PLL & Spelling - Do I add these for a 1st grader reader?

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PLL & Spelling - Do I add these for a 1st grader reader?

Unread post by kellybell »

Ariasarias wrote:I am 99.9% sure that I am going to order MFW 1 next year for my dd who will turn 6 at the end of the summer. She is a very good reader -- one of those natural readers.

I think she will enjoy the MFW 1 next year, but I am wondering if there is anything I could or should add to challenge her a little bit. I know that the reading part will be good as review, but should I go ahead and start PLL or begin the R&S Spelling? Or is there anything else I could do to challenge her in different ways? I would be very interested in what you think. Thank you.

Nicole :)
Hello Nicole,

Well, my son is probably a lot like your dd. Anyway, he was reading by early kindergarten so he was comfortable reading entering first grade (which we started at age 6.5 or so and are just finishing now). Anyway, I found that MFW1's phonics review really helped explain the phonics he sort of learned naturally. It was a great review. As for "challenging" your dd, you'll have time to do that because MFW1 doesn't take a lot of time.

I'd recommend starting MFW1 without doing extra stuff so that you can get the hang of it and see what you might want to do extra. You can fill the extra time with hobbies, sports, a study of whatever interests her (horses, space, plants, etc.).

As for adding PLL and 2nd grade spelling, I've done both, but I waited until near the end of MFW1 to add them. We're doing them both slowly, doing a lot of the writing work in PLL orally. And, since we started them both "early" I know that we've got time to put them on the shelf for a while if they get too difficult.

Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).

Unread post by Guest »

My dd sounds similar as well (turned 6 in July and had read her first words just after her 4th b-day). We added and I'm glad we did. She needed to be challenged and is really grasping sentence structure, parts of speech, etc. I do think the advice to begin and then decide what to add and when is good, though.
Julie in MN
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Location: Minnesota

Adding to MFW1

Unread post by Julie in MN »

I have NO experience teaching 1st grade, the other ladies are experts on that! However, I do have experience with an early reader, who is now in 4th grade. (I think the Hazells do, too.)

Anyways, just wanted to pipe in and say I'm glad you're still going ahead with 1st grade. My youngest learned to read on his own, & I didn't realize he never learned the alphabet in order. Therefore, we've had to play abc games in 4th grade so he can use a dictionary! When we started learning Spanish, I found out he didn't know what a vowel was. Vowels are very important for advanced spelling. There are many important things a good reader will still benefit from in a reading program, so I just wanted to encourage you in your decision!

And I also love Kelly's advice to "wait and see" if you will need anything more, even tho I know full well how hard that can be :o)
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002+)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

Unread post by cbollin »

I had an early reader. Here's my "been there" and took 2 children to learn it experience, and still don't know if I got it right.

Don't get out of balance on skills. Adding higher levels of Spelling and Lang. Arts is not necessary at this age/stage. But -- that's just my personal experience with my own children.

The MFW 1 program does have a lot of Language Arts components. Don't be fooled by thinking that they don't list a separate "language arts" workbook, so I have to add language arts. Or -- my child can read, so I have to skip a level altogether. (I made that mistake -- don't do what I did.)

Phonics is only one part of language arts.

Here is a sampling of the langauge arts of the MFW 1 program. It is centered around the Bible Reader. Sorry that this sounds like a listing of state standards or written in a bizarre way.

1. your child will learn to read. Sounds like that part may have been done already -- or is beginning. WaHoo!!!
2. child will learn sequencing of events.
3. child will learn to retell those events.
4. learn to write sentences of increasing length; eventually paragraphs.
5. draw pictures to help tell the story
6. learn spelling.

Ok -- you can see that the vast majority of 1st grade lang. arts is in the MFW1 program. Don't let the simplicity of presentation mislead you.

I made the mistake of trying to rush my children through 1st grade thinking that I had to add in higher levels of what they already knew. I was worried that if I didn't, they might lose skills or not be challenged, or worse yet -- the grandparents would think home schooling was bad.

One other "challenge" idea -- household chores, meal planning. That kind of stuff. And, listen to kellybell.

Shelly Best
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Unread post by Shelly Best »


I have done MFW1 3x's, including once with an advanced reader. In all three cases I learned phonics are the key to good reading and spelling. Though your child is a good reader, MFW1 will help become a good speller. This program is also good for beginning math concepts. After doing the math with my two younger children, they went directly into a 2nd grade math book. Hope this helps!
Shelly of CA
wife to Mike;
mother of Hannah(13), Michael(12), Thomas(9)
MFW since 2000
Cyndi (AZ)
Posts: 543
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 4:22 pm

Should I add Spelling and PLL to 1st with a 7.5 yo?

Unread post by Cyndi (AZ) »

TammyB wrote:I'm using the first grade program with my 7.5 year old, and he is doing wonderfully well with it. (We are somewhere around day 80.) I've purposely moved slowly with it as he is one of those children who stress easily when a lot of new skill-based information comes at him quickly. (I think it is the perfectionism in him.)

I think that at this stage of the game he is reading at this level pretty fluently. He is reading easy readers as well as the Bible reader with only occasionally stumbling over a word.

I am thinking about going ahead and starting Spelling by Sound and Structure with him. I think it would be good review, and almost all of its words contain letter combinations/sounds (What are those things called?!) that have already been covered in MFW first. In fact, I think all of the early lessons would be extremely easy for him.

Does that sound reasonable?

I have also not begun PLL with him. I'm not sure if we should go ahead and begin it or wait until we finish MFW first. Although he has made tremendous progress, he still struggles with the physical demand of writing. I think the writing included in the first grade program (Scripture copywork and the dictation/workbook/Bible notebook) hits his limit.

Do I wait to start it until my son is ready for the higher expectations of copywork and dictation, or do I begin it with the intention of greatly modifying that aspect of the book while focusing more intently on its other parts?

Thanks in advance for the input!
Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 8:30 pm
Since R&S spelling would add more writing to what sounds like a full load for him, I'd suggest doing something that is oral for now.

We have the leap frog spelling bee game, and it's a great way to do early spelling lessons in a totally fun atmosphere. Just a suggestion - I'm sure you'll get input from others who have been through this.

Unread post by cbollin »

Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 8:34 pm

It may be easier to add in PLL and/or a structured spelling program once you are around day 126 in the 1st grade program.

At that point, you're in the New Testament portion of the Bible reader and all of the phonics lessons are covered. It is at that point in the manual that the language arts takes a "flavor change" and it might just work out to change it then instead of now.

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Unread post by my3boys »

Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 9:26 pm

have a 'writing phobic' child as well. He is 8.5yo and is actually quite advanced in the area of language - he just struggles with small motor function and gets really frustrated if he has to write more than a couple sentences. I read posts about this all the time, so I know it is very common.

He will definitely be ready to produce some longer 'written' work come next year for fourth grade - so this summer will be all about learning to type. He will still have to do short written work, but anything long enough to induce crying will be typed.

We have just done all his work orally and worked on handwriting separately. For notebooks he would dictate and I would write. This is the first year that I've required him to write more than a sentence. He is also voluntarily drawing now, which he never used to do.

All that to say, I wouldn't hold him back in other areas of LA because he is not writing - the writing will come on it's own as his body develops. I did not start Language Arts with ds until he was finished his phonics instruction. I just started spelling this year, but I wish that I would have started immediately following phonics instruction as spelling has become a problem for him.

Posted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 8:37 am
Post subject: I just wanted to add something I've been thinking about -

It seems the better the child understands and remembers the phonics rules, the less problems there are with spelling later on - spelling is then memorizing the exceptions to the rules. My ds is a poor speller, but probably couldn't tell you even one phonics rule. I taught phonics to him for almost 3 years, so this is quite frustrating. I am might have him sit in on my younger's phonics instruction next year and will definitely put more effort into having them all memorize the rules with little poems and such. Anyway, that's a little tidbit I learned the hard way.
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Unread post by LizCT »

Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 11:47 pm

Hi Tammy,

I'll share what happened with my dd, who just turned 8 a few weeks ago.

We used MFW 1st with her last school year, and held off on doing the Spelling by Sound & Structure until this Fall. She is in Adventures now, and we are going through SbS&S very easily - she is able to read the instructions and complete the pages with ease. She is also retaining the spellings and getting most of them correct when I test each week.

I should mention that I tried to use the spelling program while she was still struggling last year with fluency - it was not pretty. I called the MFW office for advice, and what I understood from David Hazell was that kids need time while developing reading fluency to absorb the words & spellings they are seeing.

My dd is not a natural speller and she still spells many things wrong when doing writing, but has improved dramatically as her reading ability has grown.

You may wish to call the MFW office for advice - I found it helpful.

Liz in CT
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Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2006 10:27 pm

Unread post by TammyB »

Posted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 12:47 pm

Well, the general concensus is to wait until we have finished phonics instruction to begin spelling. Makes sense. Truly, once we play a review game, complete the new reading lesson or workbook page, and do the Bible notebook, my son is DONE with language arts. But, I'm definitely not going to have any lag time between his phonics instruction and his formal beginning of spelling.

I think I will hold off on PLL too until we get to day 126 of first. (Thanks, Crystal, for that suggestion.) We have finally reached a good place with LA, and the last thing I want to do is stress him. It isn't pretty.

Thanks to all for your input. It definitely helped me to sort out how to move forward. :)
Cyndi (AZ)
Posts: 543
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Spelling for 5 yo

Unread post by Cyndi (AZ) »

kidswife wrote:I am on Lesson 23 in the K program with my 5yo daughter. We went slow (started just after she turned 4), so this is actually our 14th month doing the program. I have LOVED it. I am very much looking forward to 1st grade with MFW.

Right now, my DD is constantly asking how to spell things, and I see that MFW doesn't offer a spelling curriculum until 2nd grade. I was thinking of purchasing "A Reason For Spelling" Level A. I think DD could handle it well, but is it really needed?

I actually use the Day 4 Blend Ladder activity sheet as a spelling exercise for her and she does well. I wonder if 1st grade has something similar that I can use as a spelling lesson. I would appreciate your comments on Spelling. Thank you!
MFW1 teaches spelling rules as part of the phonics lessons. For instance, "use e before i after a soft c" and that kind of thing. It was great for my dd.
2018/19: US1877
used MFW from K through WHL

Re: Spelling for 5 yo

Unread post by cbollin »

I wonder if 1st grade has something similar that I can use as a spelling lesson
You're right -- the blend ladder in K is a great spelling tool when you are doing the dictation lessons with the Lauri letters. Other times you can help her to spell by telling her how to spell the word that she is interested in.

In first grade, spelling practice is done in several ways:
There's the "classical copywork" approach where the children are copying words in sentences and memory work and just practicing them in the right way.
There's specifics in the manual in many lessons where Marie reminds us to teach certain things like i before e, or use CK after short vowel, or how to make plurals, and doubling of certain consonants when changing words (hop hopped hopping). and other ones too.
There's the phonics related spelling -- in the workbook (well, at least the version I have) the top part of many pages will be time to review previous phonics letters except to now do them as spelling lessons.

so, I think if you go with MFW 1st -- spelling is covered. don't skip the "script" suggestions in the phonics lessons in the TM. (I know I rush and forget them sometimes). and as is common in the MFW way, many skills are integrated.

Cyndi (AZ)
Posts: 543
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 4:22 pm

Language Arts for Elementary - con't.

Unread post by Cyndi (AZ) »

cbollin wrote:if you use 1st grade materials, ask them [one of MFW's senior consultants] for their opinion on using the picture study books (Come Look with Me) as one more way to beef up your son's language arts day. Tell them some lady on their message board suggested that to you based on the types of questions that are in the actual books. That lady (me) thinks that is an easy way to add more language arts to a young learner's day.
Crystal, I love that you pointed out how the Come Look with Me books can be used for LA. I never made the connection, but that's how we did it. They are just like picture studies in PLL. My dd would write a little story about each one, as well. How cool.

We used "phonics" time as "spelling," too. We did LA in 1st grade without knowing it! LOL!

Posted Mon Jun 07, 2010 3:25 pm by Cyndi (AZ)
We used the phonics in MFW1 as spelling time, without really knowing that's what we were doing. I still don't quite understand the difference between a phonic rule and a spelling rule, anyway. ;)

When you're dictating words that use the vowel or vowel sound that you are studying, and the child is writing the word in the 1st grade workbook, well, that's pretty much what we do in Spelling Power for spelling. The difference being, I would just correct an error as my dd was writing the word in 1st and not bother "studying" the correct spelling. She still learned.
2018/19: US1877
used MFW from K through WHL
LA in Baltimore
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Question about LA in 1st & Adv.

Unread post by LA in Baltimore »

Bandy wrote:Anyone add in the Adventures LA recommendations while doing MFW Grade 1...PLL and spelling?
Would this create problems when moving into Adventures having already started in on Adv. LA recs.?
Just pondering things.
No, I've never done that.
Wasn't sure if you had an "older" 1st grader and that is why you were asking?
PLL and Spelling are geared for a 2nd grader, so you "may" want to wait until next year.
Of course, you know your situation best, I've just learned from experience :~ that hurrying ahead never pays off.
Only by His grace,
LA in Baltimore
Currently enjoying Rome to the Reformation
Graduated oldest May 2010, Three more to go!

Re: Question about LA in 1st & Adv.

Unread post by cbollin »

(this is a very general answer without knowing your situation. adjust accordingly)

I wouldn't skip the language arts in 1st grade unless...... they seem to have it mastered. There is a lot of language arts in there that can be worked on.

If a child is ahead of the curve in reading, then, use that for spelling. You'll have more rules based and teaching spelling so that 2nd grade R&S spelling will be easier a year later or maybe another program.
Much of the language arts is narration, copywork, dictation (very slowly on that!), memory work, learning to write narrative summaries.
Lots of the 1st grade "grammar" things are in MFW program: rules of caps and punctuation, building a sentence properly (noun and verb without saying noun and verb ;)
oh what is called when you do a vs. an. I remember there was something in there on that. but my point is if you have a first grader, start with what is in the first grade program. It begins "slowly" so no one is overwhelmed. Then as you get up to lesson 18 and above, you'll start to see a lot of the language arts in covered in the manual (don't skip Marie's notes). Toward the end of the end (after lesson 125 ish), the flavor of the program shifts, and that's a great time to see if your child is ready for more and starting PLL or cranking it up a notch with the optional dictation in 1st grade and all of that.

so, start with what's in 1st, add only after you see a specific need.

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Re: Question about LA in 1st & Adv.

Unread post by gratitude »

Is your first grader reading, writing, spelling, and understanding phonics at a second grade level?

I would look at MFW Grade 1 and make sure your child knows ALL the phonics, spelling rules, writing, and reading of first grade before skipping it and doing 2nd grade work with the first grade program. MFW Grade 1 could be used for Bible and science without the phonics, but if you are doing so just make sure your child fully knows all of the material first.

We used MFW Grade 1 for the 2nd 1/2 of K and 1st 1/2 of first with a 6 year old, who turned 7 around the time we reached the New Testament.

So in answer to your question you could use PLL & Rod & Staff spelling with MFW 1. It would mean skipping the blue student notebook, and having the bible reader as a reading review. It would then mean for ADV being further in the books, which I think would be fine. We are doing ADV with a different LA program (I needed a teacher's manual for LA ;) ). I view ADV as History, Bible, and science. It does of course have some writing in it too, and perhaps some other things we haven't learned of yet. Does this make sense?

I would encourage you though to make sure your student is ready for 2nd grade LA, before skipping the MFW 1 phonics; but if they are it will work.

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Re: Question about LA in 1st & Adv.

Unread post by Bandy »

Well, you are all so very thorough in your responses, I don't have anymore questions and I see now that I need to stay put where we and complete all the grade 1 material! :)
As mentioned, I was just pondering things...she seems very capable of beginning both PLL and the R&S Spelling BUT, not at the expense of skipping over some of the grade 1 material. She hasn't mastered all of the grade 1 material so, we will just hang out and finish it up for sure. I had thought maybe it was a good idea to go ahead and get going with the PLL and spelling since she is capable but, after your responses I see that it is not. I'm totally good with that! Sometimes I am not sure how to proceed with things and so on.
Thank you very much for the input, I am really glad that I can come here and know that I'll receive some very thoughtful and helpful information.
LA in Baltimore
Posts: 120
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:01 pm

Re: Question about LA in 1st & Adv.

Unread post by LA in Baltimore »

I just LOVE this board... :-)
Glad others are enjoying it, too.
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