I think one of my favorite parts of this website is the opportunities I have to use and review great books and curriculum. A Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story is one of those wonderful surprises!
About the Curriculum
As the title suggests, this is a story-writing curriculum. And it’s got a wonderfully sneaky way of adding grammar to the mix. The setting is…you guessed it… a pirate ship. The entire book is narrated by a Pirate Captain, and the student using this book has been kidnapped and taken aboard the Captain’s ship! The fun part is: these be story makin’ pirates! I’ll let the book explain fruther:
“…it be our job t train up yer little urchin in our ways. But they need t be doin’ their part if they be knowin’ what be good for ’em.”
Ye should also know yer tiny trooper will most likely break down and whine like a baby monkey, sayin, “This be too hard,” “I can’t do this,” or “Why do I have to do every exercise?” Of course it be hard!
This is just a snippet of the introductory letter.
This is a unique story-writing curriculum that appeals to kids with the pirate theme, and it hits the ground running. The very first lesson (after a brief “you are here” opener) is “Mindstorming,” which gets the students to be creative right away. No grammar rules, no sentence writing. Just being creative. My boys were HOOKED.
How it Works
Mindstorming is used throughout the book to introduce new ideas, like setting, names, events, character voice, conflict, etc. Once the mindstorming for each section has been thoroughly hashed out, students are given space to put their creativity to work. Again, this is not done in the ordinary curriculum-style writing course. All that mindstorming has made the kids excited about their lists, and they are encouraged to just put them into a story. Any story.
Along the way, they are asked to use an “adjective” to describe their person or object, without giving an all-out grammar lesson. Reminding the kids that an adjective describes a noun was simple and straightforward, and they knew to pick words like ugly, stinky, tall, or soft. I love this type of instruction. Instead of grammar books filled with unrelated exercises, they get to use grammar to write about pirates (and everything else!).
Each chapter begins with a note from the Captain, and is followed by the next learning excercise. Some exercises are longer, some are shorter. As the book suggested, I gauged the interest of my boys and decided how much to do based on whether they were losing steam each day. After the exercises is a section called “Raise the Anchor and Set Sail,” which is the chance to put their newest work into a story. This is purely creative work; no list do’s and don’ts, because this curriculum is meant to encourage creative writing.
Some chapters also include a “Scratch Yer Noggin” section, which reviews some of the new concepts learned.
The book is deliberately created with no answer key, because there are no right or wrong answers. There are right ways to get answers, but the purpose of the book is to help kids love writing and become great at it.
From Amazon: Everything needed for the course – textbook instruction and workbook exercises – is contained in this one book. No additional resources need to be purchased. In this independently used, consumable book, students learn about 36 basic elements (the grammar) of a story, such as setting, symbolism, plot, character desire, heroes, and villains. The curriculum is written for ages 12 and up. 323 pages.
Yes, We Love It!
Although it’s created for ages 12 and up, I am using this book with 3 boys, ages 8-11. As I said above, they were hooked from the very first lesson. They actually ask me, “Are we doing our Pirate Grammar today?” No pulling teeth, here. They love the mindstorming so much. After each mindstorming session, they take turns reading their answers out loud, and laughing and having a great time. This is priceless to me! And the three boys each have such different ideas.
In our homeschool, we study history chronologically with living books, and I prefer to use language arts curriculum that ties in with our subject somehow. Since we are currently working our way through the 17th and 18th centuries, the pirate theme here was an excellent fit! We’ve been reading about pirates over the last 2-3 centuries of world history, and it will continue through the 19th century.
I love it because of the incredible detail that’s included in each lesson. When the kids are taught to create a character, for example, they are given so many ideas and levels of creativity. By the time the character is created, they have a name, values, setting, family, light or dark, clothing, voice, skills, personality traits, physical characteristics, and background details.
This, my friends, is where excellent story-writing starts.
I love that the boys are having fun while learning an incredible skill. As a homeschooling family that does a lot of reading aloud together, we have learned to identify what makes a great story and what makes an okay story. The concepts taught in this curriculum will help kids to be the writer who makes a great story.
Story writing isn’t just for those who want to write stories. It is wonderful for stretching the brain and getting kids to think in new directions that the average grammar course does not do. Don’t get me wrong, proper grammar and sentence structure are vital to good writing; but creative writing is another world altogether. And kids are all creative. This book gives them a wonderful way to express it.
Get Your Copy
The Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story is available on Amazon for $29.99 with Prime shipping. I appreciate your shopping through my affiliate link.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product from the author, Christopher Hansen, in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write an honest review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.
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Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and writes about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. Nicki is a member of the Texas Home Educators Advisory Board and The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.