At the Allume Conference a couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of hearing Denise Eide speak, and it was one of those a-ha moments for me — like when I first sat with the director of our Classical Conversations campus to hear what the program was all about. Everything she said just clicked so perfectly in my mind, addressing frustrations I hadn’t even really consciously acknowledged and laying out a clear plan for our reading and spelling curriculum moving forward.
Although we’ve been very happy with the Explode the Code books for our younger girls — and reading has really clicked for my 1st and 2nd graders this year — I’m finding myself constantly repeating, “Oh, that’s an exception to the rule. No, here the c says “sssss”. This is a sight word; look at it again so you’ll remember it next time.” Over and over and over again. Lately I’ve even wondered if more words break the rules than actually follow them!
Denise experienced those same frustrations with her sons, but what she knew as a literacy specialist was that very few words in the English language actually do break the rules. The problem is not that English words don’t follow the rules; it’s that we’re not taught all of the rules in a systematic way.
For example, do you know why words like have and live end in a silent e but the vowels don’t say their names like they’re supposed to? It’s because no word in the English language ends in v, so the e is used to make those words follow that rule. By knowing that one rule, kids — and adults — know that when they see a word with a v-e at the end, the vowel could actually be short or long, so they have more tools as they sound it out.
I started reading Denise’s book, Uncovering the Logic of English, as soon as I got home from Allume, and I found myself fascinated by the reading research she includes in the introduction. For example:
“Many educators mistakenly believe that good readers read whole words rather than reading phonetically. The prevailing thought is that readers who sound out words are slow, and that fast readers have actually developed instant recognition of the whole word. This is some of the theory behind the Dolch List, a commonly used list of 250 words. However, recent research using functional MRI has shown that good readers are actually processing the sounds one at a time, even though they perceive it as a whole word. It is just that the brain is so fast, it appears they are reading whole words. In reality, though, they are converting the letters on the page to sounds.”
Logic of English Essentials Curriculum
The theory behind the Logic of English Essentials curriculum is that by systematically teaching kids the 74 phonograms (written combinations of letters that represent the sounds that make up the English language) plus 30 foundational spelling rules, they will have the tools they need to not only read better but also to spell better!
I’ve been struggling to choose a spelling curriculum this year, so I was especially excited that this program combines reading and spelling (that only makes sense, right?!).
The girls have also been begging to learn cursive, but I haven’t really found a workbook or program that I wanted to spend money on either. I had the chance to look through the Logic of English cursive handwriting book (which is currently being rebranded as Rhythm of Handwriting) while at Allume as well, and when I got home I immediately purchased two cursive workbooks for the big girls because — like the Essentials program — it just makes sense to me. From the description:
“Letters are taught using a multi-sensory approach that begins with large-motor movements. By learning how to form each letter on a handwriting chart using the pointer finger, students are able to master the motions before advancing to writing the letter with a pencil.”
In the introduction to the Essentials program, Denise also outlines the many benefits of teaching kids cursive, and her recommendation is actually to begin cursive before print (although they have workbooks available in both cursive and manuscript):
“At Pedia Learning Inc., we strongly recommend beginning with cursive. Cursive has six primary advantages over print: 1) It is less fine motor skill intensive. 2) All the lowercase letters begin in one
place, on the baseline. 3) Spacing within and between words is controlled. 4) By lifting the pencil between words, the beginning and ending of words is emphasized. 5) It is difficult to reverse letters such as b’s and d’s. 6) The muscle memory that is mastered first will last a lifetime.”
The other book I’m excited to see is the Doodling Dragons book, which has just been released. This book provides a strong foundation for young children by teaching them all of the sounds that each letter makes:
- A makes three sounds: apple, snake, wash
- G makes two sounds: green and giants
- Y makes four sounds: yell, mystery, type, baby
I’m excited to use this book to reinforce ALL of the letter sounds with our big girls and to start our younger girls with these tools from the beginning!
Enter to Win
This week, Logic of English is giving one lucky Life Your Way reader an Essentials curriculum pack, which includes the Essential’s Teacher’s Manual, Manuscript Workbook, Basic Phonogram Cards, and Spelling Rules Cards!
To enter, fill out the form below:
This giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, 11/9. The winner will be selected randomly and notified by email, and this post will be updated with their name as well. Open to U.S. residents 18 years old and above. I purchased some of the resources I described above on my own, and Logic of English sent me others to review, but regardless, all opinions are 100% mine!