English on a Roll sent us their English Grammar Teaching Method to try and review. This is a unique set of plastic cubes that have words engraved and color coded on them. The manual that comes with will help you teach the basics of English grammar to your student - homeschool, special education, adult education, ESL, beginning reading, and more. What is unique about these cubes is that they are multi-sensory. Students HEAR the words and sentences, they SEE the words and sentences, and they TOUCH the cubes to choose the correct word. It is definitely educational, but what you don't see is that this method is really fun!
Tell me about the cubes!There are forty cubes to a set and they come in a sturdy plastic storage case. The cubes are color coded according to what part of speech the words belong to. Each cube only contains words that represent one rule, for instance one light blue cube contains all the pronouns (I, you, he/she, it, we, they) and one red cube contains all of the "have" verbs (have, has, had, having, to have). The categories and colors are:
- question words
The manual also has a couple of pages that explain how to use the cubes and conduct a lesson. There is a video on the English on a Roll website too. The book contains 37 lessons and is written as though teaching a class. It explains how to set up groups of students with a set of cubes, but it is very easy to adjust the lesson to teach your child or children at home.
What are the lessons like?The lessons start out simple, with just one cube. Hand signals are incorporated into the lessons, very useful if this were used in an ESL setting. There are pages in the lesson manual that can be copied and handed out to the students you are teaching (I love that the copyright allows this!). The teacher starts by presenting a concept, then students practice it and play games, and lastly, they complete a written exercise. Cubes are only introduced as the lessons call for them, so you don't worry about overwhelming students with all 40 at once!
How did we use this?I used this with my two youngest girls, who will be starting first and fourth grade soon. My two older children (7th and 9th grades) liked playing with the cubes and REALLY enjoy making sentences up with them, but they didn't do any lessons from the manual.
I found I prefer to read through the lesson quickly before teaching. Some lessons had parts that really seemed more intended for ESL learners, and some parts felt awkward in how they were presented with hand signals for words my children already know. When I read through the lesson first I got a good idea of what was being taught and I was able to speak more freely rather than feel like I was reading from a manual. After I would demonstrate with the cubes, my girls would take turns doing what I did and sometimes even thinking of their own sentences and phrases that were similar.
In addition to doing the lessons outlined in the manual, we found that the cubes are helpful in other language arts settings. For instance, my girls were writing paragraphs and I asked them to pick the verbs out of their sentences. They were in a mindset of action verbs, and could not see the "be" verbs. So we pulled out the cubes, I handed them the ones we needed, and proceeded to show them the verbs. Then we changed our sentence a little (like the lesson manual teaches) and they were able to pick out the correct verb forms and change the other parts of speech accordingly.
By the way, I made up that little color coded reference card to stick in the box with the cubes, it's not part of the original set, but it made it easier for us to use the Cube Guide pages to find what I needed.
Some of my favorite things from the lessons - the way BE verbs are presented on a tree as a family (lesson 2, and these words are all on two cubes). This lesson helped my girls better understand these words as verbs! Also, contractions in lesson 20. The pronoun cube (I, you, he/she, it, we they) and one of the BE verb cubes (am, are, is, was, were, be) can work with a blank cube that you write contractions on (I'm, you're, he's/she's, it's, we're, they're) to teach contractions in a very visual way.
|Doing a worksheet... you can copy these from the manual for your students at home or in your classroom to use!|
I can see how this set would be quite helpful in an ESL setting (the method was originally developed for ESL students). We really enjoyed using it and found it to be a better way to learn parts of speech and proper word usage. This comes naturally to my children so the lessons weren't as entertaining for them. But they work! We will continue to use this set to reinforce concepts and practice grammar, and I think as we get farther along in the lessons they will benefit my girls more and more. Plus... the cubes are a LOT of fun to just sit and play with and see how you can create and change sentences properly!