Review: Learning Language Arts Through Literature
This is an honest review from our own personal experience of Common Sense Press’ Learning Language Arts Through Literature. (LLATL Purple Book.) I purchased the student book from Rainbow Resources and the teacher’s manual second hand from Ebay.
LLATL is all-inclusive language arts curriculum: reading, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, writing mechanics, creative writing, thinking skills, book studies, poetry and more. I previously was getting tired of trying to do so many different language arts curriculum piecing the different parts together so thought that LLATL would be the golden ticket of a simple do-it-all program. Pebbles is an avid reader so we were excited at the prospect of studying the following books deeply: The Trumpet of the Swan, Meet Addy, Caddie Woodlawn and Farmer Boy. Included also were references to Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Folk Tales, Patriotic Songs and more.
We dove in…. and very quickly I sensed disorganization in the program. There were no solid digestible daily lesson plans – but a “lesson” that would go on and on and on for a a long time. Sections were just 1a, 1b, 2a through 2d, 3a through 3j etc. The topics were sprinkled here and there as well. In 1a maybe you’ll be doing some random spelling words – and then in 3b you’re reading a passage from Paul Revere’s ride and answering questions about it. The topics were being touched on, but not very deeply. It was impossible to me to lesson plan beyond “do 1a through 8j” and force a ‘stop’ for the day whether it made sense in the flow or not.
Teacher Manual – Lesson 1
Student Activity Book – Lesson 1
Regarding the book studies, she really enjoyed reading the books and answering questions about them – but the questions and exercises related to them felt random and shallow. Sometimes the spelling words would relate to the reading – then other times ‘select spelling words this week’ from… anything. Mr. Poppers penguins incorporated a map to fill in with locations. This is fun – but felt like busywork somehow?
I’ll admit that before I purchased LLATL I did research to discover what others said about this program. Many love it – but some did complain about lack of organization and depth. The golden ticket was too tantalizing so I misplaced my hope into this new curriculum. I have been used to the incredibly well structured and organized programs from All About Learning Press or First Language Lessons from Peace Hill – that this hodge podge approach (along with my type-A personality) were a poor fit. As I was easily confused (and bored) so was Pebbles. Please understand that LLATL is a perfect fit for other families – it covers a broad range of topics and offers a variety of exercises. This was just our own personal experience for our teaching and learning styles.
I learned that I appreciate programs that pick one thing – and excel at it – in an organized and laid out manner. If you want to do an in-depth book study – do a book study using a dedicated literature study guide. For example Progeny Press, Veritas Press, Memoria Press, Glencoe Literature Library or Blackbird & Company.
So we kept avoiding it and let it get dusty on our shelf. As most homeschool parents feel remorse over buying something that doesn’t work…. it’s important to recognize what didn’t work so that we can make different decisions next time.