Phonics for Beginners {Homeschool Review Crew}

Phonics for Beginners

Homeschool Review Crew

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}
Our most recent review with the Homeschool Review Crew came from Spencer Learning.  We received the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program for download and review.  It’s a great phonics for beginners program as well as for anyone struggling with phonics or reading.

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}
We were given access to this phonics for beginners program via email.  It’s a download and can be used on all computers in the home.  A fun thing about this program is that anyone can use it within your household.  It’s not limited to one child or one computer which makes using it easier.  There are certain tech requirements for using the program.  If you have Windows you will need Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP.  Mac users need OSX 10.5.8 or higher.

I have several beginning type schoolers still so this program sounded like a great fit for us.  Specifically, I have a five and a six year old who were eager to begin using this phonics for beginners curriculum.  My five year old has already done some phonics work and is doing simple word reading.  She loves school and excels at it.  Really she was forcing us to let her do school as a four year old, I just tried to keep it very simple and basic.  She’s taught herself how to read at the level she is at already!  Our six year old is somewhat developmentally delayed and hasn’t done any “formal” schooling yet.  She has had some access to some fun review products this year from the Homeschool Review Crew but is still at a level I would call beginner.

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}

So, how do you use this thing?  

It’s really very simple to use.  The first step is downloading the product from the email you’re sent.  This went very easily which was great because I’m not that computer savvy.  Simply follow the prompts and tada it’s done!!   Next you’re going to want to use the curriculum.  This company, Spencer Learning, has been very helpful and sends lots of fun and interesting emails to help make sure we’re getting the most out of the product.  

Phonics for Beginners {Homeschool Review Crew}

If your child is not a beginning reader but rather a weak or struggling reader, you can use this product too.  It’s also designed to strengthen a child’s reading ability as well as spelling.  Phonics for beginners can also be called phonics for the struggling reader or phonics for students struggling with English as a second language.  Lots of children can benefit from this curriculum so make sure you check out all the ways it can be used.  

It’s also recommended by for children with autism and dyslexia.  I have to confess that we’re not a huge fan of online or computer curriculum because of the fact that we only have two computers and there are 12 of us here in the house.  That’s a lot of people sharing the same equipment.  But this program is one that I make the time for my two girls to use.  Sometimes they use it together with one being the primary user and the other watching.  My three year old even likes to watch and learn with her siblings.

It only takes a few minutes a day to use the program.  Phonics for beginners is simple to use and doesn’t require a lot of parental help which is great. This means that my girls can use it while I’m working on school with the older kids.  It helps to keep them occupied.  Though it’s a good thing it doesn’t take much time, the girls wish their lessons lasted longer!!!

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}
Interested in what others thought of this fun phonics for beginners program?  Check out the linkup on the Main Homeschool Review Crew blog.  You can also find Spencer Learning on facebook and twitter.  


Homeschool Crew Review Disclaimer

Early Grammar with Jolly Phonics {TOS Crew Review}

Early Grammar

A TOS Crew Review of Jolly Phonics

Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Review
Grammar is something I’ve been focusing on in our homeschool lately.  Early grammar to be precise.  My five year old is dying to learn to read and already knew how to sound out all her letters before we started Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar from is a part of just2ducks LLC.  


Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Review

 What We Received

We received physical product for this review.  What we received in our box:

  • The Jolly Phonics teacher’s book in print letters
  • Jolly Phonics student books 1, 2, 3 
  • The Jolly Grammar 1 Teacher’s book in print letters
  • One Jolly Grammar 1 Student Book
  • Jolly Songs in print letters

In correlation with this review we are also using Can Do Cubes which I’ll share more about tomorrow.  They work wonderfully with the Jolly Grammar and Jolly Phonics to help the student learn.


Early Grammar {TOS Crew Review}

About the Program

Jolly Phonics is a beginning phonics program for your child.  It can also be used for someone learning English as a second language.  It shows that it’s for elementary, but the child really should have little to no prior phonics experience for it not to be boring.  For instance, my five year old has done other phonics books and already knows all her letter names and sounds.  Starting her off in book 1 would have just made her really bored and possibly turned her off on learning.

Jolly Grammar is for after Jolly Phonics has been completed.  They calculate Jolly Phonics taking about a year to complete.  Jolly Grammar helps to develop good early grammar habits.  It focuses on spelling rules, beginning grammar rules, and punctuation.  This is done through fun activities like unscrambling words.  There are also spelling tests and more fun to be had.


Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Review

The other aspect of the products we received is the Jolly Songs.  This is a CD and book that allow children to sing about what they’re learning.  I have long held the belief that singing and doing things in rhyme or to a rhythm will help children and even adults remember things better and longer.  I still remember the times tables that I was taught to a rhythm as well as the Books of the Bible!

How We Used It

I started the review out by putting my 6 year old in Jolly Phonics book 1.  She has no prior early grammar or phonics knowledge really as she is a bit developmentally behind for her age.  Because of her being behind I haven’t pushed her to learn before she’s ready.  We decided to give school a try with her this year.  


Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Review

The work is not long which is great for the short attention span she has.  Just one page a day and you can see she’s making progress.  She loves it because it’s school!  Plus, she loves that she can show daddy that she did something at the end of the day.  Whereas when we were just working on learning our letters and numbers I mostly used a wipe off board with her so there was nothing completed at the end of the day for her to show off.

Something that really encouraged her and made her so excited was that in the first few weeks of doing one page a day five days a week she was able to sound out a few small words.  This was huge.  In a child’s mind once they sound out their first two or three letter word, they’re reading.  It’s immensely gratifying to them to be able to do that.

We used the Jolly Grammar curriculum as well.  One of the great things with having a large family is that I have a child at almost every stage of learning.  My just turned 8 year old son used Jolly Grammar.  He has finished his normal phonics program and is reading on a solid beginner level so I thought it would be a great fit.  

He loved the ease of the program though he really didn’t care much for the spelling tests.  This was his first encounter with them.  I have seen an improvement in both his reading and his writing which I attribute to Jolly Grammar and the early grammar learning he’s getting.


Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Review

Read More

Ready to hear what other members of the Crew thought?  Check out the Main Blog Page where all the reviews are linked up.  You can also find Jolly Grammar and Jolly Phonics on facebook, twitter, and pinterest


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Letter Sounds and Shapes {TOS Crew Review}

I have a three-year old and a just turned six-year-old who are learning their letter sounds and shapes.  The six-year-old is behind developmentally and is close to the three-year old level so I decided to start them both doing preschool together this year.  We were pleasantly surprised to learn that Talking Fingers Inc. was a vendor on the TOS Crew list this year.  The product we are reviewing from them is a one year online subscription to Talking Shapes: A Supplemental Curriculum for Early Literacy


Talking Shapes {Talking Fingers Inc. Review}
Obviously, most wouldn’t consider a six-year-old on the early literacy scale, but my three-year old fits in.  Actually, Talking Shapes is written and recommended for preschool and kindergarten students.  So even though my six-year-old is considered behind for her age she does fit into the recommended age range for this product.  I also have a five-year old who fits into the age range, but she’s already done a year of kindergarten and knows all her letter sounds and shapes.  She in fact is reading small words and phrases on her own now. 

While your child is learning letter sounds and shapes they are also having fun with Talking Shapes.  They’re learning to read but in a way that is fun and engaging.  The program is all online.  With one computer my two girls didn’t get to use this as much as we would have liked.  Instead of doing it individually we did it together.  I would sit in the computer chair with a girl on each knee and we’d go through some of the program.


Letter Sounds and Shapes


There are a total of seven stories to work through.  Once done with the program all 40 phonograms have been learned and the beginning stages of reading met.  The stories are engaging for the age level they’re directed at and tell the story of how the alphabet was invented by two sisters a long long time ago.  

What makes this program unique is that the letters aren’t just written letters on a page.  Instead, my children see the letters as pictures.  The letters are inside of or embedded into the pictures which helps cement in their brains the letter sounds and shapes in correlation with where they are. 


Talking Shapes {Talking Fingers Inc. Review}

This would be a great program to use with a touch screen computer or tablet.  Our computer is very old and is the only one we have in our house.  Because of this I did have to do the entire program with my girls as neither of them can work the computer mouse correctly yet.  While I didn’t mind this, it did limit when they could be working on their program and for what length of time.

I have seen great improvements in both girls with letter sounds and shapes recognition.  We were on a bit of a drive or road trip(we call them field trips) yesterday and my three-year old was able to tell me some of the highway names when they were letters.  It’s great to be able to see that our children are learning.

This is a four step program.  First we listen.  Then we draw.  Next we play games.  Finally we read.  By doing all the steps the learning of the letter sounds and shapes is cemented.  Each of the seven stories introduces at least six new phonemes.  While learning children sound out and spell three-letter words while they are playing games.  Not only is learning taking place but having fun as well.  Learning should always be fun. 


Talking Shapes {Talking Fingers Inc. Review}

We approve of Talking Shapes and learning letter sounds and shapes with their program.  My girls thought it was fun and were always begging to read the story on the computer.  They’re going to continue to have great fun and learn for the rest of our subscription.  Here’s hoping for more computers soon or a touch screen so they can do it all on their own!!

If you’d like to hear what other Crew members thought of the program hop on over to the Main TOS Crew blog and see all the reviews.  You can also find Talking Fingers Inc. on facebook, youtube, and twitter to learn more about their company and products.  


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Fun Time Phonics {TOS Crew Review}

As part of the TOS Crew we were recently allowed to choose from some The Critical Thinking Co. products to review.  Our family chose and received Fun Time Phonics.  

Fun Time Phonics is for grades PreK-2nd.  On the cover of the book it says age 4 through grade 2.  This means that all but two of my nine children could use this book in some way which made it the perfect choice for us.  I especially was excited for this review because this company allows you to copy their pages in the book for classroom use.  This means that one book can be used to teach all of my children!


The Fun Time Phonics book we received is a physical book.  The physical book costs $39.99.  You can also purchase this book as a download which is $19.99 for use on 2 PC’s.  There is also a 6 PC option which is the same price as the physical book.  It has 320 pages total.  There are 100 activities throughout the book that are fun and engaging to children.  They’re colorful and have fun pictures.  My youngest daughter is two and we don’t really do school with her yet.  She loves to sit in the school room and color pictures though so I try to print off a letter a day for her to color and play with.  She loves to look through this book.  It’s come to the point that her letter has to be one of the letters that her sisters are working on in the Fun Time Phonics book or she doesn’t want to sit and color it!

I do want to say that I am a huge fan of having this in the physical book.  I love to be able to just flip the book open and find what I need.  I’m not very good with downloadable things and have a hard time finding what I need so I tend to print them off anyway!

In Fun Time Phonics they learn about vowel patterns and vocabulary building.  What this means is that they teach your child that the letter combination “ba” says baaa as in bat or bad and then they can read three letter words containing “ba” by simply adding a sound to the end.  It makes them think they’re making huge strides and reading and really they are!  They know what a letter combination says so they can read it!  Instant success and instantly makes them feel smart and special.


Fun Time Phonics


It does of course start with teaching all the vowels and their vowel sounds.  This part was a quick study for us as my just turned 5 year old has already gone through those in a different book and could fly through here.  My other 5 year old has not mastered these yet and so we are just redoing them over and over.  Which is another reason that I love that I can copy these pages!  She’s done each one several times.  It takes a lot longer for things to click with her.  

Also at the beginning of the book are beginning sounds that would start words.  Activity 1 covers six beginning sounds.  Activity 2 then covers ending sounds.  Activity 3 covers beginning and ending sounds.  From there it just keeps on moving!  You can redo lessons if needed or break each activity up into multiple lessons if needed.  I’ve done that with some of my kids.  I did have to find some additional worksheets for one of my 5 year old daughters as she just wasn’t getting some concepts.  Once she would get the concept then we would move on.  I don’t like to move on until they have mastered something.

I personally am loving this book for extra phonics practice.  The regular phonics curriculum that I have used with all of my kids uses this type of method for teaching phonics.  For me, it’s the only way to teach.  My kids love it.  It’s easy to use and easier for them to learn.  I love that it works for gifted children, special needs children, and all the children in between.  I have a full spectrum in my house and while it does take some children longer to reach that aha moment, they all do reach it and it’s wonderful to see the light in their eyes as they realize they just read a word!!

I can highly recommend this Fun Time Phonics book to you and really hope you do try it out with your kids.  Mine love it.  Even the kids who have already past this step in their phonics liked to do some of the worksheets when they were having trouble remembering what sound that combination made.  It was easy for me to find that section of the book and copy off a page for practice.  This book will stay in our house for many years to come and keep getting used!!

I also have to mention that at the very end of the book is a section of two pages filled with words that your child can read when they’re done with this book.  I like to show this to my kids at the beginning of the book and again at different intervals throughout.  They love getting to put tiny little star stickers next to the words they can read and seeing the list of remaining words that they don’t know get smaller and smaller!  Again, this is accomplished by copying the pages so they each have their own.

Make sure to check out the main TOS blog post for all the fun Critical Thinking Co. products that Crew members were offered as well as many more reviews!  You can also check them out on facebook, pinterest, twitter, and google +.


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