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Friday, February 15, 2008

The Mail Came!

I received our Queen Homeschool products today:

- Language Lessons for the Very Young
- Habit Revisited
- Twelve Bright Trumpets by Leighton
- The Nature Study Idea Book

My Review of LL for the Very Young- it is based on the same premise as Primary Language Lessons which includes picture study with artwork, narration, copywork, punctuation and beginning composition exercises. I feel this is an excellent product for first grade but I do have a few things I wish were different.

It is a consumable product, which means the author intends for the child to write directly on the pages. I hope this is the reason for the large text, which as a former graphic designer, I cannot stand. The dark heavy lines either. I will not be using it as a consumable product, I will have my children write all of their work on separate piece of paper. I also wish there was a table of contents and index so I could quickly see where all the different types of lessons are for reference if I need to.

I will have to take some time with this to get to know it well enough to know if I will use each exercise due to the fact there is not a table of contents, index or a list concepts at either the beginning or end of the book. Primary Language Lessons by Lingua Mater does contain a table of contents, including poem titles, there is also a section in the front entitled "suggestions to teachers" from the original 1911 edition which I have very helpful. Language Lessons may have a little more direction for each lesson, which is helpful but I prefer the format of Primary Language Lessons much more. I would give Language Lessons for the Very Young an
B / for content
A- /for ease of use for student/teacher
B- /for format.

I want to explain a little further because I've been thinking about this ever since I've received it. I want to make it clear that I LOVE the concept in which these products resonate in. I am actually considering reformatting this product for our own family's use, that is how much it bothers me. If it makes my eyes go buggy, what about my children's?

Here's the reasons why I am not 100% thrilled with Language Lessons for the Very Young by Sandi Queen:

1. The size and typestyle of the font used in the book, it is at least 18 pt which is too large, the average person prefers to read 11 pt. text with normal line spacing so for children, the type size would preferably be set to 14 pt. at the largest and with a clear font. The font used is clear but is more vertical than usual text, it also contains serifs which are distracting. This is a font that is non-serif. Using a non-serif font also reduces letter formation mistakes, just to be fair to Queen Homeschool, I can't stand products that use a childish font like Comic Sans either, like Writing Tales does. I love Writing Tales and its content but like I said, I was a graphic designer and therefore this stuff bugs me.

2. The heavy lines on the pages for where a child aged 5-9 would write answers. This is why we will not write in the book and will use a separate piece of handwriting paper. If you're going to create a consumable product for an age group that is still working on mastering handwriting, it needs to be formatted so. In first grade, Camille would have gotten upset because she wouldn't be able to fit all her letters/words on the lines provided or I wouldn't have accepted sloppy handwriting which in this case, the lack of handwriting guidelines does not promote Charlotte Mason's method of developing a habit of excellence.

3. I object to some of the content. For example, Lesson Eighteen is about using capital letters. The sample that a child is to circle every capital letter they see is:

My favorite food is pizza. I like cheese on mine, and also mushrooms. Some of my brothers like peppers on theirs. My sister is the only one who prefers hers plain.

Then in Lesson Twenty-One:

Yesterday, we went to the zoo. We saw lots of different animals. My sister, Haley, liked the monkeys best. They made funny faces at us as they swung from tree to tree.

Don't get me wrong, I see the connection to children with these sentences but from a Charlotte Mason product, I was expecting something from literature, a fable excerpt or even something involving nature. The trite sentences are not what I would consider "exposing children to the very best". I also dislike the mention of other Queen Homeschool products within the text of the lessons, I don't mind the excerpts of other product they sell but don't say "published by Queen Homeschool Supplies" in the instructions of a lesson.

I also don't understand why the titles of the poems are underlined. Poem are short pieces of work, which require quotation marks. Here's a link that supports my concern.

I am only speaking about Language Lessons for the Very Young by Sandi Queen, I have not seen any other of the Language Lessons series and do not intend to use them. I only wanted a first grade level product that was of the same caliber as Primary Language Lessons which is intended for 2nd-3rd grade. I am in prayerful consideration on whether to reformat Language Lessons for the Very Young for our own family use. My only other option is to use white-out on the poem titles and supply alternative samples for the punctuation exercises.

We will use LL for the Very Young for first grade, follow it with Primary Language Lessons (Lingua Mater) and possibly Intermediate Language Lessons (Lingua Mater).

I need more time with the other books to offer an opinion. With Habit Revisited, I plan to read what Charlotte Mason said about Habits before I offer an opinion. I am disappointed with the size of the text and line spacing, it makes my eyes go buggy. Sigh. I'm also disappointed with the formatting of The Nature Study Idea Book, as well as the content upon first look. Once The Handbook of Nature Study comes in, I'll reassess it for value.

Twelve Bright Trumpets by Leighton, this seems to be an excellent living book for Medieval times.

By the way, I love the offerings at Queen Homeschool but it is a family business which means the shipping may take a little longer than larger companies. It also means that returning items are not ideal because they have a 15% restocking fee plus the customer pays for the item to be shipped back to them, which they may refuse to accept as a return. I do wish I would have waited to read the Original Series first before purchasing Habit Revisited and waited for The Handbook of Nature Study before purchasing The Nature Study Idea Book- that is why patience is a virtue!



Dawne said...

Thank you for the review of LLFVY! A friend of mine did not like LLFVY because it did not give the artist or the name of their work. She did let Sandy know that she was not happy about that. The LLFLO that I have do give the names of both author and work, so she seems very open to constructive criticism and improvements.

Anyway, so far I am happy with LLFLO and I can't wait to hear if you will decide to use LLFVY or not. And the larger text is perfect in LLFLO for my littles, but yes, I hope it doesn't stay that way through all levels. ;)

Kim said...

I would love to see a comparison done! I didn't know about these books, but my 5 year old (almost 6) LOVES FLL.

Anonymous said...

I am very happy with First Language Lessons1and2. I am even using the third book. I would love to see a comparison. I just love your blog and the types of material that you use for your children. Homeschooling mom, Rose

LisaWA said...

I have a habot revisited... from Mary Woodis right? I also have her another book Its put away right now... but I think its a parable of nature.... I love the stories.... here is an online link....

I love them!


Alana in Canada said...

If I may offer a word of advice: don't revamp the Queen Homeschool material. You wanted to get away from all that didn't you? And I'm afraid I've forgotten why you thought PLL wasn't enough--is it that you're trying to move up a grade level?

At any rate, if something bugs you that much, then chalk it up to the cost of learning and re-sell it.

Blessings to you,

oooh--and I love the poetry notebook! I must check that out!

Alana in Canada said...

Hey, as a former graphic designer--do you happen to know how to control leading in blogger? Mine's all over the place!

mom24 said...

You really have a good sense for this classical education! I, unfortunately, would never have noticed the underlining of the titles. It troubles me to think that I may miss things and therefore not give them the very best education. Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience!

my5wolfcubs said...

I really appreciate your ability to review an item...a skill I lack. Several years ago, I checked the Handbook of Nature Study out from the library...but it just didn't seem practical (living in a desert). Have you read Pocketful of Pinecones yet? She makes the Handbook seem just delightful. :)