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Can Do Cubes for English Grammar Review by Debra Brinkman

Blocks and Instruction Book CDROM
Can Do Education Limited
630/270-5042
5735 S. Bradley Ct.
Hanover Park, IL 60133
http://www.candocubes.com/

When I was teaching my kids to read, I found that having manipulatives that they could play with made all the difference in the world. There was something about handling puzzle pieces, or moving letter tiles, or rolling cubes around.

It wasn’t until I discovered the Phonics Cubes from Can Do Cubes that I thought about the idea of getting that hands on for grammar too.

At first glance, Can Do Cubes for English Grammar is a pretty impressive set. The main part, of course, is the 150 gorgeous wooden cubes, which come in a nice, sturdy box. The set includes sturdy canvas bags, so you can easily sort them into sets for various purposes. You also receive an Activities Book that helps you to figure out just where to start.

I’ll confess to feeling a bit overwhelmed when I first got this set. The hardwood cubes looked too pretty to use, and there are just so many.

Reading over the suggested activities helped me. There are numerous ideas, and charts to break those ideas out by age groups. With that, I could choose an age-appropriate activity and we could dig in.

My kids ranged from 10 to 17 when we started with these cubes, which puts them in three different levels. Level 1 is for students in K-2, which is the only level I didn’t use. Level 2 is grades 3-5. Level 3 is grades 6-8. And Level 4 is high school.

With dice-like cubes as the main component, I worried a bit that the concepts would only cover fairly basic grammar concepts. I needn’t have worried, as there are activities that involve concepts like subordinate clauses. The suggested activities got me started with the cubes.

What I have really loved about them, though, is that after getting some ideas as to how they can be used, they have been easily integrated into our regular grammar studies. You don’t need a specific grammar program, any program will do. A simple worksheet-based approach to grammar can be spiced up a bit by using the cubes at least some of the time. That lets me use a structured program so that I’m fairly certain we’re covering the concepts we need to cover, but by adding the cubes, we can get that extra hands-on dimension to the grammar studies.

These products are recommended by Dyslexia Action, though I haven’t read any details on why. Working with my severely dyslexic student, though, I can say that there is just something about handling the cube that makes concepts easier to grasp for him.

The cubes can be used in learning that doesn’t really feel like learning, and not just grammar. One suggested activity is to use the question cube to interview someone. Have one person being interviewed, and then everyone else can roll the question cube, and ask a question based on that question word. I turned that into a “20 Questions” style game too, where one child needs to draw a noun cube from a bag, pick one of the nouns, and then the other students roll the question cube and ask a question to help them figure out what the noun is. These aren’t yes or no questions like in the standard game, so some parameters had to be set. You can’t roll the “what” question, and ask, “What is your noun?” You could ask, “What kind of noun is this, a person, place, thing or idea?”

Another activity suggestion good for a group is to have the teacher start a story with a sentence such as “The magician is a tall, secretive man.” Each student gets a verb cube, and, in turn, they add a sentence to the story using one of the verbs on their cube.

I really love this set, as it adds some hands-on fun to not just our grammar studies, but also to other language arts activities.

 

-Product review by Debra Brinkman, Crew Administrator, The Old Schoolhouse® Homeschool Review Crew, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, March, 2017

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