A Foundation for Fun: a Logic of English review

This review is purely out of love (I love this program!) All the materials in this review were purchased, and I received no compensation for my opinions.

Logic of English Foundations review Logic of English Foundations Phonics

This year, I made a very scary decision. I changed our phonics program to something new. I can’t tell you how many times I re-evaluated that decision and wondered if I were making the right own. We’re only a few weeks in to our new year, but I’d have to say—all my fears have been relieved!

Not only am I impressed with what Middlest is learning and the things I’m discovering about her in the process, but I am thoroughly convinced that the program must have been written with her in mind!

Logic of English Foundations teaches solid phonics and eliminates nearly all the exceptions and sight words. It teaches detailed awareness of sounds and how to make them. It teaches phonemic awareness and how to blend sounds. It teaches consonant blends and reading in a very logical, simple progression. But best of all, it does all of this in a way the child would never suspect because we’re having so much fun.

We explore sounds; we play guessing games (she “guesses” the word I’m sounding out to her, or I “guess” the word she’s sounding out to me) and scavenger hunt (she hunts for the word I’ve sounded out); we play phonogram hopscotch; we march, twirl, dance, shout, jump, and run.

Logic of English Foundations

And in the process, I’m uncovering problem areas before they become problems. For instance, in one lesson (the work page pictured above), Middlest was to stamp the picture that had the initial sound I said. When I said “ch,” she kept thinking the answer was the tree because she says “chree” instead of “tree.” And I’d never noticed before. We were able to correct the sound before it caused her trouble in her reading.

Last year, consonant blends were nearly our undoing, but this year she is learning to blend orally before she ever sees it on paper. It’s a brilliant strategy that keeps learning to read a lot of fun rather than intimidating. Last year, she dreaded phonics time and pouted nearly everyday; this year she asks to do it first. Best of all, she’s sounding out and reading simple words all on her own throughout the day, before we’ve even introduced a single reading book. I’m ecstatic about the difference!

Logic of English Foundations Cursive

Although Logic of English Foundations gives you the option for cursive or manuscript instruction, cursive is recommended; and I must say, this is another aspect of the program that I have been most impressed with.

Just the like the phonics, the writing instruction is simple, methodical, and logical. It engages both fine and gross motor skills, and it’s creative. This is Middlest’s favorite part. Games are a big part of this instruction as well, games that get my child out of her chair and moving. For my little wiggle-worm, this is ideal. We write in the air with our noses, elbows, feet, and fingers. She writes on my glass door and on my whiteboard. She writes on the line size that she is most comfortable with, and then we each draw funny faces over our favorite letter she’s written.

Logic of English

And honestly, there are days when I wouldn’t be able to tell her letters apart from mine; she’s learning it so well! As a matter of fact, I’ve retaught Oldest a few of the letters using the LOE program because he’s had so much trouble writing the letters with our original program. The LOE cursive makes so much sense and actually helps the children to be less confused about letter-formation. It’s a-mazing!

Logic of English Foundations comes in 6 different levels (A-F) with about 40 lessons each, equivalent of K4-2nd grade. These levels can be used one or more a year, depending on the level and maturity of the child. We opted for two levels this year. Though I probably could have jumped to Level B (a kindergarten equivalent), I really felt that Middlest would benefit from a quick review with the Logic of English approach. We are whizzing through Level A at about a lesson a day, and the lessons are taking roughly 20-30 minutes for both phonics and cursive instruction. We’ll slow down when we get to Level B and take a couple of days per lesson.

I couldn’t be more pleased with Foundations, and highly recommend it over any phonics program I’ve seen or used.

I received the Basic Phonograms cards as a part of an earlier review of the Essentials program. Otherwise, the only other materials I’ve purchased for Middlest are the teacher and student copies of Levels A and B and the Doodling Dragons app on iTunes for $4.99. Teacher copies are $38 each, and student workbooks are $18.

If you are looking for thorough phonics instruction that will totally engage your child, Logic of English Foundations is all that and more.

Core Tour: First Grade

It’s been awhile since I’ve gone over our core subjects (reading, math, etc.) and shared what we are doing and how that is going. So I thought, over the next few posts, I’d give you a tour beginning with Oldest who is in first grade this year.

A Beka has been my go-to for reading, math, spelling, and handwriting for him this year. And for those of you who were along for the ride through all of our math frustrations last year, this year has gone incredibly smoothly so far.

Phonics: Oldest is using Letters and Sounds 1 for his phonics workbook. He works one side of a page each day on his own, learns a new flashcard phonics sound each day, and reviews his other sounds. Together, we go over the lesson for that day from the curriculum, and I have been following the curriculum more closely this year than last year, though I still don’t follow it to the letter. It does let me know when (and how) to teach syllables, homonyms, and alphabetical order. We also take a test once a week over his phonics and spelling. He spends 10 min. on his worksheet and 15 min. max on his flashcards; together, we probably spend 30 min. on reading and language concepts.

For his reading, I have mix of things I do. First, I have him read any related Bible work that fits in with our Tapestry history lessons. He reads out of the Seek and Find Bible, which has been perfect for his level of reading and understanding. Then, I’ll have him read any books from our Tapestry reading list that are on his level. If there aren’t any, then he will either read a library book (we’ve loved the Billy and Blaze series of books, and I throw in a few science-themed books here, too), or he’ll read from his A Beka first grade reader.

Spelling: We’ve used the A Beka Spelling and Poetry 1 book for this. He has largely tackled these lists on his own this year, while I supervise to make sure he is learning his list with the exercises provided in the book. If I test him and he did not learn the words on his own (which has only happened once this year with the “ight” and “ite” words, a tough list for him), then I take an extra week on the list and go over it with him everyday. Not only does this free me up a little bit, but it’s teaching him some independence; he’s learning to learn without my help.

Handwriting: He spends a total of 10 min. a day on this and works from two resources. First, he’s learning cursive this year out of the K4 book (shh! don’t tell him it’s K4) that I purchased his K4 year and then scrapped because it was too difficult for his motor skills at the time. He does one side of a page each day and will finish the whole alphabet any day now! I’ve also had him do some copywork from the Primary Arts of Language program that I reviewed earlier this year.

Arithmetic: I have really found A Beka to be much more consistent and enjoyable this year compared to last year. Everyday the amount of work is the same, and it allows us to keep a regular pace that seems much more realistic than last year. Each day he does one side of a page on his own (about 10 min. of work) and one side of a page with me during our “together” time. Together, we go over his flashcards, review and cover new concepts following the daily curriculum, take a speed drill (a timed math quiz), and complete his math work page. Depending on the day, this will take us 30 min. to 45 min. He also does Reflex, which I am still extremely impressed with. Not only does he still love this program, but I think it is also a key reason why math has not been the nightmare it was last year. I highly recommend this.

How do I organize his work pages? I have pocket dividers in a 3-ring binder with the days of the week marked on the divider. At the beginning of the week, I pull his pages for every subject out of his workbooks and file them into these dividers. I also place new flashcards in these pockets. We call these his “pocket pages,” and he starts each day with 30 min. to complete all of his independent work pages (10 min. for phonics, 10 min. for math, and 10 min. for handwriting). Later in the day, he has an additional 30 min. to review flashcards for phonics and history and to go over his spelling list.

 

 

*I want to mention one more thing here. He is not on the same lesson in every subject, which I’m totally okay with. He whizzes through all things reading and phonics; it’s his strength. Because of that, we actually began first grade phonics in March/April of last year. He is on lesson 104 in phonics as I write this. Math took us awhile to finish up because I didn’t move on until I knew he understood the lesson. Thus, we finished kindergarten math in August of last year. So that means, that we are on lesson 83 in arithmetic. Because I have done the same thing with spelling, taking the time we need for him to actually learn the words, we are on list 17, not the list that the curriculum says we should be doing. For me, the curriculum is a guide not a tyrant. I use it to help me stay on track, but I don’t let it dictate where we must be.*

And that’s our first grade tour of the core subjects. If you ever have questions, please feel free to email me. There is a link under my bio in the right sidebar. I’d love to hear from you!

What do you love to use for teaching the core subjects?

Exploring Cursive

My son has suddenly shown an interest in cursive writing. I find him continually swirling and doodling on the backs of pages. He wants me to read what he’s “written,” and since I cannot, I’m thinking it’s about time to introduce him to the real thing.

We tackled cursive in K4, as A Beka recommends. Whether it was because he was a little young (not quite four) or just less coordinated, cursive was a great contributor to our first early failure that year. I finally gave up and taught him manuscript, assuming we’d get to cursive “one day.” In the back of my mind, I’ve been secretly hoping that “one day” would come soon enough that I could still use my K4 materials. Thankfully, I think that day has arrived.

I’ve anticipated adding cursive as one of our summer subjects on the days we don’t do art, but then I ran across this blog post that suggested laminating writing guides to teach handwriting. I did this to some extent with manuscript, but for some reason it slipped my mind as I was planning for this summer. I’m so glad for the reminder!

So, over the weekend I laminated my chart of cursive letters, got out a dry erase marker, and dropped it into one of our workbox pockets. And over the weekend, my son discovered his chart. He was so excited that he couldn’t even wait until Monday and begged to do his chart as a “quiet time” activity. Saturday afternoon, my son sat beside me on the couch while I—you guessed it—fed the baby, and he carefully traced each letter on his chart. Once he finished it, he erased his letters and took his chart to the front porch, sat beside Dad, and traced them all again.

The chart has stayed in his workbox pocket, and he has voluntarily pulled it out nearly every day. Such an improvement on our first attempt! I am really glad that I held off until cursive writing became this much fun.

And for those of you who don’t have unused K4 materials stashed on your shelves or maybe feel you need a little more practice, I found this awesome resource of cursive writing worksheets. Pair this with Donna Young’s cursive handwriting animations, and you’ve got a complete curriculum for free!

Silly Sentence Copywork

One of the things I have added to our schedule for the sake of variety is some silly sentence copywork.

  • My First Sentence Building is one fun activity we have included about once a week. The different sentence parts are color-coded, so it is simple for my four year old to match the color-coded word or phrase to the multi-colored bar, creating his own silly sentences. “The rat hops.” “His dog swims.” “A cat naps.” Then, my son writes his silly creations on the wipesheet, and I inspect his copywork after I finish working with his sister.
  • Another favorite are some silly sentence puzzles that my mom picked up for us. It basically works on the same concept as above, except that, instead of color-coded, the pieces are shaped to only fit together a certain way. “The pig ate peas in a hat.” “The fox made jam on a boat.” “The frog drove a tractor on a cake.” Then, my son writes his silliness on either a wipeboard or some tablet paper for me to inspect later.

He has worked very well on his own with this activity, though he has a very hard time doing it silently. After all, it’s just too funny to keep it all to himself.

Adjusting Abeka Kindergarten

For those of you following along, you know we’ve had some issues with Abeka Kindergarten. We are on lesson 119 in Phonics and lesson 95 in Numbers, and the pace has been murderous—even with minor adjustments. So I thought I’d update you all on what we’ve decided to do differently.

Handwriting

Handwriting has been a continual adjustment. My first adjustment was to shorten the assignments. For instance, on some days, the assigments would require two pages (one page front and back) from the handwriting book in addition to about five lines of copywork. I found the copywork alone to be more than sufficient handwriting practice on those days.

My next step was to shorten the assignments to just one side of a page. First, because my poor son would work furiously to get the handwriting done and run out of time to color the pictures—a real bummer for a kindergartener. And second, because I really felt that he was getting more than enough practice throughout the day in his other exercises.

Then, Abeka started assigning “seatwork.” In other words, a child was now expected to do his handwriting and much of his phonics worksheets all by himself. “Great!” I thought to myself, “that will allow me plenty of time to work with the little one.” But that was only great in theory. The “working on his own” just wasn’t happening, even after moving him to his own special handwriting seat in the next room. My solution? Supervise handwriting and give him easier activities for his independent work (i.e. the lacing cards he begs me to do, some cutting practice, number puzzles, etc.; I’ve got files full of options).

I’m going to make one more adjustment, I think, before I’ve got this subject where I want it. I like having the copywork; I think it is an important skill. I also like having the handwriting sheets because it gives him a chance to write some of the words and specials sounds he is learning in phonics. But I think I want to vary those essentials by adding some other fun handwriting activities. I’ve got a “My First Sentence Building” game that has a handwriting wipe sheet for the child to copy the sentence he has made with the game pieces. And I have another similar activity with “funny sentence” puzzles to piece together. Each is providing handwriting practice but varying it so that we don’t feel like we are plodding through with no time to get to “the fun stuff.”

Phonics

My son’s main problem here was that the pace just went much too fast for him to master one thing before he was learning another. So I’ve nearly scrapped the lesson plans entirely and am making use of the materials in my own way. And, at least for now, I’m not worrying about the graded sheets; I’m treating them just like regular work sheets.

Additionally, I’ve added a few fun activities to vary our review of the material as well. For instance, one thing I noticed was that, although my son could rattle off all of the special sounds flashcards, he was not identifying those sounds when he saw them in words elsewhere. I’ve been combatting that problem in a couple of different ways. First, he does spell the sounds when he says them on the card: “s-t says st in stop.” Next, we play spelling games on the chalk board and with our felt letters to reinforce his knowledge of what letters make his special sounds.

I’ll call out either a word or a special sound, and he has to write the word or select the letters that make up the sound. Within just a few days, I saw a drastic improvement here. He still has trouble with “th” and “sh” sounds, but most of his other sounds he is grasping much better.

Spelling "pray"
Spelling "my"

A third activity I have done here is to reverse his special sounds flashcards. On the back of his cards are lists of words that begin with the special sound that is shown on the front. I show him the list of words, and he has to tell me what sound is on the front. And, of course, I have super dramatic reactions when I “try to trick him,” and he gets it right anyway. The first day we did this, he was rolling in the floor with delighted laughter. It was very rewarding to see.

Math

This is still my work in progress. He is acing his graded sheets still and doing well with flashcards and charts, but again the pace is so furious that we have no time to incorporate “living math,” the fun practical lessons of measuring things or playing dice games, number puzzles, money activities, etc. My goal here, even though I have yet to fully implement it, is to slow the pace where we cover the different sets of flashcards and charts on different days of the week instead of all of them every day. Next, I want to have work sheets on some days, computer math games on other days, and living math lessons on still other days.

Math adjustments are probably most difficult for me because I lack confidence. I’m not great in math, and I’m always afraid that my adjustments will cause him to miss out on a major step in the process toward understanding math. However, I feel strongly enough about what is missing from his Abeka math work, especially after comparing it to other curriculums, that I’m willing to try this adjustment. Abeka is miles ahead of everyone else on number recognition, addition, and counting; but I believe it’s rather at the expense of some of these other lessons—at least, from a homeschool point of view; a classroom approach might be totally different.

Praise the Lord, it has only taken me a couple of weeks to identify the trouble spots and find the adjustments I want to make! Last year, it took me nearly six months. We are well on our way, and every day I’m a little more satisfied with what we’ve got going.

And my son, he probably never knew we weren’t happy. The kid is wild about learning.

The rest of the plans…

Well, we’ve covered my two subjects that took the most planning. Today, I’m sharing the rest of the year!

Bible

For Bible this year, I’m hoping to do a survey of sorts of the entire Bible. My goal is to give the kids an idea of its message as an entire book instead of a lot of individual stories. So, here’s how I’m trying to accomplish that with a four and a half year old kindergartner and a soon-to-be-three preschooler. One of the things I’ve picked up for Bible this year is 50 Great Bible Stories audio CD, which tells the story of the Bible in an audio book format. I’m wanting to foster a little more independence and the feel of their own quiet time with God.

Together, we’ll go through What the Bible is All About for Young Explorers. With this book, we’ll be learning the books of the Bible within each category: the books of the law, the books of history, the books of poetry, etc. I figured that broke down the task of memorizing the books of the Bible into bite-sized pieces. Also, What the Bible is All About provides great outlines, synopses of each book, and the purposes of each book within God’s greater message of the Bible. We’ll cover all of that, but probably focus on memorizing a short summary of what each book is about, or a key verse from the book. I’ll make adjustments as we go along.

Critical Thinking

This is a subject we don’t want to neglect, as part of their classical education. I have it positioned in our day right before math, and I have a few different ways I’m wanting to teach it.

We’ll start out the year in the Building Thinking Skills and add in Lollipop Logic as the year progresses. BTS starts very simple with grouping similar objects and tracing a path between objects without touching their sides. Lollipop Logic progresses to organizing a process into the right order (building a tower, picking apples from a tree) and finishing analogies. I have my son doing three pages a week from these books. On the other days, we are going to play with our teddy bears.

With the teddy bears, we’ll work on finishing patterns and get into a little bit of graphing this year. The little one will follow our routine, doing her teddy bears (working on grouping colors and sizes) on the days Brother is doing his pages. On her workbook days, she’ll have a few pages of her own from these fun books.

Phonics and Numbers

My son will be working through the A Beka Kindergarten books for this subject and reading through the A Beka little readers, as well. I’ll adjust the pace as needed, but so far he’s  done great. I’ve started in the books this summer and skipped about 60 lessons of review work. He never missed a beat. My son is the child that stays motivated by a challenge. If I have him doing the same thing for too long, he gets very bored. With that said, I’ll probably cut some of the handwriting assignments. On some days he is assigned two manuscript pages and copywork! That’s okay to keep a classroom of kids busy, but I’ve got better busy-work planned than handwriting. And handwriting is one of those skills you can incorporate into so many other areas of study. So, all that to say, I make adjustments; I don’t follow A Beka “by the book.”

For the little one, she’ll be doing Erica’s Letter of the Week curriculum. I had her doing some of the activities last year: the coloring pages, puzzles, and motor skill activities. This year, I’ll have her doing it all. She is so excited! She has really been upset with me for not filling her pockets this summer. I’m thinking she’ll be very ready to do “school” with me this fall. I’ll also have lots of her “toddler” activities interspersed to keep her busy.

And that does it for curriculum this year! Our schedule, in summary, will be about 15 minutes per activity, or about two hours a day.

See what other’s are planning at the “not back to school” blog hop, and thanks for stopping by.