Thursday, September 25, 2008

Favorite Grammar Resources

National Punctuation Day is September 24, but I think this should be a week-long celebration, truly! Yesterday I posted a review of my favorite grammar guide—Eats, Shoots and Leaves—on my SmallWorldReads blog. I love this book so much. I was delighted to see loads of used copies at McKay Used Books in Knoxville in the textbook section, indicating that one of the local universities or colleges is using this fantastic guide to grammar. (Of course, this also indicates that all of these students are selling their copies, but at least they were exposed to the book!) There is, by the way, a kids' version of Eats, Shoots and Leaves. I haven't done more than skim it, but I've heard it's "cute." I'll have to look more carefully before recommending it as a must-have!

Being a grammar fanatic, I would like to share a few of my favorite resources. For parents and high school students, Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for better writing is concise and fun. Yes, I do subscribe to this, and you can, too. But if you don't want to subscribe and need to know the difference between effect and affect or whether you should write woman or female, be sure to consult Grammar Girl.

This post of mine lists some of my favorite grammar websites and 11 Essential Rules of Grammar. This post reviews my favorite first grammar book, First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind.

After First Language Lessons in our SmallWorld, we move into Easy Grammar. The approach is straightforward and doesn't require any teacher prep. The explanations are short but thorough, and there are plenty of exercises for each new topic to reinforce new material. We have used Easy Grammar and Daily Grams for years, and I'm not even tempted to try a different program. (Although, I should say here that Duncan will be doing Level 3 of First Language Lessons next year. This wasn't available yet when Laurel and Jesse were that age, but I love FLL so much that we'll definitely continue.)

But if you don't want to buy a program (Daily Grams is $26 at Rainbow Resource), you might try these free workbooks from Scott Foresman for grades 1-6. Just click and download!

Jesse used Winston Grammar for a while in about 8th grade after he finished all the Daily Grams books. I wasn't terribly impressed, and neither was he. I have read that Winston Grammar is great for kinesthetic learners, though, so if you have a kinesthetic learner, s/he may do better with a Winston approach (colored cards to match parts of speech) rather than a straightforward Easy Grammar approach.

Right now Jesse is going through a book called Preparing for College Writing. I got this at our used library sale for $1, and it's been fantastic. His proficiency on the grammar sections indicates that his years of Daily Grams (and voracious reading) seem to have paid off. He's flying through the exercises for the most part, although he is only halfway through the grammar unit. I'd absolutely recommend buying a book like this for your high-school student. The explanations are thorough and tests are provided throughout each unit. For $4, you're not out a bundle if you don't like it!

A great way to have fun with grammar is through games. My kids adore MadLibs. You can play online (here's another site and still another one) or buy hard copies and do them the old-fashioned way. For early learners (preK-2), we love Silly Sentences. The game doesn't actually discuss parts of speech, but it helps to understand the concept of sentence structure. Educational Learning Games has tons of grammar box games. I have not tried any of them, but I am absolutely itching to get my hands on a few of these. I think my daughter would especially love Cooking Up Sentences. I'd love to hear reviews of any of these or other grammar games!

And always remember: if it's raining outside, the cat should wear its raincoat.


  1. "...if it's raining outside, the cat should wear its raincoat." [smile] I like that.

    However, I like Strong Bad's version better. Just a personal preference.


  2. yeah! some references for me. i was just thinking about emailing you for some info. my kids are far better with grammar than i am. i've slacked into bad habits and i don't like to proofread my stuff! i really need to re-learn everything. my difficulty with my older kids and writing is MOTIVATION. i don't know how to get them excited about writing. any ideas?

  3. Really? National Punctuation Day? Oh,my. I guess I'm not truely surprised-but you do make me giggle.

  4. Wonderful resources! Thank you so much! We love First Language Lessons. But I am glad to have the online free workbooks to add to it!

    I also have a Jesse, though mine is 7 yrs old!


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