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Sentence Diagramming, Beginning Review by Jeniffer Do NascimentoAngela Carter
The Critical Thinking Co.
1991 Sherman Ave., Suite 200
North Bend, OR, 97459
Beginning Sentence Diagramming from The Critical Thinking Co. is probably the best grammar curriculum for visual learners, or at least the best one I’ve come across in my seven years of homeschooling. For this review, my 14-year-old daughter, Julia, made her way through the 65-page paperback workbook.
There are 12 lessons, plus a review, and an answer key at the end of this all-inclusive workbook. The lessons start out at just one page in length, but by the end, the lessons are three to four pages long. Julia started out at one lesson per day but then moved to two pages per day toward the end. There is no schedule for using the book, so we decided to use it three to four times a week with her morning independent work.
Julia is an extremely logical thinker and visual learner. She thrives at math (where there are definite answers) and despises writing (you know, that whole free-writing-no-rules thing.) Being that she is in 8th grade, we’ve tried several grammar books before, none of which held her attention and all of which were like pulling teeth when it came time for grammar!
This time around was pleasantly (and surprisingly) different! Carter’s simple instruction begins with diagramming two-word sentences like: “Cats purr.”“Chickens cluck.” and “Artists draw.” I appreciate that she assumes you are truly starting at the beginning with sentence diagramming.
As you get further into the workbook, more and more levels and lines are added as you break down and analyze the sentences. I found it funny that Julia made the same remark as the author in the introduction (though I doubt she read it):“It’s like the math of language arts!” This logical, rule-embracing tactic for teaching grammar has literally made our homeschool day a bit easier.
The workbook covers the following concepts: simple subject and main verb, direct object, adjectives, adverbs modifying verbs, predicate adjectives, predicate nouns, prepositional phrases (adjectival), prepositional phrases (adverbial), compound subjects, compound predicates, compound direct objects, and compound predicate adjectives and nouns.
As one who grew up in public school, seeing the familiar setup—main line with the vertical subject/predicate line—took me back to elementary school. As I watched my daughter do the first few pages, it reminded me of how much I myself enjoyed sentence diagramming in school.
As I mentioned, the instructions are clear and simple to follow. There is never too much information given at a time, leaving no risk of getting overwhelmed with too many new concepts at once.
So, what did Julia think of the workbook? She loved it! On more than one occasion, I found that she had done more than the “scheduled” pages. When asked what she thought, her immediate response was “Fun!” Her logical mind found this method of learning the rules of grammar much more satisfying and easy to stick with than what we’ve used in the past.
Beginning Sentence Diagramming is available for $12.99, and it is recommended for grade 3 to adult. Since I personally don’t start teaching grammar until third grade anyway, I completely agree with this recommendation.
-Product review by Jeniffer Do Nascimento, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2017