Elizabeth asked about how I was using PAL in the comments on the Monday Musing's post. Not one to waste a wordy comment, I thought I would turn the comment into a post so I could expand in it and it would be easier found on the blog for people who are looking for PAL info. Sorry this post lacks photos. My camera is still at the Canon repair facility.
Unfortunately PAL was not even on my radar before this year. I used something totally different with Olivia, but I was never completely satisfied with what I used. Then this summer I started looking for something to use with John. That's when Sarah started singing the praises of the Primary Arts of Language from IEW, and I had to check it out.
I have long been a member of the Pudewa fan club, attending and loving his lectures on "Freedomship Education" and "How to Teach Boys" among others. We had been using Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization for a few months, and that was going well, so I was pretty convinced that the quality of the product would be good and designed with the "real" (read: wiggly, in need of lots of review, short attention span, needing variety) child in mind. After watching the video and exploring the product on the IEW website, I decided to take the plunge. (BTW, IEW has a fabulous return policy, so you really have nothing to lose to give their products a try!)
I got my box this summer and oh wow. This product is rich, rich, rich and so very versatile. I have written before about how impressive the teacher training is that comes with this product. There are multiple videos and audio presentations on the enclosed DVDs for the mom/teacher to use to gain a full understanding of the theory behind the program, its methodology, and how it can be used. There is also an IEW Yahoo group where you can ask questions and get answers from other moms and program developer, Jill Pike. She is always very prompt with an answer to questions.
Teacher in-service is not the only way this product is rich, though. Its true genius is that it is a complete program for language arts from grades K-2. I bought this to use with John (K). I didn't realize when I got it that I would be using it so much with Olivia (2nd) too.
For John I am using PAL Reading exactly as
written, except we do not do the "agenda" work, which is a daily review worksheet. I make sure he gets plenty
of review through the games, but he doesn't care for the cutting,
pasting, and coloring of the worksheets. We take it slow -- sometimes
only a lesson a week, and review, review, review.
John is a lefty and not
strong in the fine motor department, so we are modifying the writing
side of PAL. So far he has learned to form all of the lowercase letters
on the white board. Before we move
forward, I am going to go back and see if he can do them on
paper in the boxes now. Once he gets that down, we will move to
the capital letters and forming the letters on lines. Since the writing and reading portions are integrated yet independent, I do not have to hold back his progress in the reading due to the writing.
Olivia is far beyond the beginning reading instruction, but I realized that she needs more practice with those phonics letter pairs.
So we are going through the lessons and using the included poems to introduce the phonogram pairs and highlight them. I put
them on cards for her to feed to the monster (one of the games), and we are playing the
knock knock game with the phonetic farm to review them. She is reading a Magic
Tree House book aloud to me right now (her choice), and as we read and
sound out words I point out the helpers to her.
As for Olivia's writing, we
quickly went through part one to review the letter formations, but
started on the lines instead of the boxes. Simultaneously we are working
in part two which includes a few grammar topics as they relate to adding style to writing. In this part she is working on a Who/Which project in which she writes adjectival clauses. Right now we are making sure those clauses each have
strong verbs. We are using our science studies as the content for that particular project. I love that! Writing assignments that have meaning! Once she completes part two we will advance to part three where she will actually start outlining and writing paragraphs. It is basically the first few units of the IEW writing program.
The program also includes All About Spelling Level 1 to be used once the student has mastered writing the letters. Olivia is about halfway through
it and it has made such a huge difference in her spelling ability. I will start John in it when she finishes it, even if he has to
write the words on the white board instead of the paper.
There is also a family journal (modeling writing skills) and the
story summary (similar to narration), which we do together as part of our morning circle time with both of them. It is truly a complete "arts of language" program.
As you can tell, I am a fan. It doesn't fit our needs perfectly, but it comes darn close. It is easy to use and pretty much open and go whether you are using it as written or modifying it a bit as I am for Olivia in the reading portion. All I did this summer was print copies of the student pages I wanted to use and file them. When we move to the next part of the lesson, I pull out the pages I need. I also pre-made about the first five games of the program. Yes, there are lots of file folder games to make, but all of the copies are provided for you on quality materials; all you have to provide are the folders and glue. I usually sit next to John as he plays a game and make the next one we need -- it's that quick.
love that it is such a versatile program -- look at how many uses it is
serving for our family. I also love that it teaches the phonics through
sight words too. We are on lesson ten, and John has learned so much
about words and sounds and reading, and he still hasn't had to blend. I
model it for him, but he doesn't have to be able to do it (which I think
is a developmental thing) to be successful at the program at this
point. I think it is a great way to ease into reading instruction.
love that the writing basically covers K-2nd grade. I love that other
than making copies and the games, it is open and go. I love that we can
work partially on a lesson for a certain number of minutes, put a sticky
note in the book, and then finish the lesson the next day. I also love that the product is non-consumable. In a few years when Thomas is ready to use it all I have to do is print new student pages from the DVD.
The thing I love the most? My boy is reading sentences. He has learned the words by sight, but if he gets stuck he can also use the phonics' clues marked on the words to help him figure out the word. He's very proud of his ability to read those sentences. Sure the program is fun, but reading is hard work, no matter how much you try to wrap it in fun packaging. True enjoyment of reading comes from success. PAL helps a child be successful with reading quickly. I think that can make all the difference in the world.
I received no compensation or product for this review. I just really like it!