We stopped using an English program for Firecracker at the end of his first grade year and we’ve never consistently used an English program for Rose. So, when I got the opportunity to review a program from Logic of English, I knew it was time for us to give an English program another try.
We received the Essentials: Logic of English Complete Set in manuscript. This package is $243 and contains everything that you’ll need to teach the complete program to one student. You will notice that I am using this product with two students. For my second student, the only necessary purchase was an extra copy of the Essentials student workbook. Logic of English sells these student workbooks for $25.
Before I get too far into describing the products and how we used them, I want to let you know that these products are meant for children aged 7 and up. These can even be used by adults who are needing some spelling, reading and grammar help. We are using these materials with Firecracker (age 9) and Rose (age 7).
The package of products in the Essentials kit is large. It includes:
- The Essentials teacher’s manual. This is a huge (over 600 pages) hardcover book that contains almost everything you need to know to teach Logic of English.
- A phonogram and spelling game book. This is the other portion of the teacher’s information for Logic of English. This book contains complete instructions and reproducible masters for the games that are referenced in the teacher’s manual.
- The Essentials workbook. You can choose manuscript or cursive. This workbook is almost 500 pages, so it’s also a huge book.
- The spelling journal. This is a workbook where the student will enter his own misspelled words, creating a reference dictionary of personally hard to spell words
- Basic phonogram flashcards
- Spelling rule flashcards
- Grammar rule flashcards
- Advanced phonogram flashcards
- Two game card decks
- A laminated quick reference chart for spelling rules and phonograms
As you might can imagine, these huge books and sets of flashcards are not exactly open-and-go. You, as the teacher, will have to spend some time reading through the 67 pages of introductory material and making some decisions for how you want to proceed through the lessons before you begin. Logic of English also has a video on their website to help you navigate through the teacher’s manual and see what is included in the lessons.
One of the biggest decisions that you’ll need to make is how quickly you will want to try to progress through the material in the lessons and how long you’re going to want to spend on English each day. You could potentially complete this program as quickly as one semester (using long 2-hour daily blocks of English) or lengthen out the program to 2 years (or more) using shorter daily English sessions. The introductory section of the teacher’s manual has this all laid-out in various schedules of completion.
Because I knew we were going to be building from the ground-up, especially with Rose, I chose a modified form of the schedule for young emerging readers that is outlined in the introduction of the teacher’s manual. Using this schedule, you’ll stop to play more games, spend about an hour a day doing English, and have a goal of finishing the curriculum in about 80 weeks. This is a complete language curriculum with phonics, spelling, grammar and vocabulary development, so I would consider the $243 (plus the $25 for an extra workbook) to be a bargain for over two years of English curriculum.
Before we ever began the lessons, I spent over a week going through the “Before you begin” section of the teacher’s manual with the children. This has sections on seeing and feeling the difference between sounds, gluing words together, un-gluing words, rhyming, using beginning and ending sounds and breaking words into syllables. This is all done through oral work and games such as charades, so the children had a blast doing that.
Finally, we came to the lessons. Each Essentials lesson is broken into three parts. These three parts each also have a predictable rhythm.
The first part of the lesson is the phonogram and spelling rule portion of the lesson. This part usually contains three sections:
- Phonograms–This is reviewing the phonograms that the student knows and introducing new phonograms. This is section is usually completed by using the phonogram cards, phonogram dictation and phonogram games.
- Exploring Sounds–This includes ideas such as the difference between the sounds of a vowel and a consonant, long and short, and multiple sounds for the same phonogram. There’s oral interaction between the teacher and student and usually a simple workbook exercise included.
- Spelling rules–New spelling rules are introduced using the spelling rules cards and additional activities and games
The next part of the lesson covers the new spelling words. You will dictate the spelling words to the student and they will write and mark these spelling rules in accordance with the markings that you will teach them through using Logic of English. For example, in the first lesson, your student learns that “qu” is a two-letter phonogram and that they should underline it to mark it.
The final portion of the lesson covers several different functions, but mostly concerns adding grammar skills into the phonics and spelling skills that the student is learning. The rhythm of this section flows as:
- Grammar–New grammar rules are introduced using the grammar cards. These new rules are further used to work with the spelling words in workbook exercises and in additional optional exercises.
- Dictation–Here you dictate phrases (and eventually sentences) for your student to copy into his workbook. This will assess how well the spelling words and rules are being learned by the student.
- Composition–The student will then use the spelling words to make their own phrases and sentences.
- Vocabulary development–This is where your student will learn how to make compound words, use prefixes and suffixes, use contractions, etc.
As you teach these lessons, the lessons will all flow together and make perfect sense. You’ll develop your own family rhythm, and it will feel just right. It is a complete English program and it is large and comprehensive. You’ll be guided down the teacher manual from exercise to exercise and you’ll see that some will be optional, others will have a little pencil to tell you that there’s an exercise in the student workbook, and you’ll be told which cards you need to use from your sets of card packs. The cards in the spelling and grammar sets are numbers, and that makes it incredibly easy to use.
Each fifth lesson is an assessment which will give you, not just testing for the student, but also additional phonogram, spelling and grammar games and review activities.
We began our first Logic of English by reviewing all of our alphabet phonograms with our basic phonogram flashcard set. We then spent the entire rest of our English time playing a game that would become part of our English routine at least three times a week. The book doesn’t ask you to do it that often. My children just like playing dragon so much that the idea that we will do English is now synonymous with the idea that we’re going to get our game cards out and play Dragon.
I don’t mind at all. To them, English is a fun time, and even more importantly, Rose needs that daily phonogram practice. In fact, she’s had such difficulty with b/d confusion that I actually found some additional practice on their blog just to help get her the extra practice that she needs to learn to make that b/d distinction.
Firecracker could have gone at a quicker pace, but he was okay with going at a slower pace, playing more games and having fun doing English together. We actually spent almost three weeks just on lesson one. We worked on English about an hour a day, and we did lots of extra activities and played many rounds of dragon.
Our regular schedule goes something like this:
- 30 minutes playing phonogram or spelling game
- 15 minutes working on spelling list (either dictating spelling list, reviewing spelling rules or exploring sounds)
- 15 minutes working on grammar
- 10-15 minutes optional activity suggested in lesson
This varies on occasion depending on how much of a lesson that we’ve covered or what activities we choose. For example, earlier this week I chose for them to do a spelling “game” where we used the game cards to build words that ended with “ck.” We spent an entire hour, our full English time, just on that one game.
There are days that aren’t as fun though. There are days where the children tell me, “This feels like school.” There are days when Rose cries because she can’t get her sounds as perfect as she wants them to be. There are days when I tell the children that the real fun is in realizing that you can spell new words, not in playing spelling games.
The bottom line with this program is that I’m seeing results. I’m finding that their spelling is improving. I’m finding that they’re actually learning their parts of speech. They’re able to tell me the spelling rules and the grammar cards. That’s the sweet part. I’m actually able to measure their progress and see that they’re picking up skills and learning things that they’ve never learned before.
I firmly believe that much of the success we’ve had with the program is due to two things.
First, the program has a lot of repetition built in. In the teacher’s manual, the author says that it takes 30 experiences with a new word or spelling rule to be able to master it. If you complete the required activities and some of the optional activities, you’re well on your way to having multiple experiences with each spelling word. Everything that you learn throughout the rest of the parts of the lesson is based off of your new phonograms and spelling words that are a part of the lesson.
Second, the activities incorporate many types of learning. They can illustrate their words. They can teach you the spelling rule. They can make up an oral story using the words. They can play a spelling or phonogram based game. They can listen for the sounds and segment it. Throughout the lesson, the activities are presented in such a way as to reinforce many different types of learning styles, and as a parent you can customize your activities to fit the learning styles that are most appropriate for your children.
I really like this program and I feel like we’re having results with it. As I’m sure you can tell from what I’ve written above, this program is teacher-intensive, and not something that you would be able to have your students do independently from you. Because of this, I chose to proceed at Rose’s pace instead of planning two separate English times. Had Firecracker complained about the pace, I would have separated their English times and moved more quickly with him. However, he’s enjoyed the play and the companionship of doing English with Rose. I’ve enjoyed only having to plan one English lesson.
Different people will have different approaches to completing this book with their students, and it would be great to click the banner below and check out some more reviews on Essentials so you can see how other families approached the curriculum. The Crew also got to review the Foundations program, and the Rhythm of Handwriting program. Both are products I can’t wait to see in action. After all, I have a Monkey who is going to need phonogram and handwriting instruction very soon!