The program uses well known children's books (36 in total) and Aesop's Fables for children. I actually already had every book that we have needed so far (including Aesop's Fables) and so this has been very easy to implement. However most of the titles would be easily found in a library if you don't want to buy them.
This program is very easy to use. There is very good instructions at the beginning of the teacher's guide to walk you through how the program works. There is a new book every week and you read it at least twice Monday and Wednesday (unless of course you have a child like mine then you may read it 5-10 times each day because it's his new FAVORITE and then as soon as Dad get's home he has to read it, and of course that's not counting the multiple times he has got the older siblings to read it to him!) Little J is not quite ready to read the books to me. He knows most of the words but still enjoys being read to more that reading himself. The program says it's OK either way. I personally love reading books to Little J so that's what we did.
Here's the breakdown of how the teachers book recommends breaking down the work;
Introduce and read the new book and ask comprehension questions about the reading (record answers in the teachers book).
Grammar and Mechanics - (usually multiple choice in the student workbook)
Composition - brainstorm
Choice whether to read the book again.
Grammar and Mechanics (similar to Mondays or editing)
Read book - more comprehension questions
Grammar and Mechanics
Friday - FREE DAY (or complete any left over activities)
The teachers manual is split up into weeks, each one starting with an 'at a glance' page. I found this extremely useful as it tells you;
The book of the week, the Aesop Fable being covered, optional material, what topic of the alphabet page, what topic of the grammar and mechanics section (eg: capitalization, exclamation points etc), and what supplies will be needed to aid in the composition section.
How we used it;
At the beginning of each week I pulled the new section out of the workbook and added it to our ring binder. Little J couldn't work in the book, it make his writing awkward. Since the book is perforated it worked better for us this way. Plus he didn't seem overwhelmed when I just gave him the sheet for the day we were working on.
HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON was Little J's favorite of the books we have read so far.
As I mentioned earlier Little J loves listening to stories. So this part of the program was easy to implement. I would read the story and then ask him the comprehension questions recording his answers in the spaces provided in the teachers book. He had no problem answering these questions, he loved this book.
We then moved on to the grammar and mechanics and I introduced the concept of the week which was that a sentence starts with a capital letter, as do people's names. Little J didn't have any problem understanding this. We then moved onto the composition section we only spent a little time on this section as Little J is not ready to write too much, our planning was done verbally (I wrote down his ideas).
Little J was able to narrate Harold and the Purple Crayon almost perfectly. It didn't surprise me since by this time he had gotten nearly everyone in the house to read it about 10 times to him. For the Grammar and Mechanics section Little J worked in his workbook and corrected a paragraph by underlining the words that needed to begin with a capital letter. Because Little J is not a great reader (he's only 5) I read most of the sentences with him. He was able to correct the capital in the word at the beginning of each sentence, however he couldn't spot the names that needed to be corrected unless I read them. For today's composition we brainstormed together and I wrote down his ideas again. Little J however wrote his own sentence about the story in his reading journal section.
On Wednesday we reviewed the story again, I asked Little J the 2nd set of comprehension questions after reading the book again. Today for the grammar and mechanics section we talked about 'color' and we thought of as many color names as we could matching them with letters of the alphabet. (We used a box of crayons for inspiration!) Then Little J wrote the rough draft of his paper. I had to convince him not to do this in his composition book.
Today we read the Aesop Fable 'The Boy and the Nettle'. I let Little J tell me what he thought it was about. For grammar and mechanics Little J completed the blanks in a sentence, with two names. He used the capital letter without being reminded! Finally Little J was able to use his new comprehension book. He had drawn his picture earlier in the week and was really pleased to write his little sentence. I can see this comprehension book really being something to treasure as the year goes on.
Because Little J is only 5 still I decided to give him a free day.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
I will definitely be using this complete course. Little J loves the book choices. I like the introduction of the Aesop Fables. So far I like the introduction of the grammar and mechanics. It seems gentle but relevant. Little J hasn't had a problem understanding the concepts. The program starts slow which is great for us as Little J is a younger than most first graders. I have never used any Lightening Literature products before but we have really enjoyed using this and will definitely use it for the rest of the year! As far as I understand the younger age products are new and so you may be more familiar with the older grade products. After using grade one I know I will be more interested in other products for my older kids!
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