Thank you so much Merit! Here is the meta tag.
Michael Clay Thompson Grammar Review

Michael Clay Thompson Grammar Review

Michael Clay Thompson Grammar Review

Michael Clay Thompson Grammar! Oops, I did it again. I bought yet another grammar program. Now, my grammar shelf, the spot on my bookshelves where all my other Grammar programs live, it’s looking tighter than ever. But who can blame me? I suffer from one of those illnesses that plague some of us homeschooling moms; curriculitis.

Now you are wondering what curriculutis is, and if you are suffering from it too, but I will leave that for another time. The fact is that I have it and you are about to benefit from it!

This time my illness took me to the extraordinary Michael Clay Thompson Language Arts program (also known as MCT), and I am thrilled to share all about it with you.

This program is so extraordinary indeed that I binge-read the whole thing in five days, something I have never done before. And, why would anyone binge-read a Grammar program anyhow?  And, what sort of grammar program can be so simple and interesting that someone would keep reading and reading? Let that sink in!

But if you can take my word for it, you would have done the same because this program is heavenly, is unique, is open-and-go, and you and your child will love it. This program is binge-read worthy.

But without further ado, here’s what you want to know.

The Michael Clay Thompson Language Arts program is all-encompassing.

It includes grammar at its core, grammar practice, sentence analysis, poetry, Latin roots-based vocabulary, and writing. These skills are all in a narrative style that will captivate any audience. Written by Michael Clay and published by Fireworks Press, it was created for gifted learners and is now available to anyone.

Grammar Island

The grammar portion of the program, Grammar Island, is a seamless narrative with simple visuals that teaches you the core of written language: the parts of speech, the elements of a sentence, phrases, and clauses. You will learn to analyze any sentence using these four components but not isolated from each other. No! You will learn how they all work together to make written language easy to understand. The brilliance in which Michael Clay conveys a concept In Grammar Island is unparalleled and fascinating.

Once, there was a colorful adjective named Brown. Brown was lonely, and he went everywhere looking for a nice noun to modify.  Brown saw Sky and asked, “hello, Sky. Can I modify you?” “No,” said Sky. “I already have blue.” Then Brown found the noun Grass, who was long here and short there.  “Hello, Grass,” said Brown. “Can I modify you?” “I hope not,” said Grass. “Go away!” Brown was very sad. But then, over in a corner, Brown saw the noun Dog, who had two other adjectives, Fuzzy and Little, already modifying him. “Hello,” said Brown. “Can I modify you?”  “Sure,” said Dog, as Fuzzy and Little stuck close to him. And away went the Dog- Little, Fuzzy and Brown.

Practice Island – Practice Books

The practice book contains a series of sentences to be analyzed using the four components mentioned above. You can go at any pace you want. You can analyze one sentence per day, a couple a week, or many at a time. You set your pace according to your goals for your students.

Music of Hemispheres – Poetry

The poetry book, called The Music of the Hemispheres, teaches you “technical things about the sound of words” and “cracks open the door, giving you a peek inside the huge world of creative life that poets live in.”  In this narrative style book, you will learn about Rhyme, Alliteration, Meter, Stanza, Similes, and metaphors. It will be a unique journey into the poetry world in a fun and engaging manner. You will come out the other side very knowledgeable about all things poetry, and you will not be bored for a second.

Building Language – Vocabulary

The poetry book, called The Music of the Hemispheres, teaches you “technical things about the sound of words” and “cracks open the door, giving you a peek inside the huge world of creative life that poets live in.”  In this narrative style book, you will learn about Rhyme, Alliteration, Meter, Stanza, Similes, and metaphors. It will be a unique journey into the poetry world in a fun and engaging manner. 

The Building Language book is a book about Roman history, and how Latin roots affect all other modern languages, yes, that includes English too! You will learn “the secret of words” and lots of useful vocabulary that will, for sure, enrich the study of language arts in general.  This book, in my opinion, is not to be missed.

Sentence Island – Writing

The Sentence Island book is the writing component of the program.  To quote Michael Clay himself, “the strategy of Sentence Island is to start your writers off right by focusing on the true essence of writing: The Sentence. No amount of practice with paragraphs or essays will matter if students cannot write sentences.” I don’t know about you, but I think there is no further explanation required. When I first read that statement, I felt my world turning upside-down. I felt the need to backtrack and make sure that we were writing sentences that are “right: balanced, in agreement, with everything where it should be and meaning what it should mean.”  Now, that is what I call revolutionary!

But you might have other questions like, what ages does this program cover? How do I know what to do and when? When should I start the program? How much does it cost? Let’s answer them one at a time.

First, what ages does this program cover?

The Michael Clay Thompson Language Arts program has several levels, the one I am talking about in this article is the first level, the Island Level. In my opinion, based on my experience with my own kids,  I think advanced third graders and for sure fourth graders will understand and enjoy this program. I would also say that if you would like to use this first level with a middle schooler who has not had previous grammar instruction, you can too. Perhaps, you can use it at a faster pace.  I mean, I am an adult, and I enjoyed it very much, to the point of reading all the books in less than a week! Now, that’s what I call a great program; when an adult can gain lots from it but at the same time be so simple as to help a child understand a concept.

How do I know what to do and when?

The program also comes with a weekly schedule for a total of 28 weeks of instruction. There is no guessing on what you should do next. However, you can adjust the program to slow it down a bit or go faster according to your goals for your students.

When should you start?

I believe you should start this program now! If you are struggling with grammar, this would be a burst of fresh air. This is a fun and engaging curriculum that will take the mysticism and fear out of Grammar, poetry, and writing in general. It will leave you feeling like you can understand grammar, teach it, enjoy it, and use it every time you put words into paper or keyboard for that matter!

What about the price point?

This program is on the upper end in price.  The basic level package for level 1 is $150. It includes both the teacher and student manuals for the Grammar and practice components and only the teacher manual for the poetry, vocabulary and writing portions of the program. Then, there is the complete package, which costs $205 and includes both the student and teacher manuals for all the components of the program. I chose to buy the complete package.

Are you interested in the Michael Clay Thomas Grammar Program? Michael Clay Thompson Grammar Review leads us to believe it’s a winner!

Marcella Best

Marcela was born in Santa Marta, Colombia, a beautiful town in the Caribbean which was the first Spanish settlement in the Americas, and is currently one of the largest ports in the continent. She was Classically Educated in an all girls school and graduated high school when she was 17 years old. She moved to the United States in 2001 to attend college and met the love of her life just 3 short weeks after she arrived. She has been married to her husband, Jeremy, for 16 years. They have 5 beautiful children; Laya, Samuel, Matthew, Joseph and Noah.

She attended Travis Technical Institute and earned a degree as a Licensed Practical Nurse. Later, she attended Polk Community College for an Associate’s Degree in Nursing. She currently lives on a 40 acre ranch in Georgia and has homeschooled her children for the past 8 years. As a native Spanish speaker, she has taught Spanish at several co-ops. In her spare time, she enjoys reading non-fiction, photography, weightlifting, and researching and curating her own classical curriculum for her students. She teaches Spanish for True North Homeschool Academy.

Are you looking for a grammar program to use in your homeschool? At True North Homeschool Academy we care about the success of your students. Because of this, we love to review other curriculum and help you make an informed decision. Check out our latest review of Michael Clay Thompson's grammar. See if this program is right for your homeschool! #homeschool #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #grammar #MichaelClayThompsongrammar


The Remarkable Gift of Grit

The Remarkable Gift of Grit


In New Mexico, it’s wryly referred to as “Enchantment” (think deserting pebbly dirt blowing around!) and can be defined in one of two ways: As small, loose particle of sand or stone, or as courage, resolve and strength of character. Grit is simply the combination of passion and perseverance. In this age of snowflakes and easy offense, it’s something to consider. Are our kids growing in grit? Are they becoming courageous, resolute and developing strength of character? The remarkable gift of grit will stand our kids in good stead as they face an increasingly secular world that tolerates very little in terms of strong convictions.

Angela Duckworth

In her excellent book, aptly titled, Grit, Angela Duckworth, takes on the task of developing the idea of grit in our children. She advocates for making Grit development a part of kid’s life skills curriculum. I couldn’t agree more. Our kids need grit. It’s what allows them to go out and compete, take risks, fail and try again. Grit is the strength of character needed to actually do hard things. We can want to do hard things. We can hope to do hard things. But without grit, those dreams and desires never make it to reality. In the same way we can want and hope for our kids to do hard things, but if we make it too easy on them, they won’t develop grit. If we protect them from failure, make excuses, buy their way, coddle and protect them, they won’t develop grit. Their determination to succeed and their grit development will be stunted.

Duckworth goes on to explain the necessary ingredients for developing grit:

  1. Practice– Practice is what lets us learn as we go. To practice and develop well we must get assessment and feedback.
  2. Purpose– Grit is not always about pursuing those things that we might have a natural inclination in, but rather pursuing something that we can develop an interest in over the long term.
  3. Hope- is as much about what you hope for as the ability to fail and keep trying, working and pursuing one’s goals despite set-backs.
  4. Time– time to practice, purpose, fail and succeed.

In the homeschooling world you hear a lot of verbiage about making school “Fun” and allowing your child to pursue their passions. While I love fun and have pursued a whole lot of passions of my own, I believe this is a skewed understanding of education. When we focus on “fun” we lose sight of the satisfaction that comes from really hard, difficult, at times painful work. We cheat our kids from the joy of knowing they’ve conquered, maybe having failed along the way. Fun is entertainment. Success is hard work, sweat, tears, pain, failure and then, accomplishment.

I’ve also learned that our passions develop as we take an interest in something and learn more about it. We often like what we are good at. We don’t usually get good at something until we work at it a bit. Some of my passions in life have developed as I’ve faced challenges, failures and set-backs. An interest in something does not equal a passion. A fanatical pursuit does. Often those pursuits require learning new skills, overcoming hardships and road-blocks, looking somewhat foolish, asking hard questions and displaying humility.

Teaching our kids that life isn’t always fun is a really valuable skill. Teaching our kids that passions often require sacrifice is also a very valuable skill.

Grit Goals True North Homeschool Academy

Grit Goals

Duckworth’s recommendations for bestowing the remarkable gift of Grit Goals to your children are requiring them to:

  1. Choose something that requires deliberate daily practice.
  2. Commit to doing this activity for 2 years.
  3. Finish what you’ve started for specified interval.

In our homeschool, we utilize grit goals. For the past two years, it’s been about tackling Latin. As a result, both of my kids have developed a true love for language learning and acquisition. Both have goals for tackling their next language and beyond. My daughter even picked up the little gem of a book, “How to Learn Any Language in 30 Days” at a thrift store recently.  The point is, our last grit goal developed their understanding of what they could do and given them the tools and skills to hope in what’s possible. They know they can learn a second language because they learned a first. Is learning Latin “fun?” Not at the beginning. It’s grunt work. It’s memorizing declensions, and vocab and grammar. But it’s fun to de-code and translate. That, however, doesn’t come until after some of the grunt work.

Our grit goasl for this coming year will change, as our family changes, and kids grow. Our oldest son is at Boot Camp, as I write this. A program, paid for by our tax dollars, that bestows on thousands of young people the remarkable gift of grit each year. We, as a society, should be grateful for the thousands of young men and women who are tough enough to endure this intensive grit training on our behalf each year!  Our second son is participating in a demanding memory work competition and our youngest, like I mentioned, is intent on studying languages even more in-depth.

Grit goals can be academic, physical, social, mental, spiritual. How do you determine which area to focus on? Start by considering what areas are your student the most vulnerable in? It might be time to think about some grit goals so that they can develop the courage needed to face whatever’s up ahead. Sometimes our biggest obstacles are where God wants to grow us the most. We often hear of world class athletes who overcome insurmountable physical odds to win beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

I also think it’s helpful for our kids to see us as parents setting and accomplishing difficult goals and challenges. We’re never too old to learn, grow and overcome! If you set Grit Goals for your students (or self!) I’d love to hear about it!

Our Essential Academic Advising package is develop to help you develop appropriate goals for your Homeshool. Are you overwhelmed or afraid that you are failing your student? We have the tools, skills and experience to come alongside of you and bring you peace of mind so that you can bring your homeschooling vision to fruition. Check out our complete Catalog! 

Seeking Beauty

Seeking Beauty

Seeking Beauty
Seeking beauty is something that most of us, as children of a creative God, do naturally. The Master of the Universe, God- the ultimate Artist, has instilled in us a deep desire to create and respond to beauty; we have built in beauty seeking detectors. Art is integral to our sense of well being, and ultimately, to the health and well being of our souls. As homeschoolers, we take seriously the pursuit of beauty and take seriously the ability to create beauty around us; for our selves and others.
The Basics of Seeking Beauty
Nature studies Sketchbooks and colored pencils, pens, erasure, paints, markers Time to think, reflect, ponder, mull Drawing instruction. We love Bruce McIntyres’ Drawing Sketchbook, Mark Kistler and Lee Ames How to Draw series Vocabulary and word study. Lately we’ve done this through Latin studies. Excellent writing instruction Humor -how to create and tell a good joke Story telling Scientific inquiry Logic and recognition of fallacies A good story Books, movies, magazines, live events Challenging activities History Theological studies Theater and Public performance Crafts Event Planning and creating programs

I’ve done a fair bit of creating myself: photography, stained glass, basket weaving, painting, scrapbooking, journaling, poetry, writing, DIY, house-crafting, and all manner of fiber arts. It’s just something I have to do. My husband is much the same way, though his creativity can often be found in areas like language studies (he’s on his 3rd) and intensive intellectual pursuit. When we share those creative pursuits with our kids they get the added benefit of our years of experience. We get someone to share what we love with. Win-win!
Creativity and Intellectual Pursuit
Which leads me to a point about seeking beauty; true creativity and artistic instruction is an intellectual pursuit. I created and taught a high school level Creative Writing Course a couple of years ago (best class evah- amazingly talented kids who really loved the work!) and they were shocked at the level of discipline the class demanded. We memorized poetry and learned forms, did writing prompts weekly, had a word count to reach every week, books to read and so much more. The kids worked hard in the pursuit of creativity. At the end of the year, they’d all written a novelette and had great tools in their writing tool-box because they were disciplined about their pursuit of creativity.
So often we look at “art” as free-from expression and devoid of plan or purpose. In fact, classic art- that which spans time and culture- is the result of startling discipline.
I propose that true art is mastery of a subject area that allows those participating in or viewing it to reach beyond themselves and hope for better things. C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series is a great example. There are so many deep spiritual truths found in this simple imaginative tale, even the youngest reader can hear and see that God is good and for them.
But does art always demand mastery? Well, no. We can take simple pleasure and enjoyment in a great many things without excelling at them. And along those lines, I don’t buy the adage that practice makes perfect. Good, intentional practice allows us to reach for perfection. Schlock practice re-enforces bad methods and behavior. Seeking, and finding, beauty, requires intentionality.
Art Curriculum There are some brilliant curriculum’s out there- you know the ones. They take a difficult or intimidating subject matter and make it accessible to the point that you ever wondered what was daunting in the first place- IEW, Lost Tools of Writing, Story and History of the World, Old Western Culture, Classical Conversations, Henle Latin, The Grammar of Poetry, etc. It’s not that the student doesn’t have to actually do the work- it’s that the work allows them to excel quickly and well. These curricula are worth every penny. It’s worth doing the research to find it, and sometimes that’s an art form in and of itself! There are sites devoted to curriculum reviews as well as Facebook groups and Pinterest Boards that will aid you as you seek the best curriculum for your family.
Teach What You Know Often what you are good at, your kids will excel at. Imitation and all of that, not to mention that it’s far easier to teach what we know and understand. As a result our kids all know how to draw, cook, garden, write, speak, plan, study and memorize and understand exceedingly well theology, the Bible and scientific inquiry. Things I struggle with, they often do. But, that also allows them the added benefit of them watching me/us struggle through something that might be initially difficult- like dry-walling, upper level Math or learning Latin.This year our creative pursuits have included the study of Latin and integrating the culture and vocabulary in new and interesting ways, sculpture and drawing, ballroom dancing, cartography and nature sketches, along with weekly drawings of body systems, Flourish, debate, Drama, recitation, Shakespeare, the Piano Guys, Studio C, Tim Hawkins, Foyles’s War, Dorothy Sayers mysteries on DVD, violin, music theory, straw bale gardening, DIY projects, an arbor and an amazing display of Christmas lights, along with some great books and CD’s. You gotta have art. It’s as simple as that!
Stop by these bloggers for more inspiration on Art and Homeshooling.
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses – Seeking Beauty Through the Arts Yvie @ Gypsy Road – Art Museum Staycation & Elements of Art Unit Sarah@ Delivering Grace – First Things First Laura @ Day by Day in Our World – Add An Element of Beauty with Fine Arts in the Homeschool Lisa@ Golden Grasses – What Are We Fighting For?  Annette @ A Net In Time – Art, art, and more art Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset – The Sounds of Music Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break – Music and Other Beautiful Things
Lisa Nehring is a seeker of Truth, Beauty an Goodness and prayerfully brings her vision and passion to homeschooling and True North Homeschool Academy, where she teaches Literature and Composition, facilitates the Writing Club and provide Academic Advising and Homeschool Coaching.