We’ve been working on reading for some time with Aikman, and it definitely has had its ups and downs along the way. We’ve tried numerous programs for reading – Montessori materials, Hooked on Phonics, Explode the Code, I See Sam, and Abeka phonics to name a few. All of these have had their advantages and disadvantages, but none have fully helped Aikman read without some type of supplementation. I was honored to find that All About Learning was offering their All About Reading Level 1 program for review!
All About Reading is based upon the Orton-Gillingham method, involving the senses of sight, sound, and touch, to understand and learn to read and spell. It’s interactive design naturally progresses in a logical step-by-step order, that builds upon the previous lessons. The program is also based around the 5 key components that teaches reading: phonological awareness, phonics and decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
If your child is prepping to read, then Pre-Level is the appropriate place for him, which covers the letters and their sounds, along with crafts, read-alouds, and activities to reinforce this.
If your child is beyond letter identification/sounds and is ready to start sounding out words, then the Level one is the perfect place to start!
The level 1 reading kit comes with the teacher manual, student pack, and 3 hardback decodable books. However, you will also need to purchase a reading interactive kit. The basic kit contains the magnetic letter tiles, phonogram CD-ROM, and reading divider cards; the deluxe kit contains all of the items in the basic kit, plus a canvas tote, reading review box, and star stickers.
The program is very similar to the popular All About Spelling program, which involves reviewing phonograms and words daily, in flashcard style, until they are mastered. These are neatly stored in a handy storage box. The activity book contains cut-out activities, puzzles, etc. to supplement the lesson, which primarily uses the letter tiles.
The teacher manual is very easy to use. It has everything laid out in simple step-by-step directions – from reviewing the phonogram and word cards, directions on teaching a new sound, activities (found in the activity book), reading practice, and/or fluency practice. Each lesson is specifically written so the child masters the material in a fun way, while building upon previous knowledge and working on fluency all at the same time!
Personally, one of the most freeing tips that I received was in lesson 14. I had hounded Aikman over and over again about how he was struggling with reading 3 letter words – words I felt he should already know how to read without having to stop and concentrate on them. The teacher book mentioned, “It is normal for beginning students to read choppily, one word at a time. They are working very hard at decoding each individual word, so don’t expect smooth reading at this stage.”
Wow, so it was normal for him to have trouble reading each word, without fluency! It then gives some wonderful suggestions for improving fluency, such as doing a “cold” and “hot reading”, and modeling fluency for the child, followed by letting the child repeat what you say. The tips in this teacher edition have been invaluable!
Beginning at lesson 16, AAR moves from reading CVC words to consonant digraphs. By the end of level 1, the child has been introduced to compound words, the beginnings of the additional sounds for several letters (ie g says /g/ and /j/) and counting syllables.
The activity book is invaluable, as it contains many games and activities that break up the instruction time into chunks of fun learning segments.
What did we think?
At first, we were having a hard time finding exactly where to place Aikman. So, instead of starting somewhere in the middle, we began at the beginning, and reviewed the concepts he already knew. At first, I was very stressed about him not being very fluent. However, after reading many of the tips in the teacher guide, I loosened up on this, and let him just read the words at his own pace.
Since many of the beginning lessons were review, he found them to be a little repetitive and slow. We moved quickly through the first half of the book, and are now dividing the lessons into two parts, where he completes the tiles and half the fluency work on one day, and then the activities (found in the Activity Book) and the other half of the fluency work the following day.
Aikman and I also enjoy the hand-drawn (black and white) phonics readers. The stories are engaging to a young reader, and the pictures help with context clues while decoding. In fact, I believe the stories are probably Aikman’s favorite part about this program! My only wish was that these books were soft-bound, rather than hardback books. I believe that this would be an alternative to help bring down the price of the program to make it more affordable.
Speaking of the readers, here is Aikman reading at bedtime from one of the readers.
The only negative thing that I can say about this program is that it is a bit more pricey than I like to spend on curriculum, especially one that we are moving through quickly. Likewise, since level 2 is not yet complete; I’m afraid that if we did purchase level 2, that by the time we finished with it, that level 3 would not yet be ready.
You can read what other crew members think here.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of the deluxe kit and level 1 in exchange for an honest review.