What It Is
Essentials is a complete program that is multi-level and covers reading, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary. It’s a scripted program that is designed to be easy to use for any teacher. You’ll find advice about scheduling the program, pre-lessons, and a placement test. Every lesson has assessments so you can keep track of exactly how your students are doing. Volume 1 is available now, with volume 2 coming out in January 2017.
The program has 3 levels of difficulty, making this something that you can use for 3 years worth. It’s designed for ages 7 and up, so you could use this for a first grader who’s ready for a little more challenge and continue to use it all the way through the third grade, or start in second and finish it in the fourth grade. Each level is progressively more difficult, moving from simple three-letter words to more advanced words and even morphology.
Pre-lessons help you ensure that your students have the foundation they need before beginning the full essentials program. I could also see them being used as review for a student who’s needing a review after a summer off or who is coming from another program.
Games are there to help reinforce the concepts. Games are played using cards or a whiteboard or even scraps of paper and a basket (basketball, anyone?) Each game is explained clearly in the teacher’s manual, so you don’t have to guess and wonder if you’re playing the game correctly or if you’re missing anything.
There’s a guide to teach spelling analysis and the spelling rules. A spelling journal is also included. There are three levels of spelling. Grammar and dictation are also covered in three levels. Vocabulary is another thing that is covered in three levels so as you can see, this is a very complete program that can be used for years.
The Essentials Reader is a phonics-controlled reader. It has non-fiction and fiction as well as poetry for beginning readers to practice with. It’s recommended to use the reader a lesson behind, though it’s perfectly fine to be several lessons behind if that’s what is needed for fluent reading and comprehension. Each reading lesson is in three parts – pre-reading, reading, and post-reading. Post-reading has suggestions for comprehension questions and ideas for things such as retelling, copywork, and even outlining and reports. A student activity book helps make sure your students are right on track and involved.
What You Get
Here’s what all you get with the program, which costs $198 as a package:
- Essentials Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1
- Essentials Student Workbook, Volume 1 (student consumable)
- Spelling Journal (student consumable)
- Morpheme Cards, Set 1
- Basic Phonogram Flash Cards
- Spelling Rule Flash Cards
- Grammar Flash Cards
- Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards
- Phonogram Game Cards: Bookface
- Phonogram Game Cards: Manuscript or Cursive
- Phonogram Game Tiles
- Spelling Analysis Card
- Phonogram and Spelling Rule Quick Reference
What We Thought
I already mentioned above that I love the program. And I do. It’s logical, is laid out well, easy to read (and see, which is great when you have vision issues), and easy to follow. The scripting is enough that if I need it, I can depend solely on the script, but it’s easy enough to read over the lesson and then be able to paraphrase as needed so Boobear understands it perfectly well. Not a lot of teacher prep is needed. Setting up for a lesson (including setting up my easel with its whiteboard) and a game takes less than five minutes usually. Lessons themselves take around half an hour.
And that’s a half hour that Boobear enjoys. I was a little afraid the program – even the pre-lessons – would be over his head but he has flourished with the challenge. He actually enjoys the oral exercises, loves it when he gets to write on the board, and he adores the games. I can easily see us using this program for all three levels of instruction. This is one of the first programs I would happily recommend for anyone who is looking for a language arts program.
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