Friday, May 24, 2013

Joyce Herzog Budding Authors SET *and* 6 Weeks to Understanding Grammar

I am always on the lookout for something that will catch my reluctant writers' attention, so I was curious to get a look at the Budding Authors series and 6 Weeks to Understanding Grammar by Joyce Herzog, the latest items that I have been sent for review. Educator, Author, and Conference Speaker are just a few of the hats that Dr. Joyce Herzog wears, and her introductions to each book remind me of hearing her at conference, with a chatty little discussion, often background details. (Kind of a kindred spirit there, I think...???)

The Budding Authors series is a group of 5 manuals that starts with the very earliest readers, and continues to increase the writing skill level up through writing a history research paper.

($10)Step Into Writing  (First steps in writing sentences and stories) is set up with 3 styles of lessons~ Copywork, Dictation, and "Experience Stories." The copywork and dictation sentences are very short, but were still a bit of a task for my 5 yo~ would be better for his hands next year, perhaps?  Side note~ it took us a long time to decide how to use the special CPS (Capitalization, Punctuation, Spacing) paper... the spacing is like nothing we had ever encountered before (I would have liked at least one "example" sentence to be included on the first page... it would be a simple thing to add, and clear up any confusion before it begins).

Each page has an old-fashioned illustration, some very clear, but others rather fuzzy. The occasional  lack of discernible detail made it difficult for my littlest to decide what was happening, which was especially perplexing when he was supposed to be narrating the Experience Story, but there were only a few of those, so we just moved on to another page. Because it was narrating, and I have arthritis that crops up when I do much writing, I opted to type his story into a word doc, print it, and insert into the  book~

($10)Step On Into Writing (really stepping into writing sentences and stories) Set up similar to the first book, but with slightly more complex sentences (I didn't see any fuzzy pictures, either!). I forgot to mention above in Step Into Writing that the front of the book includes a page with sentences for the teacher to use for the dictation pages, which is nice, as they are structured at the appropriate level, and the same holds true for this book.
Although a dictionary is mentioned in the front pages of Step Into Writing, it doesn't make its appearance until this book. The dictionary is a picture dictionary of words used frequently in the sentences in the book.

Don't you love the old-fashioned quality of my photos? ;)
Schooling at night, and no flash~ white pages... really!

($10)Adventures in Writing (Short stories in a single paragraph) This is the book I decided to use with my Middlest. The pages are set up with a black and white illustration, two word boxes (one with simpler words, the other more advanced), a set of questions to help the creative juices start flowing, and a space with regular lines for writing. I think the word boxes in particular were very helpful for my son ~  requiring him to use 8+ words in 5+ sentences at a minimum helped to encourage some creativity, although I also saw times where his paragraphs didn't really flow, and were more nonsense strung together just to get the words and sentence count in... ah well.... can't be perfect all the time. ;)

($12)Then and Now (Writing comparisons in two paragraphs) Each page has one of those lovely old-fashioned illustrations with a set of questions for the student to think about, and then answer "What's the same?" and "What's Different?" between then and now.

($15)Writing U.S. History (U.S. History research and report) was beyond the scope of what we were ready to do at this point, but as our history studies continue through this time frame, I can see integrating this course into a "unit." This book touches on outlining and using index cards, and then moves right into the pages~ again with illustrations and a few words with basic information so that the student has a place to begin their research to go with the picture. It starts with the Explorers and ends with pages from the 2010.

($12) 6 Weeks to Understanding Grammar is a fairly brief booklet (40 pages in length) but is packed with great information. It is best used, according to Joyce Herzog with students aged 11 and up (Which flows with my personal philosophy of covering certain subjects later).

Concepts include:
  • eight parts of speech (kinds of words)
  • three kinds of sentences and one variation
  • five sentence completers or complements
  • simple and compound subjects, predicates and sentences
  • the difference between a phrase and a clause
  • kinds of sentences by function (declarative, interrogative and imperative) and the exclamatory variation
  • kinds of sentences by structure (simple, compound, and complex)
There are also a number of helpful appendices at the back of the book including:
  • Capitalization Rules
  • Punctuation Rules
  • Spelling Rules
  • Verbs (tense, forms, variations)
  • Verbals
  • Irregular Verbs
While we have already covered the majority of these concepts with both of my older children, I find this to be a very handy little reference guide or review booklet, when a specific concept needs brushing up a little. For those who have little to no background in diagramming sentences... guess what... that's included as well. As I said at the start~ a LOT of information in a little book!

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew. While a few of us reviewed these books, there were a variety of other products reviewed including the Scaredy Cat Reading System, Learning In Spite of Labels, and many more. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.


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