Easy Grammar Vs. First Language Lessons
We started out the year using Easy Grammar (2nd grade) and First Language Lessons, Level 3. FLL is designed to be used two or three times a week and the Easy Grammar 2nd grade book is set up more like the Daily Grams books for the other grades. I thought it would be a good fit using them together.
While we loved First Language Lessons, Vol. 1 & 2, the kids found the lessons in Vol. 3 to be rather long and tedious. When I pulled it out, I always got, “No! Not the green book!”
Easy Grammar, on the other hand, they actually enjoy. There are never any complaints and they both — even Josh — tell me that they like the sentence combining; it’s their favorite part. Brianna has said, since we began using Easy Grammar (four years ago, for her), that grammar is her favorite subject.
Did you read that? I have three kids who enjoy grammar. Seriously, is there any better endorsement for a grammar program?
My favorite part of Easy Grammar: Grade 2 is the systematic approach to grammar and the daily review of previously learned concepts. It starts out very basic and builds on what the students have learned. For example, when we first started, basically all that needed to be done to combine sentences was to add the word “and,” such as:
Ted likes to play ball.
Ted likes to watch TV.
Combined: Ted likes to play ball and watch TV.
Now the sentences require a little more thought:
Tim is holding a tennis racket.
His uncle and aunt gave it to him.
Combined: Tim is holding the tennis racket that his uncle and aunt gave him.
Well, I say that is my favorite part. Actually, my favorite thing about Easy Grammar: Grade 2 is probably that it’s designed to be a daily guided review. We do it together on the white board each day, which works out great because it gives me the opportunity to make sure that Josh and Megan are really grasping the concepts and to spend more time on those that they aren’t getting. It also allows me to go over those parts of speech definitions that we memorized with FLL, Level 1 & 2.
Brianna told me recently that she wished I had done that with her. I wish I had, too. I can see that using FLL, Level 1 & 2, followed by the daily, guided lessons in Easy Grammar 2 is giving my younger kids the foundation that they’ll need for the grammar concepts that they’ll learn going forward.
Once you get into Easy Grammar: Grade 3 and up, the focus shifts to more detailed grammar lessons, focusing on one topic per lesson. At that point, you’ll want to purchase Daily Grams for the same daily review found in the 2nd grade book. However, I still love the Easy Grammar approach to learning grammar. The first thing a student does in each of the books is memorize a list of prepositions. Once the prepositional phrases are eliminated, it is much easier for a student to find the subject, verb and other parts of speech.
While Easy Grammar: Grade 2 focuses on learning and applying basic grammar skills, First Language Lessons focuses on more complex memorization, diagramming sentences, dictation and copywork. Although time is spent on the concepts and application of grammar, there is a lot of written work and the lessons are rather long.
We may pick it back up in a year or two, because it does provide good, solid grammar instruction and covers some things that Easy Grammar doesn’t. However, for my 7 and 9 year-olds, First Language Lessons, Level 3 just proved to be too long and detailed at this stage in the game.
I will say, though, that First Language Lessons, Level 1 & 2 gave Josh and Megan a fantastic foundation on parts of speech. The memorization has served them well and has enhanced Easy Grammar: Grade 2.
We frequently find ourselves reciting the definitions that the kids memorized last year, so, I highly recommend using FLL 1 & 2 for first grade. Although it’s designed for use in first and second grade, we were able to get through it in just over a year. I left out any reading and writing, since my kids weren’t strong in those areas yet. We did all the work orally and focused on the memorization and copywork.
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I was wondering about starting with Easy Grammar for N next year. He’s doing FLL 3 this year and he actually doesn’t mind it. We aren’t going through it very fast,(I think we are on lesson 30 or something), but he likes it when we do it.
I’m also looking at Teaching Textbooks for math, but that’s another topic.
Tre’ loves Easy Grammar as well! Language is his favorite subject. We won’t introduce Jordan to formal grammar until 5th grade.
Ok, we are totally restructuring for next year, and Grammar is one subject I am clueless in. This will be our 3rd year of homeschooling, and for the first two we’ve just done Alpha Omega Lifepacs.
The Easy Grammar seems interesting (I went to their website from your link). My son will be 4th grade level and my daughter 2nd grade level next year. It seems to suggest doing the Easy Grammar and the Daily Grams together (is that right or am I reading it wrong?). Is this book only the few problems it shows in the sample? (It just shows about 4 or 5 ideas with one example, and one for the child to do). Is there more to it than that or is that it for the day? Also, why did you do another curriculum on top of it? Did it not have enough?
Also, what do you do for writing? I have a hard time getting my son to write about anything, so I’m wondering what you use for that.
Sorry to ramble, I’m just truly clueless in this area and could use any help you have!! I saw Easy Grammar will be at the Midwest HS Convention (which I’m attending) so I know I can get more info there. Just curious about what you think!! Thanks!!
I was just looking at FLL for next year (1st grade). It’s always nice to hear how something works for other people. Thank you!
I was so happy to read this post b/c I'm in the middle of trying to decide on Lang. Arts for next year. I have a 2nd grader that is currently doing Learning Language Arts Through Literature and even though we are on the 3rd grade book, it doesn't seem challenging enough. I like the way they do some stuff, but I don't feel like she's learning a whole lot.
I'm considering doing IEW for writing next year (heard amazing things about it!) and have been told that you need a grammar curriculum to supplement. I'm wondering if my daughter hasn't had any exclusive grammar lessons like Easy Grammar or FLL, will we be able to go straight into grade 3 books? She has a foundation, but don't know if it will have covered what those two cover in their grades 1 & 2 books. (When she was in public school they told me she was reading at a 4th grade level, but that doesn't extend over into what level she can produce in writing and grammar.)
Also, if we do grammar and writing, I'm wanting to make certain that I cover all the other "parts" to language arts. We do vocab/spelling with Wordly Wise which she really enjoys, and we do Novel Thinking (The Critical Thinking Co.) for literature comprehension. Is there anything I'd be leaving out?
Do you have a recommendation for what would be good for her situation? (And what exactly is Daily Grams?)
I'm only in my first year of homeschooling, so sorry for all the questions! I read your blog all the time and really enjoy your input on curriculum, activities, etc. Thanks so much!!
@ Karen – we’ll be using Teaching Textbooks for math once we finish Horizons, which goes through 6th grade. I’m already looking at Pre-Algebra for Brianna.
@ Jamie – I linked to the 2nd grade book. It’s set up more like Daily Grams (which is a daily review book by the same company). For my younger two, this is all we do. The five “problems” on the page are all for the child to do. There is always one each for capitalization, punctuatiion and sentence combining. There are also two other problems each day, usually covering something like parts of speech, dictionary skills, contractions, etc.
Once you get into 3rd grade and up in Easy Grammar, there are focused lessons each day on things capitalization, punctuation, prepostions, types of verbs, direct and indirect objects, etc.
Once you get to 3rd grade, you’ll want to look at using both Daily Grams (for daily review), which take 5-10 minutes, and Easy Grammar, which will be the actual grammar lessons.
The jury is still out on writing. I haven’t found something I really like for my 7th grader on her level. I’m looking at Wordsmith for next year. They have a level for 4th grade, which I may look at for Josh and Megan, depending on what we think of the one for Brianna.
I don’t feel a stong sense of urgency about introducing writing in the early grades. Be sure to look at my post (linked in my sidebar) on our writing center. That’s what we used for Brianna when she was younger. If we don’t go with Wordsmith starting in 4th grade, I’ll probably use the Writer’s Workshop notebooks I talk about in that writing center post. That worked well for Brianna.
If that doesn’t make sense, feel free to email me with any other questions you may have and I’ll try to answer them.
Also, I know Susan Wise Bauer is going to be at the Midwest Homeschool Convention. If you get a chance, I urge you to go listen to her speak, especially if she does a workshop on writing. I went to that one a few years ago and what she said really made an impact on my approach to writing in the early grades.
She has a new writing program out (or, at least, her publishing company does). I haven’t looked at it yet, but it’s on my to-do list. If I were you, I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to check that out at the convention, either. 😉
@ Heather – I haven’t had any experience with IEW. However, it’s been my experience with Easy Grammar, that everything is cyclical. What is introduced the first year is covered and reviewed in subsequent years, so, if a child doesn’t quite get it the first year (or, in your case, didn’t have it introduced the first year) they’ll have an opportunity to see it again in subsequent years.
Does IEW have a placement test you can use? If not, I’d probably just go with where I thought my dd was and plan on the possibility of having to slow down to cover things that she may not have been exposed to before.
Daily Grams is a daily review of previously learned concepts. It’s set up to take 5-10 minutes and keep things fresh in a child’s mind. Occasionally, we run across something that hasn’t been covered. I just explain it and we move on. So far, so good.
Our language arts program, once we’re doing everything (and I don’t for the younger grades), includes: grammar, writing, and spelling. That seems to be working for us.
I’m going to have to check that out. I haven’t gotten any dreaded comments when we do grammar work but this looks awesome. Thank you for putting it out there.
Kris, thank you so much for writing back!! It helps so much!! I will definitely look into seeing Susan Wise Bauer at the convention, thanks for the recommendation! I appreciate it!!
Great review. We actually use Daily Grams without ever having used Easy Grammer. I do have to explain things sometimes when the kids come across a point we haven’t covered, but that’s no problem. I did FLL as well, but vol. 3 wasn’t out yet when I was gathering curriculum for the next year after that, so I went with Language Lessons for the Elementary Child. It’s a very gentle, Charlotte Mason type approach. Alone it would probably be too little and too easy for my kids (11 and 9 years old), but the Daily Grams gives us that little extra grammar practice we need.
I am really interested in Susan Wise Bauer’s new writing program. Since there aren’t any homeschooling conventions in my near future, I would love to see a review after you’ve had a chance to look at it!
I love (and the kids too) Easy Grammar. My son just completed the last level last week. I’m glad they go through all the way to grade 7 because I found this year he was still learning stuff — as was I!
you’re my hero. I have boasted about your blog to dozens. Keep posts like these coming! Love hearing about curriculum and what works for others and what doesn’t. Thank you so much!
OH- I forgot to mention this in my comment on the other post…
You mention in a comment here that you are thinking abt Wordsmith for next yr. I have used both Wordsmith Apprentice (4th-6th gr) and Wordsmith (7th-9th?) and like them. They are "fun" and light-hearted, esp Apprentice, and focus on creative writing as opposed to reports, etc. Both books are designed for the students to use independently, though of course you can be as involved as you want! If you are looking for something fun and not too strenuous, yet still structured, Wordsmith Apprentice & Wordsmith would be a good choice. (Though if you want Brianna to learn to write "reports", etc, you may want to supplement. Actually, if you want, I'd be happy to dig out my Wordsmith and look to see whether it does cover some non-creative-type writing.)
I used both books w/my now-18-y/o way back when, and started Spaz on Apprentice last yr. (The only reason I did not continue it this year is b/c I really wanted to try IEW this yr and see whether it was as fabulous as it's made out to be. Jury's still out on that, btw.)
A friend let me look at her copy of Wordsmith a couple of weeks ago. It still focuses on creative writing, which is fine. I went ahead and ordered it today from a friend who does group orders from time to time. It was a good price, so I figured why not?
I’m going to keep Apprentice in mind for my younger two. I’ve got a copy of SWB new writing series on the way to review, too. Woo hoo! This bibliophile is going to be in book heaven within the next week or two. lol
We’ve used Easy Grammar since grade 3… I personally don’t think formal grammar lessons are necessary at all until around grade 3 or 4 level. We’ve been getting Charlotte Mason-ey lately and I think that’s what she says too (grammar before that point is just ‘absorbed’ from exposure to literature, before you introduce analysis).
Anyway, DS has always been the type who hates the physical act of writing, long lessons, and ‘boring’ topics. So I was astounded that the fairly dry, simple, black-and-white busy-text pages of Easy Grammar were his FAVOURITE almost from the start! He never complains about doing grammar and loves it — Like your kids, he loves the sentence combining!
We did JUST Easy Grammar for grades 3 and 4. No Daily Grams, that would have been too much writing and too much of the ‘same thing’ for him. His lessons need to be short and sweet.
This year, we’re doing JUST Daily Grams for grade 5. I think there’s enough review each year that we don’t need to do the ENTIRE PROGRAM every single year. That’s a big positive about the series, though — you can start in any year, any grade, and get all the ‘background’ that you need to get going.
Next year we’ll do grade 6 Easy Grammar again, and may or may not do the Daily Grams with it — cross that bridge when we come to it — and it’s the last year I’m planning to do formal grammar (unless he specifically requests more). I think that’s enough for a fantastic, solid foundation in English language structure!
*Very* good to know! I love FLL and was planning to use FLL 3 next year. It wasn’t around when my older child moved on, so we moved into Easy Grammar–which she enjoys. But I love FLL so much that I thought FLL 3 would be better than Easy Grammar. You’ve given me something to think about!!
Hi. Thanks for writing this great post. I looked at the Easy Grammar website and it looks like a lot of stuff to buy–teacher edition and student workbook for EG, the student test booklet, and then teacher edition and student workbook for DG at each level. Do you use all of those things? If not, what do you recommend?
seminoff at eml dot cc
Jeremy — you don't have to use everything. Sure you CAN if you want to, but you can totally just take the pieces you want.
The first year we used EG, I just got the Teacher Edition and that's it (no DG). The idea was that DS would just copy the work into a notebook, thus getting handwriting practice at the same time.
Well, handwriting was NOT a strength of his and that was his most hated part of it. So the next year, I got the teacher's book AND the student book.
The following year, I was confident enough in the methodology that I just got the student book. It's really just what you're comfortable with.
I just came across your review today as I’m looking for reviews on First Language Lessons. Thanks for the great post! Do you have any idea about how long each lesson takes? I’m trying to decide if my wiggly one will be able to handle this next fall? Thanks!
I really don’t remember. It’s been a VERY long time since we used it. I know FLL is different than the version we had when we used, but my two wiggly kids enjoyed it. 🙂
We have also tried both FLL and EG.
Hands down, we prefer EG.
FLL, grade 4 was D-R-Y.
We ended up quitting part way through the year and toyed with the idea of using the book as fire kindling. 🙂
I am confused- I have been looking at their website and I can’t find Daily Grams for grade 2. That program seems to begin in 3rd grade.
In second grade, the text is kind of an Easy Grammar/Daily Grams combo. You can find it here: https://www.easygrammar.com/daily-guided-teaching-and-review—grade-2.html