The 4 Moms of 36 Kids are teaching writing and grammar this week.
What? Huh? You noticed that we added an extra kid? Yes, it's true. One of us is expecting. That one isn't me.
Apparently my post yesterday left some of you with the impression that I am pregnant, since 2 internet friends and 1 real life friend congratulated me. Sorry to confuse and/or disappoint you, and thank you for your undeserved congratulations!
Now, as to who the expectant party is, you'll have to check out the other Moms to see if you can figure it out, 'cause I'm not telling!
As for grammar, I like to expose my children to as much excellent literature and examples of well written pieces as possible. I read aloud. They read silently. We listen to free audio books. (Here is a list of books that are widely recognized at great literature.)
We also do a lot of talking, discussing, and debating, during which I am perfectly comfortable correcting any spoken grammar mistakes. In fact, just last week I gathered all of the children around our dry erase door and we all had a group grammar lesson in which I wrote out a verb chart with the present, past, and past participle.
All of us, from the 4 year old on up, talked about when to use sink, sank, and sunk, and we listed as many verbs as we could think of. The chart is still on the door for reference.
I think copy work can also be very beneficial in teaching grammar, and we use Spelling Wisdom, which has pieces of great literature for the students to copy. After they feel that they have mastered all the words in the piece, I dictate it to them and they try to write it correctly. The piece may be a quote from Abraham Lincoln, the Psalms, or a portion of Tom Sawyer. If the child gets some words wrong, he or she practices copying the entire piece for a day or two until I give another dictation test.
When we practice our writing, I like to use real-life application. In other words, I have them write letters to real people, or fill out real forms for real events they are attending.
I also require the children to write in a daily journal. Sometimes I let them choose what to write about and sometimes I have them write about a specific topic, like "How I Will Love My Neighbors as Myself This Week?". I check their entries and have them correct mistakes.
Looking at these writing samples and discussing the merits and faults of each one was also helpful in demonstrating how poorly written pieces can be a hindrance to communication and well written pieces can be a pleasure to read.
We also use some grammar workbooks, but I firmly believe real life writing, reading, and speaking are the best way to teach grammar.