Essentials Lesssons

Essentials teaches phonograms and spelling rules that explain 98% of English words. It develops fluency in applying these tools for reading and spelling while teaching parts of speech, sentence-level composition rules, and vocabulary with morphology.


  • 30 week-long lessons
  • One curriculum, two volumes — 15 lessons each
  • 5 sections per lesson — 1 per day
  • Spelling, Reading, Grammar, Basic Composition, Vocabulary Development, and Review in every lesson
  • Three levels of spelling lists, grammar practice, and vocabulary instruction for flexible instruction and for teaching multiple grades
  • 10 optional pre-lessons in Volume 1

Components of an Essentials lesson

Day 1: Essential Concepts

  • Phonograms: Students learn new multi-letter phonograms and practice the phonograms they have learned thus far.
  • Exploring Sounds: Students strengthen their awarenesss and understanding of the different sounds in the English language, the relationships between different sounds, and the relationships between sounds and their spellings.
  • Spelling Rules: Students discover consistent and linguistcally accurate spelling rules and explore how they work in words.

    Teacher's Guide and Student Workbook. The green book icon in the Teacher's Guide indicates a workbook activity!

Day 2: Building Words

  • Spelling Analysis: The heart of the lesson! Students practice applying the phonograms and spelling rules they are learning by learning to spell 15 new words and analyzing why they are spelled the way they are.
  • Three levels of spelling lists for spelling analysis — A, B, and C — allow you to choose words that provide an appropriate level of difficulty for your student or class. Each list provides detailed teacher hints to help you give expert guidance and clear cues as you teach your students the words.
  • Spelling Journal: Students explore the sounds that have multiple options for spelling and organize new words by sound, strengthening their understanding of the options for spelling and helping them remember which one to use in a given word.
    The purple leaf indicates an activity in the student's Spelling Journal.

Day 3: Words in Context

  • Practice: Students review the phonograms through dictation, review spelling rules, and practice spelling their new words with an activity or game.
  • Grammar: Students learn and explore parts of speech and their roles in sentences. They then practice these concepts with the spelling words they are learning.
    Differentiated practice sections for spelling lists A, B, and C allow each student to work at an appropriate level of difficulty and gain additional practice their spelling words.

  • Dictation: Students practice their spelling words in the context of phrases, and later of sentences. This focused practice activity supports students in the transition to spelling correctly in free writing. Three levels of dictation match the spelling words students are learning.

Day 4: Words in Action

  • Practice: Students practice the phonograms and their spelling words with games and other activities, continuing to build fluency and mastery with what they are learning.
  • Vocabulary: Students learn about morphemes, the units of meaning in our words such as prefixes, suffixes, and roots, and how these tools from Greek, Latin, and other languages convey meaning and shape spelling. Each level's vocabulary instruction and the morphemes taught are based on the spelling words learned earlier in the lesson.

  • Dictation: New dictation phrases provide continued practice writing the spelling words in context (see Day 3).
  • Composition: Students learn foundational sentence-level composition and punctuation rules and practice them using their spelling words.

  • Reading: Recommended for Level A and any struggling reader. Decoding and fluency activities.

    Optional: The Essentials Reader, sold separately. This phonics-controlled reading comprehension supplement, an optional add-on to Essentials, provides engaging and meaningful reading practice for older struggling readers.

Day 5: Check Your Understanding

  • Review: Students practice vocabulary and grammar concepts from Day 4.
  • Check Your Understanding: A formative assessment helps both student and teacher identify skills and concepts from the lesson in which the student is progressing towards mastery, as well as skills and concepts that need additional practice or clarification. Includes phonograms, spelling rules, language concepts, dictation, and grammar.
  • Additional practice and review: Day 5's shorter schedule leaves time to review and practice skills that need more work.
    Teacher's Guide

    Student Workbook
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