Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services (EDUDPS) offers no nonsense curriculum solutions for homeschoolers beginning with reading, writing and literacy. Some of EDUDPS offerings include The Concise Learning Styles Assessment, The Homeschoolers Guide to Learning Problems and The Complete Career, College and High School Guide for Homeschoolers.
EDUDPS sent our family two of their products to review: Write with the Best – Vol. 1 is the first of two volumes in their writing program that teaches writing by having the children imitate great authors and Roots and Fruits is a “comprehensive vocabulary curriculum covering grades K-12”.
Roots and Fruits
Roots and Fruits is EDUDPS’ vocabulary program for grades K-12. Created by Jill Dixon, who holds a B.S. degree in English Education and a Master’s degree in Special Education, to improve students vocabulary, reading and spelling skills in 15 minutes a day. Roots and Fruits introduces the English forms of Greek and Latin roots and prefixes, their meanings and some of the vocabulary words that use them. Your children will cover one to four roots or prefixes each week depending upon their age. Roots and prefixes for elementary students are differentiated from those for older students, allowing you to use this one program for your whole family. Roots and Fruits lists more than 600 roots and prefixes combined with more than 1700 vocabulary words.
The idea of teaching vocabulary words by introducing them grouped by their roots and prefixes is great. Rather than your children learning all these vocabulary words “labor”, “elaborate”, “collaboration” and “laborious”, you teach them the root “lab” meaning “work” and suddenly these seemingly unrelated words are bound together by the common root. Beginning vocabulary development in the early grades when those little minds are sponging up all the information that they can get is also unique.
The system is to introduce the root or prefix, review it aloud each day and add additional review with vocabulary words, sentence building and game playing. Roots and Fruits has a weekly schedule to introduce and review the roots and vocabulary over the course of the week. The program also has 14 different ideas for games or activities to help you review each week. Activities like using your vocabulary words to write a silly sentence, playing hangman with vocabulary words, tracing a vocabulary word onto your friends back and having them guess the word, or playing 20 questions using vocabulary words. It also gives you a suggested weekly schedule to help you structure the program into your school week.
Roots and Fruits requires that the students look up each root or prefix in the dictionary to determine the origin (Latin or Greek). It also has the students look up the vocabulary words. All of this dictionary work is designed to improve dictionary skills and help with retention. This information (root origin and vocabulary definitions) is not included in the program.
Roots and Fruits is a basic, no frills system for introducing roots, prefixes and vocabulary to your children. If you want a list of roots and prefixes along with vocabulary words that contain them, this program offers exactly that. Remember that while the meanings of the roots are included, the language origin and the definition of vocabulary words are not. It is also up to you to plan which roots to cover and to create tests and reviews, a significant task since review is imperative for good retention.
Because we didn’t find this program to be user friendly, we will not be implementing into our homeschool. There are very few parental helps built into the program, no definitions of vocabulary words, no indication whether the root is derived from the Greek or Latin (with our Webster’s 1828 dictionary it was not possible to determine the origin of some of the roots/prefixes) and no help for making up the tests or reviews. Our family also felt that the games and activities were lacking in creativity. I think that this program has the potential to be good, but it will take more time and dedication than we have right now. You may view a free download of the full instruction section plus the “a” section of Roots and Fruits to see if this is something that would be beneficial to your homeschool.
Write with the Best – Volume 1
Write with the Best- Vol. 1 is a writing program designed for use with children working at grade levels 3-12. Each of the 9 Units in Volume 1 focuses on a different genre of writing, descriptive paragraphs, dialogue, short story, fable, friendly letter, etc. and utilizes passages from classic literature as patterns for the children to study. Each unit begins with an outstanding example of the writing style for the children to imitate, passages from such classics as “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, “A Christmas Carol” and “The Wind in the Willows”. Over the next 10 days the children read, evaluate and discuss the passage and write their own sample in that genre, imitating the techniques that they observed, discussed and learned from the classic literature.
The assignments are grouped and organized for each day and the program is easily implemented and easy to adapt to fit your family’s needs. We used Write with the Best as written with our children ages 9, 10, 11, and 12. After working through the objectives for the day together, I would assign their independent work that would be due for the next day. An objective might be to discuss why a sample paragraph is an example of good writing or to underline the descriptive adjectives, verbs and adverbs and the specific nouns and an assignment may be to write the topic and concluding sentence for their paragraph.
Write with the Best includes a list of additional literary passages that can be used as models for each of the writing genres introduced in the volume. This makes it easy to expand and reuse the curriculum for many years as your children mature in their ability. It also has a “How to Write” guide for each genre that gives step by step instructions for writing in that genre, main components that each should include as well as objectives and hints for more compelling and effective writing. In addition there is a proofreading checklist that allows your students to learn to proofread their own writing which will ultimately improve their writing skills.
Write with the Best is a flexible, multi-level writing program that fits with our ideals of teaching children to write (using modeling) and is economical. I like the ideas of Write with the Best and I appreciate how easy it is to implement and that I’m able to use it with all of the children together. The method is simple, straight forward and effective and Volume 1 in combination with Volume 2 will give your children exposure to all the writing styles that they will need and both Volumes can be used with multiple children for multiple years.
The program is a little more loose than I prefer. Writing is not my forte and I prefer a program with a little more structure and guidance on how to correct the children’s writing and how to encourage improvement. The idea in this program is that their writing will improve over time as they gain writing experience and as they regularly proofread their work.
One minor disappointment is the answer key. For many of the writing samples the children identify nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. In the back of the book is an answer key for these assignments which I found to be VERY impractical to use because of the manner in which it is organized. As long as you are able to identify these parts of speech, it will not affect your use of the product, but I thought it worth mentioning because if you depend on the answer key for those activities it can be frustrating.
I think Write with the Best would be a good, solid writing program for a family who is looking for an inexpensive, multi-level writing curriculum to use for several years with multiple children. It is certainly an amazing bargain. For less than $60 you can have a good, quality writing program for all of your children from the beginning grades through high school. Two thumbs up!
A note about EDUDPS, unlike the other homeschool vendors that I have worked with, vendors with who have gone the extra mile to make the experience a pleasure, I found EDUDPS’ customer service to be frustrating. The bottom line is that they have made everything right, been fair and I am satisfied with their solution, but the process was trying.
Edited to add: While I posted above that EDUDPS had made everything right, it turns out that they did not follow through with what they promised. They told me they were going to a hard copy of the products with the missing punctuation. I believed that promise. However, I never received what they promised. I recently emailed to find out what was going on and I have not received a response to my email. I do not recommend doing business with this company.
Write with the Best and Roots and Fruits are available in three formats; eBooks, pages only and pages with a binder. Because of some unresolved technical issues I strongly suggest that you not purchase these products in an electronic format. Write with the Best is available as an eBook for $19.95 (currently on sale for $14.95), pages only for $22.45 or pages in a binder for $24.95. Roots and Fruits is available as an eBook for $14.98 (currently on sale for $11.25), pages only for $17.48, or pages in a binder for $19.98.
You may read more of my curriculum reviews on the Raising Olives review page.
This post is included in the Homeschool Curriculum Review Roundup.