Thursday, March 31, 2016

Learning to Read With Foundations Level A From Logic of English {A TOS Review}

Well, the time has come to start teaching our last little one how to read. I have used different methods in the past with the other children, but poor Harold has sort of been neglected a bit. I know some would say he is too young and not to rush it. Believe me, I haven't been. However, he has started to show an interest, but I just haven't had the time to throw activities together the way I did with the older girls. That is why I was so eager to try Foundations Level A from Logic of English. We have reviewed other programs from Logic of English in the past. We have used Rhythm of Handwriting and Essentials. I have always loved the look of Foundations; however, when those reviews came available through the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I didn't have a child who was at the learning-to-read stage. This time around, Harold seemed eager to try out Foundations, so I jumped at the chance. We were thrilled when we found out we were chosen, and even more excited when the package showed up on our porch.

Logic of English generously sent us all the materials needed to successful utilize this program.

This is what we received:
  • Foundations A Teacher's Manual
  • Foundations A Manuscript Workbook
  • Doodling Dragons: An ABC Book of Sounds
  • Basic Phonogram Flash Cards
  • Manuscript Tactile Cards
  • Phonogram Game Cards (in Manuscript and Bookface)
  • Phonogram Game Tiles
  • White Board
  • Phonogram & Spelling Rule Quick Reference
  • The Rhythm of Handwriting Quick Reference Chart
  • Spelling Analysis Card
Here, let's take a closer look.

The Books:

The 230 page, hardcover Teacher Manual is strictly for Foundations Level A, meaning you will need a new teacher manual for each level.  It has the complete instructions for teaching this level to a child. The manual begins with a Scope & Sequence and Introduction. A chart of the Phonograms comes next. This includes each of the sounds the phonograms make and examples of words for each sound. There is then a Materials Needed list, which includes necessary and optional materials for each lesson. This beginning section concludes with a chart of Common Core Standards that are met, for those who need this information. In the very back of the teacher manual, you will find an index. The remainder of the book, 209 pages, is devoted to the lessons.

The colorful Student Workbook comes in Manuscript or Cursive. I opted to receive the Manuscript edition as I don't feel Harold is ready for cursive as of yet. This softcover workbook contains 155 workbook pages, plus readers in the back of the book that are to be removed and assembled. The workbook pages themselves are perforated and can be removed, but I prefer to keep them in the workbook so as to not lose them.

The Doodling Dragons hardcover book is a story book that focuses on each phonogram, devoting one full double page spread to each. The phonogram is featured on the left side of the page with the sound(s) it makes, while the right side of the page contains colorful fun pictures depicting the descriptive rhymes that are used to give examples of the sounds the phonogram makes. 

The Cards:

The Phonogram Game Tiles remind me of the small movable alphabet I made for the older girls several years ago. However, they are much more durable, printed on heavy, coated cardboard. The set doesn't just include all the letters of the alphabet, but contains all the basic phonograms taught. Children can use these to build words.

The Tactile Cards remind me of the sandpaper letters we used to use. On one side the strokes and phonograms are presented in a raised manner with a sandpaper texture.On the reverse side of the card, you will find the instruction on how to form the stroke/phonogram.  As the children run their finger over the letter, they have the sensory aspect from the sandpaper to help reinforce the shape they are tracing.

The Phonogram Game Cards come in Bookface, Manuscript, and Cursive. We received two packs: Manuscript and Bookface. We were sent two because it is recommended to have multiple packs to play the games. The reason we were sent two different fonts is so the children can become familiar with differences in letter formation. These sets each contain the 74 basic phonograms and 14 action cards.

The Basic Phonogram Flash Cards are about 4 1/2 by 6 inches. You will find the phonogram on one side, and all of the sounds that it makes plus example words on the reverse side.  Not only do they contain the 74 basic phonograms, there are 48 multi-letter phonograms.

Reference Materials 

The Phonogram & Spelling Rule Quick Reference is a 6-sided reference card which contains the phonograms, spelling rules, a suffix chart, examples and a rare phonogram word list.

The Rhythm of Handwriting Quick Reference Chart contains all the letters arranged by stroke, with the rhythmic instructions on how to form the letter. For instance, the first letter we learned to form uses three strokes: roll, swing, and straight. The instructions say we "Start at the midline. Roll around to the baseline, swing up to the midline, straight to the baseline." The stroke name is in bold in the instructions. The strokes are also included on one of the flaps.

The Spelling Analysis Card is a two sided reference card for the parent/teacher.

And last but not least, the whiteboard.

This double-sided whiteboard is used to practice writing. The larger area makes it easier for younger children to practice wring. The child can practice over and over again without using lots of paper.

The second side of the white board has 4 rows of writing spaces. Though smaller than the other side, these spaces are still larger than the spaces in the workbook, perfect for children who don't have the fine-motor control needed for the smaller spaces.

Now that we looked at the components of the program, let's look at what Foundations Level A is all about.

Logic of English Foundations A is a program that teaches children how to read by teaching all the sounds of the phonograms, not just the most common sound of each letter. Right from the get-go, children are aware that a phonogram may have more than one sound, helping to avoid confusion in the future. It is a program that focuses on phonemic awareness as well as recognition of the phonogram. 

There are 40 lessons and 8 review lessons which come after every fifth lesson. Each lesson consists of Phonemic Awareness and Handwriting. Starting in Lesson 21 Spelling is included as well. 

It starts with the basics: an awareness of sounds and an introduction to the strokes needed to make the letters. 

Sounds are learned by listening and imitating. At the beginning of the program, the child participates in learning what voiced and unvoiced sounds are, and what nasal sounds are. Harold and Hannah loved putting their hands on their throats to feel the vibration that voiced sounds made. They also enjoyed plugging their noses to see if the sounds were nasal or not. Did you know you can't say a nasal sound if you plug your nose?

Games are played to help the children distinguish the sounds. Sometimes the child is asked to repeat the sounds, other times they are told to do a specific action when they hear the correct sound, such as standing, sitting, laying down and clapping. Sometimes I say the word "segmented," which means I will say one sound at a time and he needs to put it together and say it, maybe even acting it out. Other times we are looking for the pictures in the workbook that match the word said..

Not only do the children practice hearing, distinguishing, and saying the sounds, they also learn to blend words together to make compound words and sounds together to make words. This is all done without actually writing the sounds or having to read the words. 

In addition to the phonemic awareness, the child is also taught how to write strokes and letters. There are several steps that are utilized. Children will be introduced to the tactile card and shown how to form the stroke or phonogram. They will trace the tactile card, write in the air, and on the white board. Writing on paper is optional at this point. I've actually had Harold write on our easel and on a piece of paper with larger lines, but have only had him write on the smaller lines in his workbook a couple of times as I noted that he was not ready for the smaller lines.  There are many additional activities and tips suggested in the sidebars.

How have we been using Logic of English Foundations Level A?

I have been using this program primarily with Harold, though Hannah has sit in on some of the fun phonemic awareness activities. I have been taking a week for each lesson. We focus on the phonemic awareness activities on the first day of the week that we work on the lesson. By the time we are finished with this, Harold's attention has started drifting elsewhere. When we come back to the lesson later in the week, I will do a quick sound review and have him work on the workbook page, which has so far been focusing on blending the sounds into words or words into compound words.

We enjoy the fun activities, such as shooting baskets every time he blends a word correctly:

In this review activity, Harold had to listen to the segmented sounds, figure out which word I was saying, and find the corresponding picture.

Later in the week, we focus on the handwriting portion of the lesson. We practice tracing the tactile card and writing it on the whiteboard.

Yes, even Puppy helps.

He was so excited to be able to combine the three strokes (roll, swing, and straight) the make a letter "a" on the easel.

Logic of English Foundations Level A is a great beginning reading program. I love that it focuses on both phonemic awareness and handwriting. I also appreciate that a child does not need to be held back if they are having trouble with the handwriting portion. A child may be ready to read, but not have the muscle control for writing the letters. There are lots of opportunities to work on writing skills though.

I highly recommend this program for beginning readers.

You can find Logic of English on their social media sites:

I had mentioned at the beginning of this review that we have reviewed Logic of English products in the past. I invite you to check out my reviews of Logic of English Rhythm of Handwriting and Logic of English Essentials. During this review period some of my fellow Crew Mates have had the opportunity to try out the Second Edition of Essentials. Other Crew Mates have been reviewing 1 of 4 levels of Foundations (A, B, C, or D). Check out the Crew Reviews by clicking on the banner below:

Logic of English Review

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