Wednesday, November 7, 2012



Primary Arts of Language, or PAL, is a two part program consisting of a Writing Program and a Reading Program, with a bonus Spelling Program on the side.  Created by Jill Pike for the Institute of Excellence in Writing, or IEW, this amazing program is designed to teach kids K-2nd grade how to read, write and spell while having fun.  Here is what you will see when you open the box after ordering the two programs-
At first glance one could get easily overwhelmed.  I did!  Let me suggest that the first thing you do is pop in the DVD for both programs, sit back and relax while Jill takes you through the ins and outs of the program!  Now, you will feel so much more relaxed and confident, I promise!
Here's how it works in a condensed version-
Before you get started you will need to put together the file folder games.  You can do this as you come to each one in the lesson plans, but I suggest you just sit down one night and blast through them.  All of the supplies are given to you in the reading package, you will just need to supply the file folders to put them together.  It does take a little time, but these are the heart of the program so don't skip this step!  Now you are ready to begin!
Starting with Lesson One in the Reading Manual you begin with Poetry. Here you will be instructed to read the first poem and discuss.  If there are extra activities to do, they are discussed in the lesson plan.  New poems are introduced every few weeks.
Then you will be instructed to do your Class Journal, Printing and Story Time.  This is where you will jump over to the Writing Lesson plan, which will give you specific instructions for what to do now.  Each day you and your child will write in a class journal, practice letter writing and eventually write words, first on a white board, then on sheets provided and eventually on lined paper.  You end this time by reading a story.  (The stories to read are even included in the first 8 lessons.)  After the story you talk about who was in the story, what happened and how it ended (the clincher).  For those of you familiar with IEW, these are steps that will be followed up on in the higher levels of IEW programs.
Now you hop back to the reading lesson plans!  Here you will find yourself in three different stages, depending on how far you are into the lessons.
Stage 1- Foundations and reader words- This is where your child learns letters, sounds and new sight words using the folder games you put together, as well as practices writing their letters and numbers.
Learning vowels with little people!
This is the game Mugs.  Letters are written on the bones, and when your child says the sound the letter makes, he then feeds the bone to the dog.  One of CJ's favorites!

This is a variation of the card game, in which you teach several sight words a day.  Once you can say the word you get to feed the monster.  Again, one of CJ's favorites!  Another suggested activity with the sight words is games of lightening.  We also made sentences with the sight words and played war with the sight words. 
And yes, he did come up with the sentence Colby is brown, though later he thought it was funnier to make the sentence Colby is purple!

Another one of our favorite games is Match It.  Here you work on sight words in a memory game fashion.  There are new packs of words to add every so often.

I could go on and on about the folder games since my active child really loved this part of the program but I will leave you with just one more- Action Charades.  This game teaches, you guessed it, action words.  We would take turns picking a word, reading it, and the acting it out.  With words like run, jump, hop and fly you can see why it was a favorite.
Stage 2 introduces Activity Time.  This is a goal your child works towards so they can earn the privilege to choose the folder games they would like to play and then play for 30 minutes.  This is a fun time that siblings can be included in the fun or your child can work alone. 
Stage 3, which we have not gotten to yet, is Discovery Time, when you can drop the folder games for 30 minutes and instead work on word packs containing more sight words, but at higher levels
Stage 4 is Library Time.  Once your child has mastered the word packs they are ready to choose from books you have collected to read on their own.
After this learning time, regardless of what stage you are in, you have Phonetic Farm Time.
As you can see in the picture below, this is a folder in which you add stickers to a farm picture representing the sounds you are learning.  To reinforce the sounds you can play a knock-knock game in which you and the child take turns knocking on the sound, asking "who's there" and then saying the sound and associated words.  For whatever reason, this was also a favorite of CJ's and really helped him learn the "helper letters".
Finally comes the Agenda or Work Period.  This is the time that your child completes a page from their workbook.  You can make a chart for this time that has words or pictures telling your child what they must do for the day- creating the habit of working on their own and checking off what they have accomplished, to include not only school related items but any chores or activities you want to add.

There are a few End of The Day notes for anything you need to finish doing or review.
Whew!  YOU ARE DONE FOR THE DAY!  Tired?  Actually, after the first day, I was exhausted.  But once we got into a schedule we were on a roll.  One of the key notes that Jill teaches is to make each section short and snappy. The activities should be quick and fun to help keep the child's attention.  I think that this is what made this program so successful for us!
A few side notes-
*Another goal your child has is to earn readers along the way.  These are included on the CDs you get and can be printed out.  Once your child has learned the words for a specific reader, they are REWARDED with that reader.
This was a BIG THING in our house!!  CJ was so excited to get his reader and then read all seven chapters to us.  After we all finished jumping up and down and cheering, he sat down by himself to read it again.  28 pages!  (think Dick and Jane type story, of course)  Anyway, he is already asking when he will be ready to earn his next reader.
*There are 80 lessons total.  This does not compute to 80 days necessarily.  If your child knows letters and their sounds you may be able to skip ahead of some lessons or double up.  If you have a struggling reader, there may be times when you need to slow things down a bit.  Make the program work for you!
*Throughout the lesson plans are notes, notes and more notes from Jill.  READ THEM!  It is like having her peeking over your shoulder saying "think about this", "try this", "what about this?".  They are all very helpful.
*This program takes some time- we spend sometimes over an hour or so doing it.  I will say that the time flies by because we are actively engaged and having fun.

The other component of PAL, is All About Spelling.  It is introduced later in the lessons, so I have not had the opportunity to use it with CJ yet.  However, I have started using it with my 10 year old in the last two weeks.  After reading through the program and talking with some friends who have used it, I was encouraged that it might help us correct some issues that have led my son to be a pretty lousy speller.  Because he is a fluent reader, we are flying through the steps quickly, but with each new step he completes, we both have learned some new-to-us spelling rules and hopefully are on our way to having a better speller.  I love that the program uses techniques that appeal to the auditory, visual and kinetic learner- it does seem to be making a positive difference and I am looking forward to using it with CJ. we love this?  YES!  Do we think you should go right out and buy it?  YES!  There is just not one negative I have to say so far  about this program.  Really!

I HIGHLY recommend that if you are interested in this program you take an hour and watch the webinar that Jill presents on the program!  It is a great way to get started without feeling so overwhelmed at first.

The complete Reading Package can be ordered for $69.00, while the complete Writing Package can be bought for $89.00.  The reading package contains the teachers manual and DVD, as well as the folder games and Phonetic Farm folder.  The writing program will come with the teacher's manual and DVD, as well as All About Spelling, Level 1 Manual and interactive kit.  Both DVDs not only include Jill's overview of the programs, but also several MP3 audio presentations well worth listening to.

To see what fellow CREW members had to say about PAL, just click on the banner below!

Disclaimer- Our family receive the complete PAL program in exchange for our honest review of the product.  Opinions expressed are our own and were not influenced by the company in any way.

1 comment:

  1. I am beginning this curriculum with my 6 year old. She knows about 10 letters and their sounds. Does this curriculum teach basic letter sounds? Thank you.


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