Curious if the Learning Language Arts Through Literature Blue Book Program is right for you? This Learning Language Arts Through Literature Blue Book Review will tell you everything you need to know!
This was our first year homeschooling and it has been a blast! I had the unique situation of being a public school, special education teacher for 6 years before having my firstborn. During that time I pursued a Master’s degree in teaching reading. Three years ago I returned to teaching very part-time at our local private, Christian school. All of this to say that education is something I am passionate about and have some experience in.
As I sat down to choose a reading curriculum for my son, I had a lot of things I was looking for. I actually purchased several other programs before this one, but once I got them and thumbed through them, I realized they weren’t going to work for our family. I wanted something completely different from the “school” approach.
We recently finished up the whole Blue Book program and so I thought I would come on here and give a thorough review. When I was searching for curricula, I tried to find online reviews for the programs, but most of them were given by people who had just started the program or who had thumbed through the program, not from people who had used the whole program front to back.
So here is my honest, thorough Learning Language Arts Through Literature Blue Book program review.
Learning Language Arts Through Literature Blue Book Review
- Teacher Guide – laid out in a parent-friendly manner that is easy to follow and implement.
- No busy work – One of my favorite parts about this program is the lack of busy work. There are activities each day, but they are purposeful and not ridiculously repetitive. Some weeks they make word wheels. Other weeks they are cutting out pictures and putting them in order. There is a handwriting sheet that I’m not wild about and we eventually stopped doing. You can read more about that in the cons section.
- Hands on learning – This program does a lot of hands on activities for our eager learners. Every week they are manipulating letters with their hands, rolling letter dice to practice reading concepts, playing games, etc. Although as the program goes on these activities become the same week after week which can become boring. It would be nice to see a greater variety.
- Order and pacing- The order in which letter sounds, vowels, digraphs, and word families are introduced is reasonable and builds upon prior knowledge. The pacing of how things are presented is also well done.
- Real literature – We loved the weeks that used real literature as part of the lesson. Kids need to be exposed to rich works of literature with varied vocabulary and genres. This was one of the big reasons I chose this program. Although I really, really wish there was a piece of real literature highlighted every week, not just occasionally.
- Flexibility – We did a four-day school week and it was super easy to fit the five days into a four-day schedule.
- Book Chart – The program includes a little chart. Every time your child finishes a story, he cuts out a picture of the book and glues it to the chart. My son loved doing this. It was a great reinforcement and visual for him to see how much progress he was making.
- As mentioned in the pros section, we quit doing the handwriting pages because some of the letter formations were confusing to my son. The font that they used was just slightly different from a manuscript or cursive font and he was confusing the a and the q since they both looked quite similar with the little curl at the end.
- The lesson always waited until day 3 to introduce the sight words. This bothered me because sight words are learned through frequent exposure. I just went ahead and introduced them on day 1 so that by day 5 he was very familiar with them.
- The weeks that had the special literature usually waited until day 4/5 to read the special literature. I personally like to really dive into a book, so we introduced the literature on day 1 and then did a special activity related to the book each day. I got a lot of ideas from Pinterest, and made up a lot of ideas as well. The week we read The Story of Ferdinand, we learned about Spain and even did a special meal with traditional foods from Spain. I found myself really wishing the program provided more activities to go along with the special literature, since that’s part of what sets this program apart from other programs.
- Some of the phonics reader stories were just really strange. I understand that it’s hard to write a book using only certain phonetic elements, but some of the stories were downright confusing and used vocabulary that a kid could decode but had no idea what it meant. For example, in “Wink, Blink, and Pink” there’s a page that says “The shells fell in the swell. To drink, they must sink.” Don’t get me wrong, I believe books should have rich and varied vocabulary, but phonics readers that are designed to be decodable for kids should also be designed to be understandable for kids without a whole bunch of explanation from the parent. Many of the books contained odd words that they clearly used just to highlight the phonetic concept, but that made the story difficult to understand for the child. This is something that I’ve noticed in a lot of reading programs.
- Above I talked about the book chart that my son loved filling out with pictures of each finished book. This was so much fun, but about 2/3 of the way through the page, the books start going out of order and it becomes quite confusing. For some reason it skips a couple of books and then goes back to them months down the road. For people who like for things to be in order (me!), it was so annoying to have the books on the chart be in a different order than the books in the reading program.
- The teacher’s guide introduces a lot of grammatical concepts and just when a concept was introduced it seemed like it was already moving on to something else. I personally like to teach to mastery, but I think the makers of the program were more trying to just expose the student to all of these concepts. This isn’t bad, I just found it being a con for me, personally, because I hate presenting a whole new concept and then not getting to practice it more.
- I personally felt there were too many review lessons. It was a big bummer for my son on the weeks when there wasn’t a new story because it was reviewing past stories and concepts. We skipped those lessons because they weren’t necessary for my son, although some students may need that review.
Overall my son learned well using this program. I liked it better than a lot of the options out there, but I’m not head-over-heels wild about it. If you are looking for a program with an easy to follow teacher’s guide, that is not full of busy work and contains hands-on learning activities and features great pieces of classic literature, then you may want to check out this program. It is easy to modify to fit the needs of your family!