Rainbow Price: $82.95
"It's just common sense!" Actually, it's the Blue Book Common Sense Reading Program and yes, everything about this program is common sense. A very complete program organized around quality children's literature (like all LLATL programs) and covering phonics, reading, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, handwriting, and higher-order reasoning. Phonics instruction is systematic, introducing a few sounds at a time and providing opportunities to read a "real" (small story book) book which uses those sounds. The literature component - carefully selected children's favorites - reminds students that the reason for all the hard work in phonics is the joy of reading wonderful books. And woven through both of these elements is comprehensive instruction in all aspects of language arts. Relying heavily on Ruth Beechick's principles for teaching reading (including her letter dice activities), the program includes a wide variety of activities appealing to all learning styles. The teacher's manual is a homeschooler's dream with all the work having been done for you, taking you step-by-step through the 36-week program. New skills are listed for each lesson with a materials list included at the beginning. Almost no teacher preparation is needed - you teach as you read. All answers are provided within the lesson. Higher-order thinking activities are italicized. Examples and diagrams are user-friendly including the easy-to-follow references to the Student Activity Book. Each of the four parts (readiness, short vowels, consonant blends and short vowels, and long vowels) concludes with an evaluation for determining your child's readiness for the next level. The Student Activity Book contains the materials (except for household and school supplies) needed for cut and paste, word wheels, flip books, picture sequencing, story-telling puppets, PLUS handwriting pages that teach all upper and lower case letters, numbers, and punctuation. The comfortable, natural handwriting method that isn't exactly traditional, modern, or italic was developed by the authors. This handwriting instruction is coordinated with the phonics and includes pages for children to carefully complete and display or give as gifts.
The Student Activity Book is consumable, even having an easy-release binding that allows for clean page removal. Even the back cover is put to good use providing the miniature book covers to be added to the personal reading chart that marks the child's progress. 28 separate readers cover short vowels, blends (bridge readers), and long vowels. They are small-sized for little hands and include black-and-white illustrations. Stories are engaging which is a good thing since a week's worth of learning activities are built around them. The student uses puppets to retell the stories, completes sequencing activities with a series of reader-related events, and answers comprehension questions. One interesting aspect of the teacher-student interaction concerning these readers is that the week's lesson starts off with the teacher reading the small book to the child. After several lessons thoroughly covering the new phonics steps and practice reading parts of the story, the student concludes the week with the successful reading of the small book. This is an effective variation of the typical approach because the goal of reading the book is always before the student. The materials packet is a useful collection of color-coded letter and word cards to use for learning and review along with cards used for reinforcement games and, of course, the letter dice (to be assembled from cardstock patterns). While this part of the program is not exactly consumable - you could use the various components again - the components do get a workout. If you are expecting to use the program with another child, you'll want to save these items and covering them with clear contact paper to preserve them would also be a good idea. The program includes the Teacher's Manual, the Student Activity Book, the 28 Readers, and the Materials Packet.
We sell additional Student Activity Books, Reader Sets, and Material Packets so you can use the program with a second student. Well-known children's literature (Read-Aloud Library) is suggested each week, so at the same time your child is learning phonics, he is also learning other important reading skills such as literal recall, comprehension, predicting outcome, and drawing conclusions. These books are an integral part of the program and the Student Activity Book relies on them. Although usually available at the local library, for your convenience we also sell them. They are listed in order of use. Although this program focuses on first grade skills, it would be possible to use this program with a "ready" kindergartner. It would also work well with a slightly older child who is still a just-getting-started reader. ~ Janice