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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Logic of English Essentials 2nd Edition

Logic of English Review
Our latest review has been Essentials 2nd Edition from Logic of English.
Logic of English Review
We received the complete Volume One set that included the following components:

Essentials 2nd Edition Teacher's Manual
Essentials 2nd Edition Workbook
Spelling Journal
Spelling Analysis Quick Reference Card
Phonogram Quick Reference
Basic Phonogram Cards
Advanced Phonogram Cards
Spelling Rule Cards
Grammar Rule Cards
Morpheme Cards Set 1
Phonogram Game Tiles
Phonogram Game Cards Blue
Phonogram Game Cards Red

We also received PDF copies of:
Essentials Reader
Essentials Reader Teacher's Guide
Essentials Reader Student Activity Book

This review was not my first experience using Essentials.  I reviewed the first edition back in 2014 and was very interested to see what improvements had been made to the program.  If you have never heard of The Logic of English Essentials program before, it is a muti sensory spelling, reading, grammar, and vocabulary program that teaches children the skills they need to understand how English spelling works.  The Teacher's Manual is scripted and instructs the teacher exactly what to say and do for each of the lessons. The spelling journal is a place your child can record commonly misspelled words or words they are having trouble with.  The workbook and spelling journal are consumable and you will need one for each of your students. Logic of English offers a download option for these that I think would be a great buy if you have multiple students. This page has all of the products.  The flash cards are used to teach the phonograms, grammar rules, spelling rules, and morphemes.  Game cards and tiles are used to play a variety of games. 

Day One of each week's lesson is titled Essential Concepts and teaches the phonograms, sounds, and the spelling rules.  Day Two is Building Words and has a review activity, spelling journal entries, and spelling analysis.  Day Three is Words in Context and has a review activity, grammar lesson, and dictation exercises.  Day Four is Words in Action and has a review activity, vocabulary, composition, and dictation exercises.  If you are using the Essentials Reader, this is also scheduled on Day Four of each week. Day Five is Check Your Understanding and reviews the concepts learned. 

One of the biggest changes from the first edition to the second is that now there are 3 levels of spelling lists, dictation exercises, grammar lessons and activities for each lesson, allowing you to use the program with students of multiple ages. You also could use it with the same children over 3 years using the concepts they have learned and applying them to the next levels of spelling lists and activities.  The text tells the teacher which parts of the lesson are to be completed by all students, and which activities are completed for levels A, B, and C. The lessons are color coordinated with Level A activities in blue, Level B activities in green, and Level C activities in orange. Level A is recommended for a student around 2nd grade or struggling students, Level B for around 3-4th grade students, and Level C for fifth grade and above, but it will vary depending on the individual student. A placement test is in the front of the teacher's book to help you decide where to place your students. There are also 10 pre-lessons that you can use to strengthen foundational skills before beginning lesson one.  The 2nd Edition Teacher's Manual has a clear, full color layout, more teacher tips, new guide for spelling analysis, and the games are included in the Teacher's Manual instead of in a separate book.

Because of all of the additions, the 2nd Edition has been split into 2 volumes.  It really needed to be because this hardcover first volume Teacher's Manual is over 600 pages! There are 15 lessons in Volume One and 15 lessons in Volume Two.  Volume Two is set to release in January 2017.

When we reviewed the first edition, one of the things that I said was that I really wanted there to be a reading component to the program.  The Essentials Reader was a pre-order at that time so we did not have an opportunity to use it.  The reading portion is optional.  The assignments are listed in the Teacher's Manual but you do not have to use these in order to use the Essentials program.  I however like to do reading and spelling together.  You can choose to add just the Essentials Reader which contains 30 reading assignments based on each of the lessons, or you can also purchase The Essentials Reader Teacher's Guide and Essentials Reader Activity Book.  The Teacher's Guide has pre-reading,post reading, handwriting, and cross curricular activities.  The Essentials Reader Activity Book has activities for each lesson and copywork in manuscript and cursive. 

Another element that is not required but that I have found really helpful is the Phonics with Phonograms App that can be downloaded on any iOS device.  All of the phonograms are on the app and the sounds are spoken very clearly.  It has helped my guys so much to be able to hear the sounds. We use the app along with the flashcards when we are reviewing and learning new phonograms.

Are there any other required supplies?
Colored Pencils
Student Notebook 
Index Cards
Whiteboard, markers, eraser
timer for some of the games

You also will need a way to keep all of your cards organized.  I found this box at the Dollar Tree that I thought was a perfect fit :)  

I also bought some rubber bands for the different sets of cards.  For each set I rubber band the ones that we have covered in one stack and keep the ones we have not yet done in a second stack with a rubber band around them.  

The phonogram game tiles are kept in a Ziplock bag in the box, but honestly a better way to keep them organized might be to put a magnet on the back and put them on a cookie sheet or a magnetic white board so you would not have to dig out the ones you need each time.  All of the supplies for Essentials (Teacher's Manual, student book, spelling journal, notebook, quick reference cards, colored pencils, pencil, whiteboard markers, and box of cards) I keep in a box and bring all of it to the table every day.

I have been using Essentials 2nd Edition with my 10 year old 4th grade son Anthony, who struggles in reading, writing, and spelling.  I started him on lesson one in Level A.  My third grade son joined in some of the activities as well.  We also have been using the Essentials Reader to go along along with the lessons.  We only do school 4 days a week so I have been combining some things and skipping a few activities to be able to complete one lesson per week spending 30-40 minutes per day.

I really like the new look of the Essentials 2nd Edition!  The added content with multiple levels is a definite bonus for the homeschool family.  Even if you only have one child, you will be able to use the curriculum over 3 different years.  To some the Teacher's Manual may look intimidating, but truly once you read through the introductory material and decide what level to start your child in all you have to do is turn to lesson one and begin.  The entire lesson is scripted for you and you are told exactly what to say and do.  If you are used to just handing your child a spelling list to memorize, Essentials will be a bit of a learning curve for you.  It is very hands on for the parent.  You will be there with your child throughout the entire lesson every day.  The concepts may be different as well because the curriculum teaches the rules behind why words are read and spelled the way they are.  It is not just rote memorization.  Essentials is much more then a spelling curriculum.  It also teaches grammar, vocabulary, and if you add the reader you will have reading as well.

Even though it is divided into daily lessons, it still is easy to customize.  You can speed up and slow down as much as your child needs.  You can also choose not to do some of the activities every day.  I really like the built in review.  It helps to ensure your child really understands before moving on. Even though the structure of the lessons is the same, the activities are varied and interesting.

We love the reader.  It has a good variety of fiction, poems, and non fiction that both boys have found interesting.  I liked the included activity and copywork for each story.  

Even after several weeks of using the curriculum, the lessons do not move as smoothly as I want them to.  Part of that is because I am not the best at being organized and even with all of the things I need in front of me I feel like I am scrambling to go from one activity to the next.  It has gotten better since we first started. Anthony has learned quite a bit.  He was writing his own story the other day and was marking all the short and long vowel sounds :)  He says he wishes the workbook could lay flat like a spiral bound book because it is hard to write on the left side of the book.

You can find samples of Essentials 2nd Edition on this page (scroll down to the bottom of the page.)

Members of The Crew reviewed Essentials 2nd Edition, and Foundations Levels A, B, C, and D.  To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

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