Are you looking for a language arts curriculum for a child aged eight or over but you can’t find anything that inspires your child? This can be a tough task, particularly if you have a student who doesn’t like to actually sit down and write. They can be very creative when they want to be, but not ‘in class.’ If this sounds familiar to you, then A Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story may be what you’re looking for.
The A Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story gives a unique take on grammar and creative writing. It really gets boys (and girls-but in this case it’s my son who is more interested in pirates and fits the age level of this book) interested in the subject matter.
Note to Parents
Open up the book and read through the introductions and learn about Captain Yogger LeFossa. Then read the information written to us parents. I love it! Captain LeFossa says:
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! Most likely thay be tryin’ t’ get out of doing th’ work we have fer them. Don’t worry, many kids be playin’ these games an’ we just be doin’ what works best. A couple lashes with the cat o’ nine tales – har har- usually get’s ’em back in line. That, or th’ plank.
And I can report that in our case, this is true. There have been whines, groans, hollering, and some tears over the lessons; but when I remind Tristan that if he continues he will have to walk the plank, he laughs and gets himself right back on track.
And in spite of all his protests, when I ask Tristan if he likes this book, he perks up, grins his goofy grin; as much as he may protest at times, he does always look forward to it; and that’s a good sign.
A Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story was written from a pirate’s perspective; Captain Yogger LeFossa, to be precise. Tristan wonders how pirates can teach grammar when they can’t even speak English correctly? Well, it is possible, and adding in the pirate speak and humour means kids have to pay attention which means they will better understand the meaning and the content.
What’s in the book?
As you work your way through the book, keeping in order as it builds upon what has been previously done, Captain Yogger cleverly weaves a story amongst the assignments. Children start off learning how to brainstorm, and then expand on those results by adding more specific descriptions to them such as time, place, taste, feel, colour, sounds, etc.
Tristan hasn’t done this specific type of work before, but when we took the current book he’s reading (Harry Potter) and used some of the descriptions in there as examples of how to describe things so someone else can see them in their mind’s eye, then it became more clear to him.
Brainstorming and using strong adjectives and verbs are a big theme throughout this book and are very necessary to anyone who wants to be able to write creatively, as well as clearly. These exercises are used in various forms throughout working down the different aspects needed to write a story. Some of these are:
- Character Values
- The Line Between Light and Dark
- Character Contradictions
- Gaps and Expectation
- And many more
Tristan has a wonderful imagination, but he isn’t so keen on getting that imagination down on paper. He tends to want to aim for perfection and then gets so stressed that he freezes up altogether. Or to ‘save work’ he’ll spend more time trying to think of the shortest way to write something than it takes him to actually write.
Is A Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story working?
With Captain LeFossa, Tristan’s learning how to take his first thoughts and then expand on them; why doing the least amount of work doesn’t give the best effect. He is learning how to choose the best, most descriptive words and expand his sentences to include more information to make them more understood and a much better read. This is a good thing. And it isn’t just me that is trying to make him understand why he needs to do this. Oh no, the Captain does the explaining in pirate terms, then show Tristan how to go about doing this with just about any topic.
Tristan still isn’t (yet) a lover of book work, although he finds having a ‘proper’ workbook is much better than simply using printables (even though, of course, there really isn’t a difference) in some of his other courses.
Is this working? Yes! Yes it is. I have noticed a big change in Tristan’s already large vocabulary. He’s using even more words and making conscious decisions to use descriptive words. Yesterday we were out and instead of saying, “That dog ran up to us,” he said, “That big, fluffy dog bounded right up to us!” I honestly think he’s even surprising himself with his descriptions.
I’m looking forward to the next year as Tristan works his way through A Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story alongside his English classes. The combination of the two lessons could very well ignite a whole new world. Adding grammar usage and improved vocabulary to an active imagination could ignite Tristan’s passion and I cannot wait to see where this takes him.
Where to purchase
More Pirate Fun
If you’re little land-lubber would like to have some more pirate-themed fun, here are a couple of the things we’ve done in the past: