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Anyone use the Cottage Press Language Arts programs? I am considering the Fable and Song book for my new 7th grader who has had very little formal language arts, just copywork and oral narrations, a little grammar. The middle school book seems way over her head right now so I thought I would start in the grammar student book. Also considering the primers for my 4th grader. These seems like a very nice CM/classical mix. Does anyone have any experience, comments or suggestions about these resources?
Just listening in….I was just looking at this myself. 🙂
I used the Primer One for my 3rd grade dd last year. We made it through 2.5 of the books (there is one book per term) and will probably finish the 3rd book before we move on to Primer 2. I also own Fable and Song, though I will probably wait until 6th or 7th grade to use it with her and use something else in between, depending on how she progresses.
I think CP is a wonderful program. It is attractively laid out and the pages are very clean, with lots of white space, which is helpful to my daughter because she is a very reluctant writer and needs to be able to focus just on what she’s doing at the time without being distracted by other things on the page.
Each week of work is broken into four days, and includes a selection for copywork and dictation that is also spread over a few days. In Primer One, Milo Winter’s Aesop’s Fables then Fifty Famous Stories are used for narration practice and vocabulary discussion. One day includes a very simple nature study. Another day includes picture study, with a link on the CP website to sets of prints and biographies of various artists. The way I used this was to print out a print per week and have my dd attach it to the page, write the artist and name of the painting, and then we would do a traditional picture study with it. This art resource is free for anyone, btw, not just CP users. Sometimes I also would make a color copy of an art piece from one of the art books we have around, if I wanted to fit with a theme or an artist we were learning about in Artistic Pursuits, the art curriculum we use. But most of the time I’m just not that organized – hee hee!
The days that included less writing because of nature study or picture study were perfect for my daughter, because then she still did at least a little bit of writing every day, but it wasn’t always a long piece of copywork. I will say that I think the copywork selections are often a bit long for the ages suggested (I think they suggest you can start Primer One in 2nd grade or even earlier?) I might be biased, though, because of my dd’s writing struggles. My older two dd’s would have had no trouble with this amount of copywork and more at my current dd’s age. So, it depends on your child, of course. I also think the space given for the copywork is not sufficient if you were to do the whole selection, but again, that could be because my dd’s writing even at 8.5 is still that big, wide style that beginning writers use. So, my answer to both of these was simply to cut the copywork short – make a little line break where I wanted her to stop. And as she became more confident and willing to write, I would tell her just to fill the space and stop when she got to the end of the space given, which she got a kick out of because it was like a little challenge to see how much she could fit.
I also had the bindings cut off the books and three-hole drilled them to use in a binder so the books would lie flat.
Dictation comes at the end of the week, but I didn’t do strict dictation with her. I would design a “French dictation” where I took part of the copywork selection and wrote some of it, left out some fairly easy words, had her study the words that were missing, then dictated to her. Again, this is geared towards her current ability and she loved it. As we move to Primer 2 I will slowly begin proper dictation with her.
The little spelling rule exercises are good, but my dd didn’t really retain them. I didn’t expect her to; I just used them for more writing practice.
The basic format is the same every week, which could get tedious for some students but is perfect for my dd. I make it sound like I tweaked it a lot, but it really is very easy to use and could be “open and go” if you were using it as written or if you knew you always wanted to tweak it in the same way, like me and the French dictation. The only thing I did in advance was to get the painting ready for her to glue in and read the teacher’s manual, which is a sweet little book that has hints about how to do many of the lessons and nature studies.
CP feels to me like a rich program in a simple package. The reading and writing selections used are living, the exercises are easily adjustable, the consistency builds skills, and it makes short lessons possible.
Whew! This got long! But I am happy to answer more detailed questions if anyone has any, based on my year of use.
Thanks alphabetika, exactly what I was hoping to hear. I will be starting my 4th grade ds in primer 1, which is maybe below his grade level but he hasnt had much i struction in lang arts. We have been using Spellin Wisdom with ULW, along with Language Lessons for Today and I do love it, but feel he needs a bit more this year and wanted an all in one easy to use program. I feel I am CM with a twist of classical so this seemed about right. I wanted to add some more grammar and a few spellong rules without getting bogged down.
I was also hoping to ise the Fable and Song with my 7th grade dd who enjoys writing a little bit. I was glad to hear you feel comfortable using it with a 6th or 7th grader. She also has had little writing instruction but I think she is ready, although the level Cottage Press recommends for her grade would be waaayyyy over her head, for now anyway. They are a bit pricey since I already jave materials from my older student I was planning to pass down, but you know how that goes, he is COMPLETELY different. For 9th grade he is doing IEW, Easy Grammar and family read aloud for lit. So, so different. He just needs to get academics over with. The other two actually enjoy the learning process.
Thank you so much for taking the time to help. And sorry I rambled on and on.
Ramble on, mama! I can take it. : ) . It’s so helpful to hear from people who have actually used a curriculum, especially one like CP that I think isn’t well-known yet. If this had been around when my older daughters 9now 19 and 24) were little, I would have snapped it up!
As for the grade levels appropriate for the programs, I’m learning to teach the student I have, not the ones I had, if that makes sense. And not the ones someone else says I should have, based on a grade level number. I suspect the creator of CP would agree with this, and I know many ladies here would. I think CP and SCM LA materials (which I also plan to use) combined with loads of excellent living books read aloud or to self make for a fantastic language arts education!Rebecca BParticipant
I just found this thread and am wondering if you all are still using this curriculum. I am thinking of using it with my 8 and 10 year old. It looks great but I think Using Language Well also looks good. I would love to hear if you are still using it and how you are liking it.
We have continued to use it and like it, but I’m taking a little break from it right now and working in some lessons from Primary Language Lessons. Just for variety, really. I have the first volume of Using Language Well and love the looks of that, too! I just haven’t started using it yet. I think ULW looks lower maintenance than CP in the sense that it is more simple and brief, but still rich, especially in the selection from Spelling Wisdom. That’s one thing I love about both of these choices – hearing, writing, and learning from excellent examples.
ULW is also definitely cheaper than CP, if cost is a concern
Still using and really love it. I would highly recommend it. It is very pricey though so sadly I have to switch once we finish the books we have. My Ds will be on his own with almost all his subjects which means I have essentially two curriculums I have to buy next year. That means re using language arts I already own to save money. Cant you all hear my teeny weeny violin playing sad, sad music…. Praise God I own so much already and dont need to buy more!Rebecca BParticipant
Thank you ladies! I think I will give it a try. I would like to start with Primer 1 Spring right now. Would this be a problem or should I begin with Primer 1 Fall?
Thanks for the feedback!
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