Institute for Excellence in Writing-PAL Reading and Writing: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Institute for Excellence in Writing-PAL Reading and Writing: A Schoolhouse Crew Review


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Sacha’s<25: PAL is an amazing program to help you teach your Kindergarten to 2nd grade child how to read and write using the Blended Sound-Sight System of Learning.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time?  10 stars
Did it help us learn? 10  stars
Is it worth the money? 10 stars
Is it useful to me? 10 stars
Practicality-10  stars
Quality- 10 stars
Kid Rating- 10 stars

Wow, I feel totally privileged to be able to review  a product from Institute for Excellence in Writing!  I absolutely love everything that we have ever used from them.  I was thrilled to be chosen to review their products for the Kindergarten-2nd grade age level! If you are at all interested in understanding more about how the PAL Reading and Writing program works I highly suggest you watch the webinar for more information. There is just too much within these programs to explain it all here in one blog post! We received the complete PAL Reading Package as well as the complete PAL Writing Package to review.

Reading Complete Package includes:

      Includes the following:

Cost if purchased separately $98

The Writing package includes:

      Includes the following:
  • Instructional Video by Jill Pike
  • Reading Comprehension MP3 Audio by Adam Andrews
  • Dictation, Narration, and Public Speaking MP3 Audio by Andrew Pudewa
  • The Four Language Arts MP3 Audio by Andrew Pudewa
  • Primary Arts of Language: Writing Student Books (e-book)
    (Would you rather have us print out your PAL student e-books for you? Click here)
  • All About Spelling Basic Interactive Kit
  • All About Spelling Level 1 (Teacher’s Manual and One Student Material Packet) By Marie Rippel
  • Bonus e-audio downloads:
  • Units 1 & 2 in the K–2 Classroom MP3 Audio by Shirley George
  • Unit 3 in the K–2 Classroom MP3 Audio by Shirley George
  • Preparing the K-2 Writing Environment MP3 Audio by Richelle Palmer

Cost if purchased separately $113

Our Experience:

I was a bit overwhelmed when I opened a large box from Institute for Excellence in Writing.  The best thing you can do is find the post card they include in the box and follow the instructions to get you started!

The Reading  and Writing programs are purchased separately but are used concurrently.  It is suggested that you watch the Reading DVD with the Teacher’s Manual in hand.  Next assemble at least a few of the Phonetic Games.  I was originally going to put them together with Faith, but found that it took too much time to do it with her and it was easier to put them together by myself!  Next, watch the first section of the Writing DVD.  You will then be ready to start PAL with your kids!

I used a big, plastic file box to keep everything together in. It fit both manuals, the game book, all the games we made up, her student book I printed out as well as our supply box of pens, scissors, notecards etc. It was also easy to carry around the house depending on where we felt like doing school that day!

I found it very easy to follow along in the 2 teachers manuals.  Our days would begin with reading Poetry.  (the first 10 lesson all used the same poem) We would read it each day and the manual would then tell us what to discuss or underline to go along with which phonograms we were working on.  I love the step by step instructions.  One of the tips is to keep things moving…don’t spend too much time on one thing and don’t worry if your kids don’t get it the first time around, it will be covered again.  So to my shock, after reading the poem each day, when we got to the last day, Faith (5) was able to recite the whole poem from memory!  I had no idea she would be able to do that.  In fact I wasn’t even going to ask her to do it because I didn’t want to frustrate her! She also painted a beautiful picture to go along with the poem!

After 5-10 minutes of poetry we would spend about 5 minutes writing in our journal about what was happening.  She would tell me what to write and I would copy it into the notebook.  About 3 weeks into doing this she started to take the notebook from me and write some of the words by herself!

Next we would work on Printing/Copy Work.  For the first couple weeks I only had her do this on a small dry erase board and not on paper at all.  Once she felt pretty confident about writing some of her letters I let her write them on the board and then write them on the special page in the student e-book I printed out.  I loved all the letter stories to help her remember how to write the letters or what sound they made.  Before we started this program she knew all of her letters and sounds, but this program really cemented them and gave her the confidence she needed!

Then came Story Time. This is such a cool portion of the program.  The first 10 lessons include stories for you to read to your child and the instructions on how to go about helping your child summarize the story and find the characters and setting, plot, climax and resolution.  I was a skeptic at first.  Really, asking a 5 year old to do all of this? But you know what?  She did it.  This is such an awesome way to get them ready for story writing and narration down the road!

Next came Stage 1:Foundations and Reader Words. During this portion of the program we worked on letters, phonics and sight words using games.  We loved this time together.  She learned to read all of her colors very quickly with this as well as letter sounds and many other phonetic blends through these games.  She would beg to play them!

Her favorite game was Mugs. In this game she would “feed” Mugs dog bones which had letters written on them.  Only if she said the correct letter sound could she feed him.  As we went along in the program we would add more bones with new letters and phonograms.

After we finished a few games that the manual told us to play (they varied each day) we would move onto the Phonetic Farm. This is a fold out folder which has a farm scene and phonetic stickers which are only added once the child has learned that phonogram.  We usually added at least one sticker a day and the manual would have different methods of helping us to review the ones we had placed in the folder on previous days.

Next came the Agenda or Work Period. It was only this last week that we finally moved into her working independently during this time.  Prior to this I was sitting with her and helping coach her on what she needed to do on a worksheet etc.  Below is her clipboard which holds the work that she needs to do, along with a notecard that I write what she needs to work on by herself. As time goes on this time will get longer and I will include more work for her to do.  What a great idea to instill working on their own this early on in the educational process!

I also combine the Informal Spelling Test into this last portion of the day with her.  If I don’t do all of our school work in one sitting it doesn’t get done.  I have 3 other kids who need me to help them with their school work.  We have found it is best to get all of Faith’s work done in the morning before I help my older kids and before Faith gets too involved in playing with her younger sister. The informal spelling test is actually just giving them letter sounds to spell onto a paper.  As time went on I would have her spell different phonograms we learned, such as sh, th, wh, ay, etc.


I can’t speak much about this portion of the program because we haven’t made it far enough to use it yet.  I spent about 1/2 hour setting it up and reading just the beginning portion of the instructor manual to try to get a grip on how we will use it when we get to that point.  This can be used with a child of any age.  In fact, after speaking with someone from their company, I am planning on using it with my 7th grader as well.  He has always had a hard time spelling.  He will of course move much more quickly through the first few levels, but I am hoping that he will finally understand spelling.  I was told that 97% of the English language actually follows the spelling rules taught in this program!

What I liked:

  • It works!  I have seen huge amounts of progress with Faith in just about a month’s time of using this program.
  • The games are really fun and pretty simple to put together!’
  • This program is very easy to use, follow the instructor manuals and you will succeed.
  • You can work at your own pace.  We do school 4 days a week at home and our 5th day is a co-op day.  We only made it through 2-3 lessons a week.  At times we felt like the lessons were moving to quickly to finish them in one day!
  • Faith is reading so much already.  This program has totally given her the confidence she needed to know she is learning and reading and writing!
  • This program is perfect for first time students!  It really helps you to set up a schedule for them and to get them working independently early on. I also feel like it includes so much that if you just add Math you have a great Kindergarden program to start you kids off in!
  • She really is able to carry on what we are working on through out her day.  She is constantly thinking of homophones to add to our homophone poster.  Also, she got a little New Testament free at a festival and she was “reading” it and going through and underlining all the words she knows from just a few weeks with this program.  How cool is that?

What I didn’t like:

  • We didn’t use all of the worksheets in the student ebooks.  Some of them seemed a bit repetitive.  Not a big deal.
  • I wish that the teacher’s manual included stories to read aloud past lesson 10.  It became a bit more time consuming to find a story to read and think through summarizing it.
  • If you are expecting a pick up and go program, this isn’t it.  It does have things you need to assemble and it helps to read through the lesson plan each day before you get going.  However, it is worth every minute of the work!!!!!!

To sum it up: If you know me in real life you have probably already heard me telling someone about this program.  I wish I had known about it when my 13 year old was 5!  I will definitely be using this program with Faith until we are done with it and we will be using it with the other 2 kiddos when they are ready for it!  This is the perfect program for a Kindergarden to 2nd grader!


The important information:




The Primary Arts of Language (PAL) Reading and Writing programs

Order from: Excellence in Writing

Price: PAL Reading-$69…please see their website if you need to order additional pieces of the program for a second child.

PAL Writing-$89 (this includes All About Spelling Level 1)

To read other Schoolhouse Crew reviews of this product click here.


Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.  I am only expected to give an honest review.

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