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One of the “I’m-a-mean-mom” Christmas presents I gave my son last year was The Giggly Guide to Grammar by Cathy Campbell. My eight-year-old would have much preferred another Lego kit, but I had my eye on the Common Core. I know Bruce’s teacher does a lot with grammar at school, and I’d like to support that at home.
I can see why The Giggly Guide to Grammar gets great reviews. It has fun drawings and even funnier sentences. Here’s an example from page 107: “Aunt Sylvia believes Elvis lives because she thinks that she saw him on a commercial for Levis.” (That’s a complex sentence with an anagram, btw.)
Unfortunately, I was hoping this book would be a good fit for Afterschooling, but it really isn’t. The Giggly Guide to Grammar would be great for public school, and it would be awesome for homeschoolers, but for an Afterschooling family it requires too much paper and pencil practice. That would be fine if we were using it during the summer, but for the school year it’s too much work. My goal with Afterschooling is not to load my kids up with extra duties, but rather to encourage them with fun enrichment.
A more passive approach to grammar would be the Royal Fireworks Press book Sentence Island by Michael Clay Thompson.
That being said, I keep finding The Giggly Guide to Grammar all over the house. On the kitchen table, laying in the hallway, in the bathroom (yuck); Bruce is clearly reading this book for enjoyment.
I’m not exactly sure how much Bruce is learning. I asked him about the book and he said he likes reading the funny sentences. I guess that’s why the full title is “The Giggly Guide to Grammar, Serious Grammar with a Sense of Humor”.
We are listening to First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind right now, and so far Jenna, Bruce and I are impressed. It includes lots of short poems, stories, and several grammar chants and songs. The narrator is pretty good and occasionally uses a Southern accent, which is novel for my kids. Jenna is 24 months at the moment, Bruce is 6, and I am (not saying!) but we are all enjoying the CD because it has a little bit of something for everyone. It is also a good choice for short car trips, as opposed to some of our audio CDs which have longer, more involved stories that you don’t want to interrupt because you just arrived at Trader Joe’s.
As a teacher, I was not trained in teaching through memorization. The whole idea of teaching grammar through chanting is very new to me, and I am not entirely sold on the idea. But this CD has so many stories and poems on it that the grammar chants are sort-of squeezed in there in a way that my kids don’t seem to mind. If they end up memorizing lists of pronouns –great! If not, they will hopefully learn grammar in school, or else I will teach it to them in a formal way later on.
The author, Jessie Wise, has books that go along with this CD. I checked them out from the library, looked through them extensively, and decided they were not for me. My philosophy of education does not include teaching children by rote, and additionally I felt that Bruce would be bored out of his gizzard if I tried to make him follow that type of curriculum. Jenna might be able to handle it when she turns six someday, but Bruce has far too much action in him. That being said, I absolutely love the audio companion CD. I bet that by the time my children tire of listening to the CD in the car, they will have a lot of those poems memorized just like Jessie Wise intends.