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Foundations Level, A Complete Set Review by Brittney Rutherford

Denise Eide
Logic of English
1505 10th St NE
Rochester, MN 55906

Teaching children how to read can be intimidating. There are a lot of sounds, a lot of rules, a lot of exceptions to the rules . . . just a lot of stuff for children to process. When I had the opportunity to work through Foundations Level A from Logic of English, I was intrigued to see how it could change our approach to reading. 

Foundations is a four part series (A-D) designed to teach kindergarten through second grade reading, writing and spelling skills. It is a colorful, multi-sensory program specifically targeted at children 4-7 years old. Foundations A teaches student to read and write all lowercase letters, as well as how to decode short vowel words and consonant blends. I would be using this with my son who knew his letters and could read and write a little upon starting. However, Foundations is a more comprehensive program than I had ever used before, so I felt like starting at the beginning would secure the fundamental skills.

In order to facilitate this review and get the most out of the curriculum, I received a complete set that includes the Foundations Level A Teacher's Manual, Student Workbook, Doodling Dragons (picture book), Phonogram and Spelling Rule Quick Reference, Rhythm of Handwriting Quick Reference Chart, Rhythm of Handwriting Tactile Cards, Phonogram Game Cards, Student Whiteboard, Basic Phonogram Flash Cards, Phonogram Game Tiles, and the Spelling Analysis Card.

All of the components work together to provide an interactive and multi-sensory learning experience, but the teacher's manual and student workbook are the core of the program. The hardback teacher's manual includes 40 lessons and eight review lessons. The manual is laid out nicely and is very user friendly. Each lesson begins with the objectives for the lesson, the required materials, and any optional materials. The lessons are divided up clearly with bold headings, they are scripted, and they are even color coded. This makes the manual easy to follow.

Colorful sidebar boxes in the teacher's manual include additional information such as Book Lists, Teacher Tips, Vocabulary, Multi-Sensory Fun, Letter of the Day type activities, and Challenges for advanced students. The specific ideas will really help you get the most out of each lesson. The review lessons help you understand where your student falls with understanding and true mastery. There are multiple activities listed for assessing their knowledge, as well as ideas to continue practicing concepts when necessary.

I am very impressed with the depth and breadth of these lessons. There are very specific activities for sound discrimination, enunciation, and really understanding how sounds are formed. This has been critical for transforming my son's understanding. It teaches phonograms by sound, instead of letter name, and it teaches every sound that a letter makes right from the beginning. It does not teach the letters in alphabetical order. Instead, children are given the tools they need to begin reading after just a few lessons.  Logic of English also uses the philosophy that children will spell their way into reading, so spelling lessons are built around the material taught in the reading sections.

Handwriting is taught concurrently, and the instructions for both manuscript and cursive are right in the teacher's manual. Although they recommend teaching cursive first, you can choose to buy the student book and other materials in manuscript. Manuscript worked for us because my son had already tried to teach himself how to write, and I wanted to correct some of the strokes he was using. His handwriting has already improved in just a few weeks from using their simple instructions. For students who are not ready to write, they are encouraged to practice letter formation on the whiteboard, a chalkboard, with window paints, in salt trays, with the tactile handwriting cards, or in other kinesthetic ways.

Whenever we are to use the student workbook, it is clearly labeled in the teacher's manual. The student workbook includes developmentally appropriate activity pages that have the student coloring, circling or matching objects, letters and words. All instructions are in the teacher's manual, which leaves the student's pages visually clean and uncluttered. The student readers are on perforated pages in the back for the child to assemble themselves, and there are even games in the workbook, which adds even more variety.

Each time a new letter is introduced, we're also referred to Doodling Dragons, which is their colorful and unique alphabet book. It's cute, and my son always likes guessing what might be presented for the current letter. We're also told exactly when and how to use the phonogram flash cards, phonogram game cards, and phonogram tiles for lesson extensions and games. There are so many games written into the curriculum that have the students up and moving around the house that I cannot do them all. I just pick a few he will like and we have fun. Most games have alternative instructions for classroom or single student play. There is no shortage of interactive material in this curriculum, and I really appreciate that it teaches to every learning style.  There are a lot of cards and components to deal with, but it's something I'm willing to tackle.

Although the program says it can be used for students as young as four years old, I definitely think the pace with a four year old would be much slower, and you would probably need to do every single activity for them to grasp everything that is being presented. One lesson could easily take a week or longer. My six year old has enough maturity and reading experience that I only need to pick a few of the suggested activities and he can finish a lesson and master the content in one day. In fact, he's almost finished all of Foundations A in less than two months, with a new confidence and excitement for reading, and we are eager to continue with Foundations B right away!

-Product review by Brittney Rutherford, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2016