IEW - Primary Arts of Language

I am teaching reading to my last little one. Reading is kind of like learning how to walk; you can't push them too hard - children are ready when they are ready. For that reason I send out my feelers with my young children, gauging when I feel they are ready to start, instead of pushing them to start too early. For a couple of my kids that meant teaching reading at age five. For another it was a bit later, around age nine. Nutsy is proving to be about right in the middle, and at the age of seven I am seeing the signs that she is ready to read. And so when this Phonics/Reading/Writing program came up for review from Institute for Excellence in Writing I was hoping it would be a good fit for her.


What It Is:

 Jill Pike created Primary Arts of Language (PAL) after researching Anna Ingram's approach to language, which focuses on a Blended Sound-Sight System.

(PAL) consists of two components; PAL: Reading, and PAL: Writing.

PAL: Writing moves through three different levels:

  1. Printing and Story Summaries
  2. Copy Work and Style with All About Spelling
  3. Composition with Style

All About Spelling Level 1 is included with the writing program; this spelling curriculum is a multi-sensory approach using hearing, visual, and hands-on methods to teach beginning students how to spell.


PAL: Reading has four stages:

  1. Foundations (Learning the phonograms and introducing the games)
  2. Activity Time (Playing the games as a form of review; continuing to teach new material)
  3. Discovery (Working through Discovery Cards, using their knowledge of phonics)
  4. The Library (Reading real books at an easy reading level)


There is a webinar that I would encourage you to watch by Jill Pike; this was very helpful to me as I explored the program.

What You Get:

You can purchase the complete PAL: Writing program for $89.00. This includes the Teacher Manual, a DVD-ROM with instructions and printable worksheets, All About Spelling Level 1, and five helpful audio downloads to listen to. These include audios on writing, narration, comprehension, and teaching helps.

The PAL: Reading program is $69.00 and includes the Teacher Manual, PAL Phonetic Games, the DVD-ROM with instructions and printable worksheets, readers, and four audio downloads. These downloads include an introduction to the Blended Sound-Sight System by Anna Ingram, and communication, poetry, and the Four Language Arts by Andrew Pudewa.

The Phonetic Games book has tear out pages and assembly instruction for the games; these are conveniently printed on heavy cardstock and assembled using file folders and glue.

How We Used This:

I have done informal letter recognition with Nutsy for the last couple of years so she did know some of the sounds before we started PAL. I did start at the beginning with lesson 1; we just moved through the first 10 lessons or so pretty quickly. This is what a typical lesson looks like:

Each lesson begins with a short poem to read. There are one or two suggestions of things to point out in the poem. Then it is time for Writing. Each day you create a short journal entry (2-3 sentences) with your child. This simple exercise models for your child how writing can be used everyday. In the first 20 lessons each capital and lowercase letter is introduced; usually with a short letter story that helps the child remember the letter sound. In the following lessons words and then sentences are introduced. For each lesson there is a printing practice page to do. After this there is time for a short story and narration practice.

Now it is time for the Reading portion of the curriculum. In each lesson 1-3 sight words are introduced. They are added to the games and then reviewed through the reading pages. The reading pages are 4-7 sentences for your child to read; eventually they can begin to read short stories in a Reader that is available on the DVD. There are suggested games to play; the games ranged from identifying the vowel sound, consonant/vowel recognition, action words, match-it....the list goes on and on. Each time a new phonogram is introduced you add a sticker to the big Phonetic Farm; this is a fold-out colorful farm scene where the spelling rules and sounds are organized and reviewed.


In the agenda portion there is a cut-and-paste work page to do, and then finally there are a couple of suggested things to do later in the day.

Like I said above, Nutsy flew through the first couple weeks doing a lesson per day. Then we began to catch up to where she really was; currently she is on lesson 21. My philosophy in our schooling is to not move on to the next lesson until it has been mastered, and so now we are averaging about two lessons a week. I usually introduce the new concept the first day, play a game, and do a reading page. ( I keep all the previous reading pages for review.) The next day we review the concept, play another couple of games and do the work page. Every day we read the poem, visit the Phonetic Farm, and practice writing. When I feel she understands the concept we move on; with all the fun games to play and reading pages we could feasibly spend a whole week on a lesson and still have lots to do.

What I Thought:

There was so much I loved about this program. It used my favorite education philosophies: Classical with narration, copywork, and jingles; and Montessori with so many hands-on components. The games in the Reading Program were a huge hit with Nutsy. When she got into the second stage of the reading program, she was able to choose a couple of games every day to play; she loved being in charge and would always choose her favorites. There is a Games Check Sheet in the Phonetic Games book where I would keep track and some days choose one of the games for her if I felt she was only picking certain ones.

I loved the Writing Program and the printing sheets she completed. They were just the right amount of work for her age; we would usually spend about an hour to an hour and a half a day doing the entire program. I also loved working with All About Spelling and the hand-on letter tiles. I was very impressed with how quickly she was retaining the spelling words; six weeks ago she had a whopping six words she could spell (Mom, Dad and her siblings' names) and this morning I gave her a spelling test with short "i" words (big, hit, pig) and she got 100%. I am interested to see how they begin to teach sentence structure and composition later on in the curriculum.

So I really did like this product. I plan on continuing to use this with Nutsy; the only sad thing is that I don't have another little person to teach after her. The program does take some time setting up; I spent about a week watching the webinar, listening to some of the audio downloads, and creating the games. I was also given the DVD to use to print out all of the worksheets; you could purchase them in a hardcopy Student Book already printed out for $39.00. I don't like having all these copies to keep track of so I am seriously thinking of purchasing this book as we continue through the curriculum.

There are other reviews of PAL to read at The Crew blog; check them out by clicking below.


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, for my honest and humble review. All opinions are mine.


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