Monday, October 31, 2011

TOS Review: Memoria Press Classical Phonics & First Start Reading

I am SO EXCITED to tell you about a new program we have added to Mustang's lessons, First Start Reading and Classical Phonics, from Memoria Press.  We are LOVING this new addition to our learning and I think you might, too.

First Start Reading, by Cheryl Lowe
*Focuses on the three major areas of Phonics, Reading, and Writing 
*Aimed at Kindergarten students
*Includes set of three workbooks and a teacher's guide
*Retails for $29.95
*Download sample lessons here

First Start Reading covers consonants, short vowels, 45 common words, and manuscript printing, accompanied by artist-drawn coloring pictures and drawing pages for every letter. Your child will begin reading in the very first lesson as he progresses through three student books and twenty five phonetic stories, such as "Hogs and Pigs" and "Jog to the Jet." A Teacher Manual guides you through the program and provides helpful assessments and teaching tips.

Classical Phonics by Cheryl Lowe
*A child's guide to word mastery
*Designed for both Kindergarten and First Grade use
*Simple, easy to follow pages
*Retails for $14.95
*Must have supplement for First Start Reading!
*Find sample pages here

Classical Phonics is a deceptively simple little book our teachers and families use constantly in both Kindergarten and first grade. It consists of phonetically-arranged word lists for students to practice their growing phonics skills. In a word list there are no context clues, so the learner must rely on his mastery of letter sounds. For instance, if your child can pronounce each word in this list correctly – pot, pat, pit, put, pet – he knows his short vowel sounds, and you can move on to long vowels! If not, he needs more practice, and Classical Phonics is the most effective tool I know of to address the repetition that young ones need when learning to read. Classical Phonics can be used as a supplement to any phonics program and covers nearly all English phonograms and sounds taught through second grade.Classical Phonics is your handy tool for phonics practice and for building confident readers.

Why we love First Start Reading and Classical Phonics:

This program could not have arrived at a better time.  With the arrival of baby Explorer, life has gotten a bit more hectic around here.  It was such a gift to be able to begin a new program that needed ZERO and I mean ZERO prep time from me!  All I did was read the introduction in the teacher manual and sharpen a new pencil and we were ready to begin.

The first lesson introduces the letter A.  You can download that lesson on the Memoria Press webpage.  Each lesson afterwards builds on the previous lesson to create words and word families.  I love that from just the second lesson your child is already reading their first word!
Mustang is already a reader, so the beginning lessons are simply review to her.  However, her reading needs work lol!  What I mean by this is that she knows how to read, but is still working to learn and remember the phonics rules so that she can sound out unknown words instead of guessing at them.  Both First Start Reading and Classical Phonics aim to teach just that.  This curriculum is designed to help students master their letter sounds and blends.  There are no pictures to help her guess the words, either :).

The very best part, in my opinion, is the focus on writing.  First Start Reading is a collection of workbooks with a huge emphasis on correct letter formation.  I love that as a sound, blend, or word is learned in the reading, it is repeated in the writing.  I know that hearing, reading, and writing all help a concept to be learned on a different level.  This will hopefully help with spelling down the line as well.

Mustang loves the drawings.  Each lesson has an opportunity to draw something.  Mustang loves to draw, so this appeals to her creative side and keeps her interested in the lessons.  
I can certainly tell you that First Start Reading and Classical Phonics are going to be a permanent addition to our curriculum, and I will likely use them for my other children in the future.  I love it that much!  

I would recommend First Start Reading if you are:

1) Looking for a simple, focused, no frills curriculum
2) Looking for a minimal prep maximum payoff curriculum
3) Have a student who knows their basic letters and is ready to being reading
4) or Have a student who knows how to read and needs to focus on phonics basics to move to the next reading level
5) Have a student who is ready to learn how to write correctly
I would personally recommend starting First Start Reading if your child is not at either #3 or #4 in addition to #5. Hold off until they are to get the maximum use from First Start Reading.

Classical Phonics is a great daily review, and I appreciate its simplicity.  I have even been able to begin using it with Charger, though he is not quite ready to begin reading.  We have been going over the letter sounds and I have been helping him to blend the letters.  I am not sure it is completely necessary to the program, but I would still include it in my own purchase.  

I really can not say enough good things about First Start Reading and Classical Phonics.  Memoria Press has provided an excellent resource and I highly recommend considering it for your student.  If you would like to read more reviews, check out the TOS Crew Blog.

This is a review for The Old Schoolhouse Crew.  Thank you to Memoria Press for providing my family with a complementary copy of Classical Phonics and First Start Reading for the purpose of review.  We were not compensated in any other way and all opinions expressed are my own.

1 comment:

Very Blessed Mamma said...

Great review! We really love this program as well. My son is doing great with it.