There are essentially two strands in the Easy Grammar series for the elementary grades: teaching books and review books. I will use the titles Easy Grammar to refer to the teaching books and Daily Grams for the review books. To make things interesting, Easy Grammar: Grade 1 and Grade 2 both have a format similar to Daily Grams and serve for teaching and review! There are separate teaching and review books for all other levels.
Easy Grammar Teaching Series
Let’s start with the teaching series. There are seven books in the Easy Grammar series: Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6, and Plus (for grades 7 and above), and five more in the Easy Grammar Ultimate series. The Easy Grammar books, with the exception of the first two, are very similar to one another.
Grade 1 and Grade 2
Easy Grammar: Grade 1 and Grade 2 both have daily lessons and can be used either as your primary teaching resource for much of language arts or as a supplement. Lessons need to be taught rather than used independently, although some second graders might be able to complete a good part of the work on their own. Each day's lesson is on one page and has four or five sections. Both books have 180 lessons and are intended to be completed in one school year.
For first grade, there are four sections per page that are titled capitalization, punctuation, lesson, and sentence (or sentence combining). Even though only one section is titled "lesson," other sections also provide brief instruction. For instance, each capitalization section presents a capitalization rule followed by a practice sentence. The lesson sections range through many areas of grammar and usage. In each section, any instruction is very brief, and there is only one practice activity. Sentence sections have students either copy a sentence or combine two sentences into one. Daily lessons should take only five to ten minutes each.
In the second-grade course, there are four or five types of exercises that include capitalization, punctuation, alphabetizing, dictionary work, parts of speech, prefixes/roots/suffixes, synonyms, homonyms, antonyms, rhymes, and sentence combining. Rules or explanations and examples are provided within the lessons for each topic that is likely to be new or in need of review. All principal parts of speech up through interjections and conjunctions are introduced although with only a very brief introduction for each of the more difficult parts of speech. My biggest hesitation with this book is whether it is necessary to go that far into parts of speech in second grade. Other than that, the coverage of other language skills is great.
Grade 3 through Easy Grammar Plus
Now we can move on to Easy Grammar: Grades 3 and up. Grammar topics are taught one at a time without significant integration of topics. You will find more grammatical detail taught in programs from Rod and Staff and A Beka than in Easy Grammar, but the essentials are here. Easy Grammar books use the same approach and repeat much of the same material from book to book, albeit at slightly higher levels of difficulty. For example, Grade 3 teaches a list of 28 prepositions while the two highest level books teach a list of 53 prepositions; otherwise the instruction on prepositions is almost the same. So these courses are not really that specific to grade levels, and you might, for example, use the book for grade five with children in grades four through six. Also, you do not need to use all of these books since they contain so much repetition. You can use one volume then follow up with Daily Grams for a few years before switching back to a teaching volume.
Each very large—the smallest volume is almost 500 pages—Easy Grammar book follows a pattern of brief, straightforward grammar instruction followed by examples then exercises. Most of the time, younger-level books combine instruction and activity so that both together take up just one page per lesson. Upper levels sometimes take a page or two for instruction followed by one page of exercises.
You will need a teacher edition that includes everything in the student book plus answer keys. Student pages in the teacher edition are reproducible, but that’s a lot of photocopying. Instead of photocopying, you can purchase student workbooks that contain instruction and activity pages.
The layout makes Easy Grammar self-instructional for the most part. In the teacher editions, one page is the reproducible student worksheet, while facing it is an identical student page with answers overprinted. This arrangement makes these answer keys very easy to use. Teacher editions include reviews, tests, cumulative reviews, and cumulative tests, all of which help students retain previously taught information. Separate test booklets are also available if you do not want to photocopy or use those in the teacher edition.
This program is unique in presenting prepositions before other parts of speech. By teaching students to identify prepositions and prepositional phrases before other parts of the sentence, it eliminates such problems as confusing the object of a preposition with the subject.
Parts of the sentence are designated by underlining, circling, and making notations rather than by diagramming. In addition, it covers phrases, clauses, punctuation, capitalization, types of sentences, fragments and run-on sentences, and letter writing.
Author Dr. Wanda Phillips strongly recommends that you teach the lessons in order since they include a cumulative review of previously covered topics. The exceptions might be punctuation, capitalization, and letter writing, which can be taught whenever you choose.
The format is repetitious. To add variety, you might supplement with Grammar Songs, Editor in Chief workbooks (from The Critical Thinking Co.), or other resources.
Easy Grammar is especially good for students who struggle with grammar. Sentences are fairly short which makes identification exercises easier. Once students figure out what is being done in the exercise, they can continue the pattern without much effort. Also, there are fewer exercises per lesson compared to most other courses.
Older students can use Easy Grammar Plus or they can switch to the Ultimate series. While some students have used Easy Grammar Plus in junior and senior high, the Ultimate Series offers more challenging material, but in a format similar to Daily Grams. The Ultimate Series books, one for each year for grades eight through twelve, require only about ten minutes per day. The format for each of the 180 lessons in each book is the same with work on five topics per day. Every lesson has sections on punctuation, capitalization, and sentence combining. The other two sections cover other grammar concepts such as parts of speech, phrases, clauses, homonyms, analogies, and types of sentences.
These texts do not assume that students have already learned everything about grammar and just need review. Brief instruction is provided. Students who already know the rules and concepts can simply complete the exercises to practice their skills while those who need explanations may read through them.
You need only purchase the teacher edition since it has reproducible student pages and an answer key at the back. However, student workbooks are also available to save photocopying. Information for the teacher at the beginning of each book is brief, and a brief list of skills taught will help you find a lesson on a particular skill if you need to target a particular issue. Separate assessment booklets are available for Grades 8 through 11—there is no assessment booklet for Grade 12. The Ultimate Series seems like an excellent way to provide just the right amount of grammar instruction for older students.
Daily Grams are marvelous for reviewing and practicing grammar skills without boring students with an entire grammar course year after year. These books assume that students have already been instructed in the relevant grammar concepts and simply provide reinforcement and practice without instruction. Each grade-level book becomes progressively more difficult reflecting what is assumed to have been taught in corresponding Easy Grammar books.
There are five Daily Grams volumes for grades three through seven plus a single book for junior and senior high. These are available as printed books or as ebooks.
I love the easy-to-use, page-a-day format. It should take only about ten minutes per day. Each page has exercises in capitalization, punctuation, general review, and sentence combining. Answers are at the back of the book. You can make photocopies of the work pages or purchase student workbooks.
While you can use these alongside an Easy Grammar course, I recommend using them for a year or two in between Easy Grammar courses. You would then skip some levels of Easy Grammar. Daily Grams might also be used in the same way with other publishers' grammar courses since most repeat the same material year after year, and Daily Grams' scope and sequence is similar to that of most programs.