Phonics, Reading, Writing, Numbers K4 Curriculum Lesson Plans
Specifically designed for parents and a homeschooling environment, Abeka Lesson Plans are user-friendly, detailed, daily lesson plans. They have “just-enough” introductory and overview information to set the stage for a solid learning environment. This overview information includes a synopsis of each lesson component (phonics, reading, handwriting, numbers, and seatwork). An overall scope and sequence as well as sample schedules round out the introduction. K4 Phonics provides systematic instruction covering short vowels and their sounds; consonants and their sounds, vowel/consonant blending, and one vowel words. Towards the end of the year, long vowels and some of the special sounds (blends) are introduced.
Daily lessons incorporate ABC-123, the Little Books, Animal Friends Books, and Writing with Phonics K4 as well as Letter Picture Flashcards and Charts and Games. Skills Development (visual perception, listening/thinking skills, motor coordination) lessons are also included regularly. Occasionally, these will reference additional printed materials but typically are games and activities.
From the very beginning lesson, there is a whole child approach. Time in the beginning lessons is spent on habits and routines before settling into the systematic content presentation that earmarks the later lessons. For each of the subject areas, there are preparation notes (what materials are needed) and procedure notes (review – instruction – application). These are brief and to the point. They reference the material being used and give suggestions for how to coordinate the instruction through the various components.
The primary focus of the daily lessons is the reading (phonics), writing, and arithmetic instruction. Each of these lessons start with a warm-up/review before covering the instructional material. Application (practice exercises) complete the lesson. Reading lessons are practice from the readers followed by comprehension questions. Many lessons (but not all) include seatwork from these basic instructional areas providing additional practice.
There are 170 lessons. Usually, each covers 1-2 pages of the Curriculum/Lesson Plans. The lessons are easy to follow and designed to be covered in a comfortable 40-45 minutes without the more involved Skills Development Activities. The biggest challenge will be to give yourself permission to be flexible. A normal tendency when faced with detailed lesson plans and a series of instructional points is to become so focused on checking things off that you lose sight of the educational opportunities to connect with your children in a meaningful way.
The reference sections and appendices are packed with helpful lists, collections, and resources. Included: phonics word lists, suggested writing comments, cursive formation guide, oral phonics evaluation information, blend ladders, and planning calendars.
Abeka has abbreviated your preparation time with a detailed lesson guide for each subject of K4. These 170 lesson plans are divided by subject, and they include daily prompts for which content to review and teach, visuals to display, and what to write on the chalkboard or paper. Used for teaching the fundamentals of phonics and numbers, this guide includes tips for teaching, phonics word lists and blend ladders, evaluation suggestions, and scheduling helps. Complete with lesson plans for phonics, reading, cursive handwriting, numbers, seatwork, and activity time, this curriculum helps you stay organized and prepared as you guide your child to the optimal learning experience.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might. Ecclesiastes 9:10 Abeka’s approach to handwriting/penmanship is unique in a few major ways. First, is their commitment to cursive handwriting from the earliest levels. A preference for cursive handwriting (an extension of the natural tendency of children to draw in loops) marks their K4 and K5 materials. Although they do offer a manuscript option in terms of books and curriculum plans, still it is cursive that is incorporated into their overall lesson plans. And, cursive is the only handwriting option after 1st grade.
Second, is their coverage of composition practice in the penmanship materials. Combining penmanship instruction/practice with composition practice might seem logical, but it is rarely found in curriculum. Abeka’s handwriting program is an exception. Although the earliest years of handwriting instruction/practice are correlated with letter/sound instruction, that begins to change toward the end of the 1st grade materials when paragraph composition is introduced. Paragraph writing and writing prompts are woven throughout the Grade 2 materials. Starting with Grade 3, composition and creative writing become a central focus, although the materials never lose sight of the need for penmanship practice.
Throughout the program, good writing position is emphasized. Coupled with this emphasis is a handy handwriting house icon that has colorful details for youngest students and morphs into an outline form for more experienced writers (i.e. 1st and 2nd grades). The writing house is a set of lines. The upper line is the ceiling of the upstairs; dotted line is the ceiling of downstairs; the pink line is the floor of the downstairs; while the basement line is the floor of the basement. These house locations are referenced in letter formation instruction and used in formal and informal evaluation of handwriting specimens.
For instance, here is one example from the K4 level: “Little s lives in the downstairs. He looks like a little worm. . . . . . Capital S lives in the upstairs and downstairs. He looks like a big snake.”
Handwriting/penmanship workbooks (instruction) and practice tablets (additional practice) are included in the Language Arts Student kits. The Curriculum Lesson Plans included with the Parent Kit provide handwriting instruction using the cursive materials integrated with other language arts subjects. All kit components can be purchased as individual products and the handwriting program can be done separately from either the Phonics or Language Arts instruction. Separate manuscript lesson plans are available. Although the lesson plans are helpful (and necessary if you want the correlation with other language arts subjects), you could probably use the handwriting books by themselves as the workbooks each include proper hand and body posture as well as letter formation guides.
Many of the student handwriting components for the early grades come in either a bound or an unbound version. This means you will want to think through how you plan to use the book. For lots of reasons, it is best for young students to work on a single page rather than in a workbook. With the bound version, you can remove one perforated page at a time. The unbound version eliminates that job, but means you need some method of keeping the pages organized (I would use a 1/2” file jacket).
Overall, Abeka® Handwriting is an excellent program with plenty of practice, an emphasis on proper position, and the incorporation of composition. Ongoing evaluation is another emphasis with tests surfacing at the first-grade level. Colorful materials engage the youngest students and edifying copywork choices are another plus. ~ Janice
The Abeka® distinctives start very early and flow through all levels, such as a cursive-first handwriting approach (starts in K and reviewed up to 6), thorough grammar (with diagramming), foundation-based composition skills (begins in 1st grade) and listening/speaking skills (including reading aloud and poetry memorization). All with Christian, patriotic-focused content in a spiral format with detailed teacher instruction. In 1st grade, skills introduced in previous years (phonics/reading, optional cursive, poetry, and vocabulary skills) are enriched with creative writing and sentence-level mechanics, weekly spelling tests, and oral reading. In Grade 2, transition to reading comprehension and beginning literature analysis occurs. Grade 3 begins the four-pronged emphasis of reading skills (analysis & discussion), writing (academic & creative), spelling/poetry, and grammar. Grade 4 (Level A) adds speed reading, the writing process, researching, and diagramming. Students refine all skills in Grade 5 (B), aiming for varied reading and writing (emphasizing research skills), as they head for Grade 6 (C), which cements the elementary skills in preparation for Abeka® upper-level courses.
By the end of the year, students will be able to count from 1-100, recognize numbers 1-20, distinguish before and after numbers, and answer simple combinations.
These materials are graded specifically and include both instruction and practice.
Language arts programs listed in this section cover most areas of language arts (reading/literature, writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting) in one curriculum, although some skill areas may be covered with less intensity than a focused, stand-alone course.
Programs in this section go beyond teaching children how to read, incorporating phonetic readers, spelling and writing as well. Arranged roughly by grade/age.
Handwriting instruction (manuscript) is found in the Writing with Phonics workbook and is correlated with the phonics instruction. Lessons are designed for 20 minutes per day through lesson 122 and then change to two days per week. The ABC Writing Tablet provides additional practice. Although the K4 Curriculum Lesson Plans (#010117) include writing lessons, they are referencing the cursive materials. Lesson plans solely for manuscript handwriting/penmanship are found in the K4 Manuscript Writing Curriculum Lesson Plans (060943).
K4 Handwriting is all about learning the letters – both upper and lower case – and the instruction order is based on letter strokes. Part of every lesson is a colorful picture that includes letter stroke practice. Letter formation is taught with little stories about where the letter “lives” in the lines house.
Although new to our catalog, this math curriculum is certainly not new to the homeschool community. Abeka has been a tried-and-true math program amongst homeschoolers for many years. Taking a traditional, spiral approach, this series presents math concepts at the simplest level and builds on those concepts each year while offering continual review so students can fully grasp the concepts being taught. Abeka also teaches math from a faith based worldview and integrates biblical application throughout the program.
The elementary math lays a solid foundation for the higher level mathematics, and emphasizes oral and written drill. For the younger grade levels, the lesson instruction includes visual aids, games and activities. As the grades progress, the lessons become more independent but are still teacher directed. For Kindergarten, a worktext and teacher key is available along with several manipulative components. Math kits for grades 1-6 are sold in a child and parent kit (each sold separately). The child kit includes the consumable worktext and a test/speed drills book. The contents of the parent kit vary depending on the grade level; however all will include a curriculum guide for lesson plans as well as answer keys for the worktext and test/speed drills. It is suggested to purchase both the student and parent kits for a full math curriculum. The curriculum guide incorporates flashcards/charts into some of the lessons. These are available to purchase separately.
Junior high moves toward Intermediate Mathematics and PreAlgebra. Worktexts at these levels are still consumable. Intermediate Mathematics is a new and improved seventh grade course, reviewing all math skills previously learned while introducing algebra and geometry. This new course focuses more on understanding the concepts rather than just memorizing. The Intermediate Kit includes the worktext and test/quiz book. A teacher edition, solution key, supplemental exercises book and key are all available for this level. The newly revised PreAlgebra text continues with review and bridges the gap between basic mathematical concepts and more advanced topics. This level has a worktext, quiz/test book and key, teacher edition, and solution key.
High school levels include Algebra 1 through Precalculus. Concepts are taught in a clear, logical order with detailed explanations and step-by-step examples. Student textbooks are non-consumable at this level. Each section has practice problems taught in that section and review problems from previous sections. A teacher edition (to help guide your student through the courses), solution key, quiz/test book and key are also available for each course.
Abeka Math is a solid, traditional math program with a biblical focus. Each year builds upon the previous while continuing to review. The math facts are drilled and mastered at the elementary levels so students can be confident and successful in subsequent levels. The review can move rather quickly; therefore if your student is moving into Abeka from another program, you should consider taking a look at the scope and sequence before deciding where to start in the series.
To use this program purely as a K4 phonics/reading program you will need:
- K4 Phonics, Reading, Writing, & Numbers Curriculum/Lessons Plans
- ABC-123 (includes numbers)
- Miniature Alphabet Flashcards
- Little Books 1-12
- Animal Friends Books 1-8
- Homeschool Phonics Charts and Games
- Letter Picture Flashcards
- Blend Practice Cards A
Add Writing with Phonics K4 (cursive or manuscript; bound or unbound), ABC Writing Tablet (cursive or manuscript; bound or unbound), Readiness Skills K4 (bound or unbound) and K4 Manuscript Curriculum Writing Lesson (if using manuscript) to round out a Language Arts program.
Learning to read is a cohesive, multi-sensory experience with Abeka material. Each age/grade level (3-year-olds through 2nd grade) provides systematic, intensive phonics (as opposed to “whole word” or “sight reading”). Phonics instruction is a significant portion of the PK, K4, and K5 Early Learning Programs as well as the Grade 1 and Grade 2 Language Arts programs. In these last two grade levels, phonics is integrated with handwriting, reading, and spelling skills. In the Early Learning/Kindergarten years, number skills and other subjects are woven together. As you use the Curriculum/Lesson Plans for each level, there will be instructional sections on these other subjects along with references to many non-phonics Abeka materials. If pulled out from these, the phonics instructional materials can still stand alone and be used successfully, although isolation from general language arts will become increasingly difficult as the student moves into the 1st and 2nd grades.
Abeka phonics instruction is broken down into six basic steps.
- Learn to recognize the short vowels and their sounds.
- Learn to recognize the consonants and their sounds (particularly letters at the beginning of words).
- Learn to blend the vowels and consonants – following the left-to-right pattern of reading, Abeka starts with front-end blending (beginning consonant blended into short vowel sound).
- Learn to sound one-vowel words (adding ending consonants to the consonant-vowel blends that have been learned).
- Learn the sounds of the long vowels/Learn to sound two-vowel words (begins with K Lesson 93)
- Learn and apply special sounds (132 common letter combinations – these include beginning/ending blends, digraphs, a few sight words, r-controlled vowels, etc.)
Letter and sound awareness – including letter formation – (Step 1) mark the PK years. Repetition is noticeable in the Abeka lessons plans from the very beginning. Daily reading and interactive conversations provide a literacy rich environment and help develop listening and communication skills.
In K4, there is concentration on the first four steps. The pace is about three days per letter, starting with vowels and moving into consonants. Once mastered, blending is introduced followed by three letter, one-vowel words.
In K5, students initially focus on steps 1-5, reviewing what was learned in K4 and adding long vowel sounds. About half-way through the year, Step 6 is introduced. Typically, letters/sounds are covered over two days. The first day, sounds are introduced; on the second day, blending. Truly multi-sensory, instruction is a combination of teacher-student interaction, flashcard word-picture associations, chants (with accompanying hand-motions), blend ladders, phonics rules, phonetic marking, and reading practice.
In Grades 1 and 2, there is a shift toward reading skills but phonics instruction is continued and reviewed. The remainder of Step 6 sounds are introduced, students review all previously learned sounds and continue to add to vocabulary by using the Reading Handbook, Letters and Sounds/Phonics and Language workbooks and readers. Students move toward reading independently and phonics is considered one aspect of the grade level language arts materials.
Abeka’s phonics instruction sequence is unique in several ways. First is the front-end blending. Most other programs initially teach blending that starts with the short vowel and moving to the ending consonant. Abeka moves from the beginning consonant to the short vowel later adding the ending consonants. Their reason for this is to follow the left-to-right motion of reading. Another difference is how long vowels are taught. Instead of covering silent-e words and then moving to vowel pairs, Abeka teaches one long-vowel rule that covers both (when there are two vowels, the first says its long sound and the second is silent) applying this to silent e words as well as the more typical application to vowel pairs. The last distinction is when blends/digraphs are covered. With Abeka, these all fall into the last step – after long vowels. Many other programs will cover at least some of the blends and digraphs immediately after blending into CVC words – before the long vowels.
Abeka phonics/reading instruction produces strong and early readers. Perhaps it’s the integrated approach, coupled with the daily review and repetition. Perhaps it is the continual sound, word, and rule chanting. Perhaps it’s the written reinforcement and reading practice. Whatever. Abeka has found a winning combination and the results speak for themselves.
There are a lot of moving parts in the Abeka Phonics materials – some are required, some highly recommended, and some optional. All are referenced in the Curriculum/Lesson Plans. At the K4 or K5 level, you can choose to cover all material in these plans for a complete grade-level, early learning curriculum, or you can choose some selections as a complete language arts program or choose solely the phonics. If you choose to use it only for the phonics and/or language arts, keep in mind that you will be seeing daily references to material that you are not using. Starting with Grade 1, the Curriculum/Lesson Plans each focus on individual subject areas (Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies) with the phonics instruction being part of Language Arts. ~ Janice
Cursive handwriting instruction is found in the Writing with Phonics workbook and is correlated with the phonics instruction. The ABC Writing Tablet provides additional practice. The K4 Curriculum Lesson Plans (#010117) include writing lessons referencing the cursive materials.