Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Delightful Reading

Just today I finished, with my ds who is just barely 6 years old, the lessons for Robert Louis Stevenson's poem "Rain", which are the first full-fledged reading lessons in the Delightful Reading package. Prior to this, for about 3 months now, we had done simple word-building work, using the word families suggested in the teacher guide. My ds appears to be a natural reader, along the lines of my oldest dd who in Year 1 was using the Declaration of Independence for her reading lessons because we needed something that challenging in order for her to have at least one new word in each lesson. I provide this information so you'll have context for my comments below.

The teacher guide supplies you with the text of CM's Volume 1 that applies to teaching reading, along with some helpful notes. It supplies you with suggestions for alphabet and word building activities to use before beginning reading lessons. It supplies you with reading lessons using primarily poems and scripture passages; the lessons include word families and sentences that can be created from the words in the families and in the actual passage.

The kit also supplies you with cardboard alphabet cards and word cards to cut out, with little baggies to store the cards, labels for the baggies (separated by each line or section of the reading), and a lovely bag in which to keep all the baggies. It further has a little booklet that contains all the reading passages from which the reading lessons are drawn as well as pages following each passage with sentences built from words in that passage, separate pages with sentences built from words in each section of the passage.

This is all very handy to have at your fingertips like that. You can create just such a kit yourself--I figured since I have two more children learning to read, I'd go ahead and spend the money and check it out since I really didn't want to spend the time putting my own package together this summer. I am pleased with what I have, mostly.

However. . .

Some choices were made in putting this package together that I would not have made and which may create problems for some young readers. Specifically, I have concerns with some of the word family choices. IMO, word families should contain only words which use the same spelling to represent the same sound. Therefore, the word "fall" could have in its family "small" and "wall" but not "shall". The word "rain" could have in its family "main" and "lain" but not "again" (unless you're from a place where "again" is pronounced the same way as "rain"! lol).  The word "around" could have "wound" (as in "the clock was wound") but not "wound" (as in "the wound was slow to heal"). By mixing in words that have dissimilar sounds for the same spelling, you introduce ambiguity that should not be present, particularly in the first lessons, imo. My ds who is using this package right now gives every appearance of becoming a strong reader quite quickly, so these inconsistencies, although confusing for him, are not likely to throw him completely off. My dd who I am still teaching to read at 8 years old would have been devastated by these--for her I didn't even use real literature because there wasn't enough repetition of word families, so we used the McGuffey Primer and have taken more than 2 years to work through it!

This package would have worked excellently with my oldest dd and should work excellently with my ds (although I am omitting the words that do not fit in the given word families). My second dd would not have been able to progress with this at all, not because CM's methods don't work for her (they are the best methods she can use!) but because the progression in these reading passages is too fast. That's probably not an indictment of this package, because it is not aimed at children like her and in order to serve her would have to offer up a completely separate set of materials.

[This post was edited to reflect an additional problematic word family situation and an adjustment I am making with my ds.]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our Spanish Plan, This Year

This summer I sat down and read the first few chapters of Barry Farber's book "How to Learn Any Language". I made notes on his suggestions for how to begin with a foreign language (because although we've been working with Spanish for several years, I still consider dd to be a beginner). The part with suggestions begins in Part II, "Gathering Your Tools", although the previous chapters help you to understand what you are trying to accomplish and why you are using these methods.

After I made my notes, I pulled out my bin of Spanish resources and chose what would best fit my needs. I scheduled out a term's worth of work, written work from a textbook and audio work with Pimsleur. I have a whole collection of Spanish textbooks, some of which we've dabbled in before, but based on Farber's explanation of our goals I chose one I picked up at a homeschool booksale on a whim, "Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish" by Margarita Madrigal. With Pimsleur, we're still working through their inexpensive 8-lesson set. I'm not in a hurry with it, and when we finish that I've got Learning Spanish Like Crazy we can work through (also with their cheap 8-lesson CD set).

When this term ends (in only 2-1/2 weeks for us! Ahhhh!) I will need to make a new plan for the next term. We'll add in work out of a Spanish-language periodical or maybe from a Spanish-language Bible--I'm not sure yet. We'll still be following Farber's guidelines, just moving on to the next phase.