I felt a little awed by the complete PAL packet when I first got it, too. The good news is: it's easy once you get into it.
1. VIDEO INTRO: What I did first was watch the video's...just popping the DVD into my computer automatically started the video. The reading & writing dvd both have a great explanation. (The spelling dvd is less exciting.) Really, I watched the overview a couple of times because I wanted to take some notes on some things that Jill said. For example, if a kid is reading "Little Bear" books, start in Part 2 of the Writing program. But, overall, the video's give you a feel for it all and a great overview.
2. TEACHER MANUALS: Then, I looked briefly through the teacher's manuals and the corresponding student pages for several of the lessons. After looking through a few of the lessons on each "part" I realized how well organized the lessons were and I gained confidence in using trusting the plan! This also helped me decide where to start with my kids.
3. STUDENT MATERIALS: Then, I printed copies of the student materials for each of my students...at least the part they would be starting on. Remember that the reading materials need to be single sided because the student cuts on a lot of the pages.
4. MADE GAMES: I made about a dozen of the first games because I'm on a short time schedule for these lessons in my coop. Many people just do this with their kids. I also looked over the Phonics farm (and noticed that the "completed" farm is pictured on the front of the folder...so you know where to put the stickers!)
5. DIVE IN! Just starting the first lessons was the best day. We're doing the reading and writing together. It flows so nicely. I usually glance over the lesson over coffee in the morning and then follow it (the book) with the kids. We do a lesson one day and follow up with games/practice the next day. Most weeks are two lessons, some have been one.
I hope these ideas help!
My daughter just completed Lesson 55 in PAL. She recently brought me the book Green Eggs and Ham and asked me to read it to her. I told her I would, but that I thought she could probably read it herself. She replied, "Oh, no, mommy, I can't read." So I asked her to read the title. She did. Her eyes got absolutely huge. Then she read the first page, and the next, and the next. With each succeeding page, her eyes got bigger. By the fourth page, the look of astonishment on her face was unsurpassed. She turned to me and said, "Mommy! I can read!" (Can I just tell you I almost cried? She is almost 8, with learning issues, and I was beginning to wonder if we would ever get there!)
I received PAL last week and have had such fun pouring over them. I do have a 4 and 6 year old who are having such fun with it! We did the first lessons today and created the first three games. The games are working already as they reinforce what they've learned. What a wonderful resource!
As I watched Jill's instruction DVDs and listened to Anna Ingham, I was struck at how much this all would have helped me as a first year teacher. Between TWSS and PAL, we have a complete Language Arts methods class that would probably be equivalent to at least two 3 credit classes in college-probably more. When I graduated (with highest honors) with a degree in English and Elementary Education, I still had no idea how to teach a child to read or write. And this was from a conservative private college. We just didn't have anything this practical or usable in terms of principles and concepts of education. When I began homeschooling my kids, I had to buy materials to teach them to read. After spending thousands to learn to be a teacher. There is something wrong with this picture! I wish we could somehow communicate this to parents whose children are considering education as a career field. These two products would make wonderful graduation gifts!
PAL arrived today! My 6 year old took one look at the phonetic farm and asked to start today, but we're starting Monday. :-) Just wanted to share my excitement with those who would understand! Blessings, Pam in SE MI
Oh yes.....we can relate to your enthusiasm! And we can relate to your child's excitement and enthusiasm for beginning!
Which leads me to a friendly warning.....
IF you've ordered PAL and IF you don't plan to begin as soon as your materials begin, you need to find a secluded, private place in your home to examine and peruse your new materials. DO NOT open the Phonetic Farm in front of your children if you don't plan on using it right away! That Farm and all the stickers are just TOO enticing for young eyes to wait!
"I" had planned on waiting until Fall to begin PAL at our home......but we are now on Lesson 4 :). I am not exaggerating when I say that my son begs me multiple times DAILY to work on his PAL program. In fact yesterday (Saturday) his father warned him that if he asked one more time that day he would not be allowed to do it, and would have to wait until Monday. So he stood as a sentry, eyeing our "box" of materials, until I made time for him :).
I only share from my own experience.....be warned!
Warmly (with humor, but truth!),
Carrie in AL
"I'm using the PAL program with my 3rd grade daughter who is severely dyslexic. We only started 5 days ago, but everything just suddenly makes sense for her!"
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for PAL. I received it last week and it is a "perfect" fit. My two are loving doing this together. I love teaching them this way, because I actually get to teach (not instruct how to do a worksheet) and enjoy helping them to learn. They are eager about the games we have put together and I think the progression of the program is just fantastic and makes so much sense. I have tried a few things like letter stories/things like squealy ee's and such on my own a little bit before PAL but it is wonderful that they can have those for a "curriculum". It is so gentle and yet very thorough. These two dc are my 4th and 5th to teach to read and I am so relieved to have PAL!
I just wanted to let you know that I started PAL today and my daughter (7) was listening in and kept saying, "Wow! Cool!! How come you never taught me that?!" My son (5), whom I was teaching, had the same responses. They love it today. :) And yes, you were right, they figured out VERY quickly that Mugs can throw his bones back up!! :)
Thank you for all your hard work,
Each Wednesday night we meet with 5 other families for a meal and informal Bible study. With all the kids there, it adds up to about 40 people-yes the kids outnumber the adults! The children sit on the floor near their parents and we talk about the Bible for about 2 hours. It is the highlight of our week. My kids know to bring coloring books, drawing paper, or other quiet amusements so they can be occupied while listening.
I've been putting the work pages from PAL on a clipboard for my two littles, so they can find them easily during the Agenda time. Yesterday my 6 yo asked if she could bring the worksheets with her. She happily filled out the writing pages and did the cutting/pasting activity. Then she turned to the sheet of lyrics we had sung at the start of the study. It contained 4 verses of the hymn, See What a Morning, by Keith and Kristine Getty. At the end of the study, she handed it to me and grinned. She had marked every helper, short vowel, magic-e, and anything else she could find that we had learned!
Every other phonics program I've tried has suggested "look for more examples of --- sound/phonogram/letter" or "later today, review the sounds with your child". With PAL, my kids are having so much fun, they hear the examples in everything else we read, they are looking for the helpers in most of the books we read, and they are practicing without any encouragement from me.
Thank you for this product! I'm selling all my old phonics materials (and believe me, the shelf was groaning with so many different things!) I only wish this had been out 7 years ago so I could have used it with my older two. Now I only have 3 more to use it. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to wait for the grandkids!
J Danielle in MI
I just had to take a moment this morning to share a funny scenario that occurred in our home yesterday.....
I have been working with my 4.5 yo son for the last few weeks on PAL Reading and Writing. (I could write a mini-book about how wonderful this has been for us!!!!). Although I've been focusing mainly on teaching to this particular child, other siblings have, of course, caught "PAL-fever" and listened along as we learn and play through PAL on the living room floor each day. At times my newly-3 yo daughter will hang around and play with her dolls or put the bones in MUGS' mouth, but rarely actually "participates".
Yesterday, this dear daughter was using the bathroom, waiting for me to come and well, wipe her up :). She urgently called "Mom, Mom...come here!". As I did, she excitedly showed me the tag in her pajama pants. She was wearing a pair of pants (way too big for her!) that were size "6". From her viewpoint, the "6" was upside down. She pointed to the tag and exclaimed, "Look Mom! I have the draggy-leg letter!!!" She was so immensely proud of the fact that her tag looked like it had the letter "g" on it!
I hugged her as hard as I could (without hurting her!) and tried to share my excitement through my giggly delight. I was blown away! She had been listening all along and actually "getting it", and I had no clue. And that she would recognize this on her own is just so exciting to me. Thought some of you ladies could appreciate my excitement :) --Carrie in AL P.S. We have a semi-large, blank wall in our main bathroom, which the younger children use on a regular basis. I have been thinking of purchasing some larger-sized alphabet cards to put on the walls there so that we could utilize the time spent in the bathroom more efficiently and learn our letter sounds at the same time :). Instead of purchasing these, I think I'm going to print the individual "letter story cards" from PAL on cardstock, color them in, laminate, and put them up. I thought it would make a useful, colorful wall decoration and integrate our reading/writing curriculum with other "daily" tasks :).
My son (6) woke up this morning, with intense spring fever. He whined a little and said "do we have to do school today?" Before I could respond he said, "oh, wait... we get to play with all those games and feed the dog!" No more complaining here. Thanks Jill for making this so easy and fun to use.