• No products in the cart.
CART Total:$0.00


gentle grammar

A Gentle Grammar Lesson

  |   Curriculum, Language Arts, Lesson Plan, Teaching Elementary School, Teaching Writing   |   3 Comments

In the first place, grammar, being a study of words and not of things, is by no means attractive to the child, nor should he be hurried into it.

–Charlotte Mason on gentle grammar approach

Most kids would certainly agree. =D

Charlotte Mason opposed teaching grammar to children under ten. She felt that children were ready at that age to begin only short, gentle, grammar lessons. As your child’s parent, you are in the best position to evaluate whether your student is ready for gentle grammar before ten or whether ten is the right age.    

In the beginning, simple oral lessons of about 10-15 minutes are sufficient.


So how do I teach a gentle grammar lesson?


Charlotte Mason felt that rather than memorizing the parts of speech, grammar studies should begin with the ‘whole  concept’ of a  of a sentence.  Understanding the ‘whole’ first makes it easier to understand the ‘parts.’  So you can see just how easy this method is to use, here  is a short reprint of a first grammar lesson from Volume 1 of Charlotte Mason’s Original Home Schooling Series:

Words put together so as to make sense form what is called a sentence.

‘Barley oats chair really good and cherry’ is not a sentence, because it makes no(n)sense.

‘Tom has said his lesson’ is a sentence.

It is a sentence because it tells us something about Tom.

Every sentence speaks of someone or of something, and tells us something about that of which it speaks.

So a sentence has two parts:
(1) The thing we speak of;
(2) What we say about it.

In our sentence we speak of ‘Tom.’

We say about him that he ‘has learned his lesson.’

The thing we speak of is often called the SUBJECT, which just means that which we talk about.

People sometimes say ‘the subject of conversation was so and so,’ which is another way of saying ‘the thing we were speaking about was so and so.’

To be learnt––

Words put together so as to make sense form a sentence.
A sentence has two parts: that which we speak of, and what we say about it.
That which we speak of is the SUBJECT.

Lesson I Exercises

1. Put the first part to these examples:

—has a long mane.
—is broken.
—cannot do his math.
—played for an hour;
etc., etc.

2. Put the second part to—

That poor boy—.
My brother Tyler—.
The broken flowerpot—.
Bread and jelly—.
Mr. Brown’s tool-box—.

Following these exercises, Ms. Mason suggests that the student create new sentences by again replacing the missing parts.  Then she reminds us to remember to call the first part of the sentence – what the sentence is about – the SUBJECT.  After the student has finished creating all of his sentences, he is to go back and draw a line under the part of the sentence that is the subject.

It seems too easy, doesn’t it?  But this method of learning is surprisingly effective, especially when you review a new grammar skill for a few consecutive days.

Once children heard the lesson, the teacher used short passages of copy work to reinforce the teaching.  The perfect copy work for this lesson would be the “To be Learnt” section above:

Words put together so as to make sense form a sentence.
A sentence has two parts: that which we speak of, and what we say about it.
That which we speak of is the SUBJECT.


Using Startwrite for copy work

We recommend using the Startwrite Program software for copy work, especially if your student is a new writer or just learning cursive.  Using Startwrite would allow you to give your child a perfect example to follow, in the type of handwriting you would like him to learn.

So does this sound as if it would be more palatable to you than all those grammar worksheets, perhaps?


Reinforcing the lesson

We recommend each child keep a list of grammar rules in his notebook.  Each time he learns a new grammar rule, he records it as copy work and adds it to the notebook.

Not surprisingly, Ms. Mason advocated that the teacher should choose copy work from the Bible as well as other living books.  In the Train up a Child Publishing Daily Lesson Plans, we choose copy work from our history and science selections, allowing the activity to  serve multiple functions. For example, in addition to grammar study,  you can use copy work for handwriting and spelling practice, for memorization, and to review history and science concepts.

So for the next day’s practice on this grammar concept, a history or a science book would be utilized.

If you think this would be an easier and more engaging way to learn grammar for your student you might want to give the Charlotte Mason method a try!

Have you used this method of teaching grammar before? How do you like it? If you haven’t used it, how do you feel your kids might respond to this way of teaching grammar?


Coming up — we will post a week of grammar lessons using this methodology!


  • 15 Language Art Lessons Using Living Books | Epi Kardia Blog | Aug 20, 2014 at 2:08 am

    […] the original complete sentences in print with your student, and after a short verbal lesson (an example of this lesson is here)  on  subjects/predicates, have your child tell which part is missing and create an appropriate […]

  • Rachel Johnson | Mar 21, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Thanks for sharing this…it is encouraging! 🙂

  • Dana | May 14, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    One of our readers and long-time Unit Program users sent in a link to a short YouTube video entitled “Language Problems” — it is will definitely add a chuckle to your day! Thanks for sending it in, Julie!
    Note: parents listen first; it has one double-entendre. 🙂


Post A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tired of the tears (theirs and yours)?


You don’t have to tie them to their chairs to get their school work done.

Instead, make homeschooling an adventure by reading about swashbuckling heroes, damsels in distress, touch-and-go battles and and dangerous escapes.

Immerse your children in the sights and sounds of history through reading excellent books. Bring history, science and fine arts to life by reading our best-of-the-best book suggestions. (A traditional textbook just isn’t going to do this for your kids.)

Like doing things your way?

Put together your own curriculum (history, language arts, science and fine arts) using our chronological history unit study framework with hundreds of pre-read, best-of-the-best book suggestions and assignment ideas (Unit Program Tools).    


Take a deep breath and stop worrying about not covering enough with our open and go Daily Lesson Plans covering history, language arts, science (K-8th) and fine arts.

All done for you and ready to go.


Teaching High Schoolers? Study history and literature by making a model, illustrating a scene from a book, or planning and putting on a Renaissance feast!

(We write essays, too, but not all the time).

Customizable to fit YOUR kids.