With a highly immersive storyline and comprehensive, open and go curriculum, Grammar Galaxy can be an intriguing and highly engaging literature-based alternative to traditional language arts textbooks.
For the right student, we think its unconventional approach can keep them interested and learning, honing their language arts skills as they save the galaxy and the English language.
What We Like
But watch out for…
What is Grammar Galaxy
Created by psychologist and homeschool mom of six Dr. Melanie Wilson, Grammar Galaxy is, despite its name, a complete homeschool language arts program.
Made up of six levels, Grammar Galaxy teaches students vocabulary, spelling, grammar rules and more through a rather novel literature-based curriculum that weaves its learning into a sci-fi/fantasy storyline.
Students learn while reading a gripping story and test their skills in specific “missions” they must complete to help save the day.
Although we would generally suggest that it is most appropriate for grades 1 to 7, Grammar Galaxy does not actually attach any real age or grade levels to its courses, instead focusing on skills and knowledge development.
Grammar Galaxy is made up of six courses, which are roughly named after a star’s life-cycle:
- Nebula (1st / 2nd grade)
- Protostar (3rd grade)
- Yellow star (4th grade)
- Red Star (5th grade)
- Blue Star (6th grade)
- Nova (7th grade)
Because the series is not written directly for a particular age or grade range, it can be quite useful for homeschool families. It can give them more flexibility to move at their own pace and take into account their student’s actual understanding and skill development, rather than relying on assumed grade standards.
Further, due to this course structure, Grammar Galaxy can be quite helpful for homeschoolers interested in differentiated learning.
With no obvious indication of age or grade level, more precocious students can feel free to move ahead without feeling intimidated or awkward about doing so.
Similarly, students who are a bit more behind can focus on remediating specific language arts skills without feeling ashamed or embarrassed by learning from a “younger” book.
One downside to this type of course structure is that it can be a little harder for parents to figure out where to start, particularly if they have limited experience homeschooling their child or are shifting into the program from a more traditionally-structured curriculum.
As a way of helping out, Grammar Galaxy provides a lot of resources to help parents find the level appropriate for their child, which is something we really like.
While most competitors tend to offer one or two ways of helping parents determine course fit (if at all), Grammar Galaxy actually offers three.
As one option, the company provides access to the scope and sequence for all its courses, letting parents figure out exactly which skills and concepts are taught in each book (along with a rough idea of grade correspondence) so they can best match their student’s current abilities.
For parents moving into the program from a different curriculum or for those who are new to homeschooling, the company also offers a multiple choice placement quiz for students that can offer a suggested starting point.
Finally, the company also offers parents the ability to download and actually try a lesson for each of its courses, which lets parents both see how the course can fit their child’s way of learning and if it fits their particular homeschool style.
Grammar Galaxy Stories: Setting the Scene for Learning
Unlike most traditional language arts programs, most of which use textbooks and a variety of different exercises, Grammar Galaxy’s learning is based around a variety of short stories with a common cast of characters that takes place in a sort of sci-fi/fantasy universe.
Each course contains a number of different short stories, but they commonly revolve around the adventures of three kids – Kirk, Ellen and Luke – who are appointed by their parents, the benevolent monarchs of planet English, as galactic Grammar Guardians.
The bad guy in the series is a Gremlin whose tinkering with the English language has disastrous, but often quite humorous, consequences for the wider galaxy.
In one story, for example, his antics cause people to start speaking in confusing double negatives, while in another metaphors come to life, threatening to wreak havoc with the wider galaxy.
Tasked with putting an end to Gremlin’s linguistic shenanigans, Kirk, Ellen and Luke embark on their task to set things right, enlisting the help of the student as their newest Grammar Guardian recruit.
What does it teach – is Grammar Galaxy enough?
Despite its name, Grammar Galaxy teaches a lot more than just the mechanics of language.
In addition to grammar, it covers:
- Vocabulary development
- Reading practice
- Literary structure & techniques
- Public speaking
All this makes Grammar Galaxy a pretty comprehensive and complete language arts curriculum for elementary to early middle school students.
One thing to note, however, is that the program does not teach as much handwriting and phonics. They have added some, particularly at the earlier levels, but there isn’t as much overall as some other programs out there.
As a result, it may not be a complete solution for emergent and delayed readers and writers, who may need to supplement it with focused development in these areas.
Grammar Galaxy Teaching Style
Literature-based Approach to Language Arts
Rather than use a standard passage-and-exercise system, Grammar Galaxy uses a literature-based method to teach language arts.
As we’ll discuss in more detail later on, it teaches various concepts through immersive storylines.
In Grammar Galaxy, language arts textbooks are replaced by short stories, and workbooks are replaced by themed and immersive Mission Manuals.
This means that Grammar Galaxy can slide naturally into Charlotte Mason and other literature based homeschool approaches, as well as being an interesting option for parents whose students resist or struggle to engage with traditional language arts programs.
Overall, this story-based system can be a very engaging approach.
Students can become so engrossed in the storyline and their role as Grammar Guardians that they don’t feel like they’re learning, which can take a lot of the pressure and stress out of the coursework.
Similarly, rather than splitting up and teaching spelling, grammar and literary devices from reading, as some other curricula do, Grammar Galaxy integrates the different language arts areas it teaches as part of a story.
This blends the learning together and shows how language arts come together in a more natural way for the student.
That said, there are some things that parents will have to consider with a literature-based approach to learning.
For one thing, kids do have to get into the story and enjoy it.
If they don’t like Grammar Galaxy’s story and writing style they may get frustrated by the extra step involved in reading the story and may want to simply get on with practice.
Similarly this approach can be more time consuming for students and parents than a traditional program.
Rather than be presented with a short passage, an explanation and questions to answer, students have to read a short story, open their mission book, be briefed on what they have to do and then complete their work.
Finally, the integrated approach that Grammar Galaxy takes may not be the most optimal approach for parents who are only looking to work on a specific area of language arts, such as spelling or reading comprehension.
To do so they’ll have to go through the books and tease lessons and mission apart, which can be time-consuming.
Teaching for Mastery
Interestingly, Grammar Galaxy is a mastery method of learning language arts.
This means that the program dives deeply into each concept in language arts that it teaches, teaching it for as long as it takes until a level of proficiency is reached by the student, at which point the program moves on to the next concept.
Unlike spiral methods of teaching, as it moves from year to year Grammar Galaxy does not reteach or review previously learned material but rather builds on previous learning and explores different or more complex topics in language and literature.
The mastery approach can have significant benefits and drawbacks that parents should be aware of.
By teaching for mastery, Grammar Galaxy can be a lot more efficient than some other programs, covering topics in fair depth with a minimum of review and rehashing of information.
This in turn can allow parents to cover the material at a quicker pace.
Similarly, Grammar Galaxy’s method of teaching can be a lot less boring to kids, particularly those with an aptitude for language arts, as it doesn’t require them to constantly go over concepts and information that they already know.
Finally, the mastery method allows students to more deeply dive into fewer topics at time.
Students can take their time to really explore and develop their skills, understanding and proficiency in language arts concepts, rather than feeling like they are jumping from topic to topic all the time.
On the downside, however, it’s important to note that some students do require more consistent and periodic review and may benefit from more frequent revisiting of certain topics.
Similarly, because the mastery method tends to explore a concept and then move on, over time kids can slowly forget some of the nuances of previously-learned grammar or spelling, leading to the development of skill and knowledge gaps.
Since the concepts in Grammar Galaxy build on themselves, these skill and knowledge gaps (if undetected and uncorrected) can widen and cause problems down the line.
Grammar Galaxy lessons: a 2-step approach
Step 1: Learning with the Storybook
Lessons in Grammar Galaxy begin by reading a story from the course’s storybook.
The storybook is laid out much like a novel, comprising a variety of chapters that are helpfully split up across thematic units, which is a little bit more useful when it comes to lesson planning.
The various courses tend to have a similar unit structure, touching on:
- Reading and literary concepts
- Spelling & Vocabulary
- Composition and speaking
Generally speaking, these stories are only a few pages long (5-6 pages) and weave various concepts and skills into the narrative.
That is, as the student reads, they are introduced to topics in vocabulary, spelling, public speaking and so on.
Important information is helpfully bolded, which makes it easy for both parents and students to make note of key ideas when reading.
Aside from the information introduced in the text, there are occasional illustrations and text boxes that offer definitions of words and more in-depth explorations of concepts.
Each story ends with a short review component, with various questions designed to test vocabulary and comprehension and spark discussion and deeper thought.
Overall, Grammar Galaxy’s stories are pretty fun to read.
To be certain, they’re not the most gripping example of popular literature for kids out there, but they are approachable and well-written and do use a lot of humor to keep kids engaged and interested in continuing.
At just a few pages between chapters, they’re also short enough to keep kids’ attention from wandering.
Perhaps most importantly, they do a good job at presenting important language arts concepts to kids.
Despite the unconventional nature of the curriculum, the stories cover everything a parent might expect from a good quality ELA curriculum.
As they go along, and depending on the course level, students are given the opportunity to refine their vocabulary, learn various literary techniques and styles, develop more sophisticated grammar mechanics and so on.
Step 2: Practicing (and saving the galaxy) with Mission Books
After completing a chapter, students (would-be Grammar Guardians) are given an important “mission” to complete in their Mission Manual.
These missions are linked to the main story in some way and, in effect, are cleverly disguised practice exercises.
Each practice exercise, or “mission,” begins with a letter from the main story characters that provides a little thematic background and introduces the tasks that the student has to complete to set the galaxy right again.
Each mission is broken into three steps, which sequentially carry the student through the overall practice session.
By breaking the overall practice session into shorter bits, the mission books limit the demand placed on student attention spans and allow practice to be spread out over a longer time and fit different homeschool schedules more easily.
In terms of practice, while the courses aimed at younger students (Nebula, Protostar) do use a good deal of pictures and similar activities, students will be exposed to a diverse selection of activities and exercises that test what they have learned.
Depending on the course and unit, students may identify and circle pronouns, similes and metaphors, analyze sentence structure, work with vocabulary lists and perform various vocabulary development exercises, identify and detail literary concepts and devices, create outlines and write essays about certain subjects, and so on.
There are even specific, advanced challenges that can be assigned to students if they find the main work a little too easy.
Finally, at the end of each unit there is a comprehensive review component to help students demonstrate and solidify the knowledge they’ve learned so far.
Overall, despite its story-based façade, Grammar Galaxy’s Missions aren’t too far off from the type of revision and practice that parents may expect from a high quality language arts curriculum.
There are a lot of different types of activities that students will go through, from multiple choice to oral discussions, which should prevent them from getting too bored as they go through their lessons.
The exercises are also quite comprehensive, diving into a wide variety of concepts in language arts across its various areas and doing a good job overall of testing for skill and understanding of concepts as students go while providing a thorough summary review at the end of each unit.
Finally, by disguising practice as missions, Grammar Galaxy both keeps kids immersed in the story and can prevent them from feeling too stressed out by formal assessment, something we think is kind of cool.
What it’s like teaching with Grammar Galaxy
Overall, despite having a couple components to it, Grammar Galaxy is quite easy and straightforward to teach with, as far as language arts curricula go.
As mentioned earlier, the books are handily divided up into area-specific units, making it quite easy to plan specific language arts lessons in vocabulary, spelling, composition and so on.
Similarly, individual lessons are designed to be able to flexibly fit into different types of homeschool schedules.
Those who want to break language arts across a five day schedule can do so, for example, by reading a chapter one day and then completing a mission’s various steps and review across the remainder of the week.
Alternately, because the chapters are so short (only 3-5 pages or so) and the missions clearly laid out, more advanced students or those with a more condensed homeschool schedule can power through a complete lesson in a single day.
In terms of teaching, we feel the program provides enough guidance and instruction to carry both student and parent through each lesson without much of a hassle.
Chapters are sequential and the mission briefs that accompany them outline the exercise requirements clearly and in detail, letting both parent and student know exactly what they need to do next.
At the younger levels (Nebula and Protostar, notably), parents will likely have to work more closely with the student, helping them read and understand the story and pointing out the various key elements and information around the page.
Similarly, the questions at the end of each chapter aren’t merely technical review, they are often designed to spark a discussion and encourage critical thinking and deeper analysis on the part of the student, something for which they’ll often need some encouragement (or at least someone to bounce ideas off of).
That said, the way in which the courses are designed means that as students develop stronger reading and writing skills they can use the curriculum more independently.
Once students can comfortably read and understand chapters on their own, they will also be able to read the detailed mission guidelines and instructions and therefore will be able to more or less carry themselves through lessons, with the parent being able to increasingly step back and mainly deal with oversight, editing and correction.
Compared to a traditional language arts program, teaching with Grammar Galaxy can make things a lot more fun and engaging for the student, with lessons being much like a serial fantasy novel rather than formal instruction.
That said, as we’ve mentioned earlier, lessons can take more time than with a traditional curriculum.
While there isn’t as much repetition and review, students and parents will have to read and understand a few pages of text before getting to the main work.
Although the company states that chapters should only take about 10 minutes to go through, we feel that it can vary quite a bit depending on the students reading and comprehension ability and the complexity of the topics involved.
While a more talented student may make short work of these stories, we don’t think it would be unusual for some students to take 15-20 minutes or more to read through and understand the material they’re presented with.
And that is before getting to the Mission Manual and its multi-step exercises.
Grammar Galaxy Courses & Curriculum
As we mentioned earlier, Grammar Galaxy consists of six courses, each named to roughly correspond to a point in the life cycle of a star, a sort of clever analogy for child development.
- Yellow Star
- Red star
- Blue Star
Starting with the essentials of language arts in the first book, Nebula, the books progress in topic complexity until they reach the early middle school level of Nova.
A breakdown of scope and sequence for each course is available on the company website.
However, we’ve very briefly outlined what students can learn in each book below.
Nebula (approx. Grade 1, 2)
The first book in the series, Nebula introduces students to foundational concepts in language arts, such as the importance of reading, rhyming, fiction vs. nonfiction, prefixes, suffixes, some phonics, compound words, nouns, adjectives, adverbs and more.
As such, it is the natural starting point for young students starting out in language arts and older students who need remediation in the basics.
In terms of teaching, owing to the student’s still-developing skills, there is the least amount of writing required in Nebula while the level of parental involvement is at its highest.
Protostar (Approx. Grade 3)
Continuing where Nebula left off, Protostar builds on its fundamentals by adding slightly more complex grammar (Possessive Nouns & Pronouns, verb tenses and more) and beginning the rudiments of analysis in literature and composition, with students starting to analyze sentence fragments, do copywork, and even write their first book reports.
Yellow Star (Grade 4)
Yellow Star starts making the world of reading and language a bit more interesting, examining world literature and graphic novels, writing ad copy, understanding how to write for an audience and more.
Similarly, the mechanics of language become progressively more complex and nuanced, with students learning about similes and metaphors, pronoun-antecedent agreement, foreign words, and students begin to test their newfound spelling skills with dictation exercises.
Red star (Approx. 5th Grade)
In Red Star, students begin to analyze texts with a little more sophistication and critical thought, learning about themes, symbolism, hyperbole, and how an author’s life can influence their work.
As grammar increases in complexity, students begin to develop the skills needed to create their own works and lay the foundation for their first academic work- learning how to outline their ideas, choose a topic, cite references, how to create titles, gripping sentence starters, and more.
Blue Star (Approx. 6th Grade)
Building on the skills developed in Red Star, in Blue Star students begin their first literature unit studies, exploring poems, short stories, urban legends, as well as more literary devices such as tone, mood and allusion.
In terms of grammar, students now begin to diagram sentences and analyze more complex sentences and paragraphs, while in terms of writing they begin to write their first essays, starting with compare and contrast and profile essay formats.
Nova (Approx. 7th Grade)
Taking students into middle school English and language arts, Nova is the final course in Grammar Galaxy.
Students begin to explore various literary genres, analyze story and character arcs, and develop an appreciation for more complex literary devices and styles. In terms of writing, students continue to work on the essay format, explore more informal writing and start to learn to proof and edit their work.
Pros and Cons of Grammar Galaxy
While Grammar Galaxy is certainly an interesting option as an ELA curriculum, as with anything else it isn’t perfect and has its advantages and disadvantages.
Comprehensive and complete Language Arts program
Despite being called Grammar Galaxy, the program’s courses cover everything from vocabulary, grammar and spelling to composition, literary structure and even public speaking.
Although it doesn’t have much of a handwriting component and isn’t really a complete phonics program, overall Grammar Galaxy is a pretty comprehensive and complete language arts curriculum for grades 1-7.
Immersive and engaging story-based teaching method
Rather than teaching with a standard workbook and select passages, Grammar Galaxy integrates language arts concepts and skills in a series of immersive, sci-fi/fantasy stories.
As they read through the stories, students are personally brought into this universe and, as Grammar Guardian recruits, are tasked with various story-connected missions/language arts exercises.
As a result, Grammar Galaxy can be a more immersive and engaging language arts curriculum than other, traditional programs.
Skill-based, rather than age or grade based
Unlike some other language arts curricula, Grammar Galaxy doesn’t differentiate its courses based on age or grade, but rather by the complexity of their topics and the skills they impart.
Consequently, it can be more easily used for differentiated learning and can limit some of the more negative feelings that students ahead or behind in language arts may have when using books above or below grade level.
Easy to use, open and go curriculum
Grammar Galaxy is fairly straightforward to teach with, providing an orderly progression path and highly detailed guidelines.
There is little that can cause confusion and the curriculum requires very little in terms of prep-time.
Essentially, the program only really requires parents and students to read and follow the units and chapters and then carefully read and follow the directions in the Mission Manual.
Lots of options to help parents find student’s skill level
Being skill-based, rather than age- or grade-based, it can be tricky for parents to know where to start with Grammar Galaxy.
Recognizing this, the company offers more options than most to help parents figure out if it is right for them and where to start.
In addition to a placement test, parents can freely and easily check out each course’s scope and sequence and even download and test out a sample lesson from any level.
Well structured and flexible enough for different homeschool schedules
Grammar Galaxy is well-divided and organized into themed units and chapters and uses multi-step exercises, making it quite easy to divide up and include as part of a custom lesson plan and schedule.
Lessons can be divided up over typical five day schedule or, if the student can handle it, in a single weekday.
Concepts build on themselves with little repetition
As a mastery approach to language arts, Grammar Galaxy dives deeper into each individual language arts topic and then moves on once proficiency is reached, usually not repeating or reteaching topics in detail again in the future.
As a result, students that require more frequent review and repetition to properly remember or understand certain things can find themselves developing skill and knowledge gaps that can come back to haunt them later.
Lessons can take longer, be more involved than a traditional curriculum
Traditional textbook and exercise language arts curricula may not be very interesting to students, but lessons can often be quite quick and fairly to the point.
Grammar Galaxy, on the other hand, requires students and parents to read, understand and then review a text before reading and understanding a mission brief, and only then beginning the multi-step exercise.
Although it largely depends on student skill and the complexity of the topic at hand, Grammar Galaxy lessons can take longer to complete than some other, more traditional programs, which can be something of an issue for very busy homeschools.
Students may not engage with or enjoy the stories
While the story-based learning of Grammar Galaxy can be far more engaging than a traditional curriculum, this engagement is predicated on the idea that students actually enjoy the story they’re reading.
While it is well-written and funny at times, not every student has the same taste and some may not enjoy the adventures of the Grammar Guardians.
As such, they may become frustrated and see reading each chapter as something of an obstacle to get through in order to complete their work for the day. This can have a direct, negative effect on how much effort they ultimately put into learning.
Consequently, we highly recommend parents who are uncertain about their student’s taste in literature try a lesson first before committing.
Who is Grammar Galaxy Best For?
Charlotte Mason homeschoolers and other fans of literature-based homeschooling
As a complete language arts curriculum already integrated into an immersive storyline, Grammar Galaxy is a natural fit for homeschooling approaches that prefer to use high-interest books and works of literature rather than textbooks as a basis for learning.
Students who have trouble connecting to more traditional language arts programs
Students who have a hard time sitting and reading various passages, doing drills or memorizing vocabulary lists may find Grammar Galaxy’s humorous fantasy-based and personally immersive storyline more engaging and interesting than a traditional curriculum.
Students who like diving deep into their studies and explore topics to completion
Students who dislike moving from topic to topic and waiting to revisit ideas in the future may prefer Grammar Galaxy’s mastery approach to language arts.
In it, students explore a topic deeply and take their time until they reach a level of proficiency and understanding before moving on to the next one.
Homeschools looking to spice up their language arts learning without sacrificing quality
Grammar Galaxy certainly takes a different approach than most other language arts programs. Their learning-integrated books are filled with humor and engaging storylines that are a far cry from the standard pen-and-paper textbooks out there.
Yet, despite its entertaining nature, Grammar Galaxy is still quite comprehensive and thoroughly explores the different ideas and topics that would comprise a complete language arts curriculum, from vocabulary development and spelling exercises to outlining and essay writing.
Parents looking for a complete, but open and go, language arts curriculum
Grammar Galaxy is quite easy to use, as well.
A two-step process, lessons begin with a story that teaches the information. Parents and students are then given a highly-detailed and explanatory mission briefing to follow that outlines what exercise they need to do and how to do it.
As long as they follow the instructions, Grammar Galaxy does a very good job at carrying parents and students through each lesson and there is virtually no prep time required and little opportunity to get lost or confused.
Parents looking for a curriculum for differentiated learners
Grammar Galaxy is a skills-based program that does not indicate age or grade on any of its courses.
As such, there is very little to intimidate or embarrass students who are above or below grade level when finding their level.
Similarly, the company provides a free placement quiz to help parents better find the exact level that’s right for their student, based on various skill and knowledge-testing questions.
Who is Grammar Galaxy Not Ideal For?
Often containing more reading and analysis than more traditional homeschool language arts curricula, Grammar Galaxy lessons can take up more of a parent and student’s time, making it not an ideal solution for very busy homeschools.
Students who require a lot of review and revision to remember concepts
As a mastery program, once proficiency and understanding of a concept is reached Grammar Galaxy rarely reteaches the material.
Students who learn better with more frequent opportunities for review and revision, or who tend to forget concepts without a good deal of repetition over time, may be better served by a non-mastery or spiral curriculum.
Students with emergent (or below) reading skills
Although a complete language arts program for students in grades 1-7, Grammar Galaxy doesn’t dive as deeply into early phonics as some other programs do.
Without a supplement, therefore, its reading-heavy curriculum can be a bit tough for emergent or delayed readers who still struggle with reading basics.
Each course in Grammar Galaxy consists of two books: the storybook text and the Mission Manual. These books are offered in print and digital formats, with the digital formats usually offered at a slight discount.
Both books are required but can be purchased separately or together as a bundle.
For convenience, we recommend that they be purchased as a kit but there is no real price advantage to doing so.
In terms of specific courses, all Grammar Galaxy courses carry the same price.
|Print Copy||Digital Copy|
|Print Copy||Digital Copy|
Overall, Grammar Galaxy is fairly competitively priced and isn’t all that far off from other complete language arts programs such as Sonlight, Easy Grammar, or the Good and the Beautiful Language Arts.
That said, it is worthwhile to check the company website for any discounts or specials they may run.
Is Grammar Galaxy worth the price?
Overall, we think Grammar Galaxy is well worth the price.
As an integrated and immersive language arts program, it is quite different from other language arts programs out there.
The story books students learn from are comprehensive and thorough in scope, and we feel the stories are well-written and engaging for students, far more so than the traditional readers and workbooks that competitors offer.
And the learning is solid, too.
As they read and complete missions students learn vocabulary, work on their spelling and grammar, work on sentence structure and their understanding of literary styles, learn to outline and write compositions and more, making Grammar Galaxy a complete curriculum for most students despite its unusual approach.
As a curriculum, Grammar Galaxy is also very easy to use, even for novice homeschoolers.
Its lessons are open and go and offer a great deal of detail and explanations, requiring very little preparation or experience in teaching on the part of the parent.
Further, its lessons and exercises are highly flexible and divisible, able to be adapted to fit most lesson plans and schedules that parents may have.
On the downside, Grammar Galaxy doesn’t offer a complete and dedicated phonics section, its handwriting education is minimal, and its story-based and mastery approach may not be right for every student.
That said, the company does offer a variety of ways, from sample lessons to placement quizzes, to help parents easily find out if it is right for them.
Language arts isn’t always the easiest or most interesting subject for students…or parents.
With a highly immersive storyline and comprehensive, open and go curriculum, Grammar Galaxy can be an intriguing and highly engaging literature-based alternative to language arts textbooks.
For the right student, we think its unconventional approach can keep them interested and learning, honing their language arts skills as they save the galaxy and the English language.
About the Author
Anne Miller is the editor of The Smarter Learning Guide and is a passionate advocate for education and educational technology. A mom of two, she majored in English Language and Literature and worked as a substitute teacher and tutor for several years. When not writing she continues to root for the Yankees and the Giants.