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MCT Placement Struggle

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For background:  My daughter will be a young 5th grader in the fall.  She has done LOE Foundations, Bookshark Lang Arts 2, WWE 1, FLL 3, & this year is Cottage Press Fable & Song and GSWL.  My son will be an old 2nd grader, just completing LOE Foundations D.  We are switching to year round school so I imagine that we will complete more than a typical year's work in a year.  We will start the next books when we finish current books around the beginning of June.

I am still intrigued and struggling with MCT.  I finally snagged a couple cheap ebay auctions and now have student copies of Building Language and Sentence Island.  I deeply dislike trying to review sample PDFs so I just wanted to get a hard copy of some of the books.  I think I like both books, but I prefer Building Language and think it would be good foundation before Caesar's English.  I am back to wondering if my upcoming young 5th grader should begin with Island instead of Town.  I had called the MCT office awhile ago, and the person there was not incredibly helpful.  He said that Town would be better for my daughter but said that she should do Music of the Hemispheres and Sentence Island first.  After seeing Building Language and Sentence Island, I just wonder if we should do all of Island first.  It seems like it would be fairly quick to read through the books.  I think she would tolerate the story level.  I was concerned it would be babyish, but these books seem ok, just easy.  She still reads a lot of the easy picture books I bring home from the library, so I feel like she would tolerate the Island level as just easy reading.  I guess my only concern is if it is too repetitive to use both Island and Town?  Content wise, she has learned the parts of speech and diagramming sentences.  For her writing, I am now nearly certain that I will use IEW SWI A.  I have been on the fence between IEW and CAP W&R, but after watching many of Andrew Pudewa's talks on youtube I like what he says and want to try his program.

I was thinking of buying both Island and Town levels anyway since I was considering using Island for my upcoming 2nd grader.  For writing, I will use WWE 1 for him.  He hates the act of writing and I think it will be a great fit (have used with older child).  I also just ordered FLL 1 to perhaps use for him.  I'm thinking about going through FLL 1 & 2 before MCT for him, but wanted to take a look at FLL 1, which I haven't used before.  It sounds like he could easily do FLL 1 & 2 in one year.  My daughter finished FLL 3 very early in the year.  I know MCT Island is recommended to start in 3rd grade but he will be an older 2nd grader...  but maybe FLL would be good to try, and certainly is an inexpensive curriculum to try.

I am so hesitant to buy 2 levels and perhaps hate it.  Island Basic package is $150, and Town Complete Color package is $250.  I'm trying to decide if it's reasonable to spend $400 of my $2k core curriculum budget on grammar/poetry/vocab.  Then IEW's teacher / student combo package is $299 (if I need teacher portion, that is what really turned me away. 14 hrs of teacher training!  who has time for that?).  So that's $700 (not including shipping!) on just lang arts.  Most of the other subjects are pretty low cost (SOTW, Mystery Science, math), but I can use my core budget for our private Spanish lessons so the less I spend on curriculum the fewer lessons I have to pay.  $700 just seems like a lot for language arts.  I have the money, I'm just rather thrifty.

I need to figure this out soon.  I've been pondering since February, and I can't believe it's mid April already!   I would like to try MCT because it just seems light and fun and I think my daughter needs to get away from dry grammar right now.  I really do not have another option that I'm considering for her.  I keep saying, "Yes, I'll get it," then I hesitate again...…………. !!  I watch for used copies, but MCT's website cautions against buying used materials because they are constantly updating... of course I know that helps their sales, but then again, I hate that the old versions are landscape (the ones I purchased and all others I see on ebay are) and they won't fit well on my bookshelf... I am so petty sometimes... and the used versions are never a huge savings.  Why buy used to save $20?  When I could buy new with no crumbs or coffee stains ((shudder)).  The last time I mentioned my indecision to my husband, he said, "Just buy both."  That was 2 months ago.  Why oh why do I hesitate?  I had a bad experience with a bad curriculum purchase last year and I guess it scarred me.  And $700 seems like a lot for language arts, and $400 seems like a lot for grammar.  And it's all new so such a risk.  After typing this, I think I've again talked myself into ordering both.... but I just can't decide 😄

 

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I would trust your gut on this. Spending that much money on LA is definitely unnecessary. Doubling or tripling curriculum does not equate to better skills.  It may just end up leaving them feeling overwhelmed. Slower, more-skill-focused concentration will let them breathe while concentrating on whatever skill they are working on toward mastery.

I would recommend stop thinking in terms of ages and grades for LA and focus instead on what skills you believe they should individually master over the next yr based on their abilities and focus. 

For example, it is not at all unusual for 2nd grade boys to not want to physically write much.  It is a maturation process that they will grow into.  My typical goals for 2nd grade are to understand what constitutes a sentence, proper capitalization and ending punctuation, subject and verb, proper letter formation.  Decide on your goals and pick 1 program that matches those specific goals.  Just because other programs cover other skills does not mean that they are the correct ones for your child.  

For the 5th grader,  I would personally not go down to Island.  There is nothing magical about the way MCT teaches and a your dd should be able to easily adjust to Town if that is the curriculum you decide to use.  If she is missing anything (which I doubt), just spend a few days discussing those areas. 

Also, you do not need the entire MCT package. If all you are interested in is grammar and vocabulary, just order those. I wonder how old the editions are that you ordered that they were landscape.  My college sophomore used the Voyages level in 6th grade and they were in portrait format.  Student editions were completely unnecessary b/c you could make the program work just by using the TM editions. If I was dead set on using MCT, I personally think the CE vocabulary is the best part of the program. I would put a 5th grader in CE 1 without hesitation and then use the grammar if that matched my goals.  I think the writing is just blah and would skip the writing or use it just embrace it for what it is and spend the yr going for it.  I would not double up with another program.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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Agreeing with 8, that's way too much to spend on elementary LA. 

Island level would be fine for a second grader. We skipped the writing and did Bravewriter but not until upper elementary. 

We loved MCT, but it's definitely not for everyone. I wouldn't buy both levels because if you don't like it then you have to go through the trouble of selling both, plus it's a lot out of pocket up front.

So my advice is buy the Island level and make sure you like it. You only need the teacher books. I don't have experience with IEW, but I'm sure there are people here who have used both and be more of a help! 🙂

Edited by Runningmom80

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1 hour ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I would trust your gut on this. Spending that much money on LA is definitely unnecessary. Doubling or tripling curriculum does not equate to better skills.  It may just end up leaving them feeling overwhelmed. Slower, more-skill-focused concentration will let them breathe while concentrating on whatever skill they are working on toward mastery.

I would recommend stop thinking in terms of ages and grades for LA and focus instead on what skills you believe they should individually master over the next yr based on their abilities and focus. 

For example, it is not at all unusual for 2nd grade boys to not want to physically write much.  It is a maturation process that they will grow into.  My typical goals for 2nd grade are to understand what constitutes a sentence, proper capitalization and ending punctuation, subject and verb, proper letter formation.  Decide on your goals and pick 1 program that matches those specific goals.  Just because other programs cover other skills does not mean that they are the correct ones for your child.  

For the 5th grader,  I would personally not go down to Island.  There is nothing magical about the way MCT teaches and a your dd should be able to easily adjust to Town if that is the curriculum you decide to use.  If she is missing anything (which I doubt), just spend a few days discussing those areas. 

Also, you do not need the entire MCT package. If all you are interested in is grammar and vocabulary, just order those. I wonder how old the editions are that you ordered that they were landscape.  My college sophomore used the Voyages level in 6th grade and they were in portrait format.  Student editions were completely unnecessary b/c you could make the program work just by using the TM editions. If I was dead set on using MCT, I personally think the CE vocabulary is the best part of the program. I would put a 5th grader in CE 1 without hesitation and then use the grammar if that matched my goals.  I think the writing is just blah and would skip the writing or use it just embrace it for what it is and spend the yr going for it.  I would not double up with another program.

 

The books I purchased are 2013 and 2014 editions and both landscape.  I am mostly interested in the vocab and poetry.  I think you may have first mentioned the vocab to me.  I had never heard of the curriculum, and I've been intrigued ever since.  I like the Building Language book though it seems very young/easy to me.  It's perfect for my son (7) and I think a good start for my daughter.  We could read it together in a week for a review before Caesar's English.  The poetry seems very different and I really like the visuals that he incorporates.  I'm not interested in doing the writing in MCT.  I might experiment a little with what they offer, but really plan to use a separate writing program and I'm fairly solid on IEW right now.  For the grammar, from what I've seen, it doesn't have more meat than what we are doing.  I like that the presentation is quite different and in story format, so I think it would be easy and pleasant review for my daughter.  It doesn't seem much more than reading material to me.  I would like to try the MCT style of diagramming but will also continue to use conventional diagramming.  I think another method of diagramming may help her.  It just seems like an easy, gentle story time instead of grammar.  My kids did not enjoy the audio of Grammarland.  My daughter tolerated it, and my son always complained.  I think it was partly the voice and I should get the hard copy and read it.  I loved it and was laughing out loud which is probably the only reason my daughter tolerated it.  I imagine MCT is similar but the story is much more whimsical and fun for kids.

My biggest gripe is that MCT seems so expensive for what you get.  To me, it is just readers, and these can't cost that much to print.

 

1 hour ago, Runningmom80 said:

Agreeing with 8, that's way too much to spend on elementary LA. 

Island level would be fine for a second grader. We skipped the writing and did Bravewriter but not until upper elementary. 

We loved MCT, but it's definitely not for everyone. I wouldn't buy both levels because if you don't like it then you have to go through the trouble of selling both, plus it's a lot out of pocket up front.

So my advice is buy the Island level and make sure you like it. You only need the teacher books. I don't have experience with IEW, but I'm sure there are people here who have used both and be more of a help! 🙂

You agree with 8, but she says get Town and you say to get Island 🙂 I do agree it is a lot for elementary lang arts.  So, I could go with WWE and FLL for grade 2 (which is probably all of $30) and try Town with my daughter, except I'll also have to get Music of the Hemispheres for an extra $25.  If I love it, I could get Island for my son next year.  Maybe that is what I should do.  It's less risky than trying 2 in a new program.  He loves stories (who doesn't really) so I think he would do well with MCT, but I also think he would do really well with FLL, and I wish I would have found FLL earlier with my daughter because I love the memorization.  I also like that it has picture study.  It is also already ordered and inexpensive.  Ok, I think I've made the decision regarding him unless I don't like FLL 1 when it arrives.

The $150 Island package is the basic homeschool package which has mostly teacher manuals and only student books for 2 of the subjects that require writing.  I did not see that same option for Town level to get only teacher editions.  Only complete packages are available.  $250 included the color Caesar's English which I would want.  I don't like the black and white printing in my copy of Building Language.  It looks like buying the package is only about $30 more than buying mostly teacher's manuals.  With free shipping for a package, it may still be a better deal.

 

NEW QUESTION:  Has anyone used the literature guides?  I am currently reading aloud Alice in Wonderland then Through Looking Glass and my daughter has read Wind in Willows. I also have a copy of Peter Pan for her.  We already own all the books.  It sounds like MCT has edited to add visual effects?  Do you find these worthwhile or should I skip?  The literature for Island level sounds awful to me, Red Tide and Green Faced Virus do not sound like pleasant reading.

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11 minutes ago, parent said:

 

The books I purchased are 2013 and 2014 editions and both landscape.  I am mostly interested in the vocab and poetry.  I think you may have first mentioned the vocab to me.  I had never heard of the curriculum, and I've been intrigued ever since.  I like the Building Language book though it seems very young/easy to me.  It's perfect for my son (7) and I think a good start for my daughter.  We could read it together in a week for a review before Caesar's English.  The poetry seems very different and I really like the visuals that he incorporates.  I'm not interested in doing the writing in MCT.  I might experiment a little with what they offer, but really plan to use a separate writing program and I'm fairly solid on IEW right now.  For the grammar, from what I've seen, it doesn't have more meat than what we are doing.  I like that the presentation is quite different and in story format, so I think it would be easy and pleasant review for my daughter.  It doesn't seem much more than reading material to me.  I would like to try the MCT style of diagramming but will also continue to use conventional diagramming.  I think another method of diagramming may help her.  It just seems like an easy, gentle story time instead of grammar.  My kids did not enjoy the audio of Grammarland.  My daughter tolerated it, and my son always complained.  I think it was partly the voice and I should get the hard copy and read it.  I loved it and was laughing out loud which is probably the only reason my daughter tolerated it.  I imagine MCT is similar but the story is much more whimsical and fun for kids.

My biggest gripe is that MCT seems so expensive for what you get.  To me, it is just readers, and these can't cost that much to print.

 

You agree with 8, but she says get Town and you say to get Island 🙂 I do agree it is a lot for elementary lang arts.  So, I could go with WWE and FLL for grade 2 (which is probably all of $30) and try Town with my daughter, except I'll also have to get Music of the Hemispheres for an extra $25.  If I love it, I could get Island for my son next year.  Maybe that is what I should do.  It's less risky than trying 2 in a new program.  He loves stories (who doesn't really) so I think he would do well with MCT, but I also think he would do really well with FLL, and I wish I would have found FLL earlier with my daughter because I love the memorization.  I also like that it has picture study.  It is also already ordered and inexpensive.  Ok, I think I've made the decision regarding him unless I don't like FLL 1 when it arrives.

The $150 Island package is the basic homeschool package which has mostly teacher manuals and only student books for 2 of the subjects that require writing.  I did not see that same option for Town level to get only teacher editions.  Only complete packages are available.  $250 included the color Caesar's English which I would want.  I don't like the black and white printing in my copy of Building Language.  It looks like buying the package is only about $30 more than buying mostly teacher's manuals.  With free shipping for a package, it may still be a better deal.

 

NEW QUESTION:  Has anyone used the literature guides?  I am currently reading aloud Alice in Wonderland then Through Looking Glass and my daughter has read Wind in Willows. I also have a copy of Peter Pan for her.  We already own all the books.  It sounds like MCT has edited to add visual effects?  Do you find these worthwhile or should I skip?  The literature for Island level sounds awful to me, Red Tide and Green Faced Virus do not sound like pleasant reading.

 

"Agreeing with 8, that's way too much to spend on elementary LA. " Quoting myself to clarify that I was agreeing with her on the amount of money.

 

That said, 8 has been doing this longer than me, so if she says Town, go with Town. No skin off my nose. 

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FWIW, I am not a huge MCT fan.  I don't think they are worth anywhere near what they cost.  You could simply pick sentences from whatever she is reading and do the exact same thing for grammar that he does in he does in his books. It is the way I have taught my kids grammar for over 20 yrs.  Super easy and same sort of snuggle up and talk about grammar approach.  My kids underline, box, draw arrows, etc. They master grammar bc it isn't taught in isolation.  I would not spend $250 on the package. If you are interested in CE and the poetry book, I would buy just those 2 books and skip the rest.  (And I would look for them used!)  I just looked at the copyright on my CE2 book and it is 2003.  It is black and white, but the books are just not worth what more, color or not. 

Another option for grammar might be to buy Analytical Grammar and just spread it over multiple yrs.  It is designed to be used for 3 yrs anyway (middle/high school), but my kids have all been able to do it in elementary without any difficulty. 

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We did island and town and from what I remember, there isn’t much difference. We didn’t use the lit guides but we did read the Mud trilogy, which DS absolutely adored. 

It’s a lot of money for grammar, I whole heartedly agree about that, but for us, it added a sweet joy to learning grammar and for that I found it worth it. 

Edited by Runningmom80

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Island and town are the most repetitive of the series (we're now on the 5th level).  They don't repeat sentences, stories, or poems, but there are fewer new concepts added between those years. Your 5th grader could start with either and do fine.  We actually did both in 5th grade, since that's what grader older was in when I discovered it - I would have started with town, but I knew I'd want Island for my younger kid.  We bought it new 3 years ago and Island is in landscape and the other series are all portrait.  There is free shipping if you buy the homeschool package, so there is no advantage to buying both at once.  There is also nothing magical about fitting them into a particular school year - if you get a level and finish it, you can order the next and start it the same school year.  We did level 4 with older, and will probably finish the first book of level 5 this school year...or maybe we'll just get partway through and find a good stopping place for the summer.  The homeschool package comes with a teacher book and a student book for every book.  The books are mostly identical, with the teacher book having extra tips, comments, and quizzes at the back.  Some families just get the teachers book and sit together to look at it, and they do the practice sentences on a whiteboard.  That's not how this subject usually gets done in my family, so for us it's been good to have the whole package. 

Whether it is worth it really depends on your family.  My husband and I are STEM folks and both are good technical writers.  This series has done more for my appreciation of language than anything that I ever learned in school.  But...there are other people who could pull this sort of material together on their own, in the same way that I can happily spout off a list of advanced biology topics and what classic primary papers might be interesting.  At this point, I also know that this works for both of my kids, so I'm only buying for older each year and just pulling the right year off the shelf for younger.  

We have used one set of literature trilogies.  It was neat that there were footnoted definitions and occasional notes about literary techniques.  We already own many of the books in the other trilogies, so buying the set is not something that we do every year.  

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