J is newly 5 and has been working towards reading for a while now, though very slowly. We were given the chance to review Logic of English and were so happy to have the opportunity.
Logic of English Foundations, Level A, suggested for ages 4-7, is a phonemic awareness and writing program that begins at the beginning – sounds. While this makes total sense, I was not expecting it to start quite that basic. We probably could have started a bit further into the program but I figured – hey! It will only help to make sure we have covered the basics well. So, we started at the very beginning with sounds.
Logic Of English Foundations A Components
What you will need to teach Foundations A:
Level A Teacher’s Manual ($38.00)
Level A Student Workbook (cursive or manuscript – $18.00)
Doodling Dragons: An ABC Book of Sounds ($15.00)
These are optional but I think you will also want to have the following reusable resources:
Student Whiteboard ($9.00)
Basic Phonogram Flash Cards ($18.00)
Phonogram Game Cards ($10.00)
Rhythm of Handwriting Tactile Cards (in cursive or manuscript – $28.00)
Rhythm of Handwriting Quick Reference Chart (cursive or manuscript – $10.00)
So, how does a lesson work?
Each lesson in the teacher’s manual begins with a box that lists the objectives for Handwriting, Phonemic Awareness, Words, and Common Core Standards. The first three I love and the last one I completely ignore. It also includes a materials list of both the necessary materials and the optional materials for activities. Paying attention to this list of materials makes each lesson so much easier to prepare for and just zip right through, instead of having to scramble for something after you get started.
From there, the lessons take you through exactly what you need to know as the teacher and exactly what you should say, as well as the expected response from the student. Each lesson begins with Phonemic Awareness. After you complete the activities for that, you will have the new phonogram for the lesson, if there is one. Then you get the Handwriting section – this can be a challenging portion because the cursive and manuscript are right along side of each other and, more than once, I found myself reading out the cursive instead of the manuscript information. Next the lesson goes through Phonogram Practice. This section includes a hands-on activity for practicing the phonograms. Often there are challenge activities listed off to the side and it almost always includes a multi-sensory activity for the kiddos that need that. (These were lots of fun for J! I highly recommend making time to do these with as often as possible.) At this point in the lesson, you either come to the end or you’ll find the Words section. This section includes the spelling portion of the lesson. It is followed by the last section: Reading. This is where the child practices reading different words and completing activities to help their reading ability grow.
More Detail About the Program:
One of the first things the program does is bring the student awareness about how sounds are made. After having worked through this program, the student will be well versed in how sounds are formed in the mouth and vocal chords. The student becomes very aware of voiced and unvoiced sounds, how they are alike, how they are different, how they are formed. This has helped a lot – she often mixes up b and d but when I ask her to think about voiced/unvoiced, she gets it right away. Same with m and n.
The student also works a lot on segmenting words. The parent begins by segmenting words and asking the student to recognize the word. This recognition is shown through many varied activities – hands-on, movement, scavenger hunts, and more. We also switch it around and have the student segment and the parent blend. Segmenting, both ways, is one of J’s favorite parts.
Pretty quickly, the program introduces phenomes. This was kind of difficult for me as the teacher. I have a hard time looking at /a/ and thinking not the letter name but the three sounds. For J? Piece of cake. She is zipping through learning the sounds and knows them better than I do, for the most part. There are a couple that trip her up but we have been doing some extra practice activities with them and she is making improvements. Again, the program encourages hands-on and movement activities to help the children learn these quickly. J loves the various activities, especially when it means we are going to head outside with the chalk!
From the beginning, the program has the student working on handwriting and correct formation of various letters. They program has both manuscript and cursive available so you can order which ever style fits with what you want your student to start out with. We are using the manuscript cards because J already knows how to write most of the letters in manuscript and we are hoping this will help her formation. We are working on the neatness and fluidity of the writing.
The way the program teaches it, there are several different strokes and each letter is make up of one or more of these strokes. We received tactile cards, which feel like they have sandpaper on them, to help us teach the handwriting. The tactile cards work really nicely because it is large muscle movement to help get the original stroke and then you can move to a dry erase marker or pencil, which ever works best for your family. We always have gone from the tactile cards to the large line side of the white board. We work on the stroke or letter on the big lines for a while, picking out the best one each time, and then move to the smaller lines on the other side of the white board. After working with that, we then would move to a pencil and the work book. We would start at the bottom of the page because that is where the larger lines are and then we would move up to the smaller ones. (The program instructions say that the child can choose whichever sized line is most comfortable for her.) This progression really helped J pay attention to her formation. While I am not yet seeing a tremendous difference in her every day writing, I think it is mostly because she gets in such a hurry when she is writing.
In Lesson 21 (out of 40), the student begins spelling and reading words. They start out with CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant) and progress using the phonograms they have learned. This is where it gets really exciting for the child. They are reading! As the lessons move along, the words progress a bit in difficulty but always within the ability they have gained using the phonograms.
And the reusable resources?
Well, I am glad you asked! J absolutely adores the Doodling Dragons: An ABC Book of Sounds. We read it every lesson, whether it is included in the instructions or not. And, we read each page over. And over. Faster. And over. Slower. And… well, you get the picture. It is a great addition. It allows J to see the phonogram we are working on in context for visual and for sound. And, it makes her laugh.
The Basic Phonogram Flash Cards we use every single lesson. Whether it is for the new phonogram for that lesson or to review the previous phonograms, we use them. For viewing, for reading, for games, for hopscotch, for lots of things – they get used. They are sturdy cardstock and have held up well thus far.
The Rhythm of Handwriting Tactile Cards we also use every lesson. These are sturdy cardstock cards with the stroke or phonogram shown with a rough surface, like fine grit sandpaper. We use them for J to feel the strokes and practice the strokes before we move to the white board and on to paper. Sometimes it is to learn the new stroke or phonogram that is being written. Sometimes it is to review ones J has worked on already and is just a review. Other times, it is to work on a phonogram that J has already learned but is just not writing fluidly or is struggling with the combination of strokes.
The Student Whiteboard is another part that we use every single lesson. In practicing handwriting, this is a piece that has been very helpful. We practice on the white board after using the tactile cards and before moving to pencil and paper. This is a necessary step for J, as she is still learning to write the phonograms and working on the fluidity of connecting strokes.
We have not yet used the Phonogram Game Cards very much. They can be used in some of the lessons where the flash cards are used but not in every lesson, so they cannot replace the flash cards. The game cards are also designed to be a game to play that helps the students increase their recognition of phonograms and their fluency. Two sets of these are recommended so that the student becomes familiar with not only the style of handwriting they are learning but also the standard book print style that they see many places.
The Rhythm of Handwriting Quick Reference Chart is something that I have used some but is becoming more useful the further we get. It is a quick way to find exactly what set of strokes I need to remind J of as she is practicing writing her phonograms. Very helpful if you are anything like me and can’t seem to remember them.
What Do I Think?
Having worked with this program for a bit now, I think this is a very well done program. It is a good fit for any child age 4 or 5 who is beginning their reading and writing education. The handwriting is a challenge if your child already knows a bit of letter formation but it has been really good to have J slow down and really work at doing it correctly. If your child already knows the phonograms and corresponding sounds well, she is probably beyond this program. If she only knows some of them or doesn’t know them at all, though she can do a little bit of phonetic work, I would suggest this program. That is where J started and it was good to go back to the beginning. We have seen growth in her ability to recognize sounds and she can pick things out at random to notice and share with us.
While we are not yet all the way through Logic of English Foundations A, I am pleased with what we have seen and the progress we are seeing with J. We will be continuing with this all the way through Foundations A and then we will reevaluate to see if we want to keep going with Foundations B. I think she’ll be reading pretty well shortly. And then, we’ll have three independent readers. At Home.
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