Monday, November 12, 2012

IEW (PAL Reading and Writing) for grades K-2

We really enjoyed our experience with Institute for Excellence in Writing's teaching Writing with Structure and Style and Student Writing Intensive a couple of years ago with my oldest (you can read that review here).

What a joy to discover that IEW has an early elementary Reading and Writing program ~ Primary Arts of Language or PAL.
This is a fantastic program, and I hope that I am able to give you a reasonably adequate picture of what it is, and how it is working in our family. However, if you have about 12 minutes, Andrew Pudewa gives a much better introduction than I could to the entire program in this video:

The first component is the Reading Program~ It comes packaged (complete with all that you see pictured below), or individually, but I really recommend the package! The philosophy here is a blend of phonics and whole words used by Anna Ingham in  Blended Sound-Sight System of Learning.  The major items in this program are:
  • Primary Arts of Language: Reading Teacher’s Manual  The manual is well laid out, so that anyone can use it. The various pieces of each lesson are laid out for the teacher, so that nothing is forgotten. Each lesson includes a poem (That is repeated for many lessons, with a different emphasis each time) as well as a number of Phonetic games in each lesson and a new sticker or two to add to the Phonetic Farm sticker board.
  • Primary Arts of Language: Reading DVD-ROM  Contains an Instructional Video by Jill Pike, a number of MP3 Audios by Andrew Pudewa and Anna Ingham as well as the PAL Reading Student Book (which is a PDF e-book~ all of the pages required by the student can be printed from this disc) You can check out this video by Jill Pike to get a good feel for some of the specifics (When I was researching this prior to receiving the program via the TOS Review Crew my youngest wandered by, and watched for a minute or two. He turned to me and asked "Mommy, can we get this?" He was particularly interested in the Phonetic Farm, as well as the games.... ;D ):
  • Primary Arts of Language: Phonetic Games The games used throughout the lessons in  the teacher's guide are an integral part of the program. The Phonetic Games book includes all of the playing pieces, printed on cardstock and the "Game Boards" which are to be cut out (Sometimes) and pasted into manila folders. Because my son likes a bit of color I copied some of the game boards onto colored paper, keeping the game pieces plain. ***Just a quick note here... I glued envelopes onto the back of each folder to hold the game pieces, and in the MUGS game featured in the above video I just made sure to place the envelope right behind Mugs' mouth, so that when the bones are fed, they end up in the envelope~ no clean up required! :D 
  • Primary Arts of Language: Phonetic Farm folder with Stickers This is a favorite piece of the program, and because I have the tools... I laminated the "Stickers" and used clear velcro "dots" for each piece. That way we can "Review" the phenomes, and the stickers are "Reusable" which is a nice bonus (even if this is my last student~ nice to do things up for him sometimes like I did his older siblings).  You can't see the clear velcro on the white back of the farmer (er) sticker, but it's there (You can kind of see the little circle of velcro on the silhouette "Template" space where it goes, and some of the half-circles on the 'o' silo for future stickers).

One of the main "Beginning Tools" are the "Letter Stories." I am really impressed with the way the letter sounds are presented~ Letters which start with similar strokes are presented together, so the first three letters (and sounds) learned are 'a,' 'c,' and 'o.'  If you check out the video below you'll get a taste of the Letter Stories (that portion starts at about the 3 minute mark), and find out why 'c' is happy and 'a' is angry. :) 

Now that I've segued into the Writing Program...  let me quickly mention that the writing portion covers letter formation, copywork, spelling and composition.  The items pictured below include:
  • Primary Arts of Language: Writing Teacher’s Manual Again, everything is pretty much spelled out in the manual for those who need that~ it's fairly easy to pick up and go, once copies are made of the student pages... The lesson starts with writing in a journal (I tend to take dictation, since my guy is still working on letter formation), Printing (Yup... that "just mentioned" letter formation), Reading a story with comprehension (Starting to learn the concepts of character description, setting, plot, crisis, climax, and then moving into "What might have happened after?" and a "clincher" or moral to the story). Finally a Spelling Test can be given "at the whiteboard" covering the sounds learned thus far.
  • Primary Arts of Language: Writing DVD-ROM Includes another Instructional Video by Jill Pike (like the one seen above), more MP3 Audios by Andrew Pudewa and one by Adam Andrews(!),  Bonus MP3s  by Shirley George and Richelle Palmer, as well as the PDF Writing Student e-Books.
  • All About Spelling Basic Interactive Kit and  All About Spelling Level 1 (Teacher’s Manual and One Student Material Packet) By Marie Rippel (My littlest isn't at this point yet, but you can read my review of All About Spelling from 2009, when it was pretty much brand new).   
Before I go any further, there is one thing on which I must be absolutely clear~ there is a bit of prep work involved with this program. The Phonics games and the pieces are all included, but they must be assembled... this will take a little bit of time. All About Spelling is also fairly teacher-time intensive, but I feel it is extremely worthwhile.

That being said~ I'll tell you a little bit more about how this is working in our home.

Youngest LOVES doing the Journal. I am perhaps not the most consistent with it (I've never been able to keep a diary or journal of my own, so this is not terribly surprising), but we manage to fill it out 2-4 days a week. He gets a big kick out of "his book" and he has even been "sharing" it with the neighbor kids. It will be fun to see how it changes throughout the year (especially as he begins to write in it himself). He enjoys the games, and asks to "feed Mugs" on a semi-regular basis.

When learning to write his letters, we've been utilizing the "whiteboard" app on my iPad, which has been very useful, and fun (As well as kind of pretty!) You can see partial screen shots of 4 of his practice sessions here:

The letter stories have helped youngest to recall not only the sounds (He knows that the angry letter says "aaaaa" (with a short 'a' sound) because somebody pulled her hair, and that 'u' says "uh" because it wants UP!), but also some of the letter formation. Remembering that 'd' is a dog, and 'b' is a bouncing bomb or ball has made all the difference in which direction he writes them!

I think at the moment his least favorite thing is practicing some of the letters on his worksheets (he's a perfectionist, so I have to prod him to "move on, and just do the next one, don't worry about erasing." I think the iPad whiteboard is an excellent tool!) , and reading the poem is just starting to draw him in... it took awhile. Take that as encouragement not to "give up" if something doesn't seem to click right away, because it may just take some getting used to. Oh, and BTW, there isn't anything that he hates or is mulish about, these were just his least favorite. He asks when he can do his reading, so he definitely likes it, he just has an occasional frustration (like trying to get the top "leg" on 'k' to kick on a sharper angle than his wont).

Finally, the Student books include other "Activity pages" that are used to reinforce each day's lesson. If you have a cut and paste kid, there are often pages that require just that, so rejoice! If your child is glue-phobic... you could paste them in (yup... I've had one or more of each) for him/her.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Final thoughts~ 
I know that we have been working on reading readiness a fair amount over the past year (because my littlest showed interest), and I have seen him taking pieces of the things we've covered in PAL Reading and Writing, and use them in his daily life. I also know that we haven't even covered the tip of the iceberg in the PAL program, so this is rather exciting!  Please do be sure to click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say, especially if you have a 1st or 2nd grader, as there are reviewers whose children are older and further along than mine who will have more information to share on the more advanced portions of the program.

As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Review Crew Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

1 comment:

  1. i have been thinking about homeschooling my children and always look to your blog for info! thanks for this post!


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