Curriculum Review: The Sentence Family
By: Beth Redmond, Editor HSF
The Sentence Family, by James Hughes, is a unique add-on to any homeschool grammar program. I read about it on a homeschooling forum a few months ago and was intrigued because it aims to teach grammar through art. My twin daughters, age 11, are budding artists. Like a lot of other kids, they retain information better when they fully visualize what they are learning.
I wrote to the author and asked if I could review it for Homeschool Frederick and he generously sent me a copy of the book. Simple in scope, this small spiral bound book turned into hours of productive fun for us all.
Developed by St. Michael's Orthodox School in California for 4th graders, it has secular content, and could be used by any child learning the parts of speech, or who has difficulty remembering them.
The book lays out a story, where each character is a different type of sentence (e.g., Mr. Declarative) or a part of speech (Adjective and Noun are best friends). As you progress through the story with your kids, you draw each character with color and visual cues provided in the book. For example, Adjective and Noun wear the same color and Article is small and always drawn with Noun nearby. As you draw, you discuss the part of speech and note what each character might “say” in a sentence.
It may sound silly, but it worked like a charm for my girls. As we spent about a half hour each day, reading the story and drawing--the names and functions of each part of speech were cemented. We had covered this topic before with another curriculum but it never really “stuck”.
At the end of the book, there is additional information on diagramming sentences. This section uses the Sentence Family in a way that is really pretty ingenious. If you are into diagramming, your kids will never forget “who sleeps where” in the big diagram bed drawn as you work through the story.
I imagine kids from 3rd grade up to about 6th could use it. Some kids may find it too baby-ish, but if they give it a chance, I guarantee it will help them remember the function of each word.
I recommend The Sentence Family for any child who likes to draw and is learning the parts of speech or diagramming. It’s certainly fun, and for us---was time well spent. It may be purchased here for $19.50 and you only need one copy for the whole family.