Summer vacation has reached it’s halfway point in our house. The kids are bouncing off the walls, scout camp is over, and I am gearing up for the next school year. That is a task in and of itself! Putting together lesson plans, scheduling subjects and finding new programs to replace the ones that didn’t work last year… Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through this every year! It is definitely a case of trial-and-error sometimes.
Last year, a friend recommended that I look into Growing With Grammar by JacKris Publishing. I was incredibly unhappy with our previous writing program because it required a TON of prep work on my part. With so many grade levels and subjects, I just don’t have the time to prep that much!
I headed over to their website (growingwithgrammar.com) took a look around, and bought the product sight unseen. I figured it wasn’t terribly expensive (our last program was over $500!!), so it wasn’t that big of a risk. Since I already had a grammar program, and didn’t understand what the diagramming was about, I only purchased the Soaring With Spelling and Winning With Writing sets. After using them for a full school year, I can honestly say that I am glad I listened to my friend, and (best part) so were my kids! They have already asked that I purchase this again for next year.
One of the first things I loved about their product is how each level is color coded. It made it super easy for me as a parent to know who left their books lying around. That may seem silly and frivolous, but with 4 kids and a million workbooks, it’s nice to have some way to maintain order. All workbooks for level 6 (writing, grammar and spelling) are green, level 2 is orange, etc. It makes for a very colorful homeschool room too!
Like many other homeschoolers, when choosing a curriculum, it is important to me to know how easy it is for the teacher as well as the student. It does ME no good if it is easy for my kids to use, but takes me hours to work through as the teacher. This curriculum comes as a complete set and requires no prep work on the part of the student or teacher. You just pull the workbooks out and go! They can be used one-on-one or independently. My oldest son prefers to be left alone to work while my second son wants me to talk him through each step. Both the writing and spelling programs can be easily used both ways. I do not have any personally experience with the grammar program, but I assume that it is similar in structure and ease of use as the others.
Now, while I was willing to take the jump and buy them without seeing the product, or really having that much info (other than the general info on their site), I know others may not be that brave/impulsive/reckless. So here is a quick run down of both workbooks.
Soaring With Spelling
The Soaring With Spelling program is broken down into 5 days per lesson; a pretest day, 3 days of activities (crosswords, matching definitions, fill-in-the-blanks and others), and a review day. Every sixth lesson is a review of the previous lessons. Some of the activities include misspelled or scrambled words for the children to correct. While my children do not have dyslexia, these activities may cause problems for those that do, so keep that in mind when choosing this program. You can also skip over those activities if needed and it does not affect the overall progress through the workbook.
My children appreciated the fact that the spelling workbooks were spiral-bound along the top. It kept it out of the way while they were writing, which works well for both right and left handed children, as well as those that like to put both arms on their books like my kids. The lower level (levels 1-4) workbooks also provide double-lined writing spaces to help with letter formation (the upper levels are single lined).
Each level adds two spelling words per lesson, starting at 6 words at level 1 and working up to 20 words at level 8. Spelling word difficulty increases from words with basic vowel sounds to more complex science and legal terms. The answer book includes the spelling list for each lesson, making it easy for the me to read them for each pretest while my kids use the workbook to write them down.
Winning With Writing
The Winning With Writing program is also broken down into 5 days per lesson, although it is not as predictably structured as the spelling program. Day 1 will rarely be the same lesson type as each week adds a new aspect to writing such as outlines, descriptive writing, and writing processes.
Each lesson is very detailed yet simple. It walks students through each step of the writing process, explaining it in a way that is age-appropriate for each level. Level 1 begins with rhyming, word order and basic sentence structure. Upper levels (6-8) adds figures of speech, expository writing and essays.
One of the drawbacks of the writing workbook is that the layout of the lessons make it very difficult for students to copy down their rough draft to the final draft pages as they are usually on the reverse side or several pages ahead. This can be remedied by having the kids write their work on separate lined pages. However, this creates more papers to keep track of and is not terribly eco-friendly. Also, the spiral binding is on the left side, unlike the grammar and spelling workbooks, which is uncomfortable for left-handed students and arm resters.
So what do you think? If you’re like my husband, your next thought is “well, how much are they?” The spelling set (1 workbook and 1 answer book) run $15.99 and the writing set (1 workbook and 1 answer book for levels 1 &2 and 2 workbooks and 2 answer books for levels 2-8) run $15.99-$26.99. The grammar set adds a test book and a student manual (levels 3-8) and runs $17.99-$32.99. So, if you wanted to get all 3 programs, it would be less than $76 per student! Plus, no extra Teacher’s manual to purchase!
While these programs are incredibly well priced compared to many other programs, the publishers have been gracious enough to provide 3 winners a complete set of their choice (either spelling, writing, grammar or diagramming)! Which one would you start with?
GO HERE to enter to win a complete set from Growing With Grammar!
**UPDATE** This giveaway has ended and the winners are:
Congratulations ladies! Please send us a FB message in the next 24 hours that includes your full name, mailing address, and the curriculum of your choice and we will get that sent to you right away!