I’m an English major, but unlike many English majors, I’m not a grammar freak. In fact, I have horrible memories of hours spent in English class diagramming sentences.
It’s enough to suck the life out of anyone, especially for those who don’t even like studying English to begin with.
Still, knowing how to compose a grammatically correct sentence, paragraph, and paper are essential life skills. I cringe every time I see someone writing a formal paper as if they’re texting on their smart phone. I want my children to be strong writers, and that includes grammar.
Thankfully, the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) has found a fun way (gasp!) to teach grammar to kids in 3rd grade and above.
What Is Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree?
Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree is the first book in a series of grammar books. IEW recommends that all students start with The Nose Tree first since concepts will build with each consecutive book. The Nose Tree also includes advanced concepts, so if it is too easy for your child initially, you can add in the advanced concepts.
If you’re not sure where you should place your child, IEW offers a placement test.
Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree offers a novel approach to studying grammar. Rather than memorizing dry grammar rules and diagramming sentences, students are given one sentence a day that is part of a longer story. They must look for particular components in that sentence and correct the errors. For example, early in The Nose Tree, students are asked to identify nouns and articles. They are to add proper end punctuation. They are also asked to choose the right homophone between “their”, “there”, and “they’re” in a sentence.
In addition to looking for the grammar errors and parts of speech, each sentence contains one vocabulary word that students must look up in the dictionary and write the definition in a notebook. During our review period, Bookworm defined these vocabulary words: poor, destitute, wretched, gloomy, keeping watch, alert, dwarf, rebuffing, plight, worthy, comrades, don, purse, awarding, graciously, and curious.
Each day, the student puts the day’s sentence on a separate sheet of paper. The sentences accumulate throughout the weeks to provide the complete story on a separate sheet of paper, so the kids get to read the whole story at once and practice forming paragraphs and formatting a paper correctly.
How We Used The Nose Tree
The Nose Tree has four days’ worth of work for each week. Bookworm and I used this book four days a week during the review period.
Bookworm liked The Nose Tree because the story was surprising and funny. He wanted to keep doing the assignments so he could see what happened next in the story.
The story is about a group of three poor soldiers who are wandering through the woods. They are out of work and desperate. Then they run into a dwarf who gives each of them a special gift.
See, don’t you want to keep reading to see what happens? Creating grammar lessons around an interesting story with a great hook is a fabulous idea! I loved that my son was eager to do his grammar lessons every day just to see what happened next in the story!
In addition, we both loved that the assignments were relatively short. Each day’s work could be completed in approximately 10 minutes.
Bookworm said he liked the book because it didn’t feel like learning, but he did learn new grammar concepts.
We really enjoyed this book and plan to keep using it. If all goes well this year, we’ll likely invest in the later books in the series.
I was one of 100 crew members to review these books. (Some reviewed other levels of the books.) To read their reviews, click on the link below.