Winston Grammar, meant for approximately 5th grade and up, is designed to help students understand the structure of language and comprehend the principles of grammar. To achieve these conventional ends, this program uses innovative means, doing away with the traditional grammar textbook and diagramming (along with heavy emphasis on memorization). Instead, students are given a set of color-coded clue cards and a book of exercises, which together generate multi-sensory activities that incorporate moving, seeing, hearing, and speaking. By using the cards repeatedly, students gain grammar knowledge with little or no memorization required. Learning is incremental, taught in a gradual and controlled sequence with review built-in.
Winston comes in two main levels—Basic and Advanced. There is a supplemental workbook available for Basic; and the publisher also offers a usage program called Word Works, which can be used after Basic or its equivalent. Word Works deals with subject-verb agreement; personal pronoun functions; comparatives and superlatives, such as bad/worse/worst; and some troublesome words like sit/set, good/well, etc. We recommend that all students start with Basic, as the Advanced level assumes familiarity with the components and methodology introduced in the first set, but for those who are confident to forge ahead, Advanced does provide some instruction to allow a new user to get up to speed.
Winston Grammar offers the closest we've seen to "grammar manipulatives." Each lesson begins with a teacher's presentation of the information that a student needs for a given worksheet. During this time, the teacher hands out and explains small color-coded and double-sided cards. One side of each card provides clues for identifying within a sentence a particular part of speech. The reverse side of the card names that part of speech, gives the symbol or abbreviation for it, and in some cases shows its function or its role as a modifier.
The student takes these cards and, guided by the teacher's explanations and questions, first lays out the cards in a horizontal fashion that correlates with the sentence under study. For instance, in this example, the teacher has just introduced articles (the red card) and nouns (the white card). Any words that are not nouns or articles are represented by the black card (these are used less frequently as the student learns more). The sentence is: "The boy and the girl saw a man eat an apple."
Then he uses symbols and arrows to "mark up" the sentences on their worksheets, showing parts of speech.
There are also eight larger cards that lead students through strategies for finding the subject, determining whether the verb is an action or linking verb, finding direct and indirect objects, predicate nominatives, and more.
(excerpted from very helpful reviews at HomeSchoolReviews.com)
"I use it with my 5th and 7th grader together; we have had so much fun with it! I write the practice sentences on the board and they place the cards over the appropriate words, then they do their worksheets. They can now label every word in a sentence! My oldest proclaimed just this week, "This is really getting to be fun!" And when I say 'it's quiz time', neither of them complains at all!!"
"I'd like to add that the clue cards are not a crutch. I was afraid that my daughter wasn't retaining the knowledge without the clue cards in her hand, so I gave her a quiz without access to them. She aced it! The only thing that may be lacking is practice work, but so far, that hasn't been too much of a hang up."
"It really teaches in a way that makes sense, I really like the clue cards and how concepts are introduced. You just do a couple of sentences a day out of the workbook and continue to reinforce formally learned concepts as you progress. We will be moving on to Winston Grammar Advanced...All in all, very solid and easy to implement and gives me a great deal of confidence in teaching grammar."
"I love the fact that it was no stress and no prep time. We would just sit down and do. Very self explanatory..."
"It really worked well and the lessons were short and easy to understand. There is a pre and post test for the year with lessons and quizzes included. One thing I did notice is that there aren't extra practice sentences (which we could have used throughout the year.)"
This is quite a different grammar program than anything else we offer, and we think it is a good option for many students, especially those who are struggling with the abstract thinking in another grammar program or enjoy more hands-on curriculum. We think it moves a little on the slow side, especially at the Basic level, but it does get more tricky at the Advanced. The course does not include punctuation and capitalization, and it does not get into reading and writing—in other words, it is not a full language arts course, but just what it says it is: a multi-sensory option to teach grammar.
If you've decided to make use of Winston Grammar, we would definitely suggest following the publisher's recommended grade level sequence: start with Basic at approximately 5th grade, with or without the Supplemental Workbook; use Word Works (only after Basic) around 6th-7th; and take Advanced at 8th grade or later. The placement tests below will help you evaluate your student's readiness. Consider the Advanced program only if your student passes the Basic post-test.
Basic Pre-test (PDF format)
Basic Post-test (PDF format)