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Answers to Frequent Questions About Hands-On English

Page numbers refer to the second edition.

What is Hands-On English?

Hands-On English is a handbook that provides quick access to English fundamentals (grammar, usage, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, vocabulary, reading, and writing). It can be used by people 9 years of age or older. Hands-On English can serve as a textbook when studied systematically; it can serve as a handbook for years afterwards.


For what age student is this program intended?

Hands-On English covers curriculum through the eighth grade. It assumes no prior knowledge in grammar, usage, capitalization, or punctuation. It, therefore, includes the most basic concepts -- those studied by first or second graders -- as well as fairly sophisticated concepts. Hands-On English was originally written with fourth, fifth, and sixth graders in mind. It has also been used in adult education programs -- and for every age between. Most students would not use Hands-On English as their own handbook much before fourth grade. The book could serve as an excellent resource for parents and teachers of younger children, however -- especially if they are teaching parts of speech. Many activities in the program could easily be adapted for use with younger students.


How do students practice the concepts presented in Hands-On English?

The 154 reproducible pages of the Activity Book provide practice on the concepts presented in Hands-On English. Separating the information from the exercises makes it easier to find.


Are the answers to the exercises available?

Yes, a readable Answer Key is included at the back of the Activity Book.


You say that Hands-On English and the Activity Book are for students in grades 4-8. How can these two books provide five years of instruction?

Most language arts series devote much time and space to review, spending relatively little space on new material. Information in Hands-On English is presented only once. Some review is incorporated in the Activity Book. Sometimes it is designated as review; other times familiar material is subtly reviewed as new material is presented.


How do I know whether these materials are appropriate for my child?

First, look at the books. If your child is still working to master these concepts -- or if you want your child to review them, Hands-On English and its related products will provide a fresh approach that integrates language arts activities.


Do Hands-On English and the Activity Book provide a complete language arts program, or do I need to supplement with something?

Hands-On English and the Activity Book provide everything you will need for grammar, usage, capitalization, and punctuation. They can easily become the basis for individualized programs in vocabulary and spelling. While the Activity Book provides opportunities for developing sentence-writing abilities and exploring a few genres, you will want students to do more writing than the Activity Book assigns. Work in the content areas might present sufficient opportunities. Although the books provide good information for reading efficiently and for responding to literature, the literature itself is not included. You'll find many supplementary resources on the GrammarAndMore website, particularly in the LinguaPhile index and on the book and link resource pages.


How do students use Hands-On English to study vocabulary?

Building a personal vocabulary file, as recommended on page 106 of The Activity Book, and studying the morphemes presented on pages 109-117 of Hands-On English will create an individualized and relevant vocabulary study.


How do students use Hands-On English to study spelling?

Spelling exercises in the Activity Book focus on major rules and frequently misspelled words. This study can effectively be supplemented with words the student needs for writing -- high-frequency words that are posing problems and/or words from various content areas. The student collects these words in a personal spelling dictionary, explained on page 98 of the Activity Book.

If spelling presents a special challenge for your child, you might focus on phonic patterns. Studying the morphemes in Hands-On English will aid spelling as well as vocabulary because students will be spelling in meaningful units rather than by individual letters.


How do I know what to do each day?

Headings on pages of the Activity Book indicate correlated pages from Hands-On English. Teacher's Notes, included with the Answer Key at the back of the Activity Book, provide suggestions for using some of the open-ended pages.


Should I start at the beginning of the Activity Book and go straight through?

That's one possibility. The Suggestions for Sequencing suggests pages you might want to use early in your course of study -- and others you might want to postpone if you're working with younger students. Still another possibility is to use the pages prescriptively (letting children's reading and writing needs guide your choice of topic). Whichever sequence you use, these skills are so interrelated that there are bound to be times when you need information about one skill when you're in the midst of another. The books' cross-referencing will direct you to the information you need.

The Activity Book now comes with an Alternative Sequence that integrates skills and shows how pages can easily be spread over three years.


How long will it take for my child to complete this program?

This depends on many things -- for example, the amount of knowledge your child begins with, how quickly your child assimilates information, how much time you spend on Hands-On English.

It is recommended that students complete two to three pages of the Activity Book per week. They should spend the bulk of their language arts time in actual reading and writing. Students for whom the information is already somewhat familiar may well complete the program in a year. Younger students are likely to take at least two years.


What should my child do for language arts after completing the Activity Book?

Once students have mastered these concepts, they can more effectively spend their time applying them by reading, writing, and speaking rather than by completing worksheets.

Concepts in the Usage, Mechanics, and Communicating Ideas sections will be sufficiently reviewed with their continual use. You might want to review grammar concepts informally, occasionally presenting a sentence and asking your child about parts of speech or sentence patterns. If the student does not have a firm grasp of these concepts, you might provide additional practice.

For formal language arts study after completion of the Activity Book, books in the 7th to 9th grade range are recommended. Although a few new concepts would be presented in the 7th and 8th grade books, strong students would probably do fine with a 9th grade book, where those new concepts are reviewed. Students for whom language arts is more difficult would probably be more comfortable with a 7th or 8th grade book.


What is Hands-On Sentences? Do I need that?

Hands-On Sentences is a card game that provides practice with parts of speech and encourages students to write more sophisticated sentences. Requiring students to apply the various grammar concepts they've studied, helps them internalize concepts. Hands-On Sentences also enables family members of various ages or students of varying abilities to participate together.


What is Hands-On Icons? Do I need that?

Hands-On Icons is a set of enlarged icons that represent parts of speech and sentence patterns. Although the icons are included in both Hands-On English and the Activity Book, you might find the larger icons helpful -- especially if you're working with younger children or with a group.

Suggestions for Sequencing
Hands-On English
Hands-On English Activity Book
Hands-On Sentences
Hands-On Icons

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