{Review} Well-Ordered Language from Classical Academic Press

Ok, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time then you know that I love curriculum. And nothing is more exciting than a brand new curriculum that is hot off the press.

When I saw that one of my favorite publishers (Classical Academic Press) had released a new program for grammar I knew that I absolutely HAD to try it. And they were gracious enough to let me review a copy!

Well-Ordered Language is a grammar curriculum that is designed to feed a child’s curiosity of language through using stories, chants, songs, poems, and narrative to teach grammar concepts. The program is designed to incorporate the skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening into the study of grammar.

The book I received is part of the first level of a grammar program that will eventually contain 4 levels.

This book is the first semester of level 1 of a grammar program for students in grade 3 or 4. It covers the following concepts:

Kinds of sentences
Subject and predicate
Subject and predicate verbs
Adverbs
Adjectives
Direct Objects
Subject Pronouns
Interrogative Sentences

The program includes scheduling ideas for studying grammar 4 times a week or 3 times a week. There is also an alternative schedule for covering grammar 5 times per week and finishing up each chapter in one week rather than in 2 weeks (for students who need to accelerate through the program).

How did I use this program?

I decided to try this program with my oldest, Curly, who is finishing up 4th grade.

I spent some time familiarizing myself with the teacher’s guide – which is a rather large and intimidating book! There was quite a bit of reading that I needed to do to be comfortable with the teaching style. I also needed to go through the many teacher helps and tips provided for the lessons.

I chose the option to cover grammar 4 times per week to ensure that we would cover all the additional fables and poems included in the program.

We spent about 20 minutes per day on grammar – with the introductory day sometimes taking longer due to the large amount of reading to be done that day.

What did I think?

I was worried when I saw on the website that this program was designed for school use. However, I found that I could easily adapt this program for homeschool use.

I love the CD with the chants and songs to help memorize the definitions and parts of speech. This makes reviewing easy and fun.

In the introductory lesson at the beginning of each chapter are excerpts from literature. This was my daughter’s favorite part – to see what book was referenced. And if it was one that we had not yet read, she insisted on adding it to our reading list.

I appreciate the level of review through the pages. There are 4 sections of review pages to ensure that concepts are mastered. Many of these could also be done orally with the student to minimize writing (I definitely have a child or two who would prefer oral exercises to written ones)!

The teaching notes include ideas for extra games or activities to reinforce concepts. This would be a nice way to get in some extra review practice if a student needed it. You won’t run out of teaching ideas with using the teacher manual.

I enjoy the sentence analysis where we break down a sentence into its parts orally. This is a nice alternative to diagramming a sentence – especially for kids who do not enjoy writing. The book also introduces simple analysis of labeling the various parts of the sentence which is a great introductory activity to precede diagramming.

We loved the poems and fables throughout the program. They were a nice break to the grammar study. Also, the chapter introductions are written in a very approachable style that makes grammar interesting and simple.

There were a couple aspects of the program that were not love at first sight. For starters, the manual is really huge and it took some time to become familiar with the lesson set-up and the extra materials. I found that there is quite a bit of teacher help which is both a positive and a negative. It’s great information but it can be a bit overwhelming.

Each chapter has multiple review pages which is excellent for thorough review. Yet, if all pages were completed it would be quite a bit of repetitive writing for a student. At times it would be best to condense the pages and skip one of the review sections or do the pages orally.

At the end of every chapter in the manual is a section of teaching notes. There is an introduction as well as a page of notes for every practice page. This means that when you are teaching you will do some flipping back and forth between the page that has the answer key and the page that has additional notes and teaching ideas.

I was also left wishing that the student book contained the text to the fables. They are available as a printable in the PDF that also contains the quizzes. As they are an optional part of the program they were not included in the student pages. But we found them so fun and interesting that my daughter would not have wanted to skip those lessons and she wished she had the text for the fables in her own book. She ended up looking over my shoulder and reading the story along with me from the teacher manual.

It took a few weeks to find our rhythm while using this curriculum as I had to sort through all the information in the guide and tailor the lessons to fit our family; however, it was worth the effort as we enjoyed our grammar time together.

My final thoughts: 

This program was what I needed for grammar. It is thorough, has excellent review, encourages memorization, and contains poems and fables for reading, analysis, and discussion. It’s a wonderful mix of Charlotte Mason/Classical education that is perfect for our homeschool.

I’ve decided that it will be an excellent grammar program for 3rd grade next year for Tiger. He will enjoy the variety of the program and I know he will need the extensive review provided through the practice pages. I think Well-Ordered Language is a great follow-up to First Language Lessons 2 and will be a great choice for our 3rd grade year!

Be sure to come back on Wednesday to read another blog post that will give you a glimpse into how I adapted this program to homeschool use. 

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