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Simple Grammar: Free Charlotte Mason Style Grammar Curriculum for Elementary and Middle School Students

writing in a notebook
A few of you have been interested in my grammar lessons from this past year. I decided that if I organized the lessons into a format that people could use, that perhaps it would benefit those look for a free grammar curriculum. I used this with my 4th and 6th grade students, but it could be used with a wide range of grades. We completed about one lesson a week. The 33 lessons leave room for review to make sure that each student fully understands each concept. All you need for the lessons is a blank notebook and a pencil for each student.

Simple Grammar: Free Charlotte Mason Style Grammar Curriculum for Elementary and Middle School Students

Teaching Grammar using History and Science Texts
Our lesson on common and proper nouns from our history study of Mesopotamia. These lists were later used to help them write their narrations.

You may use this method with students of varying ages/grades at the same time. I worked on the same part of speech for both of my younger boys, but I will take the concepts to a more complicated level for my 6th grader than for my 4th grader. For example, if the part of speech we are going to look at this week is verbs, I may go over with the both of them conjugating present, past and past participle verbs or singular and plural forms of verbs or the difference between helping and linking verbs. For James, I would also include irregular verbs and often misused verbs, or subject-verb agreement.

How do you use history or science text in grammar studies?

  • Look at a current passage in our history or science lesson for grammar lesson material.
Whatever concept we are going over for the day, we look for in our history and/or science texts. For example, for verb tenses, we would search for verbs in our history text, and then I would ask them to write down the present, past and future tenses of the verbs in columns. From the First City States section of The Ancient World, we found these verbs: swelled, flooded, trapping, irrigate, carry, covered, stayed and lived.  We wrote them down in a list form and looked at them. We noted that most of the verbs were in their past tense form, which makes sense for a history text. I then made a chart for them to fill in, with the headings Present, Past and Past Participle. I then had them tell me the form of each of the verbs and put them in the proper column. Then they were to tell me the other forms for that verb, to complete the chart. For example, for the word swelled, they told me that this was the past form of the verb swell, and they filled it in under the past column. They then filled in swells under the present column and has swollen under the past participle column. They did this for each of the verbs.
You pick out a sentence or two (or more) from their history or science texts that illustrates the concepts you have been working on. Each week I usually have them working on one grammatical and one punctuation concept. For this piece, you will make sure that they correctly accomplish whatever grammatical or punctuation concepts you are working on. Do not work on everything at once, however tempting this may be. You can expect them to maintain any concepts you have been over in the previous lessons as well as the current concepts you are working on, but do not expect them to get them all every time. Sometimes there is a lot for them to remember all at once. If they consistently drop a past concept, I know we need to review this again.
  • Have them complete a narration at the end of the week, and hold them responsible for the concepts learned. 
Often I will help them with their narrations with outlines they have taken from their texts while working on the grammatical concepts. For example, I gave them the list of verbs we had generated in order to make a narration for the First City States. This reinforces the grammatical concepts and gives them a place to start, so they are not starting cold on their narrations. A blank page can be scary, but it is less scary with a list of verbs for a crutch to fall back on.

  • Writing to practice concepts learned.
Sometimes I will give them writing assignments to practice the concepts they have just learned to answer the question of whether they have internalized the concepts and can apply them to other pieces of their writing. These can be anything from a general knowledge question to a review from last year question to a creative writing piece. For example, one of these might be their assignment for the week.
  • Write about 6 things you like to do in your spare time.
  • Write a definition of the word reflection and tell about at least five places where reflection could appear.
  • Write a short story that begins, "While digging under some rotting leaves..."
  • Describe a good deed you did for someone, and write about how you felt after you did it.
For any of these, prior to their beginning to write, I remind them of the grammatical concept that we have been working on. For example, I might say, be sure to have strong verbs in their right tenses and not just to-be verbs.

This is how we accomplish our English studies without ever using a grammar worksheet that would just get thrown away at the end of the year. These lessons are something they are proud of as they can see concrete evidence of learning and how their writing has improved as the year goes on.

Lesson 1: Nouns

This may be review, but be sure to cover the different ways a noun can be used. If this is new material, it may take you a bit longer than a week.

  • Proper Nouns
  • Common Nouns
  • Abstract Nouns
  • Collective Nouns
Lesson 2: Nouns Used as Subjects

The subject of a sentence is whoever or whatever a sentence talks about. We talked about how a sentence is a complete thought expressed in words.

  • Simple Subject: The noun or nouns talked about.
  • Complete Subject: The noun or nouns talked about plus all the words that describe them.

Lesson 3: Verbs

The verb is another of the eight parts of speech. A verb tells what a person, place or thing does or is. It declares the action or being of a noun. There are two general types of verbs:
  • Transitive verbs: A transitive verb must have a noun following it to complete its meaning. This noun experiences the action of the verb.(example: John wears...what?)
  • Intransitive verbs: An intransitive verb does not require a noun following it to complete its meaning. (John runs.)Some verbs may be transitive in one sentence and intransitive in another. Their task was to pick a paragraph in their history text and find all the verbs. We discussed whether they were transitive or intransitive and why.
Lesson 4: Verbs as Predicates
The action or state of being of a noun subject or subjects is the Predicate. As with subjects, there are two types of predicates:
  • Simple Predicates: The verb which tells about the subject.
  • Complete Predicate: The verb which tells about the subject, plus all the words which go with the verb to give an more detailed picture.
A complete sentence must have a subject and a predicate. Have your student locate the complete and simple predicates of sentences in their history and science texts.

Lesson 5: Simple Subjects and Simple Predicates
After reading in your history or science texts, have your student create a paragraph of narration. Depending on their ability, you can have them do this independently or you can do it with him and have them type it or you can type it up. After they have created their notebook pages on it, you can use it to complete a lesson on subjects and predicates of sentences. Have your student(s) circle the simple subject and underline the simple predicate. Discuss what other words in the sentences could be part of the whole subject and what words would be part of the whole predicate.

Lesson 6: The Present Tense
Have your student(s) locate the complete subjects and predicates in a passage from their History text. We also went over tenses, and particularly the Present tense. Tense expresses the time of action or being. The present tense may be expressed:

  • Simple Present (he walks)
  • Progressive Present (he is walking)
  • Emphatic Present (he does walk)
The form "to be" is irregular in English, as it is in most languages. Never confuse the verb "to be" with the Progressive Present.

Lesson 7: Review/Quiz
Your students should be able to answer these questions, and if they can't, review what they are not sure of.
  1. Name the three ways of expressing Present Tense.
  2. Give the Present Tense of the verb "to be."

Lesson 8: Personal Pronouns
A pronoun is a word used instead of, or in place of, a noun. Since pronouns replace nouns, they must refer to some noun(s) previously mentioned. Personal Pronouns act:
  • as subject or predicate nominatives 
  • as object of a verb or preposition
  • as possessives

Since pronouns are used in place of nouns, they may be used in the different ways a noun is used. Using the idea from Homegrown Learners, make charts for personal pronouns on a rainbow template. 

Lesson 9: Infinitive
In English the infinitive may be recognized by the little word "to" before the meaning of the verb (to go, to walk, to live, etc.) Have your students find this in your history and science texts.

Lesson 10: Quiz
  1. Name the three ways of expressing the Present Tense.
  2. Give the Present Tense of the verb "to be."
  3. How do you recognize an English Infinitive?
Lesson 11: Direct Objects 

How to diagram the direct object

When you teach students about Direct Objects, you must also review transitive verbs. Have your students locate the Direct Objects in the sentences in their history and science texts, and diagram them as illustrated above.

Lesson 12: Writing Pen Pal Letters

Now it is time for them to do a little writing exercise. I have my kids write pen pal letters, but you can do any small writing project that suits your family. Hold your student responsible for correct grammar for the things they have learned so far.

Lesson 13: Predicate Nouns (or Predicate Nominatives)

  1. A predicate noun is used after certain intransitive verbs, but especially after the verb "to be" to describe or define the subject.
  2. These nouns are called Predicate nouns because the appear after the verb or in the predicate part of the sentence.
  3. Use the following nouns as predicate nouns in sentences. (Pull these nouns from their history or science texts.)
  4. Underline any predicate nouns you can find in the passages of your history or science texts or your own narrations.

Lesson 14: Review/Quiz

  1. In order to write or say a complete sentence, what two things must you have?
  2. Which of the following are complete sentences? (listed a few sentences and a few fragments from their history and science texts.)
  3. What is meant by "direct object"?
  4. What are three ways you may express the present tense?
  5. What three ways of using a noun have you learned?
  6. Can the verb "to be" take a direct object?
  7. Give one sentence using a simple subject, a simple predicate and a direct object.
  8. Can you find a predicate noun in the following sentence? (Sentence from history/science text.)

Lesson 15: Play Games

Take a break from formal lessons to play some games: Scrabble, Bananagrams, Apples to Apples and Madlibs are a few of the possibilities.

Lesson 16: Appositives

  1. Form the Possessives of the following nouns (Make a list of nouns from their history or science texts).
  2. Use the following words as Appositives in good English sentences (words from their texts).
  3. What is the fundamental difference between a predicate noun and an Appositive?
  4. Can a predicate noun be followed by an Appositive?

Lesson 17: Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases
With your student(s), pick prepositions out of their history or science texts and talk about prepositional phrases. You might also want to teach them how to make an  outline of a portion of their texts and how to write paragraphs from the outline.

Lesson 18: Indirect Objects
Your students have learned that a noun may be used as a subject, as a predicate noun, as a direct object, as the object of a preposition and after the preposition "in." The sixth use of the noun is as an indirect object. An indirect object  of the verb is a noun used to show to whom or for whom an act is performed. If there is any doubt as to whether a noun is a direct or indirect object of the verb, try the "object test": If a noun answers the questions what or whom directly after the verb meaning, it must be a direct object but if noun answers the questions to whom or form whom after the verb, it may be an indirect object. Notice how nouns are used in a variety of sentences in your history or science texts. Have your student find the direct objects and the indirect objects in these sentences  Often the "to" or "for" may be merely understood, not expressed such as in the sentence, "The soldier told his commander the truth." When the "to" or "for" is expressed, you have simply a prepositional phrase. 

Lesson 19: Exercises
  1. Explain how each noun is used in the following sentences (Take sentences from their history and science texts.)
  2. Punctuate the following possessives correctly (taken from their texts).
  3. Use the following noun (supplied from text) in six separate sentences, as a...
    1. subject 
    2. direct object
    3. indirect object
    4. predicate noun
    5. possessive
    6. appositive
Lesson 20: Exercises
Have your student(s) write the answers to these questions in their English notebooks.
  1. Write eight interesting sentences using one noun in each, in the ways listed below. Underline the nouns.
    1. as a subject
    2. as a Possessive
    3. as an indirect object
    4. as an Appositive
    5. as a predicate noun
    6. as an object of a preposition
    7. as a direct object of a verb
    8. as the subject of a plural verb
  2. Remembering that all proper nouns are capitalized, that all sentences begin with capitals, the rules for possessives and how appositives are used, punctuate the following paragraph. (Paragraph taken from their history/science texts, with the capitalization and punctuation removed.)
  3. Can you explain the use of every noun in these sentences? (Sentences from texts.)

Lesson 21: Exercises

  1. A verb agrees with its subject in number (singular or plural) and person (First, Second or Third). Give the correct verb forms for the following sentences. (Supply sentences from their history and science texts.)
  2. Fill in the blanks with the correct verb forms. (Supply sentences from their history and science texts.)
  3. Negative contractions must be carefully punctuated. An apostrophe takes the place of the missing letter(s). Fill in the blanks with correct contractions. Notice that these are all Emphatic Present Tense. (Supply sentences from their history and science texts.)

Lesson 22: The Compound Sentence

This week work on compound sentences and the punctuation related to them. In addition to the simple sentence with one subject or group of subjects and one predicate or group corresponding predicates, there is also the compound sentence. A compound sentence is made up of two or more simple sentences, joined by a coordinate conjunction (joining word) or a semicolon (;). A conjunction is another important part of speech. It connects words or groups of words and joins them together. The most common coordinate conjunctions are:

  • and
  • but
  • or
  • nor
Simple sentences joined to form compound sentences are called independent clauses. A clause is a group of words with subjects and predicate; they are independent because they are complete in themselves.
A clause must have a subject and a predicate. A phrase, on the other-hand, is a group of words without a subject or predicate.
Notice that if there is a conjunction between the simple sentences or clauses, you must use a comma at the end of the first clause, before the conjunction. If there is no conjunction, a semicolon must be used to separate the clauses.

Lesson 23: Exercises
  1. Name all the parts of speech you know in the following paragraph. (Paragraph taken from their history or science texts.)
  2. Choose the correct verb forms in the following sentences...(Sentences taken from their history or science texts.)
Lesson 24: Questions and Interrogative Pronouns

An interrogative sentence asks a question. The word "interrogative" comes from the Latin verb "rogare," meaning "to ask." An interrogative sentence, therefore, is a question and must be punctuated with a question mark. There are two kinds of questions...

  • inverted word order: the verb is turned around and put at the beginning (Are you going home early?)
  • introduced by an interrogative or questioning word (Who is at the door?)
    • Interrogative pronouns:
      • Who (person) or What (thing) for subject
      • Whose (for possessive)
      • Whom (person) or What (thing) for object of verb or preposition
Lesson 25: Exercises and Pronoun Review
Ask your student the following questions:
  1. How many parts of speech have you learned? How many are left?
  2. Give the definition of a pronoun.
  3. What are the two kinds of pronouns you have learned?
  4. Write the correct pronouns in the following sentences. Remember that you have to have the correct gender and number.  (Sentences taken from their history and science texts.)
  5. Remember  that each pronoun has a certain use or duty in the sentence. Fill in the blanks with the correct interrogative pronouns. (Sentences taken from their history and science texts.)
  6. How do you ask a question without an interrogative word?

Lesson 26: Adjectives
An adjective is a word that modifies or describes a noun. Have your student identify adjectives in his history and science texts. Have him underline them in his narrations.

Lesson 27: Writing Exercise
Have your student(s) list ten of their favorite adjectives and then have them write an original sentences using each of the ten adjectives.

Lesson 28: Writing Exercise
Take five nouns from your history or science texts and then write a true and original sentence for each one using two good adjectives in each sentence.

Lesson 29: Adverbs
  • The seventh part of speech is the adverb. Adverbs add to the verb by telling how, when or where something is done. 
  • The adverb modifies a verb, and adjective or another adverb by answering the questions, how, how much, when and where. (The actual words how, when and where are adverbs, too, when used as interrogative words to introduce questions.) 
  • Adjectives to which "ly" has been added become adverbs.
  • Time adverbs are easy to recognize as they answer the question, "when?"
  • Adverbs may modify adjectives and other adverbs by answering those same questions, "how, " "when" and "where."
  • Have your student find adverbs in their history or science texts and tell what questions they answer.
Lesson 30: Exercises
  • Have your student find adverbs in their history and science texts and write original sentences using them.
  • Underline all the adverbs in their own narrations. If their narrations are lacking in adverbs, see if your student can add appropriate ones to the sentences.
Lesson 31: Simple Diagramming Sentences
Your student, by this time, has learned the most important parts of speech:
  • noun
  • pronoun
  • verb
  • adverb
  • adjective
  • preposition
  • conjunction
Find some interesting sentences in your history or science texts and have your student diagram them.
  • First divide the sentence in half, putting the simple subject on one side, and the simple predicate on the other side. 
  • Put under the subject the adjectives that modify it.
  • Put under the predicate the predicate nouns, predicate adjectives or the direct object.
  • Put any other adjectives and adverbs under the words they modify or describe.
Lesson 32: Interjections
Interjections may be hard to find in history and science texts, so you may have to teach this without the use of those books. You might want use stories instead, or teach the lesson without the use of a text at all.

Lesson 33: General Review 
Pick a paragraph from your history or science texts and point to various words and ask your student what part of speech this is and how it is used in the sentence.


  1. Oh my goodness, this is a great set of lessons! You're awesome.

    1. No problem. I figure that I might as well share them!

  2. Thank you for taking the time to do this. I'm bookmarking it for when I have the time to really soak it all in. It looks amazing though!

  3. What a wonderful resource! This is just what I was looking for. I began homeschooling my 9 year old son in January. Since finding your blog we have become much more hands on and fun! Thanks for letting us in on your homeschool days.

    1. I am so glad to hear that my little ole blog is helpful. Hands on days are always more fun.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  5. Thank you so much, this is great. I am so glad I found you through Homeschool Giveaways and Deals.

  6. Thanks so much for putting this up!

  7. Wow! This is fantastic! Thank you. :) Cass @http://www.theunpluggedfamily.com


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