I’ve been homeschooling for three and a half years now, and for two and a half of those years I’ve been using Michael Clay Thompson’s Language Arts curricula by Royal Fireworks Press. The subjects that I’ve used are Grammar, 4Practice, Vocabulary, Literature, and Poetics. The only subject I haven’t had a chance to try yet is writing, which I will begin presently.
So far my overall opinion from a student’s perspective has been extremely positive. Almost all the books were able to convey their information in the most precise and long-lasting way.
Before doing Magic Lens I, I had some brief instruction on the subject of sentence diagramming and little knowledge of sentence parts. MCT helped me understand the relationship words have to each other and how the parts fit together to form grammatically correct, logical sentences. After learning in detail about sentences, reading and writing made more sense.
I used to attend public school where I learned some grammar rules, but the parameters of these rules were always iffy because the why wasn’t explained. So the Magic Lens I made grammar make sense and built my enthusiasm towards it. Like Michael Clay Thompson says himself, “It is fun to know what you are doing.”
Rating: 5 Stars
4Practice I is the best companion to Magic Lens I, as it provided the opportunity to exercise the concepts learned in the grammar book. The layout is simple, the assignments straightforward, and there’s a comprehensive selection of sentences. It’s exactly the right amount of practice needed to firmly cement what you learned into your mind without being redundant.
Rating: 5 Stars
Word Within Word I and II
Book I: I loved this book so much! I had been desiring to learn Latin and this book provided me with basically everything I was originally thinking to take away from learning Latin: Vocabulary. I really had fun learning the word roots, prefixes, and suffixes, as it has built my lexicon and my understanding of the structure of words. And it has also enabled me to use context clues to interpret words I’m not immediately able to recognize.
Book II: I decided to split this book up over two years, so right now I’m still working on completing this book. Thus far it has been great, although I rather liked the first book more, because it focused more on word roots, while this book focuses more on actual vocabulary words.
Both books include assignments for practicing that are fun and actually get you thinking; it’s not just busy work. My favorite exercise found in both books is the Ideas section because the insightful questions encourage you to evaluate what’s being asked and formulate opinions before answering. In the second book, I found a few of the assignments a bit tedious, in particular the Translations. (In Translations you are tasked with translating a paragraph which is too wordy into easier to read language.) On a more positive note, both books have layouts that are easy to read and undistracting. Overall I love these books and would greatly recommend them.
Book I Rating: 5 Stars Book II Rating: 4 Stars
These books were purchased a year ago, but I just got around to beginning them now. Right now I’m reading the first book, which is The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. I haven’t finished it yet, but up till this point I have loved it. The footnotes and Language Illustrations by Michael Clay Thompson (which sometimes explain the cool sentence structure of a previous sentence, or draw your attention to an interesting bit of information you may have missed) have been helpful in explaining what Franklin wrote and why his writing is exceptional. What I really love is that these Language Illustrations don’t in any way deviate or distract me from the reading, it’s like they were originally part of the book. And as a person who was extremely biased towards reading autobiographies or biographies of any sort, I can sincerely say that this book has made me open up to the idea of reading more accounts of a person’s life.
Rating: 5 Stars
Ah…this book. As I have already expressed, I love MCT books. But I bear a considerable hatred towards this book which was pure and horrible torture. The font is inconsistent and has this ridiculous purple text color dispersed among the regular black colored text. Another nuisance is that the book will suddenly go from an explanation to a diagram, which totally disrupts the flow. The diagrams themselves are made incomprehensible by the overlapping lines displaying various points for the sake of example. Plus I didn’t enjoy their poetry selection at all. All of these distractions and disappointments demand you read over the material countless times before understanding it, but even then I didn’t retain any of the information I did read. In the end inevitably my study of the book came to a halt.
Rating: 0 Stars