Sentence Diagramming from The Critical Thinking Co. (Crew Review)
This is the first year we have done any sort of formal grammar instruction, and I’m curious about different resources that are available. I was thankful for the recent opportunity we were given to try Sentence Diagramming: Beginning from The Critical Thinking Co.™.
Sentence Diagramming: Beginning is a 72-page softcover workbook consisting of 12 lessons. Designed for use with Grades 3-12+, the lessons are simple but not childish, so they can provide instruction and/or practice at any of these levels.
Lesson 1 begins with as simple a sentence as you can get, with just two words forming the subject and predicate (e.g. “Cats purr” or “Artists draw.”) Subsequent lessons add in new concepts one at a time, building upon what the students have previous learned, until their diagrams become quite complex:
- Lesson 1: Simple Subject and Main Verb
- Lesson 2: Direct Object
- Lesson 3: Adjectives
- Lesson 4: Adverbs Modifying Verbs
- Lesson 5: Predicate Adjectives
- Lesson 6: Predicate Nouns
- Lesson 7: Prepositional Phrases (Adjectival)
- Lesson 8: Prepositional Phrases (Adverbial)
- Lesson 9: Compound Subjects
- Lesson 10: Compound Predicates
- Lesson 11: Compound Direct Objects
- Lesson 12: Compound Predicate Adjectives and Nouns
Within each lesson, the student gets to work through 4 different types of exercises (after brief instructional section with examples at the beginning of the lesson):
- Correcting errors in given diagrams
- Diagramming given sentences on given diagrams
- Writing original sentences on a given diagram
- Diagramming given sentences independently
Answers for all exercises are given at the back of the book.
I was surprised at how much my boys enjoyed the process of diagramming sentences. It really appealed to their mechanically inclined brains, and I think it helped certain grammar concepts “click” in a way that has eluded them up to this point.
I really liked the way each lesson approached the diagrams from several different angles, and certain ones worked better for each boy depending on their strengths and how they think. I would usually go through the examples at the beginning of each lesson, explaining which new concept was being presented. They we would go through a few of the exercises in each section together, and I would have them try others on their own.
I especially appreciate the copyright, which allows me to make copies to use within my family. As a mom of many, I try to look for resources that I’ll be able turn to again and again, rather than having to repurchase multiple copies for each of my children. Some of these lessons I just did at home with the boys on whiteboards, but others I copied for them to take with them when we were doing school away from home. It was great to have this flexibility.
The minimal instruction made it easy to get into the first few lessons, but as they get more advanced, I think it would be hard for these lessons to stand alone. The book shows how to draw the diagrams, but it doesn’t provide much explanation for why words are placed in certain spots, why some lines are slanted, and things like that.
Because of this, I think I would hesitate to go much further in the book on its own. We are using it in conjunction with our current grammar program, which is teaching the boys about parts of speech more thoroughly, and as they get more comfortable with those labels, I think we’ll come back to Sentence Diagramming: Beginning to help broaden their understanding. It’s also a great resource for families already doing sentence diagramming with their grammar program but looking for clear examples for extra practice.
Right now, this “Beginning” book is the only one available on The Critical Thinking Co.™ website, but I would be interested in seeing what the Level 1 and Level 2 books (mentioned on the title page) look like when they come out.
One Last Thing
The Critical Thinking Co.™ believes in the Importance of Preschool Academics, and has some great resources for parents who want to give their children some academic experience before they reach official school age, such as their “Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Before Kindergarten!™” bundle, which includes five apps designed to teach basic skills. You can see what other Crew members thought of these programs and other products from The Critical Thinking Co.™ by clicking on the banner below.