After a LOT of research on grammar curriculum (seriously, I had dreams about this stuff for weeks) I finally settled on First Language Lessons for the Well- Trained Mind by Jessie Wise. When I opened up the books and read through it, I started to sweat a little...there is a lot of repetition in there. All I could think of were the temper tantrums and tears that were sure to come. On the first day of school, I reluctantly pulled the book out and we did the lesson. No tears. The second day came and went. No arguments. The first week was completed without a single complaint. Hallelujah!
Today was date night for B and I and I asked her how she thought school was going and what she thought of our curriculum choices. Would you believe that she said grammar is her favourite?! I know that sounds crazy because really, grammar is supposed to be no one's favourite. But she really does love it. And so do I!
So for the mom's out there who are worrying about finding a great grammar curriculum, here is my 100% unpaid, only-doing-it-because-I-really-do-love-it review of First Language Lessons (with bonus review by my seven year old!).
Why I love First Language Lessons
- The biggest reason: it's easy! The lessons are scripted so I literally open the book and we start. There is no prep time, no cutting out or laminating, no memorizing songs and rhymes, no setting up games. Simple. Easy. Perfect for busy moms (and lazy ones like me).
- It's thorough. We have been working on nouns since the beginning of school and let me tell you, she knows the concept inside out and backwards. We've spent a good amount of time discussing each kind of noun in great detail and she gets it.
- The "Four Strand" approach: they use a variety of methods to drive the point home which keeps it from getting boring. There's memory work, copywork, narration and grammar lessons.
How we use First Language Lessons
There are 100 lessons in level 1 and 100 lessons in level 2. We usually do one lesson each day but have, on occasion, done two. Some of the lessons are really, really short so I don't feel bad squeezing two in here and there. The lessons take no longer than 15 minutes, even with enrichment activities that are sometimes included.
B has a binder that we keep all of her school work in and there is a divider for grammar. In here we keep the enrichment activities and colouring pages. There is very little writing at this point so there's not much in that section of her binder.
I do sometimes add my own activities to liven things up. We do a lot of fun stuff to help memorize the poems. I often pull up the paintings in the picture narration lessons on the computer so we can see them in colour and learn more about them and their artists.
Why B (the seven year old) loves First Language Lessons
(I asked her to give me the top 3 reasons she likes this curriculum. I'm not editing her answers...its good to hear it from their perspective. Plus its cute.)
- "It's quick. Lessons get boring if they take too long sometimes. These ones are always fast."
- "I like looking at the pictures. Especially when mom puts them on the computer so we can see the colours and we get to make up stories about them."
- "I like memorizing the poems because we can yell."
So there you have it. We both love First Language Lessons. If you're looking for something quick and easy while still being thorough, I highly recommend checking these books out!
I just want to reiterate that I have, in no way, been compensated for this review. When I was researching curriculum last year, I really appreciated all the reviews out there in internetland. I just wanted to pay it forward!
But wait! There's more...(said in a cheesy infomercial voice)
I've put together some vintage-y colouring pages to go with the poems. After B successfully recites a poem she gets to colour it's page and put it in her binder. She loves any excuse to colour and sometimes it serves as motivation when she's dragging her heels a little. If you would like to use them, please click the image below.