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Friday, June 12

Dynamic Literacy Review

Being a history-loving family, we are all about some classical languages here at Gypsy Road.  We have been studying Latin, alongside the children, for two years now, and recently had the chance to review WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1, by Dynamic Literacy.
The WordBuild program is divided into two series: Foundations and Elements. Foundations does exactly what the name implies…it builds a vocabulary foundation with prefixes and suffixes. Elements then takes what children have learned in Foundations and builds on it, including more complex root families.  We worked with Foundations.
Here’s a look at what each day looks like in a week’s plans (you can view a sample lesson here):
  1. Prefix square - build new words by putting the center prefix word in front of each of the words surrounding it
  2. Affix adder - create new words using the affix, write what you think the word means and use it in a sentence
  3. Magic Square - match the words to their definitions and they all add up to a magic number
  4. Word Search - find and circle words within the grid
  5. Review - a review of the words/concepts from the week
At the beginning of our language arts period each day, we completed one of the lessons in our workbook.  There are games, puzzles, and activities to reinforce each week’s word roots.  By the end of a few weeks, the kids had a better understanding of both Latin and Greek, and were able to 'decode' the big words in their literature and science books!
We used the Foundations Basics workbook first, putting together compound words, and the kids were pretty bored with that after a couple of pages.  Having been working at Latin for a while, the majority of this course was review for them.  However, for a child that hasn’t been studying roots extensively, this material would be a perfect starter course.  My first grader got more from this course than my fourth grader, simply because he has not been working Latin as long.  The program does not focus on drilling words and vocabulary into children but teaches them HOW words are built and put together. Remember, just because a child can read and sound out a word doesn’t mean that they can understand and interpret what it means.

The teacher edition is essential.   It includes the complete student book with answers plus explicit instructions that make the course easy for an inexperienced teacher to use.  Comprehensive assessments and answer keys are in the back of the teacher edition.  Purchase of a teacher edition also gives you access to additional website content that includes printable worksheets from other levels, “Root Bingo” game, a “Colors” chart with fascinating morphemes and derivations from Greek and Latin roots, a “Body Parts and Substances” chart that might be helpful for anatomy students, and lessons derived from scientific vocabulary.
I would definitely recommend this product for upper elementary and middle schoolers.  It will be a great help for getting those roots into long-term memory, and is helpful in science classes.  Also, when the time comes for the ACT or SAT, they’ll have a leg up.

Visit the Dynamic Literacy Homeschool site to find out more information about the program.  You can also view samples of both the Foundations and Elements levels here on their website.  While you’re there, watch the Informational video about the WordBuild® program.

Positive Points :
  • Well-laid out plans. Each unit gives objectives, hints, materials needed, week-at-a-glance, discussion ideas and more.
  • Variety.  Games and puzzles make the lessons fun!
  • Repetition leads to carry over.  Already, I’m seeing them break down words on a daily basis.
Negative Points :
  • Course appears to be designed for classroom use, and some things just weren’t fun with only one or two kids.

Dynamic Literacy Review
See what others are saying about Dynamic Literacy over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew!
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