Preschool with Bo Unit 4: Letter D, Isaac and His Sons

3/31/2014

Welcome to Unit 4 of Little Hands to Heaven. This week overlaps last week in that we started this unit the day we finished Unit 3, which was sometime during Week 9 or 10. I'm getting behind on posting so I'm starting to forget. I'm hoping to post more often until I get caught up. This week, we did Letter D, and learned about Isaac and his sons, Jacob and Esau.  See our preschool curriculum and plans and a detailed Week 1 to see more details on what we are doing.


~Bo is 3 years, 2 months~

Day 1

Bible Activity

I cut 4 women out of my Mary Jane's Farm magazine for Bo to add to his 1-10 counting book. (The women symbolize Rebekah).

Bo can do cut/paste activities independently now for the most part.


Letter Activity

Instead of using cooking oil or liquid soap on a baking pan, I made the pan a salt tray.



Then Bo made camel tracks in the salt and I suddenly wished I had made a desert theme with sand instead of salt, since our fingerplay had a dusty desert camel theme:

One dusty camel

In the desert heat,

One dusty camel

Took Rebekah to meet,

Isaac near the field

In the desert heat.

D-D-D-D

So, I purposed to do one later in the week. :D

Our Active Exploration today had to do with Isaac and Rebekah meeting for the first time. I did the activity as if Bo and I were meeting, and didn't use stuffed animals. I shook hands with him and asked him the suggested questions.

Day 2

Art Activity 

Bo traced his name and did a camouflage activity because Jacob tried to hide who he was when he pretended to be Esau.

Letter Activity

Bo is tiptoeing on a masking tape letter D.


The goal in these activities is to reinforce the letter sound, so I say the letter sound while he tiptoes to get him to say it.

Today, we played the song from the Singing Bible*, "The Blessing That Will Be," and Bo Danced around the D. I'm really enjoying many of the songs on the CD! This one was especially one of my favorites.

We didn't do the Bible Activity (role playing), but we read the Bible stories for today.

Day 3

Letter Activity 

I remembered to do something fun with the Animal ABCs! I had Bo watercolor and color with markers this time.






Bo's Letter Activity today was the Hide and Seek 'D' page, but I must not have taken a picture. Looks like I swapped Day 4's Letter Activity with todays, too. We didn't do the Math Activity, and probably should mention that we are not doing the Count on Me Bible Activity.

Day 4

Edible Desert Themed Sensory Tray

Our Letter Activity today tied win with the fingerplay. I chanted the rhyme while Bo played in a baking tray filled with vanilla sandwich cookies that were crushed to look like sand. I added a Desert Toob* and we talked about all the desert animals.



Bo made a D with "Jacob," for a Letter Activity.



One dusty camel taking Isaac to meet Rachel near the well in the desert heat. D-D-D-D!

Malachi and Eliana were lining up to play, too, so I moved the tray to the dining room table so they could all play.

Day 5

Dramatic Play ~ Jacob Wrestled God

We did this on Day 5, but it is an activity from Day 4. Bo is wrestling the balloon like Jacob wrestled God because he wanted a blessing.


Devotional Activity

Big Thoughts for Little People - D is for Doing. We talked about how each of the children or animals are helping each other, and about doing what needs done cheerfully.



So, we've been reading all the Bible readings at the beginning of the week, and again each lesson focusing on the lesson of the day in the reading. It really only takes 30 minutes a day, and if I am falling behind, or don't feel well, I skip some of the activities.

Captivated: Finding Freedom in a Media Captive Culture {Review}

Captivated Movie Review
At least several hours a week, my children are in front of a computer, an iPhone, or an iPod. They are downloading apps, posting to social networks, instant messaging, or "snap chatting."  While we have a strict policy about keeping apps, movies, and music clean, most of the time I find it hard to balance the amount of screen time my children consume, so I was very interested in watching the Captivated DVD by Media Talk 101.

Captivated DVD is a documentary written and filmed by Philip Telfer, founder and creator of Media Talk 101, a ministry offering Biblical help for a media saturated society.

The documentary challenges the unchecked use of media and technology in our culture and society.  It documents the potential physical, moral, spiritual, mental, and emotional impact of media and technology in our world when used without discretion. It challenges us as parents to use discernment and be proactive in this area of our children's lives.

The DVD is 107 minutes with over 2 hours of additional features, namely extended interviews. And while the DVD is intended for adults, it has been approved for all ages.

Price:

  • $16.95 - shipping included

  • If you order 2, you can get the 2nd copy for $5 - that's 2 for $21.95

  • There is also a 54 page companion study guide for $4.95 + $1.50 shipping

  • And there is also a one hour broadcast that was created to be shown on Christian television for $16.95.

Captivated DVD came at a perfect time. I unplugged my 15 year old the same week. He was becoming too distracted. He stopped reading books, fell behind on his school, and wasn't getting out of the house, playing soccer, or spending time with his friends. Why? Was he captivated?

The documentary starts off with a series of questions to get you thinking:

  • Have we entered a techno utopia or a virtual prison?

  • Is media and technology a leap in productivity or a setback to the important things in life?

  • Are our relationships richer and deeper or are they more shallow and disconnected?

The DVD offers insightful answers to these questions featuring media experts, church leaders, authors, speakers, real people, and real families, as it addresses the media challenges we face today.

The credits are an appealing series of clicks to introduce you to the movie. I'm "captivated" and drawn in right away to how one simple phone text inspires a google search, a Facebook "Like," a click, an email, and more. It's really very clever how Telfer uses this introduction to draw you in.

How did we get here? 

The documentary takes us back in history to understand what we're dealing with. We are introduced to virtuality and communication technology in the 1800s with the first telegraph ever sent.
"What hath God wrought" Numbers 23:23

The verse itself is thought provoking.

The telegraph was as revolutionary to culture as the printing press, according to the documentary, and instantly connected people across a great distance.

The documentary takes us through more recent history, as well, with the advent of the television, and how its use back then compared to its use today. We learn from Dr. David Walsh, Speaker and Author of "Smart Parenting, Smarter Kids" that the average American child is in front of a screen an average of 53 hours a week. With television, computers, tablets, and smart phones, our culture has become an "all you can eat media buffet," according to the documentary, as "we are conditioned to pile more and more on our plate."

But at what cost? The documentary has an answer.

The documentary explains the biological effects of what happens when children are constantly exposed to fast paced media. Reality becomes boring - it doesn't happen fast enough, and the consequence is a shorter attention span. The faster the pace of the programs, the shorter attention spans become. I thought that was very interesting and can see how this could be true.

Furthermore, children under age of 2 are discouraged from watching TV. I learned that the more cognitive stimulation a child gets before the age of 3 (reading and singing to a child, for example), the greater their attention span will be. I know from my own experience that when children as young as two and three watch a lot of TV, they lose interest in being read to. This is still a battle I fight with my 3 year old. If I allow him continual access to my smart phone, he would rather do that than read and do all the activities I do with him. I admit that it is nice to be able to sit my child in front of a screen to keep him occupied on occassion, but I try really hard not to let this be my crutch. I feel the important thing is to balance this time with reading, activities, fresh air and play, and not let screen time go unchecked - which is what I think the heart of the documentary is.

The documentary talks about the physical impact of media consumption by discussing the physiology of the brain and how it is changed. I learned that media stimulation directly activates the pleasure center of the brain. In fact, it tricks the brain and gives people a sense of accomplishment without having ever done anything.

The section on the myth of multi-tasking, featuring Maggie Jackson, Journalist and Author of "Distracted - The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age," was an especially eye opening part of the documentary for me. I learned that you won't remember what you learn when you are multi-tasking because automatic activity does not use the parts of your brain that relate to deep memory. We are designed to focus attention on one thing at a time. We lose speed, efficiency and accuracy if we multi-task. This doesn't include things we do automatically, like walking and chewing gum, of course, but things that require concentration. This was eye opening to me, personally, because I multi-task often. However, the more overloaded I become, the less I can focus and concentrate on anything.

A bit more History is revealed and we get a Titanic technology lesson. The Titanic sent and received 250 passenger telegrams. A telegram warning of icebergs was sent, but never got a reply. Instead passenger telegrams continued to be sent and that delay proved fatal. The historical information is fascinating!

The part on robotizing relationships really made me think twice about Facebook. Is Facebook just a shallow and narcissistic form of social media? Are everyday trivial things amplified by social media? Some are so caught up in staying current in their friend’s and social group’s lives that they have forgotten how to live their own, according to the DVD.

The documentary then shares a one month media fast testimony of a family that shares the benefits they experienced. I loved seeing real families in the documentary. Many of the scenes center around meal time or the table - classic times to spend together as a family.

We learn how media can have a physical impact on the body: hearing loss, eye strain, possibly brain cancer, carpel tunnel, texting while driving accidents, and impacting sleep by delaying or interrupting sleep.

The documentary emphasizes that it is not just what but how much.

Then it presents an experimental cure for ADHD and shares a story of children healed by this protocol: 3 nutritious meals every day, in bed by 9:00 on week nights and 10pm on weekend, limit video gaming and TV to half an hour per week, take child outside to play 1 hour a day and 3 hours on weekend. All 6 children following this protocol were able to be healed through this experiment. The documentary urges us: for the sake of the health of our children - unplug.

Then the documentary stresses that it not just how much, but what as it switches gears to content. TV used to be a vast wasteland - now it's a toxic dump, as far as content is concerned. As a culture, we are becoming desensitized, and demoralized by what's on TV. What once bothered us, we are now okay with. This section features Bob Waliszewski of Focus on the Family's Plugged In. My 15 year old son paused the DVD to discuss this section because, as a family, we use Plugged In to screen movies, but we don't always agree with the selection of movies they approve of, so this invalidated their point on content in my son's eyes.

What I got out of this section is that we cannot trust our own hearts because we don't know the effect it has on our lives.

The documentary goes into a section on Video Game Addiction saying that for some, it has taken over their lives. And that instead of seeking meaning, one testimony of a video game addict says he is escaping meaning and escaping reality in his video games. And getting away from reality is getting away from God.

Farmville Fanatic Finds Freedom is a testimony of a woman who realizes what a waste of time it has been now that she has found freedom.

While I get a strong feeling that media can have negative effects, the documentary is not saying "no" to media. It's saying use media in responsible and God glorifying ways.

But, Media and entertainment is a battle ground for our hearts and minds. Media influences our worldview, and it's hard to identify the enemy - it's woven into the fabric of our society. We need to use the Bible as our spectacles to help us see and find freedom.

Is there hope?

When given knowledge and understanding, we can use discernment. Discernment can be used for good or bad.  Wisdom is choosing the good. I really liked that!

And the good news is that we can start over. The documentary offers suggestions on how to find freedom and make changes to honor God. It offers some practical suggestions on how to fill that time up with beneficial and meaningful things, but that freedom will require an action. We have to take steps in our own life and evaluate how our lives, relationships, and our walk with God are impacted by the media age. The DVD gives you practical suggestions on what to do with this information and what will come as a result.

The practical suggestions are all about choosing God and redeeming the time (Ephesians 5:15).

We need to re-captivated by something else. . .  Jesus Christ.
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5)

The documentary ends with images of devices powering down, and then smiles of people who have been set free. Very powerful!

Watch the video clips to see more!

My Thoughts


Captivated DVD has opened my eyes to the use of media and technology in our culture and society, especially the potential physical, moral, spiritual, mental, and emotional impact in our lives. I do feel challenged as a parent to use discernment and be more proactive in this area of my children's lives.

I feel the DVD did a good job convincing me of the impact of media, but I would have liked to see more practical advice on how to redirect my children.

My 15 year old loves playing computer games, so one way that I have attempted to redirect him this school year is to have him learn computer programming so that he can eventually design his own game.

My 13 year old can't do his school without listening to music, as it helps him focus. I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing, or if this is an area I should be proactive in. If it is helping him, why is it a bad thing?

To be proactive with my 9 year old, I enrolled him in a homeschool class that uses his favorite computer game to teach History, rather than let him play just for fun. Does this count? I'm not really sure, as the documentary doesn't spend a lot of time addressing the benefits of media.

It got to be a little long towards the end, but it was still well worth my time to watch. Overall, Captivated DVD was excellent - a must see documentary for all families (whether you think you need to watch it or not).

If I could bury this for discovery in the future, Captivated DVD would be a perfect time capsule of our generation.

Pros:

  • eye opening/thought provoking

  • good evidence

  • challenging

  • builds a compelling case on why we need less media

  • useful tool

  • definitively Christian

  • some of it is even a bit nostalgic

  • content is well organized

  • testimonies from real people

  • the scenes are varied

  • uses interesting quotes

  • good camera angles, details and images

  • well made video

  • extended interviews offer more details and information

Cons:

  • not balanced with the benefits of media and technology in our age

  • got to be a little long

  • emphasizes unplugging rather than showing what a balanced, wise use of media should look like

Crucial Conversations With My 15 Year Old

I asked Nathan what he thought and he said, "I think they have a good concept."

But, when I asked him if it convicted him in any way, he stated that he doesn't feel media is a problem for him. For Nathan, it is not a matter of what, but how much, he thinks. I agree about the content, but not the how much. I feel it can get out of hand if his use goes unchecked.

I mentioned above that I unplugged Nathan. During this time, we came up with a plan to fill his time with meaningful things.

His plan:

  • noon ball (at the Y three days a week)

  • high school soccer (2 hour practice 5 days a week + games)

  • work out at the Y (lift weights)

  • read books

  • school work

I feel these are healthy activities that include plenty of fresh air, and exercise, but I wish that he had at least two more hobbies, including an indoor hobby or a winter sport hobby. And I am still not sure how to balance this with media in a positive, God honoring way.

It was a good discussion and I have lots to meditate on.
Captivated Movie Review

I later visited Telfer's site, Media Talk 101, and it shares Action Steps - practical suggestions on how to take steps regarding discernment that I found helpful:

Connect with CaptivatedTheMovie on Facebook or on Twitter: @CaptivatedMovie


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Preschool with Bo Unit 3: Letter C, God Blesses Abraham

3/28/2014

Welcome to Unit 3 of Little Hands to Heaven and Week 4 of preschool with Bo. We really had a lot of fun last week rowing We're Going on a Bear Hunt, but all of our weeks can't be that fun, or else I would burn out. And that's no fun at all. So this week, we are back to a more structured schedule following the guide for LH. This week Bo is learning about the Letter C and Abraham. I was sick the first part of the week, so we started half way through Week 7 and finished in Week 8. If you follow along with all of my posts, you will see that many of our weeks overlap a little. And you will also see a little of what I am doing with the other children during the week as well.  See our preschool curriculum and plans and a detailed Week 1 to see more details on what we are doing.


~Bo is 3 years, 2 months~

Days 1 - 2

We read the story of Abraham and each day focused on a different part of the story.

Math Activity ~ Learning My Name

Bo can spell and read his nickname, so we practiced spelling and saying his full name.




Bible Activity

Abraham packed and left as God told him to do, so we continued working in our counting book by adding three pieces of luggage (I didn't imagine that Abraham had suitcases, so the bags we found in my Mary Jane's Farm magazine worked just fine, I thought.)





Counting 1 - 2 - 3.

Letter Activity 

We did Animal ABC's C is for Caterpillar instead of gluing cotton balls to a letter C. It's just easier to store these letter activities, and Bo likes the various animals. I add this because I notice that many who use HOD like to use it as is with no extras, and that's perfectly fine, if that works for them. There is really no need to change anything in the guide, but it is a convenience for me when I do. Sometimes an alternate activity is just easier, too.

Also, I keep forgetting to do anything fun with these (like painting the C before we glue down the caterpillars), but Bo is really intent on cutting.




Bible Activity ~ Act Out the Bible Story

This was fun activity in which we read the story and acted it out using stuffed animals.







Then I had a brilliant idea to use the long, wavy grass from our row last week to help us act out the story.

Lot wanted the best land with the most grass, so we divided the grass so.




Bo was real engaged with the story this way.

And he learned that Abraham trusted God to let Lot choose the best land, and God blessed Abraham in return.


Devotional Activity

In Big Thoughts for Little People,* we read C is for Crying and we talked about when it is okay to cry (when you are hurt), and when it's not okay to cry (when you are not really hurt). Bo had developed a whiney "fake" cry (you know the kind?), when he didn't get his way, so this was a really helpful lesson. I reminded him of the story many times over the week and into the next, and he eventually stopped. I like how it explains that crying will help you feel better, but if you are not really hurt, smiling will also help you feel better.



As always, Bo enjoys the fun pictures.

Day 3, 4 & 5

Fingerplay

Bo does not enjoy the fingerplay each week and that's okay. The words are hard for him to say. I've been doing the whole fingerplay for him once each week, and then focus on one verse thereafter. This week it was "Clippity, Clippity, C-C-Clack! God tells Abraham You must pack." This one was especially hard because Bo can't say the /k/ sound. We worked on making a coughing sound all week, but no go.

Letter Activity 

Driving cars on a masking tape Letter C.





Bible Activities/Dramatic Play

Just a note: I'm not doing all of the drama activities  - this is the hardest part of the guide for me. Role playing is not my strongest talent. I'd much rather make or create something. So, if I can, I will substitute the drama for a craft.

Art Activity ~ God's Promise to Abraham

Bo colored on an index card and I folded it in half to be a tent. Then Bo painted gold glitter on a piece of black paper to represent the stars in the sky.




Then I was inspired to pull out the Passover set I shared in my Ancient Egypt post and use the Bible characters to act out the story.

Abraham and the Angel of God



Abraham and the Three Visitors




Dramatic Play

We acted out the scene of the three visitors and had a picnic of juice boxes and natural fruit gummy snacks - a lesson from the manual. I strung an extra long jump rope across the room and hung a blanket over it to make a tent. Then the kids acted out the scene with stuffed animals. I wasn't feeling well, so this required extra effort on my part so after I got it all set up, I just let the kids play and enjoy their snack.

Letter Activity ~ Hide and Seek 'C'  



Active Exploration

Just as Isaac grew up and changed, Bo is changing, too. We looked at baby pictures and talked about how Bo has changed since he was a baby. Of course, I love any excuse to pull out my Project Life albums!






Some of my pages have a QR code that is linked to a video on YouTube. So, I played a video of Bo's first laugh. It was a fun belly aching laugh where Jordan is making him laugh by blowing on his tummy, and I enjoyed watching it with Bo.


Elli enjoyed this lesson with Bo, too.


Animal ABCs ~ 'c' is for Camel 

The camel ties into next week's theme, so I left it for very last.


Well, despite being sick, and this unit spanning two weeks, I'm thankful that we got done as much as we did.

Spelling You See: Jack and Jill {Review}

Spelling You See Review
Does a spelling program with no word lists, no spelling tests, and no memorizing rules appeal to you? If so, you might be interested in Spelling You See.

Spelling You See: Jack and Jill (Level B) uses a nursery rhyme theme to introduce words in a fun and meaningful way. Because nursery rhymes are easy to say and learn, your elementary child can be introduced to new vocabulary and sounds through repetition and rhyme.

The program consists of two main components:

Spelling You See Review

  • Instructor’s Handbook $16 Contains a “Getting Started” guide with an overview of the philosophy, concepts and skills in this level, information on the organization of the lessons, as well information about letter chunking, “no rule day”, dictation, answers to frequently asked questions, and additional passages for dictation.

Spelling You See Review


  • Student Pack $30 Includes Student Workbooks, a Guide to Handwriting, and a pack of erasable colored pencils.

Five levels are currently available. Levels are not graded, but are based on spelling readiness, and placement guidelines are available to determine the level your child is ready for. See samples and frequently asked questions to learn more.

Spelling You See Review
How it works:

Thirty-six lessons are divided into 2 books - Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 1

I reviewed Jack and Jill (Level B) with Eliana, my 1st grader.

Each day, she does two worksheets. On the first worksheet, we read the nursery rhyme, clap in rhythm to each syllable, and follow the directions on the worksheet. I help her find different details within the rhyme. With this, she is learning to follow directions and search for common patterns in words, like punctuation and capitalization. Finally, she copies a portion of the rhyme on the lines provided.

On the second worksheet, she fills in a set of letter boxes, focusing on short vowel sounds. The boxes are designed to help the brain learn sound-to-letter correspondence. (As she writes each letter, I am instructed to encourage her to say the sound, and then create a word from individual sounds). First she copies the words into the boxes, and after lesson 3, she writes the words I dictate to her. I chose 6 new words each day, focusing on a different vowel each week. (I wasn't told specifically which words to use, rather was given a list of words to choose from in the Instructor's Handbook).

Part 2

Part 2 continues the nursery rhyme theme, but now the teacher guides the student to find vowel and consonant patterns in each passage, and students begin more advanced copywork. Once a week, students have a "No Rule Day," where they have a chance to be creative. They can write, dictate or illustrate a response to the weekly nursery rhyme.

Pencil grip technique and correct letter formation is emphasized, and manuscript writing is encouraged  in the program since everything they see is in manuscript (or print).

Getting Ready

I read through the Teacher's Handbook to familiarize myself with the program before starting. The program is open and go after this. (I received an advanced PDF copy of Level B to facilitate this review.)

A Week in the Life of Spelling You See

Each weekly lesson is divided into five parts, labeled A through E.

Lesson 1A

On Day 1, we first read through the rhyme "Jack and Jill," clapping the syllables as we read.



I reminded her that each syllable gets its own clap, and some words have more than one syllable. This is something that we have practiced in her current program, but have not yet used in the context of reading.



Then I have her point to each word as she reads it.



Then, I am guided to help her find the two rhyming words in the poem and underline them.



Next, she writes the first two lines of the rhyme as copywork.


On the second page of the lesson, she traces letters and words, and then practices writing letters and words through copywork.


My first thoughts:

  • I like it.

  • It was easy to do.

  • It is more like a workbook approach, with the instructions on the student page, so it's not scripted.

  • It would be easy to take the lessons anywhere.

  • She enjoyed the quick lesson (less than 10 minutes).

  • Using nursery rhymes means my daughter can "read" words she has not been taught yet.

  • I like that spelling is being taught in the context of reading and writing (copywork and later dictation)

  • I'm thinking I would like this as a writing program!

Lesson 1B

Day 2 is very similar to Day 1, except today we find and underline all the capital Js in the rhyme.


Lesson 1C

Day 3 follows the same pattern, except today we are looking for punctuation. I help her find and circle all the commas and periods.


Lesson 1D

Day 4 again follows the same pattern as Day 1, except today we learn that names start with a capital letter, and I have her find and underline all the names in the rhyme.


In Lesson 1E, Day 5, we again follow the same pattern, except today I have her find and underline what Jack broke.







I asked Elli what she thinks so far:

  • "It's easy."

  • "It's fun."

  • "It's easy and fun!"

You can see that it is simple, repetitive, and "easy and fun."

Lessons 2 A-E follows this same format, but with "The Wheels on the Bus," and both lessons focus on a short vowel sound, details in print, and rhyming.

Then, in Lesson 3 dictation is introduced and used in each lesson thereafter.

We have completed 6 weeks of the program. I really appreciate that you are encouraged to not spend more than 10 minutes per lesson, and are even encouraged to move on to the next week, even if you don't finish all of the previous week. However, towards the end, Elli started to feel like it was a lot of writing. She was always done in less than 10 minutes, but it wasn't as much fun as in the beginning.  I also noticed that she was guessing at the words, and not really "reading" them.  I noticed this in week 6, because two lines of the poem are backwards from how we learned it, and that is how she "read" it.

I feel like we are just getting into the heart of Spelling You See. Here Elli is finding all the words with "ing" and marking them with pink.


What I Think

According to Spelling You See, copywork and dictation help the student develop a visual memory, as the brain is focusing on the way the words look in print. Hence, Spelling You See!

I noticed that the spelling words for copywork and dictation are not related to the rhyme the child is reading and copying each day, however.  So far, each week, we are learning CVC words focused on a single vowel, and none of these words are used in context. I bring this up, because learning words in context is emphasized in the program. I'm assuming that the context comes in when marking vowel combinations (referred to as "chunks"), coming up in the program.

Spelling You See stresses that without something meaningful to connect the words to - without linkage, the brain simply reverts to rote memory, storing the words for a few days and then discarding them. So, the words never make it into long-term memory.

They also say it takes a long time for spelling to become implanted and automatic. Until that happens, I will continue to see spelling errors in her free writing. This is not something I expect in our current program, once a concept has been taught.

Furthermore, I feel that a consistent copying of the same passage multiple times is learning how to spell words by memorization.

Spelling You See stresses that the goal is to create a visual memory for non-phonetic words; however, it is using this method for phonetic words as well.

In fact, Spelling You See, stresses that phonics rules need to be de-emphasized beginning in this developmental stage because they are no longer needed to help the student learn to read. They claim that over-teaching phonics at this stage can actually create unnecessary confusion in spelling. I appreciate that they stress that spelling must be connected to context in order for new information to be linked correctly and permanently to long-term memory, but I am uncomfortable with de-emphasizing phonics at this stage.

The focus of Spelling You See is to master spelling patterns and irregularly spelled words though copywork/dictation alone, and later in the program by "chunking" vowel combinations to improve visual memory.

I learned to read by memorization in the first grade in a California private school. When my family moved to Montana, I was held back and had to repeat the first grade so that I could learn to read by phonics. Because of my experience, I personally want a program with a strong emphasis on phonics, but would love this approach of connecting spelling to context to reinforce a strong phonics based program.

I like that it is "easy." Easy as in not a lot of extra work for the teacher - it's not teacher intensive at all. It would be an ideal program for a natural speller, to reinforce a phonics based spelling program, or as a writing program since it incorporates copywork and dictation. But, I am uncomfortable using Spelling You See as a spelling program alone.

Pros:

  • Ideal for visual learners and natural spellers

  • Short, easy lessons - never longer than 10 minutes

  • Instills confidence in my child because she is familiar with the passages

  • Puts spelling in context by incorporating copywork and dictation

  • Not a "list of words to learn"

  • Not teacher intensive

Cons:

  • Relies on visual memory alone

  • Phonics are not emphasized or reviewed, and in fact, are de-emphasized

  • Students are not taught why words are spelled the way they are - spelling rules are not taught

  • Spelling errors are expected until the words become "automatic," but students are not given the tools they need to learn to spell effectively

  • Not mastery based - spelling skills are not taught or reviewed

  • Cost per level and that it is consumable (I would have liked to see the Teacher Handbook be included in the cost of the Student Workbook price, since it is an integral part of the program.)

While Spelling You See as a spelling program is not for us, I did take away an idea to help us in our current program: I like the idea of having her "chunk" vowel combinations, and plan to have her highlight beginning and ending blends in her dictation.

Connect with Spelling You See on Facebook and Twitter.

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