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Language Smarts, Level C Review by Donna Campos

Judy Wilson Goddard
The Critical Thinking Co. (Bright Minds)
PO Box 1610
Seaside, CA 93955-1610

Language Smarts is available in two levels. The Level B workbook is for first grade, and the Level C workbook is for second grade. This review is for the Level C book only.

Because it meets state standards, Language Smarts may be used as a core curriculum or as a supplemental resource. It is a softbound book of 314 pages, filled with color and vivid illustrations. It contains all of the language arts areas you might expect, including the usual nouns and verbs, but it also branches out into mnemonics, palindromes, double negatives, punctuation, and cause and effect. The activities, though challenging, incorporate humor, graphs, rhymes, and other methods to keep the student engaged, and they are designed to improve your student's reading, writing, spelling, punctuation, grammar, and thinking skills. This book stands alone and requires no additional material. A "Teaching Suggestions" page at the beginning of the book reminds the Teacher/Parent that these are challenging activities and therefore students should be closely monitored in order to limit frustration levels. The closing of the book includes two pages of instruction on "Using a Glossary" and two on "Using a Dictionary."

Though the Level C book is suggested for second grade, I think it could be used for third graders as well. Our second grader found some of the work more challenging than I had hoped. The book is very well set up, though, and much was learned as we worked through the more challenging activities together. For homeschool families using classic books or major reading programs for their curriculum, this book could be a welcome supplement, particularly since the skill areas are divided in the Contents listing. We appreciated the lack of "busy work." This book deals with the skill at hand, offering just enough work in the area and then moving on without bogging the student down.

I believe this is the most brightly colored workbook I have ever seen. The illustrations keep the attention of the student without distracting from the work at hand. Although challenging, the work stretches your student's skills and helps him gain new ones. The valued skills of analyzing and problem solving are wonderfully incorporated.

Homeschool families like to get the maximum value out of their materials. One downside of this book is that it's consumable. In order to retain this resource for our younger students in the future, we chose to use chalkboards, dry-erase boards, and notebooks to complete the written work. This method worked well enough for us, but some children might be disappointed that they do not end up with completed pages. If you choose not to write in the book and if your state requires a written record of all work completed, you'll have to make a separate list of page numbers that address specific skill areas. If your child enjoys the bright colors and vivid images as much as our son did, you may find it worth the expense to write in the book and then hang onto it. This is a book that may be read in the future once completed.

Our son enjoyed the Language Smarts program. It does a great job of teaching language arts, and it also provides some new teaching ideas that can be used in other subject areas. This book was a winner with our family. If your child is color responsive and learns best when visually engaged, Language Smarts may be just right for you.

Product review by Donna Campos, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2007