• Please note that these reviews are of our first version of Roots and Fruits. We've upgraded Roots and Fruits with more roots and prefixes, more vocabulary words, more games and activities, a brand new category of 16 worksheets, and a softcover format - - more for your student's success! Check out the other Roots and Fruits links to discover the upgrades.
  • Winner of "Favorite Language Arts Product" 2009-2010
    (Write with the Best Vol. 1 & 2,
    Roots and Fruits)  Awarded by bloggers of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew

Review by Cindy Prechtel, Editor of Homeschool Reviews For You

Language Arts: Vocabulary
Roots and Fruits
Author: Jill Dixon, B.S.Ed., M.Ed.
Publisher: Diagnostic Prescriptive Services
For more information or to order: www.diagnosticprescriptive.com
- now www.edudps.com

If you’re looking for an affordable program to teach vocabulary and the foundational roots and prefixes, the building blocks of English, Roots and Fruits may be for you! This one, non-consumable resource can be used with all of your children, no matter what grade level. Yes, even children as young as Kindergarten can, with parental help, begin to learn basic roots and their meanings. Since time is always a factor for homeschool families, lessons are designed to take about 15 minutes per day – making it easy to add vocabulary study to your routine.

As the subtitle states, Roots and Fruits is a comprehensive vocabulary curriculum. Included are 673 Latin and Greek roots and prefixes with their meanings AND 1716 vocabulary words. When most parents, including myself, think of learning vocabulary, it is usually in the context of preparing high school students for the SAT and/or ACT. In her introduction the author reminds us that there are other advantages; most notable is her assertion that as students begin to learn definitions, they become better equipped to understand and excel in all areas of study. That being said, Mrs. Dixon does note those vocabulary words that are commonly included on the SAT and ACT exams. This allows an older student to concentrate on specific definitions when preparing to take these important tests.

Roots and Fruits does more than just teach vocabulary words. By learning the Latin and Greek roots and prefixes along with their meanings, your children will be able to figure out the meaning of words they have never encountered before. I personally appreciate that, rather than focusing on learning the Latin or Greek pronunciation, Mrs. Dixon has chosen to use the English pronunciation of the roots and prefixes. Roots and Fruits includes an easy-to-follow, weekly lesson outline and many games and activities to help students learn AND retain word meanings. Roots and prefixes are listed alphabetically – you are free to choose the order of study. For each root or prefix, there are several vocabulary words for the student to look up in the dictionary. The author recommends An American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster or The Oxford Universal Dictionary. These are not your typical "student" dictionaries, but they contain the important information students need to not only write vocabulary definitions, but note what language each word is derived from. (Publisher's Note: Any dictionary that notes Greek and Latin derivation can be used. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary is an example.) Of course, Mom will need to be very involved in helping younger students to use the dictionary – you may even decide to do some of the work orally. There are some hidden benefits to using the dictionary as prescribed in Roots and Fruits such as strengthened research and spelling skills, along with a firm understanding of how to use a dictionary efficiently.

The lesson guide suggests that all of the research and writing of definitions be done on Monday; subsequent days utilize games and other activities. There are a variety of hands-on suggestions for studying word meanings, helping this program appeal to different learning styles. Older students may find some of the activities a bit childish, but they can choose other more traditional ways of studying that fit their own learning styles. Roots and Fruits is flexible, allowing you to choose how many roots/prefixes and vocabulary words to assign each week. In addition, there are enough activity suggestions to allow for variety so you don’t have to choose the same ones over and over.

Roots and Fruits is somewhat teacher intensive. You will need to make charts and be involved in directing the games and/or activities. Younger children will need assistance in making their vocabulary cards, which consist of 3 x 5 index cards with the root and corresponding vocabulary word on the front and the definitions/derivative on the back. If you prefer to just hand your child a worksheet and have them fill in the blanks, this is not the program for you. However, with its thorough listing of roots, prefixes and vocabulary words, Roots and Fruits is an excellent resource to have on hand, no matter what vocabulary program you use.

Roots and Fruits is a thorough and affordable program. It provides guidance and an exhaustive list of roots, prefixes and vocabulary words, while giving each child the freedom to learn at his or her own pace.

Making the grade: A
Value for your homeschool dollar: 9
©2004, Homeschool Reviews For You

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Review by Tina Rice, Senior Research of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Roots and Fruits, A Comprehensive Vocabulary Curriculum covering Grades K through 12 by Jill Dixon is the most affordable vocabulary program I have ever reviewed. If you are familiar with Spelling Power, and its "all in one book" approach to teaching spelling, you can imagine how Mrs. Dixon’s book works. One book for all grades and just 15 minutes of work per day to build your child’s vocabulary! Included are 673 English forms of Greek and Latin roots and prefixes with their meanings, plus 1716 vocabulary words. Mrs. Dixon has included the most commonly tested words from the SAT in this curriculum.

Included in Roots and Fruits are games and activities, a thorough how to use the program section, a detailed weekly schedule, an alphabetical listing of the roots and prefixes, and 55 pages of roots, meanings and words. Along with Roots and Fruits, you will need a good dictionary, 3x5 index cards and chart paper. I would also suggest colored markers and a notebook to hold your papers and cards. The author recommends An American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster or The Oxford Universal Dictionary.

In addition to improving vocabulary, a child using Roots and Fruits will get a lot of hands-on practice using a dictionary. For a younger student this will take a lot of parental involvement, but I cannot think of better training for dictionary usage than looking up words. This activity cements alphabetizing and spelling skills.

One thing I really like about Roots and Fruits is that students learn the English form of Greek and Latin roots and prefixes. About 80 percent of our language comes from Greek and Latin, and learning one root will help students figure out the meaning of words they have never seen. Many other programs merely teach vocabulary words.

The only drawbacks to Roots and Fruits are that it requires parents (or older students) to make flash cards and charts and many of the activities are for younger students. If you prefer a workbook or minimal parent homework, look into a different vocabulary program but expect to spend a lot more. Even with the additional parental work, I think Roots and Fruits is an excellent program. I like the flexibility and the fact that I only need ONE book, not years and years worth of workbooks and teacher manuals. Even if you choose to use another vocabulary program, Roots and Fruits would be a terrific reference book.

Check out Diagnostic Prescriptive Services at www.diagnosticprescriptive.com - now www.edudps.com. Their website was easy to navigate and contains a lot of handy information.

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