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First grade language arts

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#1 springmama


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Posted 18 January 2009 - 11:11 PM

My dd will be 6 in March and we will be starting "first grade" at some point in the very near future. I will be using First Language Lessons as well as STOW. What else would you recommend as part of our language arts? We are currently working through our Explode the Code books and practicing reading using Now I'm Reading books (similar to Bob books). Is this enough? I read that we will need a spelling book and a handwriting book but I'm wondering if the writing she is doing in the ETC books will be enough. As for spelling, is this something I can do on my own? Can I pull some words out of our current ETC or STOW lesson and use those as spelling words, or is there an advantage to using a purchased spelling program?

Also, she seems to be ready for 1st grade aside from the fact that she is not reading fluently yet. She does not know any sight words and still needs to take some time to sound out CVC words. I can see that it's starting to click for her and I have a feeling it won't be long before she is able to read longer words.

We have 100 EZ lessons but hated it. I wonder if i should get The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, but I'm not sure if it would be beneficial since she is already reading some.

One more question....should I want until she is reading fluently before I start FLL with her? Looking at the first month of lessons, I am thinking this will be fine, because she can definitely understand all of what will be taught, but if for some reason she needs to be reading well before starting this book, I'd rather know now.

#2 Lovedtodeath


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Posted 18 January 2009 - 11:48 PM

You can start FLL no problem. I started out the year with phonics, math, handwriting and fun things. I added FLL in December and we are adding WWE now. It is better for us to ramp up to more work and get used to new programs one at a time.

I would not start spelling. I did and we quit until we can get all the way through OPGTR. Then again, some kids do better in reading after they start spelling... that was not the case with us. She could spell better than she could read sometimes.

I am not familiar with 100 EZ lessons. We tried ETC for a while and DD could get through the lessons easily without learning any phonics. She was just memorizing everything by sight. DD used to balk at OPGTR so I just took the words from the lessons, taught her the phonogram by writing it on a piece of paper and explaining it, then I would write the words and have her sound them out. Sometimes we would use foam alphabet letters, magnets, or scrabble tiles instead of writing. I think all of these methods work better than the book. It is less intimidating and better models the left to right flow of sounding out words. After we do a lesson in OPGTR I have DD spell a couple of the words by sounding them out. Sometimes I have to remind her of the rule (phonogram) we just learned. When we are done with OPG I will pick spelling back up as a subject. Having my Orton-Gillingham based spelling program and taking a look at WRTR has helped me to implement OPG more effectively, but we cannot handle doing spelling lessons right now.

I forgot to address your handwriting question. I was doing handwriting informally through our spelling lessons, some copywork, our notebooking, etc. It was not working. I started having DD work on copying letters, not words, and she is writing so much better. I would recommend getting a program. We use Getty-Dubay Italic. I bought it from SonLight. The funny thing is that I had not heard of SL until I had settled on GD italic and couldn't find anywhere else to buy it.

Wow, I sure am chatty today.

Edited by Lovedtodeath, 18 January 2009 - 11:55 PM.
added to it

#3 ElizabethB


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Posted 19 January 2009 - 12:33 AM

Also, she seems to be ready for 1st grade aside from the fact that she is not reading fluently yet. She does not know any sight words and still needs to take some time to sound out CVC words. I can see that it's starting to click for her and I have a feeling it won't be long before she is able to read longer words.

It's a good thing that she doesn't know any sight words! Here's how and why they should be taught phonetically:


If you want her to be able to read really long words, I suggest Webster's Speller. (Link below, thread about how to use it here: http://www.welltrain...ead.php?t=70153)

Here are some good spelling and reading programs that are free and cheap:



Once a child has learned the phonics basics, it's good to reinforce them through spelling. You definitely want a program that is based on the phonetic spelling rules. If you want detailed explanations but a bit pricey,
AAS. A bit more effort to use but can't beat the price, the free online spelling books from the 1800's and early 1900's.

#4 Lovedtodeath


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Posted 19 January 2009 - 12:48 AM

I was going to direct you to Elizabeth, but I knew she would be along. :)

I did want to add that DD loves FLL! It is extremely gentle, but not a waste of time. She is learning quite a lot and it is fun.

#5 bookmomma


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Posted 19 January 2009 - 10:19 PM

Spelling--you can find free grade-level appropriate spelling lists online, but I recommend Natural Speller. It is an all-in-one book for grades 1-12. You work at your own pace. You (or your child later on) choose your spelling lists. It has ideas and activities for teaching spelling, as well as some grammar and other LA skills. It is not a workbook format. I tried a few of those and found them to be a waste of time and money. It was actually easier to write my own lists and go from there. My 1st grader started spelling lists a few months into the school year. We started with basic short vowel spelling words (about 5-6 words at a time). List: had, sad, bad, dad, glad. Just an example. Stick with rhyming sounds in the beginning. It's quite easy for them to sound out the letters in these words, as you can see, so you can start soon!

Reading--I really liked OPGTR in the beginning, but then it lost its luster. I use McGuffey's Readers for reading work, learning words phonetically. We review the list (I hand write them neatly in a notebook) of words he already knows how to read. We do phonics worksheets (for extra practice)--Modern Curriculum Press. I don't do sight words. He's learning them naturally through constant exposure. My ds8 learned sight words in ps before he could even read and it caused more problems than it helped. Now we are still trying to undo the damage done. We also do fun reading books at night for more practice (it's important to break up reading times--to me--so that they don't have to sit for one long period of time. Two short reading lessons work great). He has beginning reader books in his room and can choose which he wants to read to me.

Grammar--FLL1 & 2 is wonderful and introduced a little at a time. It is engaging, personal, and effective. It takes 5-10 mins. to do and they get it. Funny thing is, he's learning from hearing his brother do FLL3:)

#6 coffeefreak


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Posted 20 January 2009 - 12:15 AM

We use a variety of things for reading so it stays fresh and doesn't get boring before they're reading fluently. Practice is the key. We have Bob Books, Phonics Pathways, A Beka's "A Handbook for Reading" (I really love they're LA program for kindergarten), Sonlight's, "I can Read It!" books, and Webster's Blue Speller.

I don't start spelling formal spelling until 2nd grade. We use Spelling Power for that.

We used FLL for first and really liked it.

Once a child knows how to write all their letters, I don't use a formal handwriting program. I think it's a waste of time and money. If your dd is writing in ETC, that should be enough. Especially if you're going to have her write anything in FLL.