For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

5 Days of Curriculum Evaluation - First Language Lessons

For day 2 and 3 of my curriculum evaluation week I will be looking at Language Arts curricula.

First up is First Language Lessons. I was first introduced to FLL back in 2008 when my oldest was 5, I loved the gentle and progressive approach, and thought it would work well for him. I was right. We started that same year and did the whole book.

First Language Lessons is written by Jessie Wise, co-author of the well renown book The Well-Trained Mind.

The Wises believe that language is best taught progressively and gently. First Language Lessons contains lots of memorization and copywork, which the author believes is the best foundation for good writing.

Over the course of volume 1 and 2 of First Language Lessons the student:
  • Memorizes the definitions of the different parts of speech: noun, pronoun, adjective, article, verbs, adverbs, conjunction, preposition and interjections
  • Learns about the 4 different kinds of sentences
  • Memorizes about 11 poems
  • Does lots of story narrations and picture narrations
  • Learns about oral usage, contractions, abbreviations, title of respect
  • Learns basic capitalization and punctuation rules
  • learns about days of the week, months, addresses, writing dates
  • Do lots of copywork and some dictation (which I did not always do with Zach)
Here is a lapbook we created when we did volume 1 and 2:

In the subsequent volumes Jessie Wise builds on those definitions, and keeps reviewing them and studying them deeper. She also introduces diagramming.

The only drawback of this curriculum is that the pace is rather slow and somewhat repetitive.  The idea is to slowly introduce grammar concepts for better retention and understanding.

How is Zach doing? Well, this year, in grade 3, we did volume 4 (which is the last in the series), and he did very well. We are ten lessons shy of finishing, and he has very good understanding of:
  • Parts of speech and how they relate to each other
  • Has all the definitions of the different parts of speech memorized as well as the list of most common prepositions and list of state of being verbs and helping verbs.
  • Types of sentences
  • The concepts of compound subjects, direct objects, and sentences
  • Prepositional phrases and their function in sentences
  • How helping verbs help with tenses
  • Predicates, adjective and nominative
  • Has a basic understanding of editing (this is his least liked topic)
All of these concepts and the memory work involved are great building blocks for more complex grammar understanding and proficiency; which in turn are the building block for good writing and good comprehension skills.

I have to say, though, that FLL is a scripted program, and as such it does not always appeal to everyone, teacher and student alike. It requires for the parent to sit with the child and guide the learning. This does not work very well with my youngest child. However, for my oldest who prefers for me to sit with him, this curriculum was a great fit and was most beneficial to his learning. Grammar is actually one of his favorite subjects and he does very well in it.



Mary said...

I love FLL!! We are just about done with FLL 1-2. It's been a great gentle introduction to grammar these past two years.

Lora @ my blessed life said...

We also love FLL!! I love your lapbook ideas, too!

Sara @ Embracing Destiny said...

I've been considering this for next year. Thanks for all the details! It helps with my decision.

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