Review of Sing, Spell, Read and Write

Background: My oldest son, who is 6 1/2, is a reluctant reader. In the past year and a half we went through a couple different programs. I looked at Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons but I didn't care for it. I liked Phonics Pathways and we did use it for a little while, but he didn't care for it. We also used a free curriculum called Really Reading, which wasn't bad either. Looking back, he was fully capable of reading but didn't have the interest and maybe I should have just let it be for a bit. But his lack of interest paired with my lack of confidence in being able to teach him the necessary skills led us to continue this search for the magic reading program. I bought second hand for $1 an old version of The Writing Road to Reading after reading about phonogram instruction here. I like this and we did go through the phonograms for awhile, but he got a little bit put off when we got to some of the ones that are a little more confusing such as OUGH and it's many sounds. He was fighting instruction and a friend of mine was raving about SSR&W and her young daughter. I looked through her big box and it had a lot in it. Lots of books, games, songs, workbooks...I thought on it for awhile since the price tag is a little steep. But in the end I reasoned....with 4 boys I would eventually get my money's worth so I bit the bullet and bought the Level 1/K Combo Kit. This was back in September and we have been using it since then.

What you get:

Sing, Spell, Read & Write, Level 1 (Edition 2)

Plus 2 work books and 6 more little story books for the Level K. So it is a lot of stuff. It is very colorful. Nicely put together. The steps are sequential. The instructor's manual tells you what to do and gives you an idea of how long to spend on each step.

Here are my thoughts:

The songs: A little corny in some places. I did like the ABC sounds, short vowels and long vowels. My kids didn't really like The Ferris Wheel Song which is supposed to aid in learning to blend short vowel words....it goes around and around....ba, be, bi, bo, bu, bo, bi, be, ba.....round and round through the whole alphabet and some beginning blends too. The 2 vowels song did help my son read through the list of words. And I haven't listened to it yet, but we are currently up to the 'silent gh' song. I won't listen to it because the silent gh part annoys me. Based on the phonograms....igh = long i, eight = long a, etc....plus then it just doesn't work out with the ough either....so here we are again. The main thing about the songs- which I knew when I bought, and is specific to my boys- they don't sing. But they listened and we played the CD while doing the lesson.

The Games: The curriculum comes with 3 bingo games and 2 go fish like games. My boys all really liked them. We love bingo around here and I use it a lot anyway for word practice. There is a sight words, ABC sounds, and letter cluster (phonograms) BINGO and ABC sounds and letter cluster go fish. We used them a lot at first (when the baby napped more). I plan on using them again...my homemade bingo uses words only and I like having the boards with the isolated sounds on them.

The Workbooks: We got 4 books total between K and level 1. 2 per year. My 4 year old LOVED his first K book. It was review for him on the letter sounds. But it was VERY hands on...cutting, gluing and coloring. To tell the truth you can find very similar pages for free online....but they were colorful and all in one place which was nice. So each letter had a page to color with an appropriate picture, a writing/tracing page. A cut and paste beginning sounds page and a find and glue (from a magazine) page. The second book took you into reading. Blending the letters with the short vowels. It had a lot of color and read books and some word slides. My son wasn't as thrilled when he got to the ferris wheel and we are spending time elsewhere when his mood suits him to help him with sounding out words.

Now the first Level 1 book....I am assuming it was meant for public school. It went back to square one and letter sounds. So it hasn't been used at all. The second book is where the 36 steps to reading really starts. You are supposed to do a song and game each day, plus the pages in the book. Working up to spelling 10 words per day from the current word list. Each list is for one particular sound....short a, oy, ai, etc....My problem was that some of the lists got way too long....30+ words. And My son can write just fine and it was too monotonous for him. There is a place on the bottom to initial when you the student can read, spell and write each word on the page. The readers that come with the kit go along with each word list. So the vocab is constant for more practice. There is also some matching, fill in the blank, missing letter pages as well.

So I am not using this system as it is scripted. Sometimes we skip the readers....and he chooses a real book instead. Sometimes we just can't stand to hear the words pal and glad instead of friend and happy. But overall the readers did help with his confidence in reading longer passages within books. We also don't write all the words. He reads them all and he writes for 5 minutes. We also don't spell. He can spell short vowel words no problem now, but at his age I was more wanting to focus his willing attention on the reading and if there was enough willingness left we would do spelling. The books also discuss some grammar...punctuation, capitalization, subjects, nouns and verbs. We do that sometimes but it is much more casual than the copy sentences from the board like the books states.

So the verdict??? I am not that impressed. YES he has greatly improved in his skills, but I think that would have happened with any program by this age. He just wasn't really ready before. And YES I think it would probably be a great public/private school curriculum. But not quite as taylored for homeschoolers who don't do school-at-home. I don't have the want to make my child sit at a desk and do workbook pages and spelling tests (written) and copy sentences and then read and sing and a game. That would take HOURS and is too much for a 6 yr old. The readers are nice to have and I will use them again, same with the songs. But I think I could provide a few links, watch Between the Lions for some songs and play around on www.starfall.com and you would have basically the same thing and you'd only be out printing costs.

My plan? We are planning on finishing the book in which he is currently working. And when I feel the need to use the other books I have I will. I most likely will not buy other texts for the other children. I think I will just go and buy Phonics Pathways....which was my favorite...instead of keeping it from the library for months at a time. I am also in the planning for a phonogram Lapbook for them all to use as a tool and to help solidify some of these phonograms for my oldest as he helps make it. I plan on disecting his workbook and using the very nice word lists in the lapbook.

So there is my opinion on the subject for whatever it is worth....hopefully my thoughts aren't too all over the place since I didn't write this in one sitting today.


Eggs and Spring

Today I hosted our annual MOMS Club Easter Egg hunt. I have hosted every year for the past 4. My kids look foward to it all year. They like the comfort of their own home and not having to rush around with a zillion other kids like they would if we went to a public event. This may be the end though....I have been a part of the local MOMS Club chapter for 4 years....since my second born was only 10 months old. I have served as Vice President for 3 of those years, and for the next 3 months I am interim President, since our current Pres has decided to resign and go back to work. As much as this group has helped me in the past few years...being a young parent, it is hard to find support as a Stay at Home Mom....and the solitude that sometimes comes with it. But now as my role has changed, and I have added the homeschool mom tag, it is about time to move on from this group. My older boys' friends haved moved on to school and have 'no time'....school all day, homework and just being tired. But today was a great day....lots of eggs, too much candy and adult conversation for me!

We spent most of the day outside. I love the Spring. I love the flowers. I love the tiny pea plants poking through the ground in my garden and as much as my husband dislikes them....I love dandelions. There was a time years and years ago when I wanted my wedding flowers to be dandelions and those little wild violets. So today we spent outside. I planted broccoli, and the kids played. They picked dandelions to feed the chickens and dug for worms for the same reason.



Weather Lapbook

We started our weather unit this past week....most of it was based upon the requirements for the Cub Scouts Weather belt loop and pin. My 6 yr old worked on this lapbook to pull all his stuff together in one place:

The first side flap has a circle folded into fourths with his picture of the water cycle. Also it has our vocab words- I cut out cloud shapes and he glued them on craft sticks and I wrote the words, he looked them up in the glossary or dictionary and read the definition (dictated for me to write)

The middle is covered by his cloud page. Nothing beats cotton to make clouds! We made 6 different flaps, he wrote the name and created the cloud and then we read about what types of weather are associated with each to write on the inside. Under the clouds: There is a cloud shaped book about lightning and what causes it, a 'ways we use water 'mini book, a cloud shaped, pop-up rainbow he drew and how they are made. And a how accurate are forecasters minibook.

The other side flap has a copywork page- I wrote out some weather saying and he copied them below. And our weather journal for a 6 day period. We recorded rain, temp and wind.

The back consists of the Billy, Maria and the Thunderstorm coloring book. They have a few different titles on various weather situation- you can find them here. The extreme weather book was a cut-and-paste from the Owlie Skywarn's Weather Book. and a venn diagram comparing tornadoes to hurricanes.

A lot of the full paage sized documents I scaled down in the printer options to print 2-4 pages/sheet instead of 1 page/sheet so they would fit better in our book. I have another to share....my 4yr old requested another "reading lapbook" as he put it.....so we did one today on the short I sound. He didn't finish one part- the writing word cards and didn't want me to take pictures of it until he did that. So maybe I will share that one tomorrow.


-AT Word Family Lapbook

I was feeling like I haven't been working with my 4 yr old enough. He is on the brink of learning how to read. He can sound out words pretty well. And loves to "read" to himself. He has a ton of books memorized and I think he will be they type of kid who wants to read real books. He can read a couple of the easy readers (ie. BOB books and the ones that came with his SSR&W) but it goes like this..."Mat sat ." but he reads: "Mat sat on a blanket at the beach." He will read the words if I slow him down, but he doesn't care much for the simplified text. So last night I threw this lapbook together, and I while my oldest played the ABSeas fishing game with the 2 yr old. We sat down and worked on it. Didn't take very long, he already could do most of this...but I was suprised how well he sounded out the harder words like acrobat.

I got the materials for it from: Hubbard's Cupboard, Carl's Corner and here are the word family ice cream cones which he really liked. A few things were from my personal collection or I made them myself.