Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Logic Of English Foundations Language Arts Program (Level A) - What Do You Need?

Yesterday, I posted an introductory review of the Logic Of English Foundations Program (Levels A and B). This is the program I've chosen to use to teach my kids to read and write,  Its a FANTASTIC program and I cannot wait to get started!  My review included lots of pictures and lots of reasons why I chose the program, but I decided I'd write a separate blog post discussing all of the curriculum necessities and supplemental materials to help anyone else who, like me, is shopping for curriculum and feeling a bit overwhelmed.  There are a couple of ways you can purchase and I'll try to explain them in detail.

Foundations A Curriculum and Reusable Resources

To begin with, let me explain that the LOE Foundations program comes in 4 levels: A, B, C, and D.  Each level has 40 lessons and 8 review lessons (1 review after every 5th lesson).  Since each level is only a total of 48 lessons, its very possible to do more than one level in a year.  I plan on finishing levels A and B this year with my kindergartner. (My 3rd grader, who did not receive this particular instruction, and is still struggling with some reading concepts - although she is reading - will sit in on the lessons and participate in the games as well.  I figure it can only improve her reading fluency!) The folks at LOE suggest that you start with either Level A or Level B (if your child can already read and recognize short vowel sounds and read short vowel words).  They do not, however, recommend that you start a child with either Level C or D.  With this in mind, I'm going to assume that most of you, like me, will choose to start with Level A.  So that is what I'll be discussing in detail in this post.

Another note I'd like to make - The Logic of English curriculum is very well designed!  While I often leave out some "supplemental" products when I shop for curriculum (I'm a big believer in saving money!), I purchased EVERYTHING for Foundations A. (I received the Spelling Analysis Card and the Phonogram And Spelling Quick Reference free from LOE.) The reason I purchased all the supplements?  This curriculum is meant to be multi-sensory and to involve ALL the learning styles.  The flash cards are visual.  The tactile cards are both visual and kinesthetic. The games are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.  In other words, I simply felt that I wouldn't be taking full advantage of the way this program works if I didn't purchase the supplements.  Can you use this program without all the supplements? Absolutely! And each family has to make the decision that's best for them. - Best for their little learners and best for their budgets.  So don't feel like you can't do this program without purchasing everything. :)

Now, back to the curriculum! If you are sold on this program, as I was, you may wish to purchase both Level A and B.  If that's the case, LOE has a wonderful Foundations A & B Set.  If you purchase both levels as a set, you receive a 10% discount!  (The only reason I didn't purchase this set is because I'd already purchased the LOE Rhythm Of Handwriting program, so I already had some of the writing products.)

All of the products pictured here are included in the Foundations A & B Set

But if you're on a budget and would like to just see what's needed in Level A, let me give you a run-down.

1.) The Foundations A Teacher's Manual - This is not one of those "this is only kindergarten, so I can get away with just buying the student workbook" kind of programs.  You NEED this manual.  More than that, you WANT THIS MANUAL.  It gives you all the instruction you need for teaching your child.  It's ALL IN THE MANUAL.  DON'T SKIP THE TEACHER'S MANUAL.  - Did I make that clear enough?  Seriously.  I'm not joking.

This manual tells you word-for-word what to say to your child during instruction.  It tells you what sort of response you're looking for when you ask them a question.  It tells you when to hold up a phonogram card, how to instruct them in handwriting, what games to play, how to help them if they're struggling with a particular concept of skill, ways to make the learning more interactive, what materials you'll need for each lesson. This book is a GOLD MINE.

An example of teacher instruction in the Teacher's Manual

And example of the handwriting instruction in the Teacher's Manual

The Teacher's Manual also includes teacher tips and multi-sensory ideas

2.) The Foundations A Student Workbook - This bright, colorful workbook comes in 2 choices: manuscript or cursive.  You choose the one that goes with whatever handwriting style you choose to teach.  (Now, this post isn't about handwriting, so I'm not going to do a 30 minute lesson on why you should teach cursive first.  But you should teach cursive first!  This is another place that I've done LOTS of research.  To our adult brains, it seems so much harder, but its actually not!  Check out this article and see for yourself the benefits of teaching cursive! - Why Teach Cursive First

The Foundations A workbook is bright and inviting to young kids

This workbook is colorful and fun!  It contains activities, games, and their handwriting practice pages.

Instructions for each workbook page are found in the Teacher's Manual

And each handwriting page has FOUR different line sizes!  Your child gets to choose which one they're most comfortable with!  - Oh!  And I learned through one of the youtube videos by Denise Eide (the creator of LOE) that the youngest learners often prefer the SMALL LINES.  That was totally backwards from the way I'd always thought!  Turns out, the smaller motions are easier for their little hands to control.  Who knew!?!)

Each Handwriting practice page has 4 line sizes

3.) Doodling Dragons: An ABC Book Of Sounds - This book compliments the Foundations A curriculum by giving a great visual and more practice for each of the A-Z phonograms (in other words, the alphabet). 

Doodling Dragons Book

Each new page introduces a letter and gives word examples of EACH of the sounds that letter makes. The A Teacher's Manual let's you know when to go to the Doodling Dragons book.  For example, in lesson 5, when kids learn the phonogram "a," the manual instructs you to "open to the A page in Doodling Dragons." Could you get away with not using this book?  Yeh.  Sure.  But it was especially created to add that exercise into their lesson.  So you can skip it, but it my opinion, you're skipping an activity that will help them better develop their phonemic awareness.

Colorful pictures and examples of each sound for single letter phonograms

4.) Basic Phonogram Flash Cards - These flash cards introduce the 75 basic single-letter and multi-letter phonograms. These cards are great! They have the phonogram on one side and examples of each sound it makes on the back. (You may notice some of LOE's older material mentions only 74 phonograms.  They recently added "es" as the 75 phonogram.  They also added a fifth sound for "ou," so the cards were recently updated.)

Could you skip these?  I guess.  Could you buy cheaper phonogram cards?  Maybe.  But here's why I think you shouldn't:
1.) The other phonogram flash cards I've seen don't include all the phonograms that LOE does. In fact, as I mentioned above, LOE recently added another phonogram to their list.
2.) Many flash cards only list one sound on each card.  This can be confusing to kids when they reach a phonogram that makes several different sounds.
3.) Lots of phonogram flash cards contain pictures.  For example, the card for "a" will have an apple or and alligator on it. Why is this bad?  I'm glad you asked, because I wondered too!  When I first purchased LOE's phonogram flash cards I thought, "these are kinda boring.  No cute, colorful pics." The rest of their products are wonderfully colorful and beautiful!  Then I watched another fabulous youtube video by Denise Eide.  She explained that the pictures on these flash cards can lead to phonemic confusion.  The child learns to associate the letter "a" only with the short vowel sound in "apple" or "alligator.  It builds connections in their brains that you don't want to encourage.  That's why her cards seem "plain."  But they're great!  They contain ALL the sounds for each specific phonogram.  For example, did you know that the letter "y" makes FOUR different sounds?  It makes a "yuh" sound, like in "yard," a short "i" sound, like in "gym," a long "i" sound, like in "by," and a long "e" sound, like in "baby!" Its so convenient to have all the sounds on ONE CARD! You will also use these flash cards in Levels B, C, and D, as well as in their Essentials program (meant for children 8 and up).

The front of the "a" phonogram card

The back of the "a" phonogram card, including examples for each sound

4.) Phonogram Game Cards - These game cards come in 3 options: Bookface (blue), Cursive (green), and Manuscript (red). To play games, LOE recommends purchasing 2 sets - the bookface set and the set that corresponds with the type of handwriting you're teaching.  Since we will be doing cursive, we purchased the bookface set and the cursive set.  Most games are designed for 2-4 players.

Could you skip these cards?  Again, theoretically, yes.  But again I'd recommend that you purchase them.  This curriculum is really so comprehensive and interwoven.  The phonogram game cards are in the materials needed section or optional materials section in about half of the lessons. But even more than that, they are used in the review assessment sections.  After each review lesson, there's a page of suggested activities for each of the concepts that a child might struggle with.  So in addition to using the game cards in the lessons, you will also be able to use them to reinforce and practice areas where your child is struggling.  You will also use these game cards in Levels B, C, and D, as well as in the Essentials program.

Cursive Phonogram Game Cards
These cards are used in a variety of games in the LOE program

5.) Phonogram Game Tiles - These color-coded game tiles contain the 75 basic phonograms and are great for adding variety to spelling practice and spelling games.

I've seen many other LOE users put small magnets on the backs of these cards.  
They they can be used on the fridge or on a magnetic whiteboard or magnetic tray!

Can you skip these tiles?  Again, theoretically, yes.  But once again, this curriculum is meant to be multi-sensory and is intended to teach using a variety of learning styles.  Leaving out the games - that use visual, auditory, AND kinesthetic learning, would, in my opinion, lesson the over-all effectiveness of the program.  Will it still work?  Absolutely.  But You won't be taking full advantage of how the program works.  These game tiles are used in both the Foundations and the Essentials programs, so you'll get a lot of use out of them.

6.) Phonogram & Spelling Quick Reference - This full-color chart is very helpful - especially if it's your first time teaching this curriculum. It contains the 31 spelling rules, 75 basic phonograms, 48 advanced phonograms, and other useful informations. Its another resource you'll use for each level - especially as you, as a teacher begin learning some of this info! It’s great for quick reference if you need to check the sound of a phonogram!

7.) Spelling Analysis Card - This little card makes a great bookmark for the Teacher's Manual!  It outlines how to dictate and analyze words in the LOE spelling lists. Spelling words begin about halfway through Level A, so this card is very handy! 

8.) Student Whiteboard - Since Foundations A teaches your child how to write the lowercase letters, this whiteboard comes in handy! Use it to practice forming letters - first with just a finger and then with a dry erase marker.  One side has a large handwriting chart - perfect for demonstrating handwriting strokes and how to write each letter. 

The other side has 4 lines for handwriting practice. - Plenty of room for writing letters, words, or even sentences!

9.) Handwriting Tactile Cards - A great resource for the visual and the kinesthetic learner, these cards have letters made with a sandpaper-like quality so that your child can feel the rhythm of the formation of each stroke and letter. 

Front side of one of the "stroke" cards

Back side of one of the "stroke" cards

Front side of the lowercase "a" card

Back side of the lowercase "a" card

Could you skip these cards?  Sure.  The teacher's manual teaches you how to instruct each stroke and each letter.  The phonogram cards have the examples for each sound that phonogram makes.  But I believe these cards are a great resource. They are visual and kinesthetic - allowing your child to feel the formation of the letter.  They have everything in ONE PLACE.  When you're teaching the lowercase "a," you don't have to try to remember all the sounds it makes or thing of great examples of those sounds.  It also shows the examples in the handwriting form you've chose, so the cursive cards show the example words IN CURSIVE.  Lastly, if you have a kid that's practicing their handwriting and they've forgotten or are having trouble with certain letters, let them have the cards for those letter.  Let them keep the cards next to them while they practice!  Its a great visual aid for their practice.

10.) Rhythm Of  Handwriting Quick Reference - Another great resource for teachers, this chart gives step-by-step instructions for forming each letter.  This systematic approach to handwriting really helps the child develop the rhythm of handwriting.

Once again, this is something you could do without.  But why?  Haha! If your child is writing a letter to grandma and all of a sudden forgets how to write  a lowercase cursive "z" (not out of the realm of possibility, considering how little we use that letter), then you can pull this out quickly and show them.  Checking their handwriting and new to LOE and their "simplified cursive - which I HIGHLY recommend - no worries! Pull out the quick reference and easily check their work.

So here's my take away.  This program is GREAT!  Get it!  If you can't get everything, then get the teacher's manual and the workbook.  Choose maybe either the game tiles or game cards.  Get the phonogram flash cards and the handwriting tactile cards if you can.  But if you are able, I'd suggest purchasing the program in full.  That way you get the greatest benefit!   God bless!  :)

Check out my other review: Teaching My Kids To Read And Why I Chose The Logic Of English Language Arts Program

Notice: I, myself, paid for most of the products discussed in this particular review (Foundations Level A and Handwriting products).  The only items I received for free, that are discussed in this post, are the Spelling Analysis Card and the Phonogram and Spelling Quick Reference.  I did, however, receive some items from Foundations Level B, free of charge from LOE, in exchange for my honest review.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Teaching My Kids To Read And Why I Chose The Logic Of English Language Arts Program

You guys!  I'm REALLY excited about this review! As a homeschooling mom, the curriculum choices I make are VERY IMPORTANT to me.  I spend a lot of time now researching these decisions. Truthfully, I can often become a little obsessive - spending hours upon hours reading articles, evaluating pros and cons.  But that's why, when I find something I believe in - something I believe is exceptional - I have to tell my friends about it!  That's the way I feel about Logic Of English

Now, I need to preface this by saying that we haven't officially started Logic Of English yet.  I recently discovered it during my hunt for a good reading curriculum.  I've done a lot of research online, read a lot of articles, done a lot of investigating on their site, and used one of their sample lessons to teach my kids and get a feel for how the program works.  After all of this, I was thoroughly convinced that this was the program for us! I purchased both their Foundations Level A curriculum AND their Rhythm Of Handwriting Cursive curriculum (for my oldest) on my own.  It was after these items arrived and I got them in my hands - and became even more convinced of their awesomeness - that I decided to contact the company and discuss the possibility of a review.  I just needed to share what I'd seen.  Since its very common for kids to complete Levels A and B in one school year, the awesome folks at LOE sent me Foundations Level B so I could do a more complete review!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Honey Sriracha Chicken Tenders with Fresh Mango

It may "feel" like winter right now, but its SPRING!!!  And, after months of casseroles and winter meals, I'm ready to enjoy some lighter fare!  So I went hunting for a fun new chicken dish - and also, a way to use the mangos we had on hand! As usual, Pinterest provided great inspiration!  I played around with a few ideas and came up with these baked chicken tenders that were a HUGE HIT in my house!  Honey Sriracha Chicken Tenders with Fresh Mango!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Chewy Snickerdoodle Bars

I’m sort of the unofficial baker of our small group at church. I usually let other people cook the food. I’d rather bake up something fun!  I have some “old faithful” recipes that I make over and over again,  but I also love to just get in the kitchen and create something new! As any baking enthusiast knows, sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.  Haha!  Well, today it worked! And I’m SO GLAD! I played around with the traditional “blonde” recipe, made them a little "chewier," and mixed in a little snickerdoodle inspiration and came up with these Chewy Snickerdoodle Bars!  The folks at small group seemed to enjoy them, so I thought I'd share the recipe!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Hawaiian Chicken (Slow Cooker)

With small kids, I'm always looking for simple, quick recipes.  But finding something my kids will eat without grumbling is difficult.  The smallest ones are in that, "I don't like it - even though I haven't tried it" stage.  Ugh.  I can't stand that stage!  Thankfully, this simple slow cooker Hawaiian chicken is a crowd pleaser! 

Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas

Hi guys!  My very favorite type of recipe, as I've mentioned many times before, is anything I can prep ahead and just toss into the slow cooker or the oven at dinner time.  (Is it just me or do everyone else's kids go absolutely crazy right when it's time to make dinner?)  So I thought I'd share one of our favorites: Baked Chicken Fajitas!

This recipe is so easy to make and so delicious!!! And the best part is that I can mix it up during naptime or - even the night before - and just toss it in the oven at dinner time!   I originally found this recipe at (through a search on pinterest) and, as with most of my recipes, I played around with the ingredients a bit and found my own groove,  But you can check out the original recipe HERE if you like!
Whip up some rice and beans, a salad, or some guacamole or salsa and chips, or just eat these alone! Any way you do it, you can't go wrong!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

BBQ Chicken And Black Bean Quesadillas (Freezer Friendly)

If you're familiar with my blog, you may have already seen my recipe for Bacon Cheddar Ranch Chicken Quesadillas. I'm obsessed with these things - and so are my family.  And it's not just that they are delicious, it's that they are an AWESOME easy meal.  I make bunches at a time (just assembling everything, not baking them), wrap them individually in tin foil, and stick them in the freezer.  Then when I need some dinner help, I pull a few out of the freezer, let them thaw for a few hours in the and bake them for 12 minutes at 375 degrees.  Seriously, it doesn't get much better than that!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Zondervan Gift Ideas for Easter

You guys!  Does it seem like Easter sneaked up on us this year?  I feel like we JUST had Christmas! But that's ok!  We LOVE Easter in our house! And we love to give meaningful gifts!  So we almost always put some great Bible-related books in our kids' Easter baskets!  This year is no exception!  And the wonderful folks at Zondervan have sent me a few of their latest to share with you!  Whether you've got a little girl or boy - or a teen that still loves a good Easter basket - Zonderkidz has something for you!  SO let's get started!

The first one I'm sharing is one of my very favorites!!!  Its the NIV Beautiful Word Bible for Girls!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Christmas Gift Ideas from ZonderKidz

Hi folks!  It's been a little while.  I know.  I'm a bad blogger!  But I'm back!  And I've got a list of some of the best new books from ZonderKidz!!!  At our house, we LOVE to give books for Christmas! Why?  Here are some reasons:
1.) They aren't toys!  Between grandparents and aunts and uncles, our kids get plenty 'o toys for Christmas!  We give them fun things.  We aren't Scrooges!  But we try to find learning toys, creative crafts, and fun books!
2.) When you get a book for Christmas, you get fun AND learning.  That's always a plus!
3.) Books are communal.  When we give our kids books for Christmas, we're giving them something that we can do together - read as a family!

So here are some fabulous new books that your kids will love this Christmas...

 The Beginner's Bible Collector's Edition - The Beginner's Bible is a favorite in our house.  In fact, my oldest just read the whole thing in school this year!  This Collector's Edition is fabulous! Not only does it include the beautifully illustrated, hardcover Bible storybook, but it includes the entire Bible on CD's AND a DVD with animated story videos!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Zonderkidz March and April 2017 Releases - Great Easter Basket Gifts For Kids!

Zonderkidz has some AMAZING new releases for kids of all ages!  These books and Bibles would make great additions to your child's Easter basket!  SO make sure you run out to the store or jump on Amazon and snap them up!!!  Let's dive in!

Ready, Set, Find Easter - We have the Ready, Set, Find Christmas book and love it, so I knew this one would be a hit! Its a board book, so it's perfect for little hands!  Each page has a very small part of the Easter story on it (just 2 or 3 sentences), a cute illustration, and a group of objects for you to find in the picture!  So great for little minds!

9780310757696, Ready, Set, Find Easter