Critical Thinking Company The Language Mechanic (Review)

The Critical Thinking Co.™

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

At the end of every year, I like to take a few minutes to evaluate our school year, my children’s academic progress, and test results. Then I try to make sure I have a plan to work on any areas of weakness. This year, I realized I needed to spend more time with my eighth-grade daughter on grammar. I had the opportunity to review The Language Mechanic from The Critical Thinking Co.™.

What is The Language Mechanic?

The Language Mechanic is a paperback grammar book with eleven different units. The theme of the book is “Tuning Up English with Logic.” The book is designed for fourth- seventh-grade students, but I felt it would be a good fit for my daughter. She knows how to write papers but often struggles with the grammar conventions, such as commas and other punctuation.

Each unit is divided into smaller lessons (ranging from two to ten lessons per unit) and a unit review. Each lesson has a short teaching component, including examples, logic, and rule. That is followed up with practice questions that can be done together, “your turn” questions for independent practice, and challenge questions.

Also included in the book are a glossary of important terms, an answer key, and a few pages of instruction for the parent/teacher.

What is Included?

  • Capitalization
  • Run-Ons and Fragments
  • Pronouns
  • Modifiers
  • Verbs
  • Agreement
  • Unnecessary Words
  • Punctuation:  ‘ ” ?!
  • Punctuation:  Commas
  • Friendly Letter: Greeting and Closing
  • Spelling and Vocabulary

How We Used The Language Mechanic

For younger students, the parent or teacher would spend a few minutes teaching each lesson, and then the student would independently work on the “your turn” questions. However, since my daughter is older and just needed extra help with grammar, she worked through the program independently.

She was able to read the lesson and then go through the practice problems before checking her answers. Each lesson took her about ten to fifteen minutes, and we worked through a few lessons each week. I chose not to make her work through the units where she had already shown proficiency. She will finish the other units throughout the summer to be more prepared for her high school writing courses.

What My Daughter Thought

“Even though everyone dislikes the word grammar, this curriculum is good. I understood it, and it was not too hard for me to work through. There were many problems for me to work through to help me fully understand and grasp what we were talking about, and it was easy to follow and figure out what it wanted me to do.”        Elizabeth, Age 14

What I Thought

I loved the book’s layout because it was simple to understand and use. I appreciated that I could skip around and choose the areas of concern. Using it with an older child, I appreciated that she could do it independently, but even with a younger child, it would be easy for the parent. It is very open and go and would not require prep work.

I also really appreciated the logic portion of this book. Most grammar programs teach the rules but not the “why” or logic behind them, and I believe that it helps it make sense and stay with them better.


The Language Mechanic is a great way to help children work through standard grammar rules and improve their writing. I think that, in general, the fourth through seventh-grade recommendation is correct, but it could go up or down a little bit depending on the student’s readiness and understanding.

Be sure to click on the graphic below to read more reviews of this product and other great products from The Critical Thinking Co.™.

Critical Thinking

Homeschool Product Review: Daily Grams

dailygramsGrammar is one of those things that most students find pretty boring. So, as homeschooling parents, we look for palatable ways to accomplish what we know needs to be done…covering the basics of grammar so that our students can express themselves well. I’m going to tell you about a tool which can help you reach this goal!

I first heard about Daily Grams from a missionary friend who had used it for her children. When we hit a road block with our current program, I decided to finally look into it.

I chose to use the Junior/Senior High version for our son, who is a freshman. He had battled with some reading disability through his earlier school years, so I was looking for something that would keep things fresh but without being cumbersome. Daily Grams did just that.

This level of Daily Grams is set up more as a review of what is learned in earlier grades. There is a worksheet for each day, featuring reviews on basic concepts like capitalization and punctuation (often requiring a re-write of a given sentence which includes some errors). There are also some simple exercises to remind students of the various parts of speech, as well as sentence combining sections which help with composition skills.

The information on a day’s worksheet is challenging enough not to be tedious, and varied enough to keep all of these aspects of grammar well-groomed. The workbook has 180 daily lessons in it…enough to carry a student through an entire school year. The answers are included in an index in the back of the workbook.

In doing these daily review pages, the teacher/parent can make note of skills which are a bit rusty and may require a bit of refreshing. I’ve found this to be a well-rounded, thorough (but concise) review workbook which reminds students of types of letters, types of sentences and clauses, subject/verb agreement, active/passive voice and more. It is not designed to teach a lesson (although some questions may provide a little “retrieval cue”) as much as it is to keep things sharp for the larger papers and projects which will be written during the upper level years.

I would recommend this product for students who have had a solid foundation in grammar. It will be frustrating for a teen who can’t define terms such as gerund or predicate nominative. A good grasp of more than just the basic parts of speech is a prerequisite to using this particular workbook. Check out the earlier levels of Easy Grammar by clicking here!

Note: I received a copy of the featured workbook in exchange for an honest review.