I gave up on spelling entirely. The Spelling Workout workbook that I purchased was no good for Sammy because it requires writing. Sam would just get too caught up in her printing to focus on the spelling. We put that book away after one lesson. I might try it again when she prints more easily. (The Handwriting Without Tears program is still a highlight of every school day. We both love it, and Sam is getting so much better at printing. I wish I had something so wonderful for every subject.)
To fill the spelling void, I started thinking about grammar again. Sam had begun a bit of grammar in Montessori, so I did purchase a Montessori Lower Elementary curriculum guide for “language arts” which includes the Montessori grammar program. I was not thrilled with it, and it requires a lot of work to implement. I went back to my trusty, already-well-worn copy of The Well Trained Mind and decided to give Jessie Wise’s First Language Lessons a try.
What I like most about this book is that it is so easy to use. Each lesson is short, and it is fully scripted for the instructor. It does not require much in the way of materials or other preparation. And so far, Sam loves the lessons, which is a surprise because it involves a lot of direct instruction from me, such as, “repeat after me: ‘a noun is the name of a person, place, thing, or idea.’ Okay, again. Okay, again.” I thought Sam would balk at this kind of drilling, but I think it’s okay because the lessons are so short, and there always seems to be some kind of payoff: either she has something memorized (which she enjoys), or she has dictated a sentence to me and gets to put it in her notebook, or something.
This book is more of an introduction to grammar than real beginning grammar. There is some talk of parts of speech, but a lot of it is memorization of poems, “readings” of pictures, copywork, and more. It is a perfect fit for where Sam is with language right now. When the student is asked a question, he is supposed to respond in complete sentences, so it is oral, not just written. This is good for Sam, also.
And how can I not love a program that produces output like this:
|From 2012 08|