Tuesday, September 10, 2013

{Crew Review} The Logic of English


I am a big fan of phonics-based spelling programs.  Not only does it fit my learning and teaching style, but I believe it gives my boys tools they can use to become better spellings as they grow and learn. 

The Logic of English is a rather new entry into the niche of Orton-Gillingham based spelling-phonics programs. The spelling program was birthed in 2012 as a result of Denise Eide’s success with her lectures about  the Logic of English spelling.  Ms. Eide’s explains (in her curriculum and presumably in her book Uncovering the Logic of English) that 98% of English words can be explained with 74 phonograms and 30 spelling rules.  You can read more about the story behind the Logic of English at the website [here.]

I was thrilled to give this a try for a few weeks this summer – and even more thrilled that I’ll be using it as Levi’s spelling program for his 2nd grade year.

{Just so you know, this review has the potential to be a million or so miles longs. I’ve tried to subtract a few half million miles from it already, but I think this is the best I can do.}

For this review, I was given an  Essentials Program.  According to the website, this is basically a 2nd-grade and up program for emerging readers/spellers, those who are average readers but need spelling remediation, non-readers (ages 9 to adult), ESL students of all ages, and young (5 and 6 year olds) emerging readers.

There are many parts to Logic of English that you can customize to your needs and students (and budget). 

Here’s what I received (the ‘#’ means you can purchase these as PDFs for the same price): 

  • #*Essentials Teacher's Manual ($95)
  • #*Essentials Student Workbook -Cursive Version ($25)
  • Phonogram Flash Cards ($18)
  • Spelling Rule Flash Cards ($15)
  • #Phonogram and Spelling Game Book ($15)
  • Two sets of Phonogram Game Cards ($10 each)

    I also was able to download a free copy of their Phonograms App  ($2.99 at the iTunes App Store).  I have been wanting an app like this so bad for so long and am glad to see that the boys can have additional practice with their phonograms outside of the times when I work with them. I’ll explain the app in a little bit.

    If you are unfamiliar with Orton-Gillingham instructional methods and philosophies, I would suggest you google it.  If you are more interested in learning about Logic of English and how their system works, Mrs. Eide wrote a book (Uncovering the Logic of English) and she has produced free training videos to explain her philosophy and her program.  These videos are fantastic teacher education tools to help you know how to implement the program and are a huge asset to this program. 

    How I Used This Program 

    Step 1 - Introducing Phonograms and Phonological Awareness.   After watching a few hours of the {free} teacher training videos over the course of several days, I began to re-introduce the phonograms to my kids.  If you are unfamiliar with that term, a phonogram is a letter or group of letters that stand for sounds in English (see the example below).  One of my failings this summer was to keep Luke and Levi fresh with these, so we spent some time working through the flashcards to re-learn the ones we knew and some that are unique to Logic of English (such as ‘bu’ for a ‘b’ sound and ‘cei’ for soft c):



    front side of phonogram flashcard

    teacher side of phonogram flashcard


    Not only did I use the phonogram flashcards to drill the kids quickly through all the phonograms (they knew all but 4 or 5 from last year), but we also had fun playing a couple games.  I appreciated that the Phonogram and Spelling Game Book included more than just well-used Bingo, Memory Match and Go Fish game variations.  One that we really liked playing was a variant of the Uno! game and an Old Maid variant called Dragon!

    IMG_2966 IMG_2969

    Nice to see smiling faces

    when spelling is involved.


    There is really an amazing amount of creative ways to practice phonograms and spelling in this resource. According to the website the 96-page Phonogram & Spelling Game Book resource contains:

          ●40 Phonogram Games ●37 Spelling Games ● 11 Game Templates ● 18 Phonogram Bingo Cards                ● 10 Phonogram Tic-Tac-Toe Cards

    You will find whole body/ active ways to practice (Phonogram Kangaroo and Spelling Basketball) as well as games and templates for crossword puzzles, board games, and word searches.  Need more sensory input?  Games to engage more tactile and visual senses are included too (Rainbow Spelling and Salt Box phonogram writing). 

    The third way we practiced phonograms was with the Phonogram App.  Why I liked this:photo3

    1. You can add a large number of players to the game.
    2. Kids work through 10 levels of practice and one custom level, where you can work on those really tricky phonograms (how ‘bout all the phonograms that make a long ‘o’ sound?)
    3. Kids have to get each phonogram correct 5 times for it to be ‘mastered'.’
    4. Phonograms are presented in upper and lower case.

    Levi breezed through the first couple levels but I love that there is a mastery component so that students get lots of practice and repetition. There are a couple sibilant sounds (wh, f, th) that are a little hard to discern with my old ears, but Levi doesn’t seem to have any trouble distinguishing between them.

    Step 2 – Begin the program.  I decided after a week or so that Luke would not be the target child on this review as I had originally planned.  However, I knew that this would be a perfect product for Levi.  I found this page in the FAQs to help me make my decision. Some reasons this would work well for Levi:

    1. Games are suggested as an integrated part of the program – Levi’s love language is games!
    2. The basic grade level is 2nd grade.  Although many of be beginning words are very easy for Levi, repetition cements learning and concepts.  
    3. Logic of English includes optional grammar lessons in each spelling lesson.  Beginning from the definition of a noun to learning various types of sentences, clauses and conjunctions, I felt like this would be a very complete grammar program for Levi.
    4. This is a 40 lesson program, which will be a perfect year-long spelling curriculum for Levi.  For older students, Ms. Eides recommends completing the program at an accelerated rate approximately 2 lessons per week). image
    5. Engages many different learning styles.  You’ll see icons throughout the teachers’ guide to help you infuse some kinesthetic learning into your routine:
    6. I mentioned that games are included in the lesson plans, right?

    So, I opened the instructor’s guide and read.  There is a full 69 page beginning section that is just introductory information.  But it isn’t worthless blah-blah.  It is information that helps explain what you are doing and why.  There are suggested daily lesson plans for each type of student targeted by  Logic of English.  The Grammar program is explained. Instructions on how to teach are found here.  It is worthy of careful reading and planning before you jump in (I know, I know -- it is hard to wait!).

    For a more complete overview of the basic instructor’s guide than I could ever try to give, here’s a YouTube video that gives you a glimpse inside the hard covers of this book:


    You can also view a generous number of samples of the book:


    Table of Contents
    Scope and Sequence
    Sample Schedules
    Spelling Lists
    Why Begin with Cursive?
    Teacher's Manual Lesson 1
    Teacher's Manual Lesson 2
    Teacher's Manual Lesson 40
    Cursive Workbook Lesson 1
    Cursive Workbook Lesson 2
    Cursive Workbook Lesson 40
    Manuscript Workbook Lesson 1
    Manuscript Workbook Lesson 2
    Manuscript Workbook Lesson 40

    Because we need to complete a week’s worth of lessons in four days instead of five, I needed to look at the Sample Schedules and see what we needed to complete each week (remember, I want to do the grammar part for Levi).  I ended up tweaking the suggestions a little – and reminding myself that I didn’t have to do everything in the book – and decided that we would generally follow this plan:

    1. Two games per week – one for the phonograms and one for the spelling words (which is an improvement of 200% from our previous spelling program)

    2.  Introduce new phonograms (and a game) and the 15-spelling words on day one

    3.  Spend day two working on the grammar exercises and dictation – which reinforces spelling and writing

    4. Day three is another game day – this time for the spelling words. I’ll also introduce any vocabulary lessons.

    5.  Day 5 is quiz day – Levi will take a phonogram quiz as well as a spelling quiz.

    So far, this is working well.  It is meeting Levi’s love language needs (games!) and giving him a solid, research based spelling program and grammar to boot.  He is even giving me a lot less grief about cursive …. because his spelling workbook has cursive in it:


    I just want to offer one small caveat:  There is always some sort of unique way of helping to organize rules of spelling to make English more systematic and predicable. Each of the Orton-Gillingham programs I’ve used has had a slightly different take on how to do this. There’s been a phonogram that I’ve thought, “that is a stretch.” And in all honesty Logic of English is no exception.  However, this is not a deal breaker.  The many assets of Logic of English make it a winner in this house for my youngest, who is enjoying spelling so far this year.  That I’m able to open the teacher’s guide and find simple yet valuable tools to help instruct my son in spelling while giving him vocabulary building exercises, grammar lessons and cursive practice with little prep work on my part makes this an invaluable tool for this busy homeschool mama. 

    Logic of English graphic

    I am honestly hoping that the next level of Essentials is planned to be released just in time for Levi’s needs next fall (if the Logic of English people are reading – hint, hint!).

    If you have a younger student, perhaps you’ll consider Logic of English Foundations programs and/or their handwriting program.  Both of these products were reviewed at The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.

    Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew


    All prices are accurate as of blog posting. 

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