The Learning Language Arts Through Literature series begins with this complete beginning phonics and language arts program, a successful blending of integrated language with phonics instruction. Based on Ruth Beechick's ideas about teaching young children, this program integrates instruction for phonics, reading, spelling, handwriting, grammar and higher order thinking skills. It teaches with a great deal of hands-on activity and incorporates real books along with the program's readers.
The program comes in a boxed set including The Blue Book teacher manual, The Blue Book student activity book, three sets of beginning readers, and a materials packet. Consumable student activity books may be purchased separately for additional students.
The teacher manual outlines daily lesson plans. Some preparation time is required. You will need to collect materials like glue, crayons, markers, popsicle sticks, and old catalogs or magazines. You will, occasionally, need books from the library, for which you will need to plan ahead.
Many types of activities are built into the lessons so that students learn through all of their senses. This approach is especially good for Wiggly Willys. Students work with color-coded letters, phonograms, and words as well as with specially designed letter dice. Right after students learn the first few letters and sounds, they are introduced to the first readers to experience the fun of actually reading. Along with instruction, parents/teachers read stories to the student from storybooks pulled from the student activity book and from popular children's books that can be easily found at the library. Many of the included stories are fanciful, including some Aesop's Fables and other tales. The content is wholesome, but not overtly Christian.
Spelling and grammar instruction is truly integrated within the lessons rather than being treated as two more isolated subjects as we find in most programs. Handwriting receives more isolated attention as students receive instruction in letter formation and practice. The style of handwriting is unusual: it is a straight up and down manuscript style, but it has an unusual "calligraphy/slant print" look because most horizontal lines and curves are drawn on a slant. This style is used throughout the handwriting lessons, but not on the movable-letter cards or in the readers. This is neither good nor bad, just different. You can select another handwriting style to teach, but you will need to reconstruct the handwriting worksheets to do so.
The phonics coverage begins with letters and sounds and continues through long- and short-vowels, and consonant blends. However, you will need to continue with The Red Book for the next level to complete coverage of all phonograms.
The program impresses me as being one of the most interesting from a child's point of view, but it is likely to require more preparation and presentation time by the parent/teacher than many other programs.