Grammar is not an inherently interesting subject, and even enhancing it with games and activities rarely makes it appealing to kids. Tamela Davis must have understood this when developing her 1st-8th grade Growing With Grammar curriculum because each level is straight-up grammar without a bunch of distractions. Kids learn what they need from straightforward text, complete the exercises, and are free to move on to other studies, often without any help from the teacher/parent.
How Do These Work?
There are eight levels for grades 1-8. Levels one and two include a student book and an answer key; for all other levels there is a student manual, separate student workbook, and answer key. While teacher involvement is always a plus, there is enough information for the student that this can be a self-directed course (the parent will want to check answers). Each level contains an average of 108 lessons for use three times a week during a typical 36-week school year. Lessons don't require planning, and won't take more than 10-15 minutes.
In simple, easy-to-read text the author presents both basic and advanced grammar concepts in brief yet comprehensive terms and then guides them through a series of exercises to further instill the information. There is frequent review (mostly of the more advanced concepts) so that students get a feel for the integrated nature of English grammar, and so they don't forget basic stuff while learning about gerunds and the pluperfect tense. Kids learn everything from sentence diagramming, to parts of speech and punctuation.
Each book is spiralbound so kids don't have to wrestle binding to record their answers. All worktexts are consumable, but inexpensive and available for separate purchase. The text is black and white with occasional clip art illustrations (that don't really have anything to do with the text itself), so if your student is easily distracted these are a good choice. If you want cute illustrations and lots of ideas for games and classroom activities, look elsewhere. This is grammar without frills.
The student manuals for grades 3-8 are much more in-depth than the manual/workbooks in the first two levels. Each concept is covered thoroughly and supported by a variety of examples. Each complementary workbook lesson also includes examples, so there is plenty of reinforcement. If you're worried your kids won't learn enough in such a simple program (none of the books are particularly long), the author's website offers an extensive scope and sequence for each year, but be assured everything your kids will need to know is covered in this program.
Our Honest Opinion:
This course is easy to use and will likely not frustrate your kids too much due to its simple language and short lessons. The spiral binding makes recording answers less of a chore, and the uncluttered pages are easy to navigate. There's plenty here to give students a comprehensive overview of grammar that will help them in a variety of subjects later on. However, the material isn't as integrated with writing as it should be. There isn't much reference to composition, and students don't write anything longer than a sentence. While there are plenty of exercises, kids learn best by implementing what they learn in real situations, and the best way to learn grammar is to write. For a course that does an excellent job of integrating both grammar and composition skills, we suggest Hake Grammar & Writing.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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