When Essentials arrived at our door in a big, heavy box, I was quite surprised! It was packed full of cards and books.
Students ages seven to adult will learn to read, spell, and write using Essentials: Logic of English Complete Set ($243). Essentials is available in manuscript or cursive. The lessons are scripted for those like me who sometimes struggle with knowing exactly how best to explain a concept.
Essentials Student Workbook in Manuscript ($25)
There is no text and very little instruction in the workbook, nothing to clutter up pages and distract students. Each section of the lesson is numbered and paired with just a single line of instruction. If there is any further instruction necessary, it can be found in the Teacher's Manual. This paperback book is 480 pages, making each lesson an average of twelve worksheet pages long.
Spelling Journal ($8)
This 72-page paperback journal is a sort of self-made spelling reference. Each sound and its various spellings has a section in the book for the student to write words they have discovered. A reference in the front makes it easy to locate each section. A list of spelling rules and a phonogram reference chart are included in the booklet.
Basic Phonogram Flash Cards ($18)
This card pack teaches the 74 basic phonograms of the English language. The sturdy cards are a large size. One side shows the letter or phonogram and the other lists the sound(s) it makes, *in the order of frequency,* and examples of words using each of the sounds. With this deck, 98% of English words can be decoded.
Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards ($15)
An extra 35 phonogram cards are included in this pack, which is similar to the Basic cards. In this set, more of the sounds are borrowed from foreign languages. The language of origin is included in addition to the other phonogram information.
Spelling Rule Flash Cards ($15)
I like rules. I like knowing the why. This card deck teaches the thirty spelling rules that, along with the Basic Phonogram deck, help decode 98% of English words. The rule is listed on one side with example words on the back. This is what I never learned in school and the reason I like Logic of English Essentials so much. Now, very few words are the exception. Almost all of them are covered by some spelling rule or other. These cards make me happy.
Grammar Rule Flash Cards ($22)
This deck answers questions like, What's a predicate noun? and Should I use a comma there? Rules or definitions are on one side of the card and examples are on the flip side. 83 cards.
Game Book ($15)
The Phonogram and Spelling Game Book is a 96 page paperback. This resource is chock full of games and ideas. There has to be something for everyone here.
- Card games This is where we found Malachi's favorite, Dragon!
- Active games
- Other phonogram games, like Bingo and Beat the Clock
- Sensory Practice
- Spelling Card Games
- Active Spelling Games
- Creative and Tactile Spelling Practice
- Spelling Games, like word searches and crosswords.
- Appendix A has templates for the activities and
- Appendix B is where you'll find the necessary Bingo and tic tac toe boards.
Game Card decks ($10 each, two recommended)
Two decks are recommended for some of the card games, like dragon, go fish, and memory. These decks are much smaller than the flash card decks. They are available in cursive, manuscript, and bookface. They include phonogram cards and game-type cards like rotten egg, draw 2, and snatch it I received bookface and manuscript cards with my review.
Phonogram and Spelling Rule Quick Reference Chart ($10)
When open, this chart is about the size of three sheets of paper wide. It's made of sturdy, but not laminated, card stock. I consider this the all-in-one easy reference chart for phonograms sounds and spellings, spelling rules, and a flow chart to determine how to add a suffix to any word.
How it looks in our home...
We are not using an exact schedule with Malachi. Just like everything we do in our homeschool, we just keep plugging along, accomplishing what we can. Usually, one lesson takes him about three days to cover. Once I think I've lost him for the day, we take our "official" post-it notes and put them in the spot where we left off. Some parts are completed orally, owing to Mal's writing struggles. If he starts a section in writing, though, he will not stop until it's completed. He has been attentive and is really learning the material. I see a sparkle in his eyes sometimes that makes me happy inside. He enjoys showing his dad what he's learning.
Essentials is quite an intensive program, covering phonograms, spelling, and grammar with each lesson. It requires a lot of hands on parent involvement. Except when Malachi was writing, I was completely enmeshed in the process. To prepare for the next lesson, I just flip through the Teacher's Manual while he is writing in the current workbook lesson and pull out all the cards we will need. I may take a look through the optional activities to decide which ones we will do, but usually I just make the call at the time we get to it. I'm never sure at what point we will end a lesson and we're more likely to use the optional suggestions at the beginning of a session than at the end when Malachi is already growing tired of sitting and cooperating.
Malachi is really interested in sound awareness. He likes feeling his throat and his jaw when he speaks and counting syllables. Actually, I thought these sections would also be beneficial for working with Xavier on his speech. We start almost every session of Essentials with phonograms, covering each one he's learned to date. Mal reviews the parts of speech he is learning and the current spelling rules at least weekly.
Each lesson goes differently for us and how much we can accomplish each day varies, but here's an example of Malachi moving through a lesson.
Part 1. We opened with the basic phonogram flash cards, then I just work my way through the TM. I introduce the new spelling rule and show him card #3, then he learns four new phonograms. At first, I was concerned there were too many new phonograms in each lesson, but he gets them all quickly and they are reinforced nearly every day when we look over the flash cards. He learns how the sounds feel in his mouth and throat. Then we discuss how each phonogram is used, whether it appears at the beginning, middle, or end of a word, and any other information needed about the phonogram. He writes the new phonograms in his workbook, then writes twenty that he previously knew that I've dictated to him. He played a board game in his workbook. What makes a consonant or a vowel is reviewed, then we talk about the new consonants. There is an optional practice box. He completed one of the three activities (the one in his workbook). Next, we looked at the spelling rule and why a says /ā/ or /ä/. This is when I started to lose Malachi's attention and I should have stopped at this section, but that day we kept working and stopped when that was done. He marked in his workbook the As that say /ä/.
Part 1. I should have gone back and reviewed the previous section, but I chose not to since he has been getting most of what we've done so far and the next lesson is review anyway. So we pick up with the AI spelling of long a and he writes the spellings in his workbook, review which spelling is most commonly used in the end of a syllable, middle of a syllable, and end of a word. Optional spelling journal and rule practice follows. I skipped those activities since we ran over into two days for part 1.
Part 2. Spelling list. Teacher tips for a few of the spelling words, spelling test. He wanted to mark the nouns and adjectives that day even though it's a day 3 activity. I let him.
Part 3. Grammar. Review noun. Introduce article adjectives. Study the article adjectives card. Using article adjectives, determine which words in the spelling list are nouns. Identify nouns, adjectives, and article adjectives in phrases in the workbook. Vocabulary development. Using suffixes -er and -est. He wrote a lot for him in vocabulary development, so we stopped here since the next two very short activities both required writing.
The card containment issue was troubling. Since the larger cards are an odd size (4.5"x6"), it was a bit more difficult to find a suitable case for them all. For weeks, I just bundled them with a rubber band for each set of cards as well as a current set for the lesson (marked by another handy sticky note). I found this nifty box at Dollar Tree while visiting in NY. You can see the small card game decks in the front. We mostly use them for Mal's favorite game, Dragons. Normally, he doesn't enjoy games and needs a little coaxing. Dragons has managed to find a place in his heart. It probably didn't hurt that Grandma was visiting at the beginning of this review term and played it with us. Grandmas rock! I've already had to swap out the dragon card in the game because Mal chewed a tiny corner of the first card we used and I could tell which card was the dragon. I don't think he was even aware of it, but it's best to level the playing field with these punks.
There was a typo or two on the phonogram dictation. Here I was reading the *sounds* to Mal and he needed to write the phonogram (here in lesson one, it was a letter). X does not say X. X says /ks/ or sometimes /z/. This is the only thing I noticed in five lessons, though.
All in all, I am seriously considering grabbing a workbook for Xavier and putting Mal on hold until I can get him caught up.
Phonics with Phonograms App: age 4 to adult
I received this app for my iPhone. I'm always looking for educational alternatives for the boys when they want to borrow my phone. I was able to add each boy as a user, even Merrick just for fun. There are ten levels, covering 74 phonograms. Just like in the textbook, new phonograms are introduced as the child progresses. I just let Mal lose with the app from time to time. This one was helpful on the rare instance I wasn't exactly sure how to pronounce a sound (those pesky regional dialects) because my mind didn't see a word fitting the phonogram it was being used with. It the woman's voice in the app is pleasant and clear. They simply listen to the sound and select the "card" that shows the phonogram. If they're wrong, the tile is shaded and they are able to try again. There's a screen which shows which phonograms were answered correctly the first time and which were wrong or unanswered. The incorrect choices made are also on that screen. This is a simple game with no bells and whistles. It gets the job done and review is fun and easy to do on their own.
Social Media for Logic of English (I highly recommend their YouTube channel!)
The Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewers also reviewed Rhythm of Handwriting, Foundations Levels A, B, and C, and the Doodling Dragons app. See these reviews by clicking the graphic below.