Now that we have finished level 1, wanted to do a review on All About Reading. When Creative Kid was a preschooler I tried teaching him to read using two different books, The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading and Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons. These books are meant for the parent and child to sit side by side and go over letter sounds as a foundation for reading. One was given to me by a family member and one I bought because it was recommended by so many people on various homeschool mom groups. We tried them, but didn’t stick with them for a couple of reasons, but those reasons all boil down to..they didn’t work! Not for us.
If your child is a auditory or slightly visual learner, these would be great books for you, but our child is kinesthetic and visual primarily and they just didn’t seem to be all that interesting to him. Some aspects of these books included incorrect spelling of words to enforce sounds of words and we were worried about this confusing him once we got to learning how to spell as well, so we just wanted something different.
We also had been doing a K4 curriculum that focused on letter sounds and sight words, instead of letter sounds and then putting those sounds together to form words. CK did not like the sight words and the letter sounds weren’t sticking without reinforcement and understanding of how to put them together. After a while I dropped the reading part of the curriculum all together.
So I did the research and looked more closely at people’s opinions and why they loved what they loved and decided on the All About Reading curriculum. I found that most people who didn’t chose AAR was due to the price, and while I like to save money as well as the next guy, a good reading foundation for our son was more important than the extra money. So when we went to the Great Homeschool Convention in 2016, I purchased AAR level 1 and the reading interactive kit from Rainbow Resource’s booth. You need both of these items to have a complete system, but the good news is if you plan to use All About Spelling, the interactive kit can work for both. Also, there are two interactive kids, a basic and a deluxe. The deluxe came with a box for the letter/word cards and a tote bag. I bought the deluxe, but you could totally just buy the basic kit and find your own recipe card size box for the cards.
There is an additional purchase you may need to make as well as you need to have a decent size magnetic white board. Most homeschool families probably already have one of these, I had smaller ones but not a bigger one and I wanted one completely dedicated to AAR so I bought a new one. Here is what it looks like minus the student workbook since we have used ours and I already threw out the cover.
There is also a little prep work that goes into the interactive kit because you need to apply magnets to the backs of the letter, letter blend and title tiles. You also need to tear apart the perforated letter and word cards and arrange them appropriately in your file box. This is not a big deal nor did it take a ton of time, but although the curriculum requires little to no prep work on a daily basis, you do need to take about an hour and set up everything initially. They also tell you what letter tiles to put on the white board at first and which ones to save in a baggie for later.
Here’s the file box. It’s a little full in this picture because I have already put the level 2 letter and word cards in the box. You start out with several blue sponges that fill up the unused space. After putting level 2 in the box there is only one left at the very back. If you use your own file box, this box is about 8.25 inches long by 3.75 inches wide and 3.5 inches high.
So I had everything set up for the first day and I was nervous. As I said, I had previously tried to teach Creative Kid to read and I didn’t feel we were getting much traction and he absolutely hated memorizing site words that we had as part of a preschool curriculum we did the previous year. I was doubting my ability to teach him to read. I wanted him to love reading so bad, like my husband and I do, and I was afraid if this didn’t go well we’d be putting him on a path to hate reading. Thankfully all of my worries were unfounded.
We simply plugged away through the curriculum. There is lots of review until they master sounds and the stories were engaging to CK and we did questions for each story he read where he got to think about what was presented or make up back stories that were not present in the story as my child often does.
Here is what a typical lesson looks like:
1. Review sounds and words you learned in all previous lessons until they have mastered those cards and they get put in a mastered area.
2. Teach new sounds. There is an app you can download on your phone if you like to make sure you are teaching the sounds correctly.
3. Blend sounds with letter tiles. This is when you teach them to put sounds together to form words.
4. Activity sheets to reinforce what they just learned.
5. Practice reading the new word tiles that go along with the letter sound they just learned.
6. Practice Fluency-additional pages in the activity book that show additional letter blends for new words.
6. Warm Up Sheets-these are pages in the activity book that give vocabulary and short phrases from the story they will read in one of the story books today.
7. Read story.
8. Discuss story.
Then every lesson ends with you reading to your child for 20 minutes that day and updating their progress chart.
I gave lots of praise and went at his pace. We did AAR just about every school day and often he went through a whole lesson in a day, but if I saw him struggling we put it away and tried again the next day. There was nothing better than experiencing him reading his first little story and then watching that confidence and abilities grow and expand on one another.
A sample from the reading books, Book 1:
By halfway through the year, we were 2/3rds of the way through the curriculum and we finished level 1 in around 100 days time. We’ve been filling in with review, lots of reading and phonics reinforcement and will start level 2 soon as well as All About Spelling level 1 at the same time. The beauty of homeschool is that we don’t have to go according to the public school calendar and will just continue on at his pace.
We’ve really enjoyed this curriculum. My son liked the activities and was much more engaged with the multi-sensory/learning style approach. Of all the ones we tried, this by far was the best. My son is also very competitive and accomplishment driven, so he liked being able to put a sticker on his progress chart and he loved the ability to call something mastered and move it to a different area of the box.
If I had to do everything over again, I would start with the pre-reading level of AAR at least 2 years ago. I wouldn’t have bothered with the other two books that seemed like the easier and cheaper way to go about teaching reading and I never would have done the preschool curriculum sight words that were included. Sight words taught CK that he should memorize, not phoneticize, words. So when he didn’t know a word he would just guess. We’re still overcoming this inadvertent lesson he learned and I sometimes have to remind him to slow down and sound out the word instead of guessing.Thanks for reading!