It occurred to me today, watching my now-4th-grader plow his way through his morning's work, that I need to find a different approach to grammar for him. The now-3rd-grader is perfectly happy doing gentle daily grammar exercises on a variety of subjects, and more power to her, but the 4th grader is becoming frustrated with -- as today, for example -- circling helping verbs and underlining action verbs and distinguishing between being verbs and action verbs in twenty sentences about two girls getting chased by bees and praying to God to protect them. This kind of exercise is seeming arbitrary to him, I think, and like make-work, which it sort of is.
So I'm thinking that for next year, I'll keep the now-3rd-grader/rising-4th-grader in Language of God, and really and truly pull out the diagramming for the now-4th-grader/rising-5th-grader. We own the First Whole Book of Diagrams, and we've done some things with it, but I think getting him the Elementary Diagramming Worktext will make us do the work regularly, without my having to make up and teach whole lessons and feeling that I have to involve both children. He can just get on with it, more or less on his own, with me as advisor. I know I propose this diagramming thing every year -- at least, I think I do. But 5th grade seems like a good time for it, especially as the workbook exercises are becoming simultaneously la-di-da and frustrating ("What is a state-of-being verb? Is it different from a helping verb? Why do they look like the same words, then?"). When we've done diagramming before, he has liked the "sentence as machine" aspect of things.
This, with copywork/dictation, and a lot of reading, would be our language-arts course. And boy, was that easy. On to the next thing.