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Essentials 2nd Edition Complete Set - Volume 1 & Essentials 2nd Edition Complete Set - Volume 1 Review by Margaret Chind

Essentials 2nd Edition Complete Set - Volume 1
Denise Eide
Logic of English
1505 10th St NE
Rochester MN 55906

Starting in spring of 2016, it is finally here: the new Logic of English Essentials 2nd Edition in a complete set for Volume 1 with a second volume to come in the next year. This complete set includes:

Essentials Teacher's Guide, 2nd ed., Volume 1
Essentials Student Workbook, 2nd ed., Volume 1
Spelling Journal (one per student)
Basic Phonogram Flash Cards
Spelling Rule Flash Cards
Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards
Grammar Flash Cards
Morpheme Flash Cards, Set 1
Two sets of Phonogram Game Cards - Bookface and handwriting 
Phonogram Game Tiles
Phonogram and Spelling Rule Quick Reference
Spelling Analysis Card

Extra materials, not included, but helpful to the program:

The Essentials Reader – Digital Version ($17.60)
Teachers Guide: Companion to the Essentials Reader – PDF ($16.00)
Student Activity Book: Companion to the Essentials Reader – PDF ($9.60)

The complete set includes all of the components required to successfully complete the first portion of the Logic of English Essentials. (The extra materials noted above are additional.) The complete set is priced at $198 which is a $23 savings on all the individual pieces. Each of the pieces are available a la carte as well as within the kit so if you are upgrading from the first edition or from the Foundations program you can get exactly what you need. Individual pieces range from $1-22, excluding the teacher's guide which on its own is $75, and the consumable individual student workbook is very affordable at $12. Most everything that we received for the purposes of this review are physical items. All else we needed was something to write with. We did receive three digital PDF files and are accessing these on our family iPad, although, any PDF-capable reading device would do. Essentials 2nd edition is recommended for ages eight through adult and would work for any student with a goal of learning why English phonetics spell the words we use every day. It covers phonetic review, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary curriculum for students in grades 2-6. We are using it very successfully with my accelerated learner, a six-year-old (seven in the summer) second grade student. 

The Teacher's Guide is a full-color hardcover book. The cover is a gorgeous tree with reading words all over the trunk and branches. It is 632-page thick and beautiful with so much learning inside! Volume 1 contains 15 weekly lessons split into five days of learning. Within the 320-page Student Workbook, the pages are a grey-scale black and white and include everything needed for all three levels of learning. We have been using the Essentials 2nd Edition Volume 1 for the last several weeks and enjoying every single lesson. My daughter asks for it even more often than when we have scheduled lessons. Using Essentials 2nd Edition we are learning the concepts of reading, spelling, grammar, & vocabulary with a thorough review of our basic and advanced phonetics. Some weeks we complete a week as designed, while others we work a bit faster or slower. We can easily adapt it to the speed appropriate for my student to master the concept we are working on. The teacher's guide is fully scripted lessons with differing color areas to draw attention and keep things clean and focused on where we need to be. Many side points and teacher resources give me a great amount of hand-holding to feel confident in what I'm teaching and she is learning. There are weekly assessments and even ten optional pre-lessons that cover the basics such as handwriting, phonemic awareness and the 26 basic phonograms of the American English alphabet. I love that the workbook includes every page needed for the student from the independent worksheets to the quiz-like activities and review assessments.

No matter what level you start with the workbook and teacher's guide work together to fulfill the level of learning appropriate for your individual student. Before our materials arrived, I had my daughter go through the placement evaluation and she tested very well into Level B. Thus, as we are going through assignments I have given her Level A choices when I think it is something that I would like for her to review and we mostly go through with Level B and it is indeed the perfectly appropriate level for her. In the future, I believe, my younger daughter will be going through Level A, when my older is working through Level C. She will be able to use the same workbook to go back through and complete the Level C assignments and we will acquire a new workbook for her little sister to jump into the adventure. The three levels of skills all set together in the text are going to make it phenomenally easy for me to teach both of them the same concepts on their appropriate levels at once. What a thrill being able to combine students on differing levels!

The program is awesome with my advanced learner, but I can already tell that it will work very well for my average learning spirited child as well. There are elements for struggling readers, average readers, students with dyslexia, and ELL learners as well. I am really starting to believe that Logic of English Essentials 2nd Edition is the only program you might need to cover the concepts. Imagine the thought of only one lesson covering your reading skills class, spelling time, vocabulary enhancements and more. What a delight and a time saver, thoroughly combined!

The Spelling Journal is a paperback book which grants students an all-in-one location to collect and organize commonly misspelled words and others they are learning as well. This encourages students to break down the words in their phonemic parts to master spelling and spelling rules. Logic of English has a great blog post on how to thoroughly use a spelling journal.

Familiar to you if you're coming from the first edition of Essentials or Foundations, are some reusable resources such as the Basic Phonogram Flash Cards which contain the 74 basic phonograms needed to read most English words – the A to Z phonograms plus 48 multi-letter phonograms in a black text on white card format. In my experience, I’m pretty quick to run to laminate cards that I want to last (like our Art Cards!), however I feel like these are a pretty durable quality cardstock and I’m not too concerned with them being bent (however I’m not handing them off to my toddler either). These flash cards are 4.5×6″ and have a black tab across the top for easily being differentiated from the Rhythm of Handwriting Tactile Cards. On the front side of the card you’ll find the phonogram and on the reverse is each phonogram sound and sample words using the sounds. The Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards contain 46 advanced phonograms and have a blue strip. The Spelling Rule Flash Cards have a green strip and in 41 cards cover 98% of English words including 9 silent final E rules, 3 schwa rules and more.

My new favorites include the Grammar Flash Cards with a purple strip and 83 grammar rules from punctuation, capitalization, contractions, and all the parts of speech as well as codes for writing out numbers. Also, we are enjoying the Morpheme Flash Cards which have the bulk of cards with an orange strip for Level C, but also a different shade of blue for Level A, and green for Level B. These colors match the instructional sections within the teacher's guide and make it easy to find what we need to be working with. Learning the prefixes, roots, and suffixes of words and how they partner together is bringing a whole new understanding to my students’ eyes and we are loving these flashcards. All of these flash cards are appropriately 4.5x6” and store very well in a Super Stacker storage tote.

You heard me say all of the cards… well there are more! Another two sets of cards we received are Phonogram Game Cards. The game cards are available in three sets (differentiated by color, thank you!) in red for manuscript, blue for book font, and again green for cursive. We received a set of cursive and standard bookface with our set of reusable resources. These cards are much smaller at 2.25×3.5″ yet again on a durable cardstock that I’m not overly worried about (thank you for making my life easier!). Each deck has the 74 phonograms and wild cards in a set.

Bear with me, there are three more new items to discuss! The 3rd edition of the Spelling Analysis Card, which is two-sided breaking down the bits to analyze the spelling of any word. One side directed toward teachers and the opposite to students. With all the questions to ask leading to a routine and mastery of spelling rules. The heavy-duty, durable Phonogram and Spelling Rule Quick Reference sheet is another awesome tool for teachers and students. Right now, I am the one loving it the most. This includes a 8.5x11” six fold-out pages filled with information from rules to phonograms and more. Lastly, is my daughter's favorite new tool, the Phonogram Game Tiles. These heavy cardstock cards are filled with the 74 basic phonograms color coded with consonants blue, vowels in red, and R-controlled vowels in violet, while the silent final Es are green. These can be used in a plethora of manners and my daughter loves to bring them out in our lessons (and sometimes just to play school!).

Much like the Logic of English Foundations, the program is divided into levels by letter rather than number or grade. Again, Level A is blue, Level B is green, Level C is orange.

Something I haven't touched much on yet is the optional reading comprehension supplement Essentials Reader. We are reading this using a PDF reader on a mobile device. This book includes thirty short stories based off the skills learned in each Essentials 2nd edition lesson. There are prompts in the teacher's guide for when to use the Essentials Reader. It is possible to use the Essentials Reader along with the Essentials Reader Teacher's Guide and Essentials Reader Student Activity Book as a full reading comprehension and composition program along the same grade levels as well. We are enjoying this full-color book and I would love to get my hands on a printed book that is set to be published soon. Note that the Essentials Reader does not replace Essentials and is not an alternative as it does not teach the phonograms and spelling rules, but is a great supplement to use the skills learned in Essentials. The Essentials Reader Teacher's Guide has activities and scripted prompts for pre-reading, post-reading, copywork, and bonus activities sparking across the curriculum. The Essentials Reader Student Activity Book gives students a place to do all the activities prompted in the teacher's guide including cursive and manuscript handwriting practice and note-taking guides.

This program is awesome and anyone can use it. We are doing great as a homeschooling family and I can see where this will be very successfully used in any school setting, from private schools, cottage schools, after-school programs, and even public schools. Imagine if all kids were taught to read in this manner! I love the Logic of English Essentials 2nd Edition Volume 1 and I cannot wait to continue it with Volume 2 in the future. It is working fabulously in our home school environment and my daughter loves it. My younger daughter often listens in and participates, while we are using Foundations successfully with her I can easily see continue her education with Essentials 2nd Edition in the future as well. It includes all the hand-holding I need. It has activities for the days when we have wiggly learners, it has things to do out loud, it has assignments to do independently. We can extend a week and a concept for better mastery and we can quickly accomplish things that are clicking easily and well.

At first glance, this program seems expensive. But is it really? I mean, we're coving Spelling, Reading, Vocabulary, Grammar, and touching on so much more all in one course! When you add all that you would be paying on other curricula and combine that this program is actually quite a steal. And it is such high quality materials from the cards, to the books, and mostly reusable for other students coming down the line, and thus a very good purchase for families of many children. It is altogether working for us and I am completely delighted with our progress. Essentials 2nd Edition does contain seat work as well as workbooks and those who are unschoolers, or of a Charlotte Mason approach might turn from it. But when you look at how beautifully displayed the workbook pages are of copywork and composition I think even the Charlotte Mason scholars and unschooled students will appreciate the program.

All to honesty, I am a bargain shopper and look for the best deal. If I did not already have these materials due to review purposes I would be on the fence about buying them. But after seeing them in person, I honestly would jump to purchase this program. It is worth it, and while pricey, I think it definitely does even out and save money in the long run. Why buy a bunch of programs that are okay, when you can get the one that is all you will ever need? I do love Volume 1 and fully intend to continue with Volume 2 when appropriate for my students.

– Product review by Margaret Chind, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2016