Monday, November 12, 2012

Comprehensive Reading and Writing Program - A New TOS Review!!

Some of you may know that we have been struggling here in our house with learning how to read.  Audrie knows all of her alphabet phonetic sounds and which letters are which, but when you put them together it seems that all the information just goes somewhere else.  We have tried a variety of tricks, tips, and helps, but she's still been ... struggling.  This has been hard on her since her sister is such a BIG reader and a lot of her friends (who are also a bit younger then her) are also able to read.  Since the beginning of this year - in fall - she really started putting effort into her reading time.

The Product:
So when I had the opportunity to be on the review team for IEW's Primary Arts of Language (a/k/a PAL), I talked with Audrie and she begged me to get the review.  She really wanted to be able to read on her own. We were chosen and we have been SO blessed that it will be hard to explain it all in this one post, but I will try and give you an overview of the products as well as a glimpse into our progress so far.  I will start off by saying this program just works for her. ;)
You may already know who IEW is, but there acronym stands for the Institute for Excellence in Writing and they are a mainstay in the homeschooling community and know for their many resources for older students.  However, they also have designed a program - Primary Arts of Language or PAL - for K-2nd grade which covers reading, writing, and spelling. This program is broken into two parts -- Primary Arts of Reading ($69) and Primary Arts of Writing ($89) -- and I will be describing them for you below.  You can buy them individually or as a bundle. These programs were created to be done concurrently so that you can work on reading and beginning writing at the same time.  Before I tell you much more I do want to let you know that there is a lot of teacher work  - in the beginning - but it is ALL WORTH IT! IEW has provided great resources including an online webinar which can help answer many of your questions which are frequently asked as well as give you a verbal overview of the PAL program. Below is a video where Andrew Pudewa explains just what the PAL program is.  Take a few minutes to view it for yourself.

Primary Arts of Reading starts at the beginning with teaching the beginning phonetic sounds as well as whole words (or sight words) to help the child be able to start reading almost right away.  The program teaches from the perspective of Anna Ingham's Blended Sight-Sound System of Learning.  This system is multi-sensory and interactive program designed to teach reading, writing, speaking, and listening - the 4 PRIMARY ARTS of Reading.
The reading portion is based in poetry.  As you start the program your child will be introduced to letters through letter stories while discovering both vowel and consonant pairs which help learn how to read. Your child will play games during the 'Activity Time' which help to reinforce the concepts learned through the day's lesson.
The reading package includes ALL of the following:

If you purchased all these items separately it would be $98 but you can get them as a bundle for just $69 which is an incredible savings as well as a program that is designed so you will succeed as your student's teacher!
The writing package is just as impressive and extensive:

Again if you purchased these all separately you would be spending about $113 for the program, but you can get the writing program for just $89!

Our Experience:
Now that you know all the items you get let me tell you how to get started and how we have been doing with the program.  I decided, after watching the instructional videos on the DVD (which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you watch prior to reading and preparing ANYTHING else) that I would be using this program on a MUCH slower pace with Seanan also.  Since he's only 3 3/4 I don't want to overwhelm him, but he has become much more interested in doing his own school work and having his school time.  So first I watched the reading DVD where Jill Pike (who designed this program) explained exactly how to proceed.  Once you have an understanding and an overview of the program you will find it much easier to get started.

I will admit that when I received the box with ALL the stuff I was a little overwhelmed.  I did not know how I'd be able to put this all together.  I was also concerned that all the components might be frustrating to Audrie, but I was wrong on both parts.  Once I had looked through the teacher manuals along with watching both of the Instruction Videos on the DVD's I felt confident that this would be a program Audrie would totally enjoy.  Having many things to do and going from one item to another item is right up her ally.  She loves being busy and all the components of this program helps her stay focused by moving from one activity or part to the next.

The reading and writing works together.  We started our day with the letter stories.  Something that is different from many other programs is that instead of learning just one letter at a time, this program introduces several letters through mini letter stories each day.  Audrie was able to do each lesson at a faster pace since she had prior knowledge.  Seanan on the other hand has been working at a much slower pace, but I have seen great results where he has been putting together the pieces that we've learned together with what he sees in real life.

Here's what one of our beginning lesson days looked like.  We would read the poem of the day.  The first poem we used over several lessons and each day we would add something that we had learned in the previous day's lesson and apply it to the poem.  The poem was printed out and hung on our cork board.  The first day we learned the blend ow says /o/  like at the end of words like yellow. Son on the second day in the poem your student has to recognize and point out the ow's they find.  This specific lesson was a great one for Seanan.  He put together the concept and was able to point out other ow words that he found and was able to sound out the word.  In the pictures below you can see he found the word snow.  What he told me was "Look Mommy! I found the ow that says /o/! This is an s, like in my name!" I then helped him sound out the first two letters and put it together with the ending sound and he said "SNOW! That says SNOW!!"

Back to our day through the lesson.  After you go over the poem then you will do your class journal time, your printing lesson, and the story time.  The journal is just a few sentences (or less, depending on the age of your child and their ability) of what they have done that day or the day before.  Here is Audrie working on her journal. I wrote what she told me on her small white board and she's copying it into her notebook.

Then we will go over the letters of the day, review letters we have already learned, and then have a short story time.  During story time I read a small short story like an Aesop's fable or something similar and at the end we will discuss the characters, settings, the climax/problem, and the solution.  This is great because it builds reading comprehension.  Once that has been complete Audrie has worksheets where she practices writing the letters we have learned on paper in small boxes. You can see that in the pictures below.  There are also some of her practicing the letters we had discussed in the writing lesson.

Once that is complete we go on to the games.  Along the way you will be making File Folder Games which correspond with lessons.  As you continue through the program you will add more of these to the student's box.  We use a milk crate of sorts to hold all of the games.  They are numbered so you can just pick out the ones you will be using or have your student get them.  These games reinforce concepts that they have learned.  For instance one game is called Color Palette.  The game pieces are cards that have words of colors that they are learning. As the student learns a new color they get to color that on one of the circle's of the palette.  They then can match the color word to the colored circle.

I don't have a picture of this so I hope my word description helps.  I chose to create a few of the games at a time.  You will need a few items to be able to make these games, but they will be used again and again. Because I have a 3-4 year old who also will be playing the games I am laminating my game pieces.  You will also need manilla file folders, cardstock, crayons or colored pencils (so that the students can color the game boards and pieces), and 3x5 index cards.  The list of materials is provided for you, but I wanted to give you a heads up.  Most of these items I had on hand.

One of the favorite parts of this program has to be the Phonetic Farm.  This is a review of the day.  You get to put stickers on a fold out farm that goes over the concepts learned.  So the ow sound that says /o/ was a cow sticker that got placed on the farm by other cows.  Here's a picture of the Phonetic Farm Sticker Folder.  If you are doing this program with multiple children, then you will want to have one of these for each child.
There is also an Agenda or Work Period time included where the child works on an assignment that you give them whether it be a student worksheet, a game, and 'testing'.

My Thoughts:
All in all I have been very impressed with this program.  I have heard a lot of IEW over the years of our own homeschooling, but hadn't done much research into them since Arianna learned how to read so easily.  I knew from early on that Audrie would have to have things done much differently for her to grasp or catch on.  Thankfully, I think the PAL system is working for her.  She is now able to read many small books on her own.  She is so excited and proud of herself, as I am of her.  One of the first days that she was able to read a book she could not wait until her daddy came home so she could read him a book.  And that is exactly what she did.  Here's a picture of her reading one of her worksheets.
If you have a struggling reader or just getting started, please take the time to read through the other Crew members who have implemented the PAL system.  This may be your answer, as it seems it was ours.  All you have to do is just click the banner below and you can check them out.


*** I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2011-2012 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of money for any of my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I receive.***

1 comment:

Kasha said...

Thank you for your review. I have been looking at this program all summer for my struggling reader. He is 7 now. He has not picked up reading the way his 3 older sibling's have! Nothing I have tried has truly worked for him. Thank you for laying it out so well. I understand the product better now! Happy new school year!

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