I don't know how to diagram.
I am sure at one point in my education I did learn diagramming, but it is forever lost in my brain somewhere. And I really don't miss it.
Does that mean that I don't think that grammar is important to learn? Absolutely not, in fact grammar is a necessary part of my children's education, and the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) grammar program is a wonderful, pain-free way to learn grammar.
What It Is:
Fix It! Grammar has six levels. I received both the Fix It! Grammar The Nose Tree [Book 1] Teacher Manual, and the Fix It! Grammar The Nose Tree Student Book. Meant for grades 3rd and up, this grammar books moves sentence by sentence through The Nose Tree, a Brother's Grimm tale.
Before I chose the level, I used the placement test on IEW site; this actually gave me a good feel for how the book is laid out. Each of the levels or Books, are different stories:
- Book 1 - The Nose Tree (basic parts of speech)
- Book 2 - Robin Hood (clauses and phrases, sentence combining, cumulative adjectives)
- Book 3 - Frog Prince, or Just Desserts (sentence openers, hyphens, semicolons)
- Book 4 - The Little Mermaid (essential and non essential elements, parallelism, appositives)
- Book 5 - Chanticleer (advanced punctuation, conjunctive adverbs, active and passive voice)
- Book 6 - Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (invisible sentence openers, mid-sentence elements)
The book is laid out very simply. The lessons are week by week and day by day, with 4 days of exercises a week. Each day you will work on one sentence from the story. First you read the sentence with your child and talk about the meaning. One word is written in bold, which is your vocabulary word. Your child looks this word up in the dictionary and decides which definition is the best, and then adds it to the back of their writing notebook. Then they work on the sentence.
They will label parts of speech, choose the correct homophone (words that sound alike but are spelled differently) and give the sentence an end mark. The last step is for your student to copy the sentence into their notebook.
The pace was excellent; each week, a new grammar concept is introduced. We used this for 4 weeks and Dasher learned:
- Week 1: nouns, homophones, and end marks
- Week 2: articles
- Week 3: quotations
- Week 4: pronouns
Fix It! Grammar does follow the IEW method of writing and so includes awareness of Stylistic Techniques, or "Dress-Ups" (helpful hints on a checklist that give writing tips). But don't feel that you need to be familiar with this teaching style to use this; the Teacher Manual lays out exactly what you should be covering each day, and gives specific questions you can ask your child.
What You Get:
The Student Book ($15) is spiral bound and has a glossy cover.There are enough lessons for 33 weeks of study. In the back of the Student Book are reminder cards to cut out; these are of heavy cardstock and are like grammar flashcards to review all the concepts. The Teacher Manual ($19) is extremely helpful and describes each day what you should expect and be teaching your child.
There are not only questions to ask and the correct sentence labeling, but notes on advanced grammar and "grammar lovers" notes. This would be especially helpful when teaching this to older students who might have a higher foundational level of grammar.
In the back of both the Student Book and the Teacher Manual are identical Glossaries. This section includes all parts of speech, punctuation, sentence, clauses and phrases, stylistic techniques, and additional rules and concepts. This was a great help to me, when Dasher would ask me out of the blue what part of speech a word was.
With the purchase of the book you will also receive access to the online Student Book 1 e-book, Mastery Learning e-audio, and But...But.....But.....What About Grammar? e-audio.
How We Used This And What We Thought:
Dasher struggles with reading and grammar. When she reads, she is so focused on getting the word read correctly that she sometimes doesn't even pay attention to what she is reading. So teaching grammar to her can be a challenge, since the meaning of the words tell you what parts of speech they are. And that is where this program was an incredible fit for her.
That was all she needed to focus on. We would read it multiple times, until she understood the meaning. We looked the vocabulary words up in a real dictionary, not online (a great skill that every child needs to learn,) and she wrote down the meaning of them in her notebook.
We also used the grammar cards to reinforce each day the parts of speech and other concepts she had learned.
On the back of the cards is a simple definition to memorize. And each card conveniently shows which week to introduce that concept.
She would then label the sentence as directed (and I would follow along in the teacher book to make sure she was getting them all). Sometimes I would give her hints and tell her how many pronouns were in the sentence. This was also a huge plus for her.
Like I said above I completely forgot how to diagram, but most of us know what verbs, nouns and adjectives are, and could label them in a sentence. This type of grammar learning makes so much more sense to me and is how I teach my children the parts of speech. After she had labeled the parts she knew she copied the sentence in her notebook.
Once we got the hang of this, we spent only 10 to 15 minutes a day in the book. And she absolutely loved it. We are starting our 5th week with this, and each day she is very eager to read the next sentence and find out what happens in the story. And I catch her re-reading parts of it from her notebook at times too.
I really loved this product. A couple years ago I reviewed Fix It! Grammar and since then they have completely changed the formatting, which I like for the better. The Student Book feels much more user-friendly, and the Teacher Manual is easier to navigate.
I am definitely going to have Dasher complete this program....I was even trying to think of a way we could incorporate this into our weekly co-op, but we have a full schedule already. Maybe next year I will add it as a subject for the students.
Other members of the Crew reviewed other levels; check out what they thought by clicking below.