Believe it or not, Monkey Boy is 4 years old! Next year at this time, he’ll be starting kindergarten! This year, I’m spending some time with him doing reading readiness activities and gently introducing beginning phonics. I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to preschool, but I do like to have some structure and something to follow.
So, when I had the opportunity to try out Logic of English’s Foundations Level A program with him, I thought we’d give it a whirl! Based on the latest in linguistic research, Foundations is a multi-sensory, complete phonics, reading, handwriting, and spelling program for ages four through seven. Level A uses a workbook and a variety of activities and games to teach a variety of skills.
According to the website, by the time a student completes the level, they’ll:
- Have an awareness of how sounds are formed in the mouth
- Blend and segment words as an auditory activity (with no printed words)
- Be able to identify the initial and final sound in a word and match it to the correct single-letter phonogram
- Read all the sounds for A-Z
- Write the lowercase alphabet in manuscript or cursive
- Read consonant-vowel-consonant words
- Be able to decode 25 high frequency words with some fluency
- Spell short vowel words
- Read short vowel words that include consonant blends
- Read and comprehend phrases that include all lowercase letters and short vowels
We received the teacher’s manual, student workbook, basic phonogram flashcards, a student whiteboard, handwriting tactile cards, the Rhythm of Handwriting Quick Reference chart , and two sets of phonogram game cards. We also received access to the accompanying iPad app.
How we’ve been using it
We’ve spent the last few weeks slowly working through the first few lessons. At this age, we only do school 3-4 days a week, and we keep it short and sweet, so we’ve taken close to a full week on each lesson, doing just an activity or two each school day.
Each lesson is broken into several parts. The first few have two: phonemic awareness and handwriting, with each of those parts having several activities to do. Beginning in Lesson 5, which we’ve just reached, there’s also a phonogram section in between the phonemic awareness and handwriting sections, with a new phonogram introduced each lesson.
The first phonemic awareness activity involves discussing a phonetic concept and learning it kinesthetically. For example, in Lesson 2, we talked about voiced and unvoiced sounds and said sounds like b/p and t/d while paying attention to what our throat, lips, and tongue were doing for each sound, or even watching our mouths in a mirror. This was fun for both of us, and I’m impressed at how some pretty difficult concepts are presented in a format that makes them so understandable to a young child!
The next activity uses the student workbook pages. The first few lessons focused on recognizing compound words and beginning to blend here. Using Lesson 2 as an example again, Monkey Boy had a page with ten pictures in front of him, each representing a compound word (toolbox, toothbrush, snowman, etc.). I said two words out loud, and he correctly identified which picture they went with when blended together. He enjoyed this part of the lesson too. The workbook pages are colorful and easy to understand, and the activities are just the right length and fun!
From Lesson 5 on, there is a phonogram section next, beginning with “a” and introducing a new phonogram each lesson. We’ve just gotten into these lessons.
Next we moved to the handwriting section. The first several lessons focused on various strokes that are used to form different letters, like the swing stroke, down stroke, and roll stroke. We reviewed the stroke used in the previous lesson using the handwriting cards, then learned a new one. Next we practiced the strokes in the air, on the whiteboard, and finally on the workbook page.
In later lessons, there’s more handwriting practice focused on writing the phonogram learned in each lesson.
We also received the accompanying iPad app. The app is straightforward, with a sound given and the child choosing the correct letter to go with the sound from several cards on the screen. It’s simple, with no bells and whistles, and Monkey Boy played it a few times, but wasn’t terribly interested in it. Peanut (7) played it several time and enjoyed it a bit more, so maybe he’ll be more interested in it when he gets a bit further into the program.
Our impression so far
So far, I’m impressed with the whole program! The teacher’s manual is very comprehensive. The lessons are scripted out step by step, with multiple extra tips and suggestions in colorful boxes on each page, and all aspects of phonics and handwriting are included in the lessons. There’s a great mix of kinesthetic, verbal, and written activities that keeps the interest level high for young children and target multiple learning styles.
This is a great program, especially for those who like to have everything scripted out for them, and/or those who are unsure of their ability to teach a child to read! Others who are more relaxed will still appreciate the comprehensive material, and can easily skip or add in activities as needed, since multiple options are given for each concept.
The various sets of cards were nice to have, but I think the program could be taught without them if the budget won’t allow for them. We did really appreciate the whiteboard, with the lines already on it for the handwriting practice. Monkey Boy was thrilled to have his very own whiteboard! But again, if the budget is an issue, the lines could be drawn on an ordinary whiteboard that you have on hand. As I mentioned before, we haven’t used the app much, although maybe we will later in the program. The essential pieces are the teacher’s manual and student workbook. The rest is nice, but not absolutely necessary.
So, the bottom line?
I don’t think you can go wrong with Foundations Level A from Logic of English for your beginning readers. Whether you like the scripted approach or want to pick and choose just a couple of activities from each section, your kids are sure to get a solid foundation with this. It ranks up there with the top phonics programs I’ve seen, and I’ve tried and looked at quite a few in my twelve or so years of homeschooling!
The teacher’s manual ($38.00) and student workbook ($18.00) can be purchased either printed or in PDF. The reusable resources set, containing the various card sets, handwriting quick reference chart, and whiteboard, is $88.00. Each of these is also available to purchase separately if desired.
Visit the Foundations A page at Logic of English for an entire scope & sequence and sample lessons.