I don’t think I’ve done any curriculum reviews yet, but this is a good one to start with. I was lucky enough to stumble upon this book with Dusty, and now I’m wrapping up another successful foray with Duncan. Introducing The Sentence Family.
I started out all gung-ho on grammar instruction for young children, but Charlotte Mason as well as plain ol’ experience with child development tempered that a bit. Now this little book is all I do for grammar until late middle or early high school. (So, I guess I am not pure CM on this subject!)
When I switched to this program with Dusty years ago, grammar went from being his least favorite subject to most favorite subject. Boys in particular will be happy to know that it contains almost no writing.
The Sentence Family is a Waldorf-inspired program, using art and story to teach concepts that are rather abstract and hard to remember for children. In this book, Mr. Declarative and Mrs. Exclamatory Sentence get married and have nine children, who are the parts of speech. Each child has a specific personality and color that they wear. The stories show the relationships between the various children, which is especially brilliant. For instance, in the picture above you see Adverb, who is painting a picture of her favorite brother, Verb.
The book is a series of fourteen stories, each with a simple crayon drawing that the children are to copy. They teach the four types of sentences and the nine parts of speech. There are a few simple activity suggestions and also a memorable lesson on diagramming. A few lists of sentences are scattered throughout which I print out for parsing. After going through the book only once, Duncan is easily parsing by underlining the various parts of speech in their own colors. (If you want to be really Waldorfy, get yourself a set of nice beeswax crayons for this. The ones in the pic are from Faber Castell.)
What ages is the program appropriate for? The Sentence Family was written for fourth-graders, but I did it with my firstborn when he was in second grade, and he loved it. Duncan is doing it in fourth, and my first-grader hangs around to hear the stories too. I think it would work with any elementary grade, and would even be a great intro to grammar for a middle- or high-schooler, as long as they didn’t think it too babyish. 🙂
This is so much easier, and so much more effective than traditional grammar programs. Believe me, I’ve tried them!
We are just completing the book after a very relaxed month. Now we are done with grammar, probably for years, and ready to focus on the true skills of English: reading and writing, listening and speaking.