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Archive for July 15th, 2011

We are using two different grammar programs both of which offer features that we like.

First Language Lessons

First Language Lessons is a program we started at age five with Level 1. The program is very gentle and emphasizes memorization techniques, repetition, minimal writing, and is completely scripted. We found Levels 1 & 2 to be very easy for Satori who is a bit language-arts-advanced, and would do 2-5 lessons at a time, but we’ve finally found a comfortable spot with level 3. We now do just one lesson in about 15-20 minutes, twice a week, which is perfect for us.

FLL Level 3 comes with two huge components – Teacher’s Manual (468 pages) and Student Text (352 pages). Normally I have been buying their PDF versions and printing them out myself, but not with these colossal books. Instead, I got them on Amazon at 34% off. The student text is necessary and is consumable. The pages are perforated so I took them out and ProClicked them so we have an easy-to-use workbook that lies flat. I kept the Teacher’s book as-is, the pages stay open.

There are 89 Lessons plus an additional 21 Lessons covering Writing Letters, Dictionary Skills, and oral Usage. The book includes three sample schedules. It uses a Four-Strand Approach.

  1. Memory Work – memorizing poetry, rules, and definitions
  2. Copywork and Dictation – For Copywork a student copies a quality sentence. Dictation means student writes down a sentence said aloud, without looking at the written model.
  3. Narration – Student retells a passage she has heard or read and puts it in her own words. Precursor to original writing.
  4. Grammar – Rigorous yet gentle scripted lessons. Level 3 introduces sentence diagramming as well

I’m going to go over a lesson in each program that covers Adjectives That Tell Whose. In FLL3, that would be Lesson 14, and it’s 4 1/2 pages long. (click for larger image) As usual, we start off rattling a few grammar definitions. We have to say the definition of an adjective three times.

An adjective is a word that describes a noun or pronoun.

Then we get into the actual lesson and the completely scripted lesson has a script for the teacher and expected student response. The student will be directed to her workbook to read some examples of adjectives.

And so on… It’s very thorough. There is sometimes an Optional Follow-Up activity. We didn’t do this one, but it consisted of taping labels on to items (Mom’s purse or Smiths’ table).

Here’s the student workbook for Lesson 14, which is four pages long. Most of it is reading, but there are a few exercises that requires writing.


I realize that this lesson didn’t have any diagramming exercises, so I included a lesson that did. In First Language Lessons, the lines are drawn for the child, making it pretty easy to diagram.


Growing With Grammar

Now for Growing With Grammar Level 3.  First huge advantage, it can be done independently! A second benefit to us is that it offers more written practice on the grammar concepts in each lesson.

We also do one lesson, which takes about 10-15 minutes, three times a week. This program is very straightforward and easy to do. Like FLL, there are two books, but this time they are both for students – the Student Manual and the Student Workbook. Both books are spiral bound so lie flat nicely. The manual is small and two can fit in the size of the workbook. We like it as a reference book when we need to quickly look up a grammar concept. It’s much easier to do that with GWG than FLL. Level 3 has 105 lessons and 5 review lessons, for a total of 110 lessons.

There are five chapters, each with roughly 20 lessons. See the Table of Contents on their website for additional detailed information. They also show a sample lesson.

  1. Growing with Sentences
  2. Growing with Nouns and Pronouns
  3. Growing with Verbs
  4. Growing with Adjectives and Adverbs
  5. Growing with Words and Punctuation

Lesson 4.4 covers Adjectives That Tell Whose. Lessons are pretty much always just two pages.

That takes just a few minutes to review, usually I am sitting there next to Satori to be sure she understands it all. Then we whip out the Student Workbook. Again, there is just two pages. The first page has practice problems that cover the day’s lesson.

The second page is a review. You can see here the diagramming exercises do not include lines like FLL, but we are okay with that.

So now you have an idea of what it might be to use First Language Lessons or Growing With Grammar Level 3 (grade 3-ish). My goal was not to say one is better than the other, but to let you decide what might work better for your family. Since we love language arts, we do both – Growing with Grammar on M/W/F and First Language Lessons on Tu/Th. I think they both cover grammar in different but complementary ways. First Language Lessons explores grammar and language arts more in-depth, in the classical style, and includes poem memorization (see previous blog post). Growing with Grammar is independent, more to the-point and got us up to speed on grammar very quickly when we needed it last fall. It has more writing and practice in the early years, which is what we enjoyed. We just love both programs. 🙂

First Language Lessons Level 3 starts off Poem Memorization with the poem “The Land of Nod” by Robert Louis Stevenson. Satori loves to memorize poems and here she is reciting the poem for her blog.