Friday, September 17, 2021

Building Reading Comprehension and Fluency Skills: A Review of Mosdos Press Literature - Opal

A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Building Reading Comprehension and Fluency Skills: A Review of Mosdos Press Literature - Opal with background photo of the curriculum.

I received a copy of this curriculum from Timberdoodle for a 50% discount in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

For our younger son's third grade year, I did a lot of research into what type of language arts program or materials I wanted to use with him. I knew I did not want to piece together something myself from books we read together or use solely unit studies. These are both valid ways to improve reading comprehension and fluency skills, but I wanted something different for his third grade homeschool year.

I read and watched several reviews of Mosdos Press Literature before I made the decision that I wanted to try their Opal edition this year with our son. As part of the Timberdoodle Blog Team, I was fortunate enough to receive a 50% discount in exchange for my honest review of these language arts materials. 

Description of Product 

  • 2 Teacher's Editions – spiralbound
  • 2 Student Textbooks – hardcover
  • 1 Student Activity Workbook – softcover

A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Building Reading Comprehension and Fluency Skills: A Review of Mosdos Press Literature - Opal with photograph of the curriculum

Teacher's Editions 

While the Teacher's Edition has a classroom feel to it – describing the steps the manual takes to help you teach the same thing next year – and discusses possible classroom activities, a homeschooling family can easily adapt the lessons. I really appreciate that it is also homeschool-friendly, too. 

The Teacher's Edition has 12 parts: 

  • Scope and Sequence 
  • Lessons in Literature 
  • Reviewing Vocabulary 
  • Getting Started 
  • Selection Summary 
  • Blueprint for Reading 
  • Guiding the Reading 
  • Literacy Components 
  • Tie-In Poems 
  • Studying the Selection 
  • Jill's Journal 
  • Teacher's Answer Guide for the Workbook Activities 

The lessons are split between six units which are organized between the two Teacher's Editions and the Student Textbooks. The Student Activity Workbook is used for both units. Your student only has to flip the book over the second unit. 

  • Unit One: All About the Story! 
  • Unit Two: All About the Plot! 
  • Unit Three: All About the Characters! 
  • Unit Four: All About Setting! 
  • Unit Five: All About Theme! 
  • Unit Six: The Grand Finale! 

A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Building Reading Comprehension and Fluency Skills: A Review of Mosdos Press Literature - Opal with teacher's edition open

My Thoughts on the Teacher's Edition 

We are about halfway through Unit One after using the language arts curriculum for several weeks. I am finding it very easy to prepare for each reading selection. The largest amount of prep time on my part is reading the selection summary, getting started portion, and the eyes on focus each week. After this initial prep, I can easily assist our son as he completes vocabulary exercises in his workbook, answers the literal and analytical guided reading questions, and answers the closing questions in his notebook. 

I love the fact that the Student Textbook is part of the Teacher's Edition. I am easily able to point out key details in his text without having to look over our son's shoulder. The quality of the paper of the Teacher's Edition is thick, which reinforces the idea that these books are meant to last for a classroom teacher or a homeschooling teacher using them through the years to teach reading comprehension and fluency skills. 

A key component to the Teacher's Edition that helps me ensure that our son understands and comprehends what he has read is the Guiding the Reading questions. For each reading selection, there is a series of questions on each page that check for understanding. Questions might ask for a specific detail such as "What did the plane have to fly over in order to reach America?" Other questions require our son to think deeper about the story and sometimes make predictions when asked, "Can you guess where the ship was headed?" 

A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Building Reading Comprehension and Fluency Skills: A Review of Mosdos Press Literature - Opal - previewing the material in the Teacher's Edition
Previewing the material for the next reading selection

Student Textbooks 

Our Student Textbooks have that wonderful new book smell! The pages are colorful, and the text is easy to read. Each unit follows a similar setup, so children who enjoy consistency will find the textbooks easy to navigate and use while working on reading comprehension and fluency skills. 

With the Lesson in Literature, our son has learned about the elements of a story, plot, characters, and setting so far as he reads his textbook. This is done using short selections and key questions. Next comes the Blueprint for Reading in his book and a description of the focus of the reading selection. For example, in A Cane in Her Hand, the focus was on characters. We talked about the main character of the story, Valerie, and how she felt and reacted to events in her life. After the reading selection closes, there is a brief description of the author. This is followed by a prose piece before the final set of questions on the reading selection in the textbook. 

Just like the Teacher's Edition, the Student Textbook is divided into two parts with the Sunflower book having units 1 to 3 and the Daisy book having units 4 to 6. I found having the material split between two textbooks is helpful because the book is more manageable for our son to carry around and read away from the dining room table. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Building Reading Comprehension and Fluency Skills: A Review of Mosdos Press Literature - Opal - Life on Mars in the Student Textbook
Reviewing setting

I really like that the selections chosen are varied. We have read and will read works of literature that include: 
  • The tale of a Pueblo Indian girl 
  • The story of two young boys in Mexico 
  • A story of a young blind girl 
  • A Goldrush story 
  • A tale about a young Korean girl who moves to America 
  • A story taking place during the American Revolution 
  • A story taking place on the journey of the Mayflower 
  • Children searching for frogs 
  • And more! 

A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Building Reading Comprehension and Fluency Skills: A Review of Mosdos Press Literature - Opal - Working in the Student Activity Workbook

Student Activity Workbook 

The Mosdos Literature Opal Student Activity Workbook is two-sided. For 99 pages, our son will use the Sunflower side and then flip it for the remaining 97 pages to use the Daisy side. While I like having the two textbooks, I am glad that the workbook is combined into one book. 

Just like the other two books, the Student Activity Workbook has thick pages which allow for erasures of mistakes without tearing the page. The pages are primarily green (Sunflower side) or blue (Daisy side) with some color illustrations scattered throughout. There is a glossary of vocabulary words at the end which I recently discovered. I can't wait to point that out to our son! This will help as he works on his reading fluency and learns new vocabulary with each reading selection.

Each story selection has several worksheets associated with it, including: 
  • Two vocabulary activities 
  • More About the Story 
  • Language Arts Activity 
  • Graphic Organizer 

Another helpful part of the workbook is the reference to the accompanying textbook page at the bottom of the workbook page. If our son has difficulty with a question, he can easily look back in his textbook for an answer or idea. Being able to go back to the textbook helps provide a way for our son to check how accurately he understands the story. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Building Reading Comprehension and Fluency Skills: A Review of Mosdos Press Literature - Opal - the workbook references the textbook

Our Son's Thoughts 

When asking our son his thoughts, here is what he shared: "It helps me learn words I do not know yet." (Can you tell we were discussing vocabulary words today?) 

His favorite story so far is A Cane in Her Hand. He liked the story of Valerie. He really likes the ending, "Seeing with your eyes is important, but it isn't everything." He quoted that to me without the use of the book. 

He enjoyed completing one page in particular in the Student Activity Workbook: A Conversation. In this activity, he needed to fill in the missing parts of the conversation that was happening at a support group for the visually impaired. Valerie was a new member of that group and he needed to write down two things she would say in response to the other members. For example, when he had to write what Valerie would share as an introduction he wrote, "Well, when I got up, I couldn't find my new clothes. Everything was coming out of a dark fog." 

And, finally, when I asked him to flip through his Sunflower Textbook to look for what story he was excited about reading next, he picked the one we will start this week – Boom Town. It was either the bright colors of the illustrations that got his attention or the apple pie. Or maybe the fact that a lot of the vocabulary are words that we could relate back to Minecraft. For whatever reason, he can't wait to start reading it. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Building Reading Comprehension and Fluency Skills: A Review of Mosdos Press Literature - Opal - I love the questions

In Conclusion 

While the main focus of this curriculum is building reading comprehension, fluency skills, vocabulary, and more skills connected to the language arts, there are also a number of unique assignments included with each reading selection that go beyond just reading and writing. For example, in the first selection, The Jar of Tassai, one of the two final questions said to "find an empty jar. Clean it well and decorate it. Fill it with something you like, such as candy or small pieces of a game." Another Creating and Writing question asks students to design an ad for a business that would have been in existence during the Gold Rush. Our son appreciates the opportunity to go beyond reading and writing to do something he considers fun and not like homeschool work at all. 

I know our son enjoys reading, but sometimes when asked to share about the book he is reading, he would not remember or be able to retell the story. I strongly feel that by working through the activities presented in the Opal edition, our son will build his ability to comprehend and remember what he has read. The fact that he can quote some of the stories already demonstrates that he remembers what he has read. 

I could very easily see our family using this same curriculum in a few short years for our daughter. The story selections are interesting, the questions posed are ones that develop critical thinking skills and reading comprehension, and they are attractive materials to use. As Timberdoodle provides you with the option to purchase the entire set - like we did - or just the parts you need, we could pick up the Student Activity Workbook for our daughter and reuse the Teacher's Edition and the Textbook. Being able to reuse materials is always a blessing for larger homeschool families. 

I would recommend Mosdos Press Literature Opal to families who are homeschooling third graders. I feel it has been a perfect fit so far for our son. I look forward to continuing to use it the rest of our homeschool year. 

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1 comment:

  1. I am always impressed with the quality of Mosdos products.