Confession of a lousy homeschool mom: I've sort of slacked off on English language arts the last couple of years, figuring that my editing of the kids' journal entries and other written work would be enough for them to pick up these skills organically. Um, that hasn't actually worked out very well for us. So when the opportunity to review Fix It! Grammar from Institute for Excellence came up, I chose to start at Level 1 with Jack and Eli, in order to give them a solid foundation to build upon.
This series of books is listed for kids in grades 3-12, which is a pretty broad spectrum. There is a placement test you can have your child take to see which level would be the best starting place for them. My boys are 10 and 13, and Level 1 is neither too babyish or too difficult for them.
We received the Teacher Manual and Student Book for The Nose Tree. The Teacher Manual sells for $19, and comes with a download of the Student Book, if you want to print your own copies, making this a very affordable program. The spiral bound Student Book sells for $15.
I love the idea behind this series! Each day, we read one sentence from a story (our story is The Nose Tree). One! We define the bold vocabulary word in the sentence. Then the boys mark the nouns with an N, the articles with an AR, and choose the correct ending punctuation for the sentence. We've also run across some homonyms and quotation marks so far. We go over what they've chosen, together, discussing any wrong answers, "Well, no, that's an adjective, because it describes the noun." Then the boys copy the sentence in their notebook. Each day we add one more sentence of the story to the page. At the end of the book, they'll have written the whole story! I love this! It's like the old saying, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!" How do you get reluctant writers to copy an entire story? One sentence at a time!
This is Eli's story so far, copied one sentence at a time. The weeks are set up with 4 days of work, which is helpful for families who do Fun Fridays, participate in a once a week co op, or follow other alternate schedules. Each time I hand the boys a new week's page, Eli reads all 4 sentences to get as far into the story as he can. He wants to just read it like a book, but I'm doling it out a week at a time to hold his interest.
Looking ahead, I can see that we're going to tackle things like pronouns, who-which clauses, verbs and more as we get deeper into the book. At the end of the book is a Scope & Sequence which tells what concepts are introduced which week, and lists the vocabulary words bolded in each daily sentence.
The back section, separated by a glossy cardstock cover, contains a glossary and other helpful information for teachers. There's also a set of grammar cards to be cut out of the book and separated. Those are cream colored cardstock.
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The Fix It! Grammar series has a total of 6 volumes: The Nose Tree, Robin Hood, Frog Prince (or Just Deserts), Little Mermaid, Chanticleer, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I can easily see us continuing the program next year with the Robin Hood book. This is a painless program to teach, and I'm thrilled that the boys don't fight me on it, because after all, it's only one sentence!
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