Charlotte Mason published First Grammar Lessons as a private educator in late-Victorian England. Her methods relied heavily on what she called "narration"—teachers would read part of a book to students, who would then tell back what they'd heard in their own words. This form of language arts instruction encompasses grammar, vocabulary and composition, as well as strengthening children's auditory and creative powers. Torchbearers of the "Charlotte Mason method" have brought her ideas and methods to 21st-century educators, primarily home school parents.
Karen Andreola is among the vanguard of this effort, preaching the Charlotte Mason gospel wherever she goes and publishing a host of articles and books detailing its unique methodology. In 1993 she actually edited and republished First Grammar Lessons as Simply Grammar: An Illustrated Primer which relies on the narration method to teach students grammar rules and usage directly. With a simple format, simple language, and no frills beyond straightforward grammar instruction, Simply Grammar is a warranted and informative title.
While there are blanks for students presumably to write in, this is not intended as a consumable text. Lessons are to be read aloud by parents and students together (or by students alone as they get older), and exercises are interactive and oral as parents implement narration techniques and children "say back" what they learned in the lesson. This makes one text sufficient for multiple students over a period of several years.
There are 46 lessons divided in four parts focusing on the sentence, parts of speech, verbs and pronouns. The course is meant for grades 4-8 (Mason didn't believe grammar should be taught before 4th grade), and while some of the text will be a little young for most eighth graders, they'll still learn their grammar. Repetition is a good way to make sure kids retain what they learn, so working through this book more than once isn't a bad idea.
Lessons average one page in length, followed by a 1-2 page exercise set in which parents read the instructions aloud to students who respond with the correct answers. Each leson is accompanied by two black and white 19th-century illustrations that relate to at least two of the exercise questions; often, students are instructed to tell what's going on in the picture or to elaborate context from what they see.
A natural progression between lessons means that you can't really skip around. Each lesson covers a single grammar rule that builds on those before it, and since they're all so brief it's no sacrifice doing them all in order. Lessons should take about 10-15 minutes apiece, though you can take longer if you need to. Andreola points out that learning, not time, is the most important thing at stake.
Appendix A contains extra lessons, while Appendix B includes answers to select exercises (not all of them will have a specific answer). There is no supplementary teacher text, though everything you need is in this book. Parents without a strong background in grammar themselves have complained about this lack, though the material really is quite straightforward and you shouldn't need outside support.
Some parents don't like what they regard as archaic language, claiming their kids can't understand it. While it may take a bit more effort than other courses (the original from which Andreola copied is over a hundred years old), the language of Simply Grammar isn't substantially different than ours. In fact, rather than being archaic, the language Mason/Andreola employs is simply more precise and thorough. Calling a noun a "person, place or thing" is far less accurate than "that of which we speak."
Simply Grammar is plenty sufficient to stand on its own, though you can also use it as a supplement. Andreola suggests using Daily Grams if you think your child needs more practice and review. This is probably especially important if your student doesn't have much background in narration-style learning; while the oral element of this program shouldn't cause them many problems, reinforcing the information in a way they're familiar with (workbook format) can only help them. Not for everybody, Simply Grammar is nonetheless an excellent grammar resource whether you're a fan of Charlotte Mason or not.