Review: Grammar & Word Study (Prim-Ed)

How do you make grammar more fun for kids?  That’s the question that’s never been successfully answered.  Teachers seem resigned to “just getting through it” and hoping that it will stick.  From the number of shop signs with inappropriate apostrophes scattered all over the place, it’s not working – or should that be “its not working?” – (only joking!)

Prim-Ed have decided to way to make grammar more fun is to create 25 characters (rising to 36 by 6th class) who are grammar personified.  These characters are simply little cartoons who give the teacher and child a visual representation of the grammatical points.  According to the books:

These ‘fun’ characters provide a representation that are easily recognisable for visual-spatial learners.

And yes, the author of the book put the word fun in quotation marks.

Relevance to curriculum aims: 5/5

It’s very difficult to be irrelevant to the English curriculum as it’s such a wishy-washy, loose one, so it would be totally unfair of me to give this anything less than 5 out of 5.  This book has been adapted from the UK curriculum for Senior Infants to 6th class.

Like a lot of UK produced material, I think this series is more useful than our curriculum, in that, it’s specific and you get to help children learn about grammar points you probably wouldn’t do if you used our curriculum book as your guide.

Teacher usability: 4/5

Prim-Ed have a good format.  Each lesson takes two pages of the book.  The first page is for the teacher and the second is a worksheet for the lesson.  It couldn’t be much more usable.  However, I think an accompanying CD-ROM or web site with the student page would be beneficial.

Value for money: 4/5

As of this review, we have not got a price for the books but I would assume they are between €18 and €25, which represents fairly good value for a complete grammar and word study package, if it were to be done on a whole school basis.

Extras: 0/5

There aren’t any extras with this programme.  An electronic version of the worksheets would be a welcome addition.  Perhaps, Prim-Ed could form a “relationship” with someone who develops Interactive Whiteboard flipcharts to enhance this series even further.  It might be something that could go on their yTeach platform.

I tested a couple of lessons with three groups of children in classes varying from Senior Infants up to 3rd class and found they were probably pitched a little high in places, particularly at the younger levels.  Some of the stuff in Book A might be more appropriate to a 1st class child in Ireland though some other bits were ok. For example, there is a lot of reading in almost all the pages and this proved off-putting to some of the children I worked with.  However, with a little bit of support, the children were able to do the worksheets.

As usual Prim-Ed come to the rescue with a set of books which fulfil the aims of the UK curriculum and therefore show us what we should be doing in English classes in Ireland.  I was impressed that the author managed to find strands in our curriculum to match the original aims of these books.  However, I’m not sure what the 36 characters did to add to the learner.  None of the kids I used the programme with noticed them.

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