Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Review: Roots and Fruits

Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services (EDUDPS) was generous enough to send me a couple of different products to review. I'm going to be making separate posts about them.  The products I received included two semester long writing programs; a career, college and high school guide; and the subject of this post: Roots and Fruits, a vocabulary program for Grades K-12.

As with the other products, this is available either as an ebook, or in printed form.  The security software is not compatible with Macs, and only allows you to print twice.  I opted to print out the 70some pages, but this would be fairly straightforward to use from the computer too -- only I had to put it on the PC, which I don't regularly use.

What is it?  It is a vocabulary roots program, intended to be used with children as early as kindergarten.  I have to admit some skepticism on my part as far as how this would work with a 5 year old... but for my older boys, I was pretty confident this would be great.

But... well, I was totally overwhelmed and couldn't figure out how to start it!  The ebook primarily consists of an alphabetic list of 673 roots and prefixes, with 2-3 vocabulary words to go with each (1716 vocabulary words in total).  Some of the roots have asterisks, indicating that these are good words to use with the younger kids.  Some of the vocabulary words are underlined, meaning they are common SAT vocabulary words.

The introductory materials give a great layout as to how to make this work.  You can download that, and the letter A roots and try this out yourself.  I like it.  Really, I do.  I just couldn't figure out how to start (or did I mention that already?)

Fortunately, one of the other products I received to review (Illuminations, by Bright Ideas Press) suggested using a different roots program, and it schedules out roots to study in the weekly grids.  I ended up deciding that I would use Roots and Fruits but follow the order scheduled by Illuminations.  That finally let me off the hook, so I didn't have to think anymore.

I'm hoping that by the time we get through the 36 weeks of Illuminations, I'll be comfortable enough to just choose my own roots.  I'm sure most people are more competent than I am though, and could get started without so much hand holding.

So, Illuminations had us start with photo and graph.  Both of those happen to be asterisked, which means that they are appropriate for my K-3rd boys too.  So, the basic process:

I wrote both roots on our white board.  The big three boys wrote it on one side of an index card.  I did not have Richard write these out.  Then we discussed the definition.  So, using  graph, we talked about how it means "to write."  That was written on the back of the cards.  Roots & Fruits gives three vocabulary words:  graphic, autograph, and paragraph.

Connor looked graph up to figure out its origins (Greek) and noted that on the card.  Then we looked up the three vocabulary words, read the definition, and worked together to rephrase it using "to write" as a part of the definition.  Autograph, for instance, became "to write in one's own hand."  Had we already studied auto (self), we would have incorporated that into the definition too.  I did not have Thomas (3rd grade) write out all the vocabulary, but he was part of the discussion.

Then, for the rest of the week, we spent a few minutes each day reviewing the root, definition, and vocabulary words.  Starting from my youngest son, each child was asked to give me a sentence using at least one of the vocabulary words.  Connor started trying to put all of them into a single sentence, so after the first day, everyone was trying to use more than one per sentence.

On Friday, each child had to give me sentences for all the vocabulary words.  I'll probably adjust that for Richard now and then, but he handled these pretty well.  I do allow him to repeat sentences from earlier in the week, which is against the "rules" given in the introductory materials.  I'm using abcteach (another Review Crew product) to make Bingo games to review the roots and vocabulary (Bingo is one of the suggestions given by Roots and Fruits).

The suggestion in Roots and Fruits is to do activities during the week too.  I wasn't quite ready to add that in, but now that I have found abcteach, I think we'll be doing Bingo a couple days a week, and choosing another activity or two on other days.

Overall, I think this is an amazing resource.  My only complaint, really, is just that I have to make decisions about which roots to use.  Before receiving Illuminations, I was leaning towards going through the list alphabetically, picking out one asterisked root for everyone to do, one with italicized vocabulary for Connor to do, and one other for the three older guys.

The ebook is on sale for $11.25 right now, and the hard copy versions are $17.48 or $19.95, depending on whether or not it is bound.  I think this resource is well worth this price, even if you only use it as a reference, not as a curriculum.

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about various EDUDPS products at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive free products from EDUDPS.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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