Saturday, August 18, 2012

Reading Horizons Review -Homeschool

As you probably know by now, we homeschool.  I love being able to watch my children learn instead of hearing about it second hand when they come home from school. 

That being said, we were able to review a new Reading curriculum this summer.  Reading Horizons teaches phonics/reading for children.  The curriculum we received was for grades 1-3 and included four readers, two teachers manuals(volume 1 and volume 2), letter group pages for sounding out letters, and Sound Essentials(this included the workpages).  This is a $299 value and well worth the money if you need help with teaching your children to read.  They also offer a 2 year money back guarantee so even if you're not sure if it will work for you there is little risk as if it doesn't work you can get your money back. 

Did I forget to mention the AWESOME tote bag it all came in!

Here is the actual course reference number.

all of this was inside the tote bag

the four reading books are designed to go with the lessons.

Each book contains a certain number of stories to correlate with the lessons.

these are the letter group and sight word cards.  Sorry the plastic didn't photograph well. 

The Sound Essentials book which included the workpages for kids.

sample work page

this was one of the assessment pages to see how well they were retaining the material

practice sounds

sight words

teacher's manual volume 1

I loved all the tabs so you could turn right to where you wanted to be.

close up of tabs, letter group #5 and blends

a sample page from the teachers book

I used this with two of my children who had just completed kindergarten but were still struggling with a few things about reading.  They had just not "gotten" the curriculum we had used prior.  This was super easy to use and spelled out everything you should do and when.  To be totally honest, that was a bit of a downside to the curriculum for me because it didn't leave a lot of room for me to do my own stuff.  But, since we weren't using it with any other curriculums it worked out just fine. 

We started out with the program in lesson one.  My big kids were bored because they had already done this sort of work.  Lesson one involved learning the main sound of A and learning to write the letter.  The big kids were troopers though and did it anyway so that the younger ones who hadn't learned their letters yet could learn.  I could have started the older ones right into volume 2, but wanted a more relaxed summer for myself so wanted to keep everyone on the same level.  Okay back to the curriulum!  We used the letter chart to show the letter A in lower and uppercases, it also gave us some words that use the letter a with the sound it makes in "at".  They called "at" their word for a.  My kids liked having to think up words that had the sound of "at" in them.  Some of course were made up, but they made us all laugh!

After looking, sounding, and recognizing the letter, it was time to do some letter writing.  The curriculum suggests having a large white board or chalkboard with space for each child to have their own spot.  This was not possible for us, but I did have several small slates so my children got to use those and sit at their spot at the table to do their own chalkboard work.  This part is very sight and sound activated.  Say the letter twice, write it once for lower and for upper, and then say the sound and write the letter.  I had never thought of doing the sound when writing the letter and thought that was pretty neat.  It really did help the kids remember what sounds went with which letters! 

Lastly for the day there was a workbook page.  Of course the letters changed with the days.  Once we got through all the letters we started on blends.  I really liked the blends section as I knew my older kids hadn't done many of those yet and it would challenge them.  We ended up doing at least 2 letters a day and getting them done very quickly.  My kids love school so we were doing school with this reading curriculum 6 days a week, two letters per day, it only took us a little over a week to get done with the letters.  I think if someone had told me you could teach your kids all the letters in the alphabet, their sounds, and how to write them that quickly I would have laughed at them.  Seriously, it takes a whole year of preschool to do that!  Nope, my two younger boys had not done any work with the alphabet and now they have them down from those two weeks of classes.

Once you got to lesson 11 in the workbook you got to start reading in the little books. The Little Red book came first. The stories have letters and little words that the students should know already(at, my, etc) as well as words they should be able to sound out and then words that are beyond their skill level. They are simple small sentences though. The first sentence of the first story is "I am Meg" followed by "I am in my bed". My kids were so excited because they could read! They could read their own book. Yes they still had to sound out some words, and yes Mommy had to help them with some, but they were reading! Even my four year old was reading sentences for himself. The cutest part would be the two babies mimicing the older ones reading.

Okay back to the blends.  You have these great cards(in the plastic wrap pack) that show you blends.  It has what the blend sounds like and how to use it in words.  I was impressed with how thorough it was.  You've got the letters together in their blend form.  So take -ch.  You have that and you sound it out, have the kids say it a few times.  Then you show them the card with the -ch on it.  Now you sound it and see it at the same time to recognize they are the same.  With that done you move on to using the blend in words.  Some words for -ch were chat(going back to that "at" for the a sounds), chad, match, patch, etc.  This is a very phonetic based program.  The sounds rule the roost so to speak! 

The last few lessons worked on recognizing and using prefixes, suffixes, homophones, and using the dictionary.  My kids who used this curriculum are ages 4-7.  They now can read simple books.  They actually love to read simple books!  My oldest is trying her hand at chapter books and she's in first grade!  I am so proud of my littles and really enjoyed working through this curriculum with them.  We used it for 3 months over the summer and were able to do all 83 lessons.  Of course the older ones got more out of the second book of lessons than the younger two because they had already done part of it.

My kids loved the workbook pages and would ask to do three or four lessons a day sometimes just because they liked it!  I love when my children want to learn so I could often be found teaching an extra lesson.  For the younger children who also wanted to do something with school I would write out one word or letter off the worksheet on our blackboard and they could copy it on their papers or slates.  This kept everyone happy!

We give this a 5 star rating and happily recommend it to anyone needing help learning how to read.  If you're unsure if you'd like to use this curriculum, check out their next webinar on August 26th.  You can go and register for it by following THIS LINK

I received this curriculum for free in order to facilitate a review.  However, all thougths and opinions expressed in this post are my own and not influenced in anyway.  I received no other compensation for this post other than the materials. 

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