Primary Arts of Language {PAL} by IEW – {TOS review}

All I can say is wow! I felt that way when I first opened the material to review Student Writing Intensive by the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). There was so much to read through before even beginning to use the curriculum. I said the same thing when I received and opened the package I received from IEW that contained their new reading and writing program for kindergarten through second grades. The program is called Primary Arts of Language (PAL) and although there are so many pieces to read and understand, I knew I had hit a gold mine.

I will say up front that I am a fan of IEW and Andrew Pudewa, who is the man behind IEW. I got giddy when I was able to meet him at the last homeschool convention I attended. I’m sure he didn’t know what to think of my excitement; I’m an IEW groupie.

Jill Pike, author of Primary Arts of Language (PAL), and many of IEW’s student intensive curriculum, has again created a product that helps educators teach the necessary skills (“listening, speaking, reading and writing = four primary language skills that children develop“) a student needs to communicate well.

PAL is based on the book Blended Sound-Sight Program of Learning, which is authored by Anna Ingham (she is 100 years-old), who used a multi-sensory approach in her teaching. Jill Pike incorporated some of Ms. Ingham’s approaches into the curriculum that is PAL.

PAL is a two-part reading and writing program with both portions being used together as you work through the curriculum. You may purchase and use each separately, but I would really suggest purchasing both the reading and writing to receive the full benefits of the program. The program is a great beginning step for new readers and writers as is Canyon.

PAL: Reading Complete Package {read more} comes with an instructional DVD, which is narrated by Pike that walks you through (practically holds your hand) the set-up of the program and explains in great detail how to use it with your student. There is also a teacher’s manual; a DVD-ROM, which includes the student e-books; Phonetic Farm with stickers; phonetic games; and some helpful MP3 recordings.

PAL: Writing Complete Package {read more} also comes with an instructional DVD; teacher’s manual; a DVD-ROM, which includes the student e-books; All About Spelling Basic Interactive Kit; All About Spelling Level 1, which includes the teacher’s manual; one Level 1 student material packet); and some audio downloads.

It’s just like I said, “wow!” I will also say not to let all of those books and extras stop you from looking further at this curriculum.

Because there is so much material included, the first thing I did was watch the instructional DVDs so that I would know what I was doing. You are literally walked through, step-by-step. When I started, I pulled out all of the items included in the reading portion, so I could refer to them while I watched the DVD. This made it easier to understand as Pike explained everything.

One idea Pike wants you to remember when working through PAL is to “Keep everything short and snappy!” This definitely makes sense because the material is created for a young/new student, who is probably beginning his learning experience. You want him to enjoy learning. PAL was created with a lot of fun elements and hopefully, the student will enjoy them while also learning.

To the right is a suggested PAL schedule from IEW for completing the lessons. It is detailed and does allow for incorporating other subjects into the school day.

We have been working in the order of this schedule with some carry-over, in the same order, on the next day if we didn’t have enough time to finish everything. When I am teaching my children basic foundations (reading, writing and arithmetic), then I take as much time as I see needed. This prevented us from moving as quickly through the curriculum as originally intended, but since this is a program we will be using through to completion, I have no worries about making it to the end.

Take a look at a sample of the teacher’s manual for PAL reading, which gives you more detail about how to use the program. It gives you an idea of why/how material is presented, lessons one through five, scope and sequence and other useful information about using PAL. Here is a sample of the teacher’s manual for PAL writing.

I was really excited about the Phonetic Farm portion because I knew Canyon would enjoy that, but the games have proved to be an enjoyable part of each day. The student is having fun, but he is still learning with every activity he completes. The games are part of the Foundations portion of the lesson (read page five in the teacher’s manual for more information about the four stages), which is one of four stages in the learning process. The four stages are Foundations, Activity time, Discovery and Library.

PAL is a precursor to the IEW curriculum that usually begins for the older elementary aged student; third and above. I love the inclusion of a writing curriculum, even though we haven’t gotten that far. I believe that children should start writing skills as early as they are able to read. If they can read it, then they should be able to write it. Written communication skills have met so many challenges within these past few years; texting, tweeting, etc. Children (adults too) need to know how to write well and begin those skills early.

Although there is a lot of material that comes with this curriculum, another wonderful part is that there are some great resources from IEW to assist you with using it. Along with the DVDs that are included in the curriculum, there is a PAL webinar, which is conducted by Jill Pike. I watched the webinar before requesting to review PAL and actually watched the webinar again because I found it extremely helpful and it was such a motivator to get started studying and preparing to teach Canyon how to read and write.

PAL does require prep work before each lesson. There is also a lot of one-on-one time required for the teacher with the student. Since I am building a foundation for Canyon, I have the time and PAL is a solid curriculum.

A few suggestions I have for success with using PAL are the following:

1) Don’t become overwhelmed. Refer to the DVDs and watch the webinar more than once if necessary. I only say this because the curriculum is really easy to use and the amount of preparation (reading, cutting, gluing, etc.) is totally worth it.
2) After preparing the next assignment for each day/session, read through the assignment again before you work w/your student. This will give you a sense of organization and help with the presentation. If necessary, do a walk-through of how you will present the lesson.
3) Use some free-time to put together the phonetic games for future lessons. There are a lot of games, which is a good thing, and I knew if I didn’t have a game ready for a lesson ahead of time, then that would either slow me down or maybe cause me to postpone the lesson.
4) Watch the PAL webinar, which walks you through in detail how to use PAL. It is 58 minutes long and definitely sold me on the curriculum. I watched the webinar twice.

For a quick overview of the curriculum, although I still suggest watching the PAL webinar, watch this video of Pike and Pudewa discussing PAL.

PAL: Reading Complete Package is available for $69. You may purchase it as a complete package or in individual pieces. PAL: Writing Complete Package is available for $89. You may purchase it as a complete package or in individual pieces.

You can read more reviews of this item by fellow crew members on The Homeschool Crew Blog.

Disclaimer: The product featured in this review was provided to me in exchange for an honest review by the manufacturer or representing PR agency as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The opinions expressed are my own.
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