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Classical Christian
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Christine Miller

Classical Christian
Homeschooling Online Catalog: Etymology of Grammar Curriculum

This page last revised:
June 2003


of Grammar: Grades 3-4

Using the Online Catalog

Etymology is the study of the classification, derivation, and properties of words; it is the next study of English grammar following orthography (the study of letters) and prior to syntax (the study of sentences). During the study of etymology, children will learn to alphabetize, break words into syllables, use the dictionary and library, distinguish between homophones, homonyms, heteronyms, synonyms, and antonyms, use and spell compound and contracted words, class words by part of speech (noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections), distinguish when the same word is being used as different parts of speech, how to make nouns plural and use verbs in their different tenses, will learn Greek and Latin roots of English words and their meanings, add prefixes and suffixes to roots, and the changes in meaning and part of speech that adding affixes causes words to undergo, and will learn the capitalization rules.

There is no one perfect curriculum that teaches this study of words in its entirety for the 3rd and 4th grades. However, in the descriptions of each recommended curriculum, I have sttempted to tell how it is to be used to accomplish the goal of grammar study for 3rd and 4th grades.

Click to order Primary Language LessonsPrimary Language Lessons
Emma Serl

For 2nd and 3rd grade; 2nd grade, if children are reading fluently and know their phonograms, and know their letter forms and are writing in their copybook without undue frustration. An experienced teacher of the early twentieth century, Emma Serl recognized the two things necessary for teaching proper English to a child: capture the child’s interest, and drill, drill, drill. Primary Language Lessons is a drill book, but with a difference. The lessons are imaginative, the teaching is inductive so that children “discover” the proper use of English through gentle guidance. Serl’s contains 164 lessons, of which some 40 are oral language lessons, discussing the wonderful paintings decorating the text and questions on the natural world; some 50 are grammar, mechanics, and usage exercises relating to correct word forms; some 45 are copying / memorization selections; and some 30 are original written composition lessons, mostly of learning to write polite letters. Some lessons overlap in more than one category. Not every lesson need be completed, especially of oral language or original composition (although doing the majority of those will help a child develop natural language sense); and not every lesson need be completed in one day. The grammar, mechanics, and usage exercises should be added to the index file once encountered and made part of the daily drill, which will then be cycled through and reviewed throughout the grammar stage. The exact length of time it will take to complete this book will therefore vary with each child, but plan on approximately one half to one school year.

Click to order Intermediate Language LessonsIntermediate Language Lessons
Emma Serl

For 3rd and 4th grade, or upon completion of Primary Language Lessons. The purpose of this book is to lead students in the proper oral and written use of the English language, and is also a drill book. The etymology lessons continues instruction in capitalization, the correct use of words, abbreviations, proper form of nouns and verbs, homonyms, antonyms and synonyms, contractions, and includes instruction in dictionary use, comparison of adjectives and adverbs, and parts of speech. Serl’s contains 301 lessons, of which some 90 are oral language lessons, with 3 of those debate exercises which can be skipped; some 80 are grammar, mechanics, and usage exercises relating to correct word forms, parts of speech, and writing mechanics; some 30 are dictation (copying) / memorization selections; and the rest are original composition exercises of increasing difficulty. Some lessons overlap in more than one category. Not every lesson need be completed, especially of oral language or original composition (although doing a good portion of especially oral language, and some of the original composition, or modifying some of the composition lessons into oral narration -> Mother writing the narration on the blackboard -> child copying Mother’s writing, will help a child develop natural language sense); and not every lesson need be or even can be completed in one day. The grammar, mechanics, and usage exercises should be added to the index file once encountered and made part of the daily drill, which will then be cycled through and reviewed throughout the grammar stage.

There is one lesson specifically about dictionary use early in the book. This lesson can be used as a model, with new words added, and the same lesson repeated once per week until the child is comfortable and familiar with the dictionary. The contraction / abbreviation / homonym / synonym / antonym lessons can be used as models, and other homonyms etc. not covered in this course can also be taught (for example, from the Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists, or Webster’s Blue-Backed Speller.) Any lesson of grammar or usage with which a child is struggling ought to be used as a model, then repeated every few days, using different words and sentences, until the child masters the concept. The exact length of time it will take to complete this book will therefore vary with each child, but plan on at least two school years. Work in this book may be carried into 5th grade, while adding daily syntax lessons, if necessary.

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Serl’s does not teach syllabication. However, The Writing Road to Reading does, as part of the spelling instruction. And The ABC’s and All Their Tricks also teaches syllabication. Teach syllabication naturally as it arises as part of spelling instruction.

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Alphabetizing, Dictionary & Library Use

Serl’s teaches very little about alphabetizing, the dictionary (there is one lesson provided on dictionary use), and library use. The resources below will help fill in this gap.

Click to order Building Dictionary Skills, Grades 2-3Building Dictionary Skills, Grades 2-3
Laura Wagner

For 3rd grade. The foundation for using all reference materials lies with the dictionary. This workbook familiarizes students with the information included in dictionaries, as well as tools to help them quickly locate words and find meanings. Practicing dictionary skills will help students effectively use dictionaries to verify spellings, look up new words, and learn new meanings. The enjoyable activities, puzzles, codes, and riddles in Building Dictionary Skills introduce the most essential reference skills supported by the NCTE and IRA standards. The reproducible worksheets provide progressive instruction of topics such as alphabetizing, guide words, and phonetic spellings. Students will learn to look up words, pronounce words, and understand dictionary entries. Dictionary skills are strengthened by specific activities on parts of speech, syllabic divisions, prefixes and suffixes, and multiple definitions. This workbook will help children learn to successfully use any dictionary. If after working through all the exercises in this book, your child is still having trouble with the dictionary, plan to go through Building Dictionary Skills, Grades 4-5 in 4th grade, and continue having your child alphabetize their spelling list, and working in the dictionary (with different words) using the lessons in Intermediate Language Lessons and Building Dictionary Skills as models.

Click to order Library and Reference Skills, Grades 2-3Library and Reference Skills, Grades 2-3
Instructional Fair

For 3rd grade. Join Library Luke and Info, his dog, as they lead children on a learning romp through the basic library skills. This 48-page workbook covers what libraries are, the fiction, non-fiction, and reference sections, the dewey decimal system, finding books, getting help, and more. After all, Library Luke and Info think the library should be an enjoyable place to spend some time, and research should be a positive experience. In 4th grade, use Library and Reference Skills, Grades 4-5 to gain more experience using encyclopedias, the atlas, and other reference and research materials available at the library.

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Roots, Prefixes, & Suffixes

Serl’s teaches some about adding suffixes to roots, especially in regard to making nouns plural and to changing the tense of verbs, but does not engage in a full study of the topic as is necessary for 3rd and 4th grade children to have. For those who choose to use Structures in Spelling, the other resources are not necessary, unless you would like to include them for thoroughness’ sake.

Please visit Teaching Prefixes, Suffixes, and Roots for guidance in using The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists or any other English grammar reference to teach roots and affixes to grammar stage children.

Click to order Structures in SpellingStructures in Spelling:
Words with Prefixes, Roots, and Suffixes

Tim Brown & Deborah F. Knight

For 4th grade and up. This workbook was originally designed to help children who had difficulty spelling. However, since it focuses specifically and only on roots, prefixes, and suffixes, it works great for teaching such to 4th and 5th graders. The student workbook has 34 lessons in 8 units: Introduction (which teaches concepts, vocabulary, and spelling rules for adding suffixes), Common Suffixes, Common Prefixes, Latin Roots, Greek Roots, More Suffixes (more advanced), More Prefixes (more advanced), and More Roots (more advanced). The lessons introduce related affixes or roots, provide meanings, some dictionary exercises, and exercises which provide practice in making new words, taking apart words, and identifying meanings of words. The workbook covers the great majority of the most common prefixes, roots, and suffixes, generally in order of increasing difficulty. You will also need the Teacher’s Edition, which reproduces the student pages with answer key, provides recommended teaching instruction, as well as an appendix of sentences for dictation keyed to each lesson for additional spelling practice. The Teacher’s Edition can also be utilized on its own for those who just want the content and order to teach with ideas laid out for them, but who want to plan their own lessons of the same type as Serl’s inductive teaching lessons.

Click to order English From the Roots UpEnglish From the Roots Up
Joegil Lundquist

English from the Roots Up is designed to give children a good grasp of Latin and Greek roots commonly used in English words. A study in Greek and Latin roots is recommended even if a child is beginning his Latin and / or Greek language study in the grammar stage. 100 Latin and Greek roots are systematically presented, with excellent drill instructions, lists of many common English derivative words to help students remember the meaning, and teaching notes for each root. The appendix gives great help in teaching Roman numerals, and games for drill.

Click to order The Reading Teacher’s Book of ListsThe Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists
Edward Fry, Jacqueline Kress, Dona Lee Fountoukidis

Some topics of etymology are not covered by Serl’s. They include: syllabication, alphabetizing, dictionary and library use, Greek and Latin roots, and prefixes and suffixes. This book does not contain student lessons, but myriad lists for use in teaching reading or grammar: spelling rules, syllabication rules, capitalization rules, punctuation rules, phonics rules, classes of words such as homonyms, homophones, synonyms, contractions, etc.; prefixes, suffixes, Greek and Latin roots, and much, much more. Every prefix, suffix, and most roots in English words are listed in this reference. While not every list is useful for the grammar stage, the great majority that are make this an indispensible tool for etymology instruction.

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Using the Online Catalog

This online catalog is made possible through an association with Barnes& Clicking on the book title or book cover will take you to Barnes&’s information page about that book. You can look at its price, availability, any discounts currently taken for that title, reviews of the book, and other information, as well as order it if you decide to purchase the book. You can even place books in your shopping cart and save them for purchase at a later time. You can continue to add or delete books from your shopping cart until you are satisfied with your order and ready to purchase. Clicking on any link to Barnes& will open a new window; to return to CCH, click on the “Window” menu on your browser’s menu bar, and choose Classical Christian Homeschooling.

Sometimes books go out of print, or the publisher runs out of stock. Any book not available from Barnes& for any reason can be searched using, a book shopping site which will scan Barnes& as well as, Powell’s Books, Book Close Outs and many other new and used book sites. Be sure to also check for out of print book searches.

Still have questions? Ask me!

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CCH’s Online Catalog: Orthography of Grammar: Grades 1-2 CCH’s Online Catalog: Syntax of Grammar: Grades 3-4

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