Primary Arts of Language: Reading Program

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Is it possible to fall in love with a reading program? I think it was love at first sight for me when I saw the clever and colorful Phonetic Farm Folder, an important part of this new language arts program. Fortunately, there is much more to this program than just pretty packaging... a lot more!

Andrew Pudewa (Institute for Excellence in Writing) says there are four language arts listening (being read to), speaking (memorization and recitation), reading (phonics and practice), and writing (copywork). It doesnt take much pondering of this list to realize that typically only reading and writing get much attention. Listening and speaking supposedly just "come along." Mr. Pudewa and IEW think differently, and in Primary Arts of Language (PAL) they have provided us with a fully integrated language arts program that provides for the focused development of all four skills. PAL is based on Anna Inghams Blended Sound and Sight System. Mrs. Ingham (now an active centenarian) developed her method while teaching 40 students in a one-room school in rural Canada; blending solid phonics with elements of the sight method and producing fluent, oral readers. And shes been producing those readers for over 70 years (yes, I did say 70). [By the way, two audio lectures and one video presentation by Mrs. Ingham are included on the accompanying DVD-ROM and are a must-hear; must-see. What an amazing woman!]

The PAL Reading program can be used independently or combined with the PAL Writing program if the child is ready for handwriting. The Reading program has four components: Teachers Manual, DVD-ROM, Phonetic Games, and my beloved Phonetic Farm Folder. The Teacher Manual (165 pgs, spiral-bound) outlines the four stages of instruction (Foundations, Activities, Discovery, and The Library) providing 80 step-by-step lessons. The Foundations (19 lessons) is teacher intensive (it gets better after the first month). You are directing, modeling and helping the student practice. During this stage, both phonograms and sight words are presented, and stickers are added to the wonderful Phonetic Farm Folder. Daily work pages with reinforcing cut-and-paste activities and reading practice pages are also part of this stage. Poetry, however, is the centerpiece and starting point for each lesson. And may I just mention how absolutely delightful are these poetry selections, designed to be read repeatedly over several days and memorized. The Activities stage (next 38 lessons) is a time for reinforcement. Games introduced during Foundations are carefully selected, and time each day is spent playing them (think learning stations). Its during this time that a set of four readers (Phonetic Farm Readers) are introduced. Stage 3 is Discovery 2-4 weeks where the student, using sets of 10 cards daily, practices decoding words without pictures or context clues. The goal of this stage is to graduate to the Library (Stage 4), where students read their way through three levels of books. So, to summarize, the TM includes the overall philosophy, daily lesson plans, an impressive set of Appendices (scope & sequence, list of phonograms, letter stories, reader stories, alphabetical list of reader words, common homophones, Discovery word lists, individualized Library suggestions, poetry, and handouts from audio presentations), and, lastly, 30 light green cardstock sheets which will be made into the 30 sets of Discovery card packs.

While the general method for this reading program belongs to Mrs. Ingham, its user-friendly, well-organized features are the loving work of Jill Pike, homeschooling mother and author of other IEW programs. Lessons, which follow a pattern (poetry, writing, instruction, reinforcement, wrap-up), are easy to follow but not quite scripted. Mrs. Pike provides a detailed lesson "talk-through" which is part of the DVD-ROM. In these presentations she leads you through the use of each component and explains the significance of each aspect of the methodology. Additionally, she has liberally bestowed her wisdom in the form of teaching tips and explanations throughout the daily lessons. Capturing Mrs. Inghams success required more than "just" providing lessons, however. Some time is spent discussing the "intangibles" those things that communicate love, belief in success, and command of the situation.

As mentioned, the DVD-ROM provides Mrs. Pikes introduction to the program as well as PDF files for the two Student Books and the four Student Readers (stock up on paper and printer ink). Bonus features include video and audio presentations by Mr. Pudewa ("Nurturing Competent Communicators," "The Four Language Arts") and Mrs. Ingham ("Poetry as an Integrator," "Intro to the Blended Sound Sight Program"). The printed Student Book is a spiral-bound printed version of the PDF books found on the DVD-ROM to save you time and ink!

The Phonetic Games book (190 pgs, spiral-bound) rates very close to the Phonetic Farm Folder in my affections. The first part is game boards for 35 phonics reinforcing games. Each set of facing pages is designed to be cut out, cut apart, and glued (stock up on rubber cement) to manilla file folders (stock up on these, too). The rest of the book (cardstock pages) is the playing pieces for these games and yes, you will need to cut these out, too. Obviously, this program does require some teacher prep but trust me, this is an excellent balance between moms time and moms money. And, if done a little at a time as needed, it will not be oppressive.

I know youve been waiting for it... all the reasons why I love the Phonetic Farm Folder! Providing both reinforcement and review, it just doesnt get any better than this combination of engaging graphics and mnemonically themed stickers. The tri-fold, heavy cardstock folder provides the farm scene background to which colorful stickers are added as part of nearly every lesson. Each area of the farm is for similar sounds. "R" controlled phonograms are located in the barn. Beehives are for long-e sounds, while the Silo holds the long-o sounds (and thats just the beginning). One flap of the folder is the Phonetic Village where buildings such as the Jail, Silent Letter Library, and Foreign Caf provide more places to organize the spelling rules. The back of the folder is a complete listing of phonics rules and jingles.

The scope and sequence for this program is unusual. Consonants, vowels, and letter combinations are presented together from the beginning and the order of presentation is organized around the poetry that is being read and memorized. Phonics rules, spelling rules, and sight words are added concurrently but are constantly being reviewed and reinforced. By the time the student is ready for the first reader, hes also ready to read a rather amazing number of words. The goal of the program is fluent reading at an end-of-first-grade level, which means that by that time all the basic phonograms and suffixes will have been presented. The student will be ready for more advanced syllabication decoding.

Choose this program because you are enthralled with all aspects of language and you want to impart that excitement to your child. Or choose it because you love organization and user-friendliness. You wont be disappointed either way. ~ Janice

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Primary Arts of Language - Reading Package Item #: 022406
Grades: K-1
Rainbow Price: $69.00

Phonetic Farm Folder With Stickers Item #: 049280
Grades: K-1
Rainbow Price: $19.00

Primary Arts of Language Reading Student Item #: 065716
Grades: K-2
Rainbow Price: $39.00

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