Saturday, February 25, 2012

TOS Review: All About Reading

In the midst of all our changes, Mustang also started a new reading program, All About Reading, Level 1!

I had heard about All About Spelling here in the blog world, and was beyond excited when I was told we were going to get to try out All About Reading.  We were sent All About Reading Level 1 along with the Deluxe Reading Interactive kit to use.  If you follow me on Facebook, you know I was stalking the UPS man for our package so we could get started.

So what is All About Reading?
{Taken from the All About Learning site}

"All About Reading is a multi-sensory program.  Children learn through sight, sound, and touch.  Everything is taught in context, and your child applies new learning right away.  Your child will be engaged in thinking, processing, comparing and learning. 

Students who use the All About Reading method tend to feel a sens of excitement in learning.  And they should!  They are learning how to think, explore, and grow in their abilities.  They fell successful as they see continued progress.

There are no gaps in this program.  Your child will be taught everything he or she needs to know about reading, so no guessing is required.  Each new concept builds on the previous one, and no steps are skipped.

There are five key components of reading-and our program teaches all of them thoroughly.  Those components are:

*Phonological Awareness
*Phonics and Decoding

The All About Reading Level 1 package includes:

A teacher's manual, student packet, and three hardback readers.  Currently priced at $99.95 on sale from $107.70.

Letter tiles, magnets for the letter tiles, the Basic Phonograms CD-Rom, reading divider cards, reading review box, reading tote bag, and star stickers for the progress chart.  It is currently priced at $48.95.

How it works:

A lesson often includes introduction of a few new letter sounds using letter cards in the student packet.  Then, the student and teacher explore new words made with these letters {and previously introduced letters} using the magnetic tiles.  There is often a workbook page activity or game to help reinforce the learned sounds or words.  

Word review cards help your child continue to practice the learned skills, and help you know what they are and aren't picking up.  Other lessons include review word reading lists or reading of stories out of the readers.  Last, but not least, you read to your child for 20 minutes.  

Our thoughts on All About Reading, Level 1:

First of all, I had actually planned to use All About Reading with Charger.  I thought he was reading to begin learning to actually read, and Mustang is already reading, so I started first with him.  I found out very quickly that this would not be a match for him,yet.  He knows all his letter sounds, but is not ready to begin sounding out words.  If your child is not ready to sound out words, he is not ready to start All About Reading Level 1, you may want to check out All About Reading Pre-Reading Program. 

So, I started working with Mustang.  I thought in the first lesson or so that this was going to be something we did for this review and then saved for Charger.  But, to my surprise, it was a good fit for Mustang.  All About Reading is VERY fast paced, so it has kept her interested and challenged.   She knows how to read, but this has been a great way to reinforce sounding out words and learn new word rules.

The All About Reading program consists of 40 lessons.  This worried me at first because, if you have school  5 days a week and do a lesson each day, it will take you about 8 weeks to complete.  But, some of the lessons have taken us a couple of days to complete.  We have been working through All About Reading for exactly 1 month, with 3 to 4 school days a week, and are now on lesson 8.  So, it should take us as much as 20 weeks to complete.  I like that laid back feel!  

One thing that All About Reading does not include is any sort of writing.  There are pros and cons to this, but it is nice that your child can learn to read even if they are not interested or able to write yet.  We are using another writing program in addition to All About Reading and they seem to complement each other nicely.  

All About Reading is written for a one on one situation.  Some of the other curriculum I have read and used include references to a group of students.  I enjoyed not having to adjust any of my actions or words.  It is also neutral program as far as religion goes.  It does not talk about or use any reference to a religion or belief system in anyway that I noticed.

I want to break down this review by item, because my thoughts vary on each item.

All About Reading Level 1 packet:

Teacher's Manual:  5 stars.  This manual is so easy to use.  It has everything you need, and you can just repeat word for word what it says, if you want to.  I love the simplicity of preparation!

Student packet:  4 stars.  I like the letter cards and word cards, and I like the overall student workbook.  I really like all the different activities in the workbook.  I find myself often making things to go along with a program, but I really didn't have to do that with All About Reading.  The activities are perfect! 

Mustang is reading words and feeding them to the monster if she gets them right :).

 But, what I don't like are the reading lists.  They are too long IMO.  I wish they were on multiple pages.  

Mustang takes one look at the page and gets overwhelmed.  She can easily read most of the words, but refuses to read more then about 1/3 of them in one session.  This photo shows Mustang with one of the reading lists.

Hardback readers: 10 stars.  Seriously.  This on a 5 star system, too.  I LOVED the readers.  They use very basic words, but the stories are still cute.  The pictures are beautiful!!  And, I love the small size of the readers-they don't feel like textbooks!  They will be on our shelves for years to come and are a great asset of the All About Reading program.  AND...they are used in the All About Spelling program so you get more bang for your buck.  Mustang said that the readers were her favorite part too.  She loved the silly stories.  

Letter Tiles:  5 stars!  I really think that the tiles made All About Reading come alive.  They change the pace-not just books and workbooks-and they add a hands-on element.  These are part of each interactive package. If purchased separately, you will also need to buy the magnets for the back. **Since we are a Montessori family, I should point out that the letter tile colors are opposite the Montessori colors.  Letters are blue and vowels are red.  Not a big deal, but something to note.**

The Basic Phonograms CD-Rom:   3 stars.  It was well made and easy to use, but I'm really not sure it's necessary.  Also part of either interactive kit.

Reading Review Box:  4 stars.  This is a simple box to hold all your letter and word cards in.  You could use another box or bin or whatever you wanted.  However, I am getting to the point in life that I hate having to go out and find the 'perfect thing' with 4 kids in tow.  I like having someone else do the thinking for me.  I would buy the box.  Plus, if you intend to use the rest of the All About Reading and All About Spelling products, you don't need to go buy another box.  Also, that's why its sold separately then the basic interactive kit.  You wont need more then one of these.  Part of the Deluxe Interactive Kit.

Divider cards:  4 stars.  These come with either interactive kit.  Again, you *can* make your own, but for $3.95 it would be hard.  They are a nice glossy material.  

Tote Bag:  4 stars.  BEAUTIFUL bag.  Well made, very attractive.  But, obviously, it isn't a necessity to the program, and I would feel like a walking billboard if I used it in public.  Part of the Deluxe Interactive kit.

Star Stickers:  5 stars.  They are cute, and inexpensive.  My only real misunderstanding is why they aren't included in the student packet.  You will need to buy them so that your student can complete their learning chart.  They are included in the Deluxe Interactive kit.

My overall opinion of All About Reading, Level 1 is 4 1/2 out of 5.  I love the simplicity of the program as far as preparation and time, but the fact is it's a very in depth program.  It's hard to find a reading curriculum that is both! 

If you want to see for yourself, check out the sample lessons, lesson plans, and stories from the readers on the All About Learning site:  Well worth a peak.  The first four lessons from the student packet and teacher's manual are available.  So, you can get an idea if your child is ready to start All About Reading Level 1.  

If you think that All About Reading is a good fit for your family, you have nothing to loose if you go ahead and try it.  All About Reading offers a 'Go Ahead and Use It' one year guarantee!!  Check out the All About Learning site for more information.  

For more reviews of All About Reading, Level 1, check out the TOS Crew Blog.

This is a review for The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.  Thank you to All About Learning for providing my family with a complementary copy of the All About Learning Level 1 program and a Deluxe interactive kit for the purpose of review.  I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.  


Stefanie said...

Wonderful review! It really gives me a feel for the program. We are using pre-1 right now, at a very slow pace. We've been doing a letter/week and at that rate it could take us a year and 1/2 (you go through capital and lower case.) Now I know it's the perfect pace because she definitely isn't ready to move on to level one any sooner.

My little one LOVES taking the bag out in public. lol

The girl who painted trees said...

This is a very, very thorough review. Makes me want to go back and rewrite mine! lol. I also thought I could use it with my youngest who like your Charger knows letter sounds but is not ready to put them together as words. Bear though is reading much much beyond AAR 1 so I have to wait to use it. It's interesting that you didn't like the lists that much b/c I like the idea of them. Mind you, we never got to use the lists, but what you said about your daughter made me think that my daughter at an earlier stage of her reading would have balked at those lists too.

Annie Moffatt said...

great review!!

Anonymous said...

I am using AAR 1 this year. We did pre reading last year. Do you think you can make or use other letter tiles than the one that come with the program?

Lisa @ Our Country Road said...

Hi Tammy! I hope you stop back by to read this, but I certainly think you can make your own tiles. I do not use the tiles, personally, as we prefer to use our Montessori moveable alphabet for all language exercises. The tiles are a good deal, however, as a homemade set wouldn't likely be as strong and sturdy. Hope that helps!!