Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level A Teacher's Guide
The Level A Teacher Guide provides 144 lessons that begin with phonics coverage (letters, letter sounds, building three and four letter short and long vowel words as well as plurals) then adds McGuffey's Eclectic Primer in Lesson 65. Lots of hands-on methodologies are utilized including sand writing and dough letters. A Mother Goose nursery rhyme is included with each lesson. [These are drawn from a vintage version of Mother Goose and include some that are unfamiliar to modern ears.] A small Appendices book provides five laminated heavy cardstock worksheets for miscellaneous write-on/wipe-off games and word-building activities.
McGuffey's-The McGuffey's section usually covers one lesson per day. The student will study the picture and color the flashcards, and then spend as much time as necessary reviewing the flashcards. It is beneficial to follow the color recommendations on the cards. Each color correlates with a different part of speech. Although most children will not learn grammar concepts this early, early introduction is extremely beneficial. Your child will be able to see that the red cards (nouns) name something, and that the green cards (verbs) are "action" or "being" cards. The function of words is repeated for all 8 parts of speech.
Phonics-The phonics lessons begin with a four-day study of each letter. The activities from week to week are repeated. The capital and lower case letters are used as well in an optional game of tic-tac-toe. I've included this as an activity every week because my kids love games. Strategy games are very beneficial, but your kids may get tired of that game and opt out. That's understandable and part of the flexibility of this program. As the letter sounds are introduced, reading is gradually implemented. Finally, the student will "build" the words with a dry erase marker and game board. If your student can't figure out how to build a word, help him or her. This program is designed to be as fun and frustration free as possible. Repeat any and all activities as often as you deem necessary.
Handwriting-I have decided to use play dough as a beginning activity for each letter because it helps develop fine motor skills. The second day, the student is to cover the letter with something (I have chosen to use colored sand). If you feel your child would benefit, you could also print an extra copy of the letter and have your child cut it out. This not only will help your student learn the letter, but will also build fine motor skills. I have not included this particular activity in the lesson plan. This is just an additional idea if your student requires extra help. The third day, the child is actually writing the letters on something. Use your imagination. If weather permits, I like to encourage writing with sticks in the dirt, or using sticks, rocks, leaves, or sidewalk chalk to write/build the letter. I've noticed, especially with my boys, that the more nature that is involved in our learning, the better. Finally, the fourth day, the child sets the pencil to paper and writes the letters. My intent is to have the student "build" the letter for the first two days and then "write" the letter the last two days. After all the letters have been covered, simple copy work from the McGuffey selection will be assigned.
Mother Goose-I always thought that my mother and grandmother were walking versions of Mother Goose. It seemed they had a rhyme for every occasion. Sadly, it appears that many children don't know very many of these beloved rhymes any more. It seems only natural to include Mother Goose in this program. Each day there is a different Mother Goose rhyme. I have chosen not to delve deeply into the meanings of these rhymes. At this age, I want my children to simply enjoy the rhythm of the words, quirky rhymes, and silly meanings. If your child is artistically inclined, you can have them draw a picture to go with the rhyme.
If you've had the vague sense that education today is just not what it was a hundred years ago, there's evidence that suggests you are right. A hundred years ago (in America) the McGuffey Readers were used in one-room schools all across the continent. Education rarely went past 8th grade and students would complete the McGuffey's 5th or 6th Readers. Applying today's Lexile standards to the McGuffey Readers yields some interesting data. The reading material in the 6th Reader, for example, has Lexile scores equaling 9th grade through college senior level. Eclectic Foundations seeks to provide quality language arts educational material based on the Revised edition of the McGuffey's Readers. Now, the 21st century student can be as well educated as his early 20th century counterpart.
Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Curriculum is designed as the lesson plans/lessons for the McGuffey Readers that might have been used in those one-room classrooms. The feel is very old-fashioned (materials are all black and white) but the provisions are modern consumable student workbooks where the student can do his required writing (no need for a slate) and no-prep Teacher's Guides. Approximate grade levels are given but be advised that the lower of the grade levels (starting with Level B) are advanced and may be more typical of the upper grade level. The books are designed to be used in sequence. The lessons and materials are well-organized and build in lots of hands-on activities at the lower levels. Phonics is provided, plus complete language arts (reading skills, poetry, grammar, handwriting/copywork). Phonics lessons are based on Word Mastery by Florence Akin and cover beginning through advanced phonics concepts. Grammar lessons are based on Speaking and Writing Book by William Maxwell and on First Lessons in English by Thomas Harvey. [All have been reworded to accommodate modern language.] All resources are available online at no cost but the author recommends purchasing a physical copy of the McGuffey Readers.
Lessons are straight-forward and simple: starting with reading the word lists and/or selection from a particular McGuffey Reader. Phonics practice has two parts word cards practice and review and spelling dictated words. The Word Cards for each level are printed ten to a page (to be cut apart). The words are outline letters, with the intent that the student will be coloring in the cards. The Phonics Practice Sheets are laminated pages in a spiral-bound book providing a write-on, wipe-off experience. Obviously, the pages can be re-used. Language Arts work continues with Handwriting Copywork (Traditional Style) from a McGuffey Lesson. Poetry is covered, with comprehension review. Grammar is covered with a teacher-student dialogue (scripted) providing examples and definitions as well as practice worksheets. Supplies needed for all grades are minimal pencils, crayons, scissors, map colors (colored pencils), plus thin and regular dry-erase markers and a box for word cards. There are, however, a few particulars for specific grades (listed below).
The Student Workbooks are practical, spiral-bound collections of lesson worksheets, with lined portions for handwriting practice, word lists from the lessons, and varied, short grammar exercises. Some picture studies and poetry are included. Teacher's Guides are also spiral-bound with one-page lessons. Each year contains 144 lessons (4 lessons per week for 36 weeks). All answers to exercises are provided in the TGs. The author recommends visiting the library weekly and incorporating a lot of outside reading along with the daily lessons. Just as you'll find in the McGuffey's, there is moral-character and faith-based content in both Teacher Guide and Student Workbooks.
If you've wished to go back to the days of simplicity and strength in elementary education, here is your opportunity - well-organized and laid out for you. ~ Janice
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.