussion, plus a previous phonics program. She has not, however, done any specific grammar programs. I give you that just to kind of help you understand why we are using jollyliteracy.com as we are.

jollyliteracy.com books

Jolly Phonics came with three Student Books (Student Books 1, 2, and 3 in print letters) and a Teacher’s Book in print letters which includes the lessons for all three Student Books. These three books are progressive in the knowledge, with each one building on the one before. Once we received these books, I looked through them to try to gauge where Miss J would place.

Student Book 1 is dedicated to introducing the student to the letter sounds. There is a page for each of the 42 main sounds of the English language. 12 tricky words are covered. Student Book 2 begins providing the student opportunities to practice reading and writing the letter sounds and introduces capital letters. There are alternative spellings discussed for some of the sounds and more tricky words are introduced. Student Book 3 works on better understanding of alternative letter-sound spellings and introduces the remainder of the tricky words. Improvement of comprehension, reading and writing skills are also goals of Student Book 3. All three levels are designed for one page to be completed per lesson. All together, these three books give a complete year of instruction. Jolly Songs book and CD, which we also received, go right alongside Student Book 1, presenting a letter sound in song format with a familiar tune. These tunes repeat and the CD is right there to help you out if you need it.

I could easily have chosen to not have her do any of the phonics Student Books as there is quite a bit in Book 3 that she already knew. However, there was enough in there that we hadn’t really covered that I felt it would be a good review and teaching combination for her.

Jolly Phonics Student Book 3

Some of what she knew: the ph sound combination, most of the “tricky words” she could read without any problem, blending sounds, comprehension of simple to mildly complex sentences.

Some of what I knew she needed: finding alternatives that make the same sound (i.e. – ou and ow), spelling, dictation practice.

We absolutely enjoy using Jolly Phonics. We complete a lesson on Monday and Thursday with Jolly Grammar on Wednesday and Friday. And most days, she wants to do more than one lesson. Alright by me, as it doesn’t seem to affect the phonics program.

Each lesson follows a fairly consistent plan. Begin with some review of sounds or tricky words. Give instruction for the lesson, using the page in the student book for some parts. These might include reading, writing, or drawing. There will either be some dictation of simple sentences, blending practice with some more difficult words, or reading some sentences. The Teacher’s Book is essential for this program as it contains many things that are not in the student book for each lesson.

Each page is colorful, simple and draws Miss J right in. As I said, she really likes this program and asks to do more than one lesson a day. Sometimes, she asks to do both phonics and grammar on the same day. Which brings us to the grammar program.

spelling testJolly Grammar 1 is what we have been using. We received Jolly Grammar 1 Student Book in print letters and Jolly Grammar 1 Teacher’s Book in print letters. Jolly Grammar is just as simple to implement as Jolly Phonics. It’s bright, colorful, and uncluttered pages make it a joy and it draws the student right to the page without being a distraction. This program follows the Jolly Phonics program with the goal of teaching basic grammar, spelling, reinforcing the phonics program, and improving comprehension and vocabulary. The Teacher’s Book is required for this program, as with the phonics, because it contains a number of pieces for each lesson that are not printed in the Student Book.

Jolly Grammar is intended to be taught with two lessons a week. This gives you approximately 36 weeks’ worth of lessons in this program. This equates to a single page per lesson. One lesson is designed to be mostly spelling and the other mostly grammar. Again, we are using this in combination with the Jolly Phonics, so we are alternating days and seeing a lot of overlap, which is quite good. I contacted jollyliteracy.com to ask about the combination of the two programs and she felt like, based on what I told her about Miss J’s abilities, that this combination would work fine and I have been very pleased.

Examples of activities from the grammar book include: finding words that have a particular sound in them, listing the words, and illustrating them; finding mistakes in sentences such as missing capitals and periods in the wrong place; and, dictation of words and sentences. Spelling tests include 10 words and have a special place at the back of the student book for writing the test.

Phonics Book 3

The biggest issue we are having is that Miss J is enjoying these two programs so much that she really wants to fly through them. Which is hard when every other lesson in Jolly Grammar includes a spelling test! But, Miss J is a very good speller so these are pretty much reviews for her. Except for the long word included in each list. Those are giving her problems but she is still loving it and the challenges the program presents. And I am enjoying using this program to teach. Published by just2ducks LLC, Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar get my vote.

At Home.

 

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Writers In Residence ~ a TOS review

For a few weeks now, Miss L has been working with Writers in Residence , a product from Apologia Educational Ministries for this review. It has been a fantastic fit!

Miss L is currently 9 years old and really enjoys writing, so I was not sure this would be a good fit for her. After all, writing programs tend to be directed at students who don’t like to write all that much or are struggling with it. This one? It is a good fit for all students, I think. Whether they like to write, love to write, or would rather it just all disappear for good. By drawing on the student’s personal memories, life, and imagination for writing material, this program pulls the student into the process of becoming a writer.Writers In Residence

When you purchase Writers In Residence Volume 1 Apprentice set, you will receive two books. One is the all-in-one student text and workbook. The second is the answer key. You do need both of these for this program to work its magic.

The student text and workbook is where the student does most of their work. The student reads and writes in this one book. The work on their writing assignments here, their grammar work, their editing work, everything! It came with a plastic spiral binding on it. It is huge! Miss L did not want me to take the pages off of the spiral to put them into smaller sections to work with but honestly, it would be a whole lot easier to work with. The book is about 3 inches thick! There is a ton of fantastic information and reading and exercises here.

welcome to WIRThe first 30ish pages of the student text are “how to use this book.” Read these. Period. It is such good information and it makes the program all pull together in your head. I learned a whole lot reading this section and highlight some parts that I found enlightening. Do this first. Then, dig into seeing what else is in the book.

Grammar doesn’t create content. But it can create beauty.” (p. xxvi)

Overemphasizing correct spelling often results in students using only words they can confidently spell. This creates a boring and stilted writing style that is far below what the child is capable of thinking, imagining, and talking about. In the process, the child’s voice is lost, not captured.” (p. xxiii)

Thinking as a writer and building the skills of a good writer are the goals of Writers In Residence. The whole book is designed to help the students begin seeing everything around them, all that they have experienced, as something to tuck away for later use. Beginning to think as a writer, to use words differently, to structure sentences differently – all these are worked on in this book.

working on WIRWriters In Residence contains five units. Each unit focuses on a different type of authentic writing style. These are:
1 – When I Was Young (I Remember): uses Cynthia Rylant’s When I Was Young In The Mountains as a literature example
2 – Very Truly Yours (I Imagine): uses Patricia MacLachlan’s Sarah, Plain and Tall as a literature example
3 – My Family Hall of Fame (I Investigate): uses Roald Dahl’s Boy: Tales of Childhood as a literature example
4 – My Favorite Author (I Think): has an expert writer example but I cannot locate the authorship of it
5 – The History of Me (I Remember): uses excepts from Beverly Cleary’s A Girl from Yamhill: A Memoir, Sid Fleischman’s The Abracadabra Kid, and an essay by Mary Pope Osborne titled “All-Ball”.
6 – Zap! Pow! Kazam! (I Imagine): the expert model was written specifically for WIR and does not give an author

I really appreciate the focus here on quality literature from well-known authors as examples for what is being taught. In addition to these, there is an interview prior to each unit with a Christian author. These include Bill Myers, Amy Green, Irene Howat, Jason Lethcoe, Amy Parker and Phil Vischer. (We have gotten some new reading material by looking up these authors at the library. We didn’t know any of them before this!) This authenticity and focus is so helpful in encouraging young writers.Author Interview reading

Each unit works through a set pattern. There are four modules in each unit and within each module there are a number of activities. These are well-designated and the instructions for each are clearly written, as well as clear indication of when there are corresponding answers to be found in the answer key. Within each unit, there are repeated elements that help keep the students focused. These elements are:

  • Introduction to the unit
  • rubric for the final product of the unit
  • writer’s questions for each module of the unitWriter's Toolbox activity
  • sneak peek of what will be learned for each module of the unit
  • the writing assignment specific to each module (these build on each other to create the final product of the whole unit)
  • expert model for the module
  • student samples
  • writer’s toolbox with specific strategies expert writers use
  • graphic organizers for working through the mini-assignments
  • The Sandbox – an assignment that helps students experiment with various writing strategies
  • vocabulary to help build a stronger usage of words
  • word sleuth encourages students to add to their word collection the words that they don’t know
  • module checklist is a specific rubric to help the evaluate the student’s work within the module
  • writer’s workshop is a module in each unit that focuses on sentence structure
  • review your progress sections encourage self-evaluation and sharing of the student’s work

While each unit has the goal of creating a completed piece of high-quality writing, there are mini-assignments throughout (see the list above) that work to teach the student strategies that good writers use. To accomplish this, student might work on grammar, spelling, vocabulary, brainstorming, or editing in the course of the mini-assignments throughout any given model. These all come together with the main piece of work being edited in small, bite-sized pieces. These bits are so small, the student doesn’t even necessarily realize how much change is occurring in their piece as they work on it. Sometimes, these mini-assignments do not have anything to do with the piece for the unit. Sometimes, they are breaks from that writing. It all works together seamlessly.

WIR workThere is a schedule in the front of the student text to help you plan out the work for this program. We are not following it because, honestly, Miss L likes to work on this and is moving a bit faster than the pacing in the book. I have found it to be easy as pie to just work at the pace the student is setting.

Writers in Residence quickly became a favorite part of the school day for Miss L. She works hard at the assignments and enjoys writing. She seems to be enjoying learning how to be a better writer and seeing the instruction add to her abilities. Her first piece of writing that she finalized using WIR was published on the blog a couple of weeks ago. Please go read When I Was Younger to see how the first unit piece came out for her.

There is much to really like about Writers in Residence . If you are looking for a writing program, I highly recommend checking out Apologia Educational Ministries and read more review from the Review Crew by clicking on the banner below.

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