TOS Review: IEW - Primary Arts of Language

As I've written about on the blog several times, my seven year old son Zeke is a struggling reader who is showing some signs of dyslexia and/or dysgraphia. Since I have begun looking into resources for him, several homeschool mothers mentioned to me that their dyslexic children/children who struggled with reading greatly benefited from curriculum and products they'd gotten from Institute for Excellence in Writing. Just a week or two after I began my resource hunt, I found out that The Homeschool Crew would be reviewing products from IEW! Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to try them out. IEW sent us their program geared for children in Kindergarten through Second Grade called Primary Arts of Language, or PAL. It is broken up into two programs designed to be taught together - Primary Arts of Reading and Primary Arts of Writing - and they extensively cover reading, writing, and spelling.
Primary Arts of Reading teaches beginning reading with a blended phonics approach and whole words. It uses poetry, sight word cards, phonics and letter file folder games, and a farm-themed sticker set to teach reading skills. Primary Arts of Writing teaches spelling, printing, copywork, and composition through letter introduction, the All About Spelling program, stories, and more.

When the big box arrived from IEW, I was initially a little overwhelmed. It looked like a lot of work and I didn't know where to start! However, a there was a little postcard included with specific directions of what to do first. The first thing listed was to watch the DVD included with the Reading package that explains in detail how everything works - this was awesome and totally set my mind at ease. The curriculum does require a little prep work but the DVD and book both tell you in advance what you will need and I had almost everything I needed around the house - I only had to go buy some more 3x5 cards. I assembled all the games ahead of time (which you wouldn't have to do - I just wanted to be able to try everything out before I wrote my review) and put everything in one of the stackable crates we have to keep school stuff in.

We started doing the lessons as our very first thing every morning and it really helped us to get a good routine going. To give you a clearer picture, here's a sample of how our homeschool morning started with the PAL program: (This got a little lengthy and full of pictures so I put it behind a page break - just click read more to see the rest of my review!)

After getting up, dressed (well sometimes we get dressed!), eating breakfast, and then getting our schoolwork crates/workboxes out of the cabinet, the kids would bring them into the living room where we normally do our work. We would say our Pledge of Allegiance, Zeke would lead us in a short word of prayer and we sometimes sing a few songs/do some stretching. After that we started on the first task in PAL Reading - reviewing a poem we'd been studying that week. Each day it gave us a few different questions, tasks or things to look for in the poem - for example, finding colors in the room to match colors in the poem. We then moved on the PAL Writing portion. It had us start a "class journal" where we wrote the date and a few short sentences about our upcoming day. (We also chose to work in our calendar & weather charts at this point in time.) I started writing in it at first to give Zeke an idea of what to do and then let him do it. After that we reviewed our printing/letters we'd already learned and added new ones. It suggests using dry erase boards to practice. I had a large one I wrote on and gave the kids smaller ones to practice on. We also discussed the sounds the letters made. After that, we read a short story and focused on the details in it and summarizing it. (Later on in the day, I did a "spelling test" where I quizzed them over the letters we'd learned.) We then moved back over to PAL Reading for our game time. The kids spent some time playing a variety of file folder games that focus on introducing the letters, learning their sounds, and learning words. Playing the games every day really reinforced all the things they were learning - but there were enough different games that they didn't get bored. One of Zeke's favorites was the Letter Parking Lot game, as seen below.

After playing games, we then reviewed our Phonetic Farm. The Phonetic Farm is a cute folder with a farm design and stickers that teaches phonics rules and letter blends. This was a *big* hit with the kids as they got to add stickers to it every day. Reviewing the "rules" of the farm each day again really helped to reinforce everything they were learning. After that, the kids then had a work period where they completed pages from the Student Book that went along with whatever they'd learned for the day - the pages included the words they'd learn along with coloring, cutting & pasting, marking vowels, and other activities. As we got further along the work pages also included Reading Practice pages with sentences and Posters of rules or blends they'd learned that they could post on the walls - we chose to keep them all together in a binder, as suggested in the Teacher's Manual, along with the poem we were studying, our work pages, Phonetic Farm and other pages we added in other lessons.

This program is SO comprehensive but very easy to implement. It really helped us to have a nice, good start to our day and help us stay on track. The Teacher's Manuals explain everything in detail and offer lots of good suggestions. I am totally hooked on the program and think that is very much worth the money - meaning I would purchase it myself if need and would recommend it to any homeschooling family. It is very thorough and each lesson builds upon the last. You can take as much or as little time needed with them - if it's something your child already has mastered, you can readily move on to the next thing. The repetition helps the children to learn but it isn't tedious. It teaches simple jingles and hooks that really helped my kids to remember letter sounds and blends. For example, after we started using it we were out and about one day when Zeke started reading signs outside of a building. He pointed and said, "Momma, that word has the s-h that says 'Shhhhhhhh!' and the Squealy ee's that say 'Eeeeeeee!'"
Although I primarily got this to use with Zeke, my seven year old, my three year old daughter Ellie has been joining in on it as well. Although she is not in the suggested age range, she sits in on our lessons whether we like it or not and I have been amazed by how much she has picked up on. You could easily use this with multiple children of different ages. It's also very much a multi-sensory program with lots of hands on activities, which is great for kids in general, but even more so for children who struggle with reading. I can see improvements in Zeke's comprehension of words and phonics and I think it is only going to continue.
In my review, I only touched on the beginning parts of each program but there is much, much more offered as you get further along in the program. Since I didn't want to write a blog post that turned into a book, I'd recommend watching the webinar that IEW offers - it gives an overview of the PAL program and answers frequently asked questions. Their website also offers samples of the games, manuals, and student pages.


You can purchase PAL through Institute of Excellence in Writing. The Reading complete package is $69 and comes with the following: Primary Arts of Language: Reading Teacher’s Manual, Primary Arts of Language: Reading DVD-ROM, an Instructional Video by Jill Pik, 4 MP3 audio recordings by Andrew Pudewa and Anna Ingham, Primary Arts of Language: Reading Student Book (e-book), Primary Arts of Language: Phonetic Games, and Primary Arts of Language: Phonetic Farm folder with Stickers. (Purchased separately these items would be $98 so the package is more cost effective.)
The Writing complete package is $89 ($113 if purchased separately) and it contains: Primary Arts of Language: Writing Teacher’s Manual, Primary Arts of Language: Writing DVD-ROM, Instructional Video by Jill Pike, 6 MP3 audio recordings by Andrew Pudewa, Adam Andrews, Shirley George and Richelle Palmer, Primary Arts of Language: Writing Student Books (e-book), All About Spelling Basic Interactive Kit, All About Spelling Level 1 - Teacher’s Manual and One Student Material Packet.

Disclosure: I received the PAL program through The Homeschool Crew in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and I received no other compensation. To see what other crew members thought of PAL, please click the banner below.


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