Firecracker is at a stage in his learning journey where’s he’s really assimilating many new words into his working vocabulary. In order to help him as he learns to read and write increasingly complex words, I want to give him the tools that he needs to make the process of learning as effortless as possible. So, when I received the opportunity to review WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 from Dynamic Literacy, I realized that this could be a perfect tool to help him make logical sense of the many words that he encounters throughout the week.
What We Received
We received the Foundations Level 1 Combo pack, and it includes a teachers manual, a student workbook, and a smaller student workbook called the “basics” student workbook. The teacher’s manual includes instruction for both the basics workbook and the level 1 workbook.
Students start in the basics workbook, where they are introduced to the concept of playing with words through building compound words. Children build, break down and rebuild compound words into new words.
Once your child is more proficient with playing with compound words, they are introduced to the concept of playing with words though various exercises using one word and different prefixes and suffixes to use these experiences to build a list of prefix and suffix meanings.
For example, one of the first exercises of this type is to play with the word paint. Through doing this exercise, the student introduced to the idea that:
- Adding -er to paint means “someone who paints”
- Adding -s to paint means “more than one”
- Adding -ing to paint means “doing it right now”
- Adding re- to paint means “doing something you’ve already done before”
In this manner, children are introduced to a beginning dictionary of prefixes and suffixes that can change the meaning of the word and they are prepared for the work ahead in the book
When children start the student book, they are introduced to one new word part a week, and they use these word parts to create and define new words in various exercises for each day of the week. A typical week’s work for your child looks like this:
- Day 1: Affix square–Your child takes each word in a square and adds the word part that is the focus of the week to the words in the square. He uses his knowledge of the word and of the word piece to define these new words that he has made.
- Day 2: Affix Adder–In this activity your child adds the word piece to a word, defines it and writes a good, meaningful sentence based on the word that they have made.
- Day 3: Magic Square–In this activity, the student is matching words and definitions with a fun twist. They’re putting the numbers of the definitions into the “correct” place in the magic square making a fun puzzle to self-check and figure out.
- Day 4: Word Search–All the words you’ve been working on with your child are placed into a word search. This aids spelling awareness. There are also some fun teaching suggestions for additional ideas you can use with these lists.
- Day 5: Comprehension Booster–Your child has a list of sentences and they’re using the word bank to fill in the blank.
Along the way, the teacher manual has helpful tips and hints, instructions for teaching, occasional evaluations for your student, and ways to help you make connections between the lessons that you are covering and previously learned material.
My Opinion on this Curriculum
This curriculum has made a great little addition to our day. It only takes around 15 minutes of time to implement each day’s activity, but the learning benefits continue into the other subjects throughout the day.
It has highlighted the idea that words are made up of predictable pieces and that we can determine the meaning of a new word by looking at the pieces that create the word that he’s learning. Firecracker has already begun to surmise words and their meanings from the prefixes and suffixes that’s he’s worked with just in the basics book.
Firecracker also feels smart using this system. Because it walks him through the material so gently, he spends a lot of time coming up with the answers on his own. I just guide him down the path when he might make an incorrect assumption by reminding him of the meanings of the word parts. This has been powerful in increasing his confidence as a learner, his vocabulary, and his reading comprehension over the past few weeks.
Some of the lessons, like the affix adder, are not as fun for him. However, he willingly does and enjoys the word searches, affix squares and magic squares. The teacher’s book is full of easy hints for teaching more effectively and helping to draw conclusions from the lessons that are learned throughout the material, making it a vital resource in teaching through the Dynamic Literacy curriculum. Given the benefits we’ve seen, and the fun and gentleness of the curriculum, we’ve decided to make this curriculum a part of our daily routine.