________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 11 . . . . February 4, 2000

cover Working With Words.

Irene Yates.
Markham, ON: Pembroke Publishers Ltd., 1998.

Grammar Tools and Rules.
48 pp., pbk, $14.95
ISBN 1-55138-096-X.

Spelling Skills for Active Living.
48 pp., pbk, $14.95
ISBN 1-55138-094-3.

Using Grammar and Punctuation.
48 pp., pbk, $14.95
ISBN 1-55138-095-1.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.
Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4

If these titles, all part of the "Working with Words" series, are any indication of the direction educators are taking in the teaching of grammar skills, then indeed we have come (almost) full circle. In the 1950s and '60s, students were issued grammar and spelling texts and assigned exercises intended to improve the students' skills in those subjects. Then came whole language - grammar texts were turfed and kids learned how to write by, guess what? - writing! Nowadays, when high schools and universities are claiming that our kids can't write or spell, once again teachers are returning to the methods (updated, of course) in which language is dissected in an attempt to get their students to understand the rules of grammar and the way in which language works.

All of the titles follow a similar format. Reproducible worksheets, covering a variety of topics, require only a pencil to complete. Answers are provided as well as a table of contents, glossary and grammar and spelling skills inventories with page references. Cartoon-like line drawings enliven each activity page.

In Grammar Tools and Rules, which includes parts of speech, alphabetizing and punctuation activities, "EXTRA!" boxes on each page contain additional activities which allow children to experiment with language, expand their knowledge and apply what they have learned.

Spelling Skills for Active Learning provides various strategies such as syllabication, shaping the word and visualization. Regular and irregular plurals, prefixes, suffixes, homophones, word patterns, root words, silent letters, contractions and "tricky" words are also covered.

Using Grammar and Punctuation consists of ideas for extending concepts through games. Covering parts of speech, sentence construction, capitalization and punctuation, this book also provides puzzles and word searches. Both the simpler activities and the larger text of this title are geared toward younger students and, perhaps, weaker readers (think differentiated instruction). Of the three titles, this one is the most basic.

Language arts teachers looking for supplementary materials will find all of these books useful.


Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364