Grammar Check

My sons are sticklers about words being spelled correctly and general grammar. I’m not sure where they got it, but it’s actually a pretty nice skill to have around the house. Whenever I am writing something that I really want worded well, I pass it over to them for a quick check. They catch mistakes that I never would have noticed and re-word things in much better ways.

Yesterday I heard them talking about “Grammarly”. They were writing an email to an online vendor about exchanging a pair of pants they had bought. When they ask me what they should say, I generally say “Something quick and simple, like ‘I want to exchange a pair of pants. What do I do?’ ” Apparently that’s just not good enough for them. After some time, they sent this.

“I would like to exchange some TLD pants that are too big. Also, in the same order I bought a Sunline shifter for a 2001 yz125 and I’m afraid that it does not fit, so I would like to return that, if possible.”


“I would like to exchange the pants for the same ones, just a different size. I installed the shifter on my bike, and it appears that the splined hole that goes around the shift shaft is too large. No matter how much I tighten the bolt, it wiggles and can move side to side on the shaft.”

And then,

“I have attached a video showing how the shift lever does not fit. In the video, it is torqued to 90 lbs-in, which is 2 lbs-in tighter than the stock value. I would like to exchange the pants for a size down, 36″.”

I’m just showing you what he wrote, not the vendor’s replies, mostly because I’m always amazed at how well they write and converse with others. We’ve never had “language arts” in the traditional academic sense. We’ve read together. We’ve written some things. We’ve played a lot of word games like Mad Libs and Scrabble. Here they are writing emails to people, commenting on videos and Facebook posts, and answering and asking questions on online forums.

That’s when I heard about Grammarly. The younger one said he uses it all the time and it’s great because it actually finds things that spellcheck doesn’t. The older one said he didn’t use it until now because he thought it just did the same thing as spellcheck. I asked about it and they showed it to me. We are all amazed and still wonder how in the world it works.

And no, I didn’t ask them to proofread this…but I may ask Grammarly!

Oxford English Dictionary

On February 1, 1884 the Oxford English Dictionary made it’s debut!

Check out this site for an interesting overview.

Have you ever been to their website? There are loads over interesting games to play and articles to read. It’s not like a regular dictionary that only gives you the current meaning of the word. It gives you the background of the word, where it came from, and when it was used too! Your local library may have a subscription to the whole site. If they don’t, tell them they should.

Oxford English Dictionary Website


I came across a Facebook post from HSC today that pointed me in the direction of another cool and free resource!

The Complete 10 Week Poetry for Kids Course

There are lots of ways you can use this for your homeschool. One would be to assign it to your kids but I doubt you’d get the results you really wanted. If you asked your kids if they are interested in poetry and if they wanted to go through the course with you, they’d get more out of it. But if you have kids like mine, they’re probably not interested at all. My solution would be to take the course myself, very publicly, and share what I’m learning with them daily. My kids love poetry but for a long time they didn’t even know! So much of their favorite music has wonderful poetry. I just needed to point it out a couple times when we were listening to music in the car. Now they point lyrics that really speak to them all the time. When I find poetry that speaks to me deeply, I tend to share it with them as well.

Sentence Structure?

I don’t think anyone invented language. I pretty sure that it naturally evolved. No one had an “ah-ha” moment about putting the noun before the predicate. “Mr. Norton walks.” So why do we torture children with diagramming sentences and picking out verbs, nouns, and adjectives? Someone at sometime (probably a word-nerd, someone fascinated with semantics or linguistics) heard all these words and sentences we naturally use, noticed a pattern of some kind, that most people used them in certain way, and decided to write down all these “rules”. Anyone that hears people speak regularly can pick this kind of stuff up naturally without ever knowing what a interjection is. But now we feel we need to sit young children down and explain these rules whether they are interested or not, as if they wouldn’t know how to speak or write if they didn’t know them in an academic form.

If you are fascinated by the rules of language, by all means study them! But you really don’t need to harass people of any age about it. If your children hear people speak in the dialect and form you desire, they will learn that language naturally. You can hear language in multiple ways. You can listen to conversation, watch TV or movies, play online role playing games, or read books. Just like learning to walk, your children learned to talk. They don’t speak like Native Americans in a old Western movie, do they? So why would they write that way?

Here are a couple links to get the juices flowing in your mind!

Sandra Dodd’s page about “Language Arts”

Unschool Rules!