Recently, Jackson and I had the opportunity to brush up on our grammar when we were selected to review Sentence Diagramming: Beginning from The Critical Thinking Co.™ for the Homeschool Review Crew. Let me share with you about our experiences!
What is sentence diagramming?
The first time I ever saw it, I was reading one of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, in which Laura is participating in an end-of-the-year student presentation. I remember being absolutely astonished at her sentence diagramming! It certainly was nothing I was ever taught in school. However, sentence diagramming is apparently making a comeback. It’s a thorough and complete method of teaching the parts of speech.
Students draw a horizontal line, with a vertical line intersecting it. Then, they rewrite a sentence, placing every word in a spot that is designated for the part of speech it is with various lines angling off as they indicate whether a word is an adjective, adverb, subject, predicate, etc. A student would find this useful in examination and learning of grammar, because it very clearly shows exactly what each word in a sentence is. Below, you can see an example of sentence diagramming with the famous sentence, “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.”
What is The Critical Thinking Co.’s Sentence Diagramming: Beginning?
It is a softcover consumable book (8 1/2″ x 11″) that contains everything you need for teaching sentence diagramming for grades 3-12. Because it is a consumable product, you would need one book for each student you’re teaching, since all the student’s work will be done and written in the Sentence Diagramming: Beginning book itself. Students do a variety of work in this book, from correcting errors in diagramming, to writing and diagramming sentences themselves, to labeling sentences given in the text. The book contains 12 several-page-long lessons, as well as an end-of-the-book review section and an answer key. This book covers these topics in its lessons:
- Simple Subject and Main Verb
- Direct Object
- Adverbs Modifying Verbs
- Predicate Adjectives
- Predicate Nouns
- Prepositional Phrases (both adjectival and adverbial)
- Compound Subjects
- Compound Predicates
- Compound Direct Objects
- Compound Predicate Adjectives and Nouns
Students begin, naturally, with the simplest diagrammed sentences in chapter 1; those with just a noun (subject) and a verb (predicate). Helping verbs and proper nouns are mentioned there. The course progresses quickly from there, with brief explanations of the part of speech at the top of each chapter, an example, and then exercises for the student to complete. Generally, each chapter contains several segments of explanation which explain more difficult sentences as the student goes along. You can see by the list above the the most difficult parts of grammar are in the last third of the book.
How we used it:
For this review, we utilized Sentence Diagramming: Beginning as our grammar spine. We did a few pages at a time, generally covering more than one chapter in a week’s time. At this rate, we’ll be able to complete it over the course of one semester.
Jackson and I would sit together, go through the explanation and examples on each chapter’s section, then he would do the work in that section. I’d review his work then and correct any errors (or not, if there weren’t any), then we’d progress to the next section in the chapter. This worked well for us. I can see that as we approach and enter the last third of the book we’ll probably divide the chapters into several days’ work, stretching it out more for deeper understanding of more difficult types of diagramming. We’re able to progress at our current speed simply because Jackson has quite a few years of grammar study under his belt already.
Our thoughts and recommendations:
For us, Sentence Diagramming: Beginning has been an excellent review of important grammar topics. As I mentioned, he has studied grammar for years in his various language arts programs, so much of the general knowledge on the parts of speech is familiar to him. However, diagramming sentences was not. I really value that skill for him, for a variety of reasons. First, because it’s presented in a very different format (placing each word in its own segment that identifies its part of speech), it really makes the student think about what the words actually are. Second, it’s a great activity that I believe will stimulate better learning as it works with parts of the brain that maybe normally aren’t accessed in language arts study; sort of like working a puzzle. Third, it’s a process that will engage both visual and kinesthetic learning styles and skills. In short, it’s a great activity for deeper thinking and learning!
Parents will note that this curriculum is designed for students in grades 3-12. Younger students probably won’t (and shouldn’t) progress at the speed we did. However, since this was a grammar review plus a new activity for Jackson, an older student, we were able to move faster than perhaps the average younger student would. In any case, it has been a fantastic activity and one that I know we’ll continue and benefit from.
Where can you purchase Sentence Diagramming: Beginning?
The The Critical Thinking Co.™ website has Sentence Diagramming: Beginning available as well as many other excellent physical, digital, and software resources. In fact, other Crew members reviewed quite a variety of these great educational products! Here’s just a short listing of some that my Crewmates reviewed, with their links. (You can also click on the banner below to read more about their experiences with the The Critical Thinking Co.™ products.) Just follow those links to check them out:
- “Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Before Kindergarten!™” (this link talks about the importance of preschool learning and a software bundle you can use for this)
- “Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Before Kindergarten!™” (this link focuses more on the app bundle and why it’s an excellent tool for pre-kindergarten learners–it’s full of songs and games for learning the alphabet, letter sounds, phonics, and vowel sounds)
- Language Smarts™ Level E
You can also visit The Critical Thinking Co.™ at their social media sites: