Phonetics. The ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the sounds of letters to be able to read them. A kind of ‘whole language’ learning. And probably one of the best ways to teach kids how to read. So what makes a great phonics curriculum?
In our homeschool, we use a combination of The Reading Lesson and Alphabetti Phonics for a well rounded leaning to read curriculum. Why did I choose Alphabetti?
It’s free. Yes, free. The only thing it will cost you is your time to download, and a few dollars to print out on your own (or take it to a printer). No gimmicks, no sales pitch, not even a plea for donations. It is free, free, free!
There is a lesson plan made up for each book, so no guesswork on what to do.
It includes worksheets that introduce the words being learned, and they’re cute and fun!
It also includes cue cards that you can print out on card stock and laminate – I use clear heavy-duty packing tape to laminate everything. Yes, I can’t avoid the occasional wrinkle, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a laminator and those pouches.
There are also wall charts of each letter, and also a double sided letter guide that has the letter on one side and examples on the other side. Just fold it in half and laminate.
And of course the meat and potatoes of the program, the actual books. They are very cute and funny stories. You read everything in black and your child reads the red words. These stories are cute and silly, Peanut always loves it when I take out the books because he knows he’ll be giggling and laughing at the end! What a great way to inspire a kid to read!
Each unit has several “books” in it, and you can either bind it as one big volume of 60+ pages, or do what I did and only bind the two stories for each lesson plan together. My stapler would have a hissy fit trying to go through a big book, so that’s why I split them up. More work for me, but my stapler is happy!
At the beginning of each “book” there is a list of the words your child will learn. This is great for when you want to go back and reinforce any words they may have trouble with, or just to build up their confidence with words they have mastered.
And finally, to make this curriculum a bit more interactively hands-on, I downloaded the letter tiles from The Measured Mom and printed them out on cardstock, coloured the vowels red, laminated them, and cut them out. I am still looking for magnets to put on the back of them to make them stick to either the whiteboard or a metal baking tray, but for now we just use them as is.
What we do is once a week we go through the flashcards and sort them into two piles, one pile is words he could read without hesitation, the second pile are words he either missed or took many tries to get it right. With these tiles, we practice spelling the words from the second pile that Peanut has trouble with.
So how well does this free program work to teach reading skills? Well, Peanut is autistic. Language arts do not come easy to him. He didn’t even speak till he was 3 1/2 years old. When we began this curriculum, he had already been introduced to the sounds of the letters c,s,m,a,t and could sound out the words cat, sat, mat, and rat.
Now, after 4 weeks of using this, he has mastered 21 out of the 27 words we have introduced. Mastered means he can read and spell them with the tiles.
To be honest, I would gladly pay for this phonics curriculum. It is cute, fun, and should not be passed over just because it’s free. This is one well thought out, sweetly illustrated, funny and silly and educational program that WORKS!