Wednesday, May 14, 2014

All About Reading or Primary Arts of Language?

I have lost track of how many times I have been asked this past year whether I would recommend All About Reading (from All About Learning) or Primary Arts of Language (from IEW). It's a tough question to answer… I think they are both excellent and solid programs. I am currently using Primary Arts of Language (Reading and Writing) with my 1st grader, along with All About Spelling, and we have been supplementing with some of the materials (the readers) from All About Reading.

I don't mind sharing what we are using, or what has worked for us in the past, but I have never liked giving recommendations to others.  Every family is different, and every child within a family is different, and what works for me and my child (in our particular situation and season) might not work for you or your child.

I have been blessed to have some Catholic friends tutor my children this past year.  Kathleen comes on Thursdays and Trina had been coming on Tuesdays, up until this month. They have been helping teach Math and Language Arts and it has been such an incredible blessing as I try to keep up with home educating five children with two toddlers. They are both home-educating moms and are familiar with the programs I am currently using with my children. Kathleen has always used IEW's Teaching Writing with Structure and Style at home with her children, and Trina is currently using Primary Arts of Language with her 1st grade son.

Over the past couple months Trina and I have been discussing the pros and cons of All About Reading and Primary Arts of Language as I try to decide which of the two programs I will eventually use with Rose, my next kindergartner. I recently loaned Trina my All About Reading materials and she made a list of her thoughts on the pros and cons of each program.  Instead of sharing our thoughts as a reply in the comment box of Our School Year in Review I decided to compile it all into a new post along with some pictures. Keep in mind that these are just our personal opinions of these programs. Hopefully the list will help you decide if either of these programs is a good choice for you and your child!

Note:  This post contains affiliate links to All About Learning and Amazon. IEW does not currently offer an affiliate program.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any way for this post. 

All About Reading: ​


Pros:
  • If you are using or have used All About Spelling, it is very similar.
  • Tried and True Concepts 
  • Orton-Gillingham Based 
  • Colorful Folder Games
  • Pre-Printed Word Cards
  • Pretty Simple and Easy-to-Use Program
  • Wonderful Readers!! 

Cons:
  • If you are using All About Spelling, it might be 'overkill' (redundant)
  • Games aren't very creative, they are just more repetition of 'key card' memorization.
  • Only has 9 (or so) folder games
  • Doesn't teach the alphabet sounds in a creative way.  For those children who are having trouble learning the sounds of the alphabet… It's all just repetition and memorization.  (Trina says this wouldn't have worked with her son.)

I also want to add that I love the Pre-Reading Activity Book - "My Book of Letters" from All About Reading Pre-Reading and plan to use it again with my younger children.  It is such a fun way to introduce the letters of the alphabet! You can see a few examples in some of my Alphabet Path posts, starting with the Letter A

Reading Cobweb the Cat - All About Reading Level 1 


Primary Arts of Language (PAL) Reading and Writing:
from Institute of Excellence in Writing (IEW)


My crate of Primary Arts of Language: Reading File Folder Games

Pros:
  • For children who are struggling learning the sounds of the alphabet, it teaches them in a very visual way with word association. For example: "C" is the happy letter! Start at the top and circle around, but don't close it up! This is the happy cookie because somebody took a big bite! /c/, /c/, cookie. - PAL: Reading
  • There are 35 (or so) folder games, with a nice variety. Even numbers!
  • The games are creative and hands-on, reinforcing all the phonetic rules they are learning. 
  • No writing is involved with the  PAL: Reading program, (perfect for boys)! 
  • Has the option of adding PAL: Writing if you desire writing to be a part of the program.
  • PAL is a complete Language Arts program 'in a box' - includes phonics, writing, reading, narration, journaling, memorization, and even adds grammar. 
  • Adding All About Spelling when it is recommended works perfectly with the program and also adds some variety.  The PAL: Writing Program comes complete with the first level of All About Spelling.
  • Love the 'Phonetic Farm' - It gives the child a great visual of letter blends/rules.  It's still repetitive, but in a creative and colorful way. 

Cons:
  • Requires more preparation than All About Reading.
  • Folder games are not in color.  We had to color the games ourselves.
  • The lessons are a little more involved - there are about 7-8 things you need to do during each lesson.
  • You have to make the word cards yourself.
  • This program requires LOTS of printing. Get ready to use some paper and ink! 
  • Lame readers. (Trina's opinion. They need to be printed, double-sided, and assembled.)  Wish they'd have real ones like All About Reading.  (Note:  I think these could be cute if printed correctly, assembled, and colored by the child… but mine are still untouched in a file in  my crate and we've been using the All About Reading Readers, along with some of our other faith readers, instead.) 
  • If you do the writing program, you have to insert the writing pages in with the reading pages yourself. You want to keep with the same lesson in each program.


Here are a few examples of the File Folder Games included in the PAL: Reading program:

Feeding Mugs
Color Palette Matching Game 
Magic-e
Use the Magic-e wand to add a silent e to the words on the board. Have fun with this game. Say something like, "The Magic-e can turn man into (ding!) mane!" Repeat for each word.  
Action Charades
Cut out the action word cards (verbs) as they are presented in the reading lessons.  As you add more cards, you may remove the duplicates. To play, lay the cards face down on the board. Take turns picking up a card, reading it, and acting it out. 
Match-It
Match-It is Snuggles' favorite game at the moment. 
Use this game board with any of (the 19 sets) Match-It cards. To play, lay one set of cards face down on the board. Take turns turning over two cards. Read the words or identify the picture. If they match, keep the set. If they do not, turn them back over, and the next person takes his turn. You can also play by taking turns revealing a single card and leaving it face up. If your card matches one already face up on the board, you get to take both. Score by adding up the numbers in the boxes under the cards. 

A few examples of some of the workbook pages:


Our (in progress) Phonetic Farm:


Here is an example of what we worked on during our last PAL lesson: 
  1. Read Monster Box Cards (the Monster Word Box replaced Mugs once all the phonograms had been memorized) 
  2. Pick a few of the easier words in Monster Box to be spelled. 
  3. Visit a few places on the Phonetic Farm.
  4. Games - #8 Match-It using card set 9; #12 Action Charades; #30 Long-o Silo Words
  5. All Lesson Work Pages
  6. Poem (review all previously memorized poems, work on current poem memorization)
  7. Journal Entry (optional)
Note: Some lessons also include a story and narration.  We supplement thoughout the week with readers. We have started working our way through All About Spelling Level 1. Soon he will begin the "Who/Which" Writing Project (Lesson 9 in Part II of the Writing Book) - my daughter had so much fun with this project last year! 


40 comments:

  1. This is a great post. I started out with PAL this year, which my daughter (and then 3yo) really enjoyed. They especially liked the games. I, personally, couldn't stand it. I found it very difficult to teach the silly stories with the letters (I thought it would be confusing later), the lessons were very involved, and the prep was too much, considering I had 3 older kids to tend to, as well. I never even got to the part that incorporated All About Spelling, which I purchased for each child, but was never able to implement since I couldn't see doing it with each child separately. BUT, that's just me. I would never have learned things that way, and I prefer to teach things very directly, which is not necessarily the best way for each individual child to learn. My two little kids still enjoyed it and the couple of months we used it, my daughter benefited from greatly and retained what she learned very well. I am hanging on to PAL for this next year to do with JP for pre-K. I anticipate being much more successful with a younger child, who is the last one in the house who needs to learn to read. But this year, it was too much for us. I am afraid of All About Reading, since I really never figured out what I was supposed to do with All About Spelling.

    2014-05-15 05:28:58

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  2. I enjoy in depth reviews so much. Very much appreciate it. This would be a lot of fun, but I don't understand how you have the time to commit. The All About Reading readers look so wonderful and I plan to get them. I actually looked them up yesterday after reading that post and saw Snuggles reading the book. We need readers beyond Faith and Freedom, Dick and Jane, and Biscuit books. Those look perfect. I have to say that I've had good luck teaching reading with Seton Phonics workbooks (MCP style), colorful alphabet cards, and Professor Phonics for learning to sound words out. It does help that the children have known their letters and sounds before Kindergarten, but that was just from watching a Brainy Baby ABC video. So many styles. Thanks for sharing!!!

    2014-05-15 05:55:55

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    1. I was thinking the same! File folder games scare me away. : ) I use Phonics Pathways to teach reading. It's not very fun, but as long as it works, I'll be staying with what's easy. We do use All About Spelling as well as some of the elements of PAL - Writing, so this post was interesting to see the "other side" of these programs.

      2014-05-15 23:47:20

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  3. Is there a list of you faith readers somewhere? I'd love to know what they are so that I may use them with my burgeoning reader. We are using CHC's program and he likes those, but has finished the first 4 levels of readers already.

    2014-05-15 07:21:42

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    1. I've always used the Faith and Freedom Readers with my children - for 1st Grade we used the Pre-Primer, This is Our Family, and These are Our Friends.

      I also have some of the American Cardinal Readers including the Primer from Neumann Press. I'd love to eventually collect the whole series now that they are being re-printed by TAN. Our Heavenly Father - Primer is a religion book from the Living My Religion Series based on the Baltimore Catechism, but it makes an excellent Catholic reader too. (The Faith and Freedom and All About Reading readers are my 1st graders favorites.)

      2014-05-15 14:22:42

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  4. I completely agree with you about the printing of endless pages for PAL. I wish that had been explained before I bought it. (I did spend an hour speaking to a sales rep at our homeschool conference.) We don't have a printer and so it has been very pricey printing at the library for 15 cents a page. I really wish it just came with a workbook. My son has really enjoyed the games and has learned so much, although I admit to not completing all that they have laid out for each lesson. We will probably finish the program next year. We started AAS, but he wasn't ready. My older daughter is doing AAS and it had helped her so much, though I confess I haven't enjoyed it at all. Thinking of ordering the readers as a supplement, thanks, Jessica.

    2014-05-15 13:29:53

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    1. About printing all the PAL pages - if you don't want to print them yourself, IEW will print and bind the student books for you. Primary Arts of Language: Writing Student Book Primary Arts of Language: Reading Student Book I hope that is helpful!

      2014-05-17 15:05:00

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    2. I'm sorry - I don't know if it is possible for me to edit the comment to fix the links...

      2014-05-17 15:08:28

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    3. Thank you Jocelyn! That is very helpful! And no problem, I was able to edit the links. :)

      2014-05-17 15:42:20

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    4. Thank-you so much! :)

      2014-05-17 16:55:57

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  5. JMJ Neither! Sing, Spell, Read & Write. I've used it for 5 children who are fluent readers, writers, and grammarians! (One is top in his college class due to SSR&W in his primary years!) Typically I will use (only) their first grade program and divide it between K and 1st running into 2nd if more time is needed to learn concepts. Once finished with the Raceway book, I move on to appropriate Catholic grammar, penmanship, spelling. We have never had to supplement with phonics because with SSR&W the phonics rules are put to music and we just listen to them every now and then as a refresher! Easy-peasy! Lesson plans are all made out for you so there's virtually NO PREP TIME! As a veteran home educating parent of 19 years, I recommend Sing, Spell, Read & Write for those who desire less prep time and an effective program that works!

    2014-05-15 15:15:46

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    1. I haven't heard of this one...I like to hear more about it.

      2014-05-15 21:41:39

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  6. Okay, just a comment on PAL. I have 6 children, ages 9, 9, 7, 6, 2, and 7 months. We used PAL last year with my 7 y/o and I'm sort of using it this year with my 6 y/o (just turned 6 in April). I like the program very very much however, I find it incredibly time consuming. I found myself longing for the days of picking up ordinary parents guide to reading and just doing the simple lesson. The printing and cutting and gluing take a great deal of time and honestly, I have no idea how I would ever do the whole program every day like it suggests. I have eager learners who don't complain but this is a lot of activities every day. And with so many littles, it is pretty unrealistic. Granted, I do not have any helpers or tutors and I think if I had help with schooling, I would use it (of course, I would do a lot of thjngs differently if that were te case!) I won't send if back, though, because I like te games and my girls love them. I won't be teaching my 2 y/o son to read for a few years so by then I might have more time for the program. I have a feeling we'll switch to a different program for the new school year. Thanks for your info, Jessica! Your site is always helpful.

    2014-05-15 20:33:32

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    1. There is no way I could do the program every day either! My first grader spends 1 hour on Tuesday and Thursdays working through 1-2 of the lessons - and then maybe another hour (total) finishing up any remaining worksheets, etc. I have found this to be plenty. On other days I supplement with reading practice and Explode the Code workbooks. I printed all the pages needed for the whole program all at once at the beginning, ended up spending one evening early on creating ALL the file folder games. That has saved so much time and I (or the tutors) have everything I need when we get to it in the various lessons. God bless you and your family! It wasn't that long ago when I had 6 children under the age of 10… They grow so fast!

      2014-05-15 22:17:31

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    2. It is a bit overwhelming having all under 10--but I wouldn't have it any other way:). I feel like by the time I figure this whole thing out, my youngest will be all grown up! Thanks for the inspiration, it's always refreshing!

      2014-05-17 00:33:28

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  7. Am I the most boring preschool/Kindergarten teacher ever??? :o) I use "Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons" and it seems to work for us. It is just a textbook, no additional sheet/cards/games. Then I graduate to "Sound Beginnings" which does have flashcards and a few worksheets at least. I'd love to be more "fun" but oh well...I know my little kids would love more fun stuff...but I guess "boring" works for us, for now.... :o) Becky near Portland, OR

    2014-05-15 20:47:04

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    1. I used "Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy lessons" a couple years ago for my girls. It worked wonderfully for them, but did not work at all for my older boys… They (particularly the oldest) had Auditory Processing Challenges (a form of Dyslexia) and it was the wrong type of program for them. I tried so many programs for them, all unsuccessfully (and thought I was a complete failure at home-educating) before hiring a specialist to help correct the dyslexia. I was so amazed at the difference (and how easy it was) when I started teaching the girls. AAR/AAS and PAL would have really been nice to have for my oldest two, and PAL (despite all the extra work) has been perfect for my current 1st grader. My friend Kathleen has commented that PAL is very similar to Sound Beginnings (which she used for her children too) - just a little more fun and colorful.

      2014-05-15 22:24:24

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  8. So...I'm still unsure which would be the better program to try first. It sounds like PAL is really good for learning visually with games and such? AAR sounds like it's more pre-assembled and has more interesting readers? They both sound good in different ways...so I'm just not sure which one to go with for kindergarten.

    2014-05-16 21:33:46

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    1. It hasn't been an easy decision for me either, Kari, which is why I'm using PAL and adding in parts of AAR… PAL has been excellent for my children who struggle with memorization and need the extra visual and hands-on materials. However, AAR provides that as well, to a certain extent. PAL introduces the sounds much slower than AAR, which is what I needed for my son, but not my older daughters. Once I finally spent the time to assemble everything it wasn't as overwhelming as it was at first. . . plus I have had help. If I used it again I would definitely order the Student workbooks (if I didn't have access to free printing, like I did this last time) that Jocelyn shared the links to above! That would save some time. I'm sorry this post hasn't been very helpful for you! :)

      2014-05-17 18:35:09

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  9. I used The Reading Lesson (similar to the 100 lesson reading book) starting when my daughter was about 4.5. She is almost done with it and reads at around a first grade level. Now heading into kinder someone gifted me a used copy of PAL reading and writing. I'm thinking of using some elements of the PAL reading program to reinforce all the phonograms we have learned - namely teaching the poems, doing the phonic farm, playing the games but not as slow as they introduce them in the program. Possibly doing some of the worksheets. In the meantime starting the PAL writing lessons. For those who have used PAL reading, do you think it would work as a review like that? I don't want my child to be bored to tears but I'm not sure what to do with a kinder who can already read.

    2014-05-17 00:33:27

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    1. I definitely think that would work. I used parts of PAL: Writing with Chiquita (she is now in 3rd grade) after she completed 100 easy lessons, adding in All About Spelling (lots of phonogram review), Faith & Freedom readers, plus Handwriting, Poetry Memorization and Narration since they weren't included in 100 Easy Lessons. It worked out wonderfully for her and she is an excellent reader.

      2014-05-17 18:42:11

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    2. Thanks for the reply Jessica. This is the first time I've commented on your blog even though I've been reading it for awhile. It is very reassuring that you think my approach will work. Some days I wonder what I'm doing homeschooling and wondering why I taught my preschooler to read! Thank you for your encouragement, information, and uplifting attitude.

      2014-05-18 18:39:36

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  10. I'm right with you in that "struggle" that you had with your older boys. I'm actually switching to AAR for next year. Mine 8 yr old is reading, but it's been a SLOW process and I'm hoping that by learning the phonograms the way AAR presents them and those wonderful readers, it will all help get her reading fluently. Math is also a challenge, too. Singapore Math seems to be helping in that area but I do incorporate Saxon method to some extent, as we started out with that at the beginning of the school year. I'm looking forward to AAR!

    2014-05-17 22:18:13

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    1. I'd love to hear how it works for you, Krista! I'm hoping that I don't have any other children who struggle like our oldest did, but if I do at least I will be a little better prepared! :)

      2014-05-17 22:22:21

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  11. Jessica I'd like to add in the pro side of AAR the use of the rhyming 'games'. for a very long time I've overlooked the importance and use of rhyming games in learning to read. ie. I say the word 'book' what does book end with? my children really struggle with this and I believe I have finally discovered why they haven't been reading and spelling as easily as they should. they're not making those connections easily, they need to practice alot.

    2014-05-19 06:10:35

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  12. I will let you know! I actually did a little "test" with my daughter a couple of weeks ago - just teaching her the phonograms from AAR's Level 1 that they cover to see how well she'd do just learning them in a "memorizing" kind of way and surprisingly she did really well and her reading actually took a turn for the best! She is gaining some independence and confidence in her reading now which was very much lacking before! I couldn't be more happy with this! I'm hoping that AAR will be the "power" behind her reading independence and love for it! She definitely does seem to need the Orton-Gillingham method! I am so grateful to you for initially introducing the program to me via your blog! THANK YOU!!!!

    2014-05-19 21:31:29

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  13. Thanks for this post. I have a reader who is struggling with blending the sounds together into one word. Can you comment on how much blending practice is in the games?

    2014-06-10 15:29:05

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  14. Jessica - just love your blog! Anyway, I have a question about PAL - do you do all 7-8 things for each lesson everyday? I found both my son and myself were really overwhelmed by this and we abandoned the program. But I still have it and am considering it for my younger children.

    2014-07-19 04:15:23

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    1. Hi, Holly! I'm sorry I didn't respond to your comment sooner. Did you ever pull back out your copy of PAL? No, we do not do all 7-8 things each day. We would spend about 1 hour on Tuesday and Thursdays working through 1-2 of the lessons (PAL and AAS) - and then maybe another hour (total, throughout the week) finishing up any remaining worksheets, journaling, reading aloud, etc.

      2015-08-11 20:18:34

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  15. Thanks for your post. Most of the discussion in the comments is about the READING portion of PAL and I'm more curious about the WRITING portion. I have a first grader. She has completed All About Reading 1 and 2 as well as All About Spelling 1. I plan on beginning PAL-Writing but wonder this: Can I consider All About Spelling 2, PAL-Writing along with reading good literature a complete first grade language arts curriculum? Do I need to supplement anything? Do I need more explicit or formal teaching of grammar? Would love the input of those who have used the program before me.

    2014-07-23 19:42:34

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    1. Hi Lisa, I'm sorry I never got back to responding to your comment. I hope you enjoyed using PAL-Writing! I'd love to hear how it worked for you, combining AAR with PAL Writing. It sounded like you were doing plenty. With my younger children I now wait until 3rd grade (or even later depending on the child) to add a formal grammar program to their language arts curriculum.

      2015-08-11 20:03:36

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  16. My question is similar to Lisa's question. I have AAR levels 1 and 2. My 6 yr old boy loves it. I hate to switch to PAL reading if this is working. But I would like to add their writing program. Would that be too hard to coordinate with AAR level 1? Thanks for your response!

    2015-01-22 00:06:23

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    1. Sorry to take so long to respond! I've struggled keeping up this last year due to some health issues. Yes! If it's working for you, stick with it! PAL-Writing include's All About Spelling in the lesson plans, I'm sure it wouldn't be hard at all to use it alongside AAR as well. I'd love to hear how it worked out for you, if you ended up combing the two. Originally I purchased just the writing portion of PAL for one of my older girls - she had learned to read very quickly with 100 Easy Lessons, in fact I barely even remember trying to teach her, she was reading over night! - and didn't need the reading portion of PAL or AAR. The lessons in PAL-Writing are divided into three sections focusing primarily on printing in part one, on copywork in part two, and composition in part three. We ended up using only parts 2 & 3 of the writing program. It was a fun and gentle introduction to writing before beginning IEW's Student Writing Intensive A in 3rd grade.

      2015-08-11 20:14:38

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  17. Hello Jessica, how wonderful your work. I was blown away. Congratulations. I searched but did not find the blog and do not even know exists if published, but I have a doubt if you can answer me I thank, as study time each child devotes a day? You build some grid with the order of the materials of the day? How did you do this distribution of materials during the week? Thank you! Elina

    2015-03-09 08:10:46

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    1. Hi Elina, Sorry to take so long to respond! The time they spend studying varies depending on their age/grade and work load. You can find links to my children's weekly checklists in this post.

      2015-08-11 19:35:35

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  18. Thank you for the post. How much time each day does it take to do PAL. Thanks.

    2015-07-27 20:01:48

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    1. We would spend about one hour on Tuesday and Thursdays working through 1-2 of the lessons - and then maybe another hour (total, throughout the week) finishing up any remaining worksheets, etc. I have found this to be plenty. On other days he works on his reading and handwriting practice, journaling, other supplemental worksheets and projects, and his All About Spelling lessons.

      2015-08-11 19:32:22

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  19. I found this review while puzzling out AAS and PAL for multiple students this year. Thank you for taking the time to delve in depth here. I used PAL in it's entirety two years ago with just one child. This time around I am actually using it as review with multiple age groups and skills (6th grader with SPD/Global Processing Delay, 3rd grader with dyslexia, 2nd grader whose spelling skills are strong but writing skills, not so much, and a typical 1st grader). Reading your review helped me to realize why I loved it so much in the first place and also how to break down what I want each kid to work on, so thank you! Since this was just over a year ago when you wrote this, are there further things you have discovered as you continued to use both programs?

    2015-08-18 14:49:12

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  20. Thanks

    2017-05-01 10:59:49

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  21. Regina Richter LaghaFebruary 15, 2022 at 8:31 PM

    Thank you so much. This was so helpful. My daughter really struggles with the letter sounds and your description of PAL really helped me make a decision to go that way. She needs variety and fun, and I'm hopeful PAL will be both of those!

    2020-04-27 02:38:27

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