Wednesday, April 10, 2013

ABeCeDarian Review

One of the greatest joys for me as a mom is hearing my children read. My recently-turned-5-year-old and I have had the opportunity to use the ABeCeDarian Reading Program.

Key Features 
  • Explicit, comprehensive, multisensory phonics instruction 
  • Sound blending and segmenting explicitly taught and practice
  • Letter/Sound correspondences taught in the context of reading and spelling words
  • Letter sounds taught before letter names
  • Code knowledge organized by sounds with engaging sorting activitie
  • No rules
  • Precise practice routines and error correction procedures
  • Integrated handwriting and spelling instruction
  • Expert oral reading fluency practice

I started Alyssa at the very beginning of the program. Level A is for non-readers or very beginning readers. She has been reading cvc (consonant, vowel, consonant) words for a little while, but since there are some sounds that she struggles with, I wanted to work from the beginning.

Each lesson is a combination of sound blending, sound segmenting, learning letter/sound correspondence, and reading and spelling words. The teacher's manual can be read word-for-word, if you so choose. The author of the program has made it very easy to teach your child. There's no guess work. There's nothing confusing. Just simple, easy-to-understand instruction.

Since Alyssa was already familiar with the letters and their sounds and blending them to make words before we sat down with this book, she was able to fly through the first lessons. The spiral-bound workbook is straightforward. No flashy colors. No distracting pictures. Again, just simple, easy-to-follow pages. By the time a student finishes Level A, he will be able to automatically read over 100 words.

There is a list of letter tile sets included as part of the free supplement materials. The tiles are used in many of the activities. I printed them off and was planning to laminate them, but decided to use some of our other hands-on resources that we own. The variety kept things interesting and fun. Alyssa would get excited to see what I picked for each day. She especially liked banging on the letters with a tiny mallet, instead of pointing to it with her finger. One of the great things about homeschooling is taking something and adapting it to fit our needs.

One thing I really like about this program is the directions for forming letters. Instead of just showing the student how to form the letter or having him follow arrows on the paper to trace it, you say things like Fall down to the line. Bounce up. Curl over and tuck in. (Can you figure out that letter? How about the next one?) Curl back like a rainbow. Slide across. Swing around.

Another point I like about writing the letters is the format of the workbook pages. Instead of trace trace trace write write write, the program has the student trace write trace write trace write. The intermittent tracing helps to reinforce the proper formation, whereas with the other approach, the letter can vary greatly and get sloppy by the end, like with the game Telephone, where the end result is far different from the beginning. 

Along with the Level A-1 book that we are currently using, we were sent the teacher's manuals and student workbooks for Level A-2 and Level B-1, a set of 10 storybooks ($21.50), and ABeCeDarian Aesop ($2.50). You can purchase workbooks and teacher's manuals individually if you have a more advanced reader, or you can purchase the books I received (A-1, A-2, B-1) for $29.95. There are books all the way through a 6th grade reading level. There are many free supplement materials on the site, including a placement assessment.

Alyssa did well with this program and can't wait to get to the storybooks. If you're looking for a simple, easy-to-follow reading program, ABeCeDarian might be for you.

Want to learn more? You can read more reviews of ABeCeDarian from the Schoolhouse Crew Review.

P.S. Did you figure out the letter I described by the formation directions? The first was b; the second was s.

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