When we first started formal grammar lessons with my oldest we began by using First Language Lessons by Susan Wise Bauer at Peace Hill Press. Back when we purchased it they had the combined level 1&2 book. I learned later they started using 2 separate books for those levels. I am glad I was able to purchase it together when I had a chance cause I saved some money that way. I loved FLL(First Language Lessons) for those 1st two levels. It was a gentle yet thorough start in grammar basics.
The problem came in the program for me when looking into the 3rd level. While I was looking into the scope and sequence and even some sample pages I began to get the impression that it was going to be more of repeat of the last two levels with just a little jump in difficulty. The only big difference was the introduction of diagramming. I just think at this stage in my child's development it was just moving way to slow. So I began my search for another program that would include more rigor and also introduce diagramming and not break my already tight budget. That is when I found Rod and Staff English.
Rod and Staff is published by the Anabaptist Church which are Mennonites. They have conservative Christian views and believe in a solid no nonsense no fluff and glitter approach in there curriculum. I was able to get the 2nd and 3rd grade textbook(non consumable) and teachers guides at our local homeschool conference used book sale for very cheap. I also can find them used at local homeschool bookstore as well. They come with test booklets and worksheets sold separate but I didn't bother with those.
I thought over the summer I would do a few units in the 2nd grade level to get her used to the R&S method before starting the 3rd grade book. It proved to be a good thing cause unlike First Language Lessons R&S requires more sentence writing in the lessons which is something I loved for this particular child. Keep in mind that if your child is not strong in handwriting and gets frustrated very easily I would either choose a different program or if you do decided on R&S English that you might consider letting the child work the problems on a dry erase board rather than keeping a notebook.
Now with FLL there were elements that we had become accustomed to being included every few lessons that R&S does not appear to include in the same way thus far and that is Poem Memorization and Parts of Speech Memory Work. So I added those in myself just to bridge the gap between programs. R&S will eventually have a unit on poetry but its not a part of the lessons throughout like FLL. I also wanted to continue to create those grammar memory pegs so we have our grammar memory on flash cards now and we review them every week and add in more as we are introduced to a new concept. She is also getting some of the extra grammar practice in our latin curriculum that we started this year as well. We are using Prima Latina through Memoria Press. I will do a review on that at a later time. For the poetry I have the children pick a poem book from the library each week and the select one that they want to learn. We have them copy it down in a notebook for copywork and then make an illustration. I also have my oldest learning a famous speech. We try to memorize at least 2 each year. Last year she memorized and recited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have been to the Mountain Top" and Emperor Halie Selassie"s(Ethiopian King) Speech to the UN. I selected an excerpt from both cause they were obviously way to long to do in its entirety. We learned a few lines each week. We just keep adding on till it was all learned. And then we would have her recite it in public. She recited in front of a Sunday School group and once at a Homeschool Group Park Day. You can find up to 100 different famous American Speeches at American Rhetoric. This year we haven't decided on one yet but I was thinking of having my son and my daughter do the last part of the Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech together. And that still leave one more. I was thinking maybe learning the Preamble to the Constitution.
My son started FLL level 1 this year as well. I am hoping to follow the same pattern with my son so he can use all his sisters books. That is just one more way I can save money in our homeschool. If there is one thing I have learned through our homeschool journey and that is to stay flexible. I can change whatever needs to be changed to help my child grow best. I don't have be stuck with any particular curriculum.