Christian Light Learning to Read Program - Grade 1 (Sunrise 2nd Ed.)
How often have we been told not to judge a book by its cover? With its rather plain packaging, this phonics/beginning to read program from Christian Light might not fare very well. But, it would be a big mistake to dismiss Learning to Read just because it doesn't have cute graphics or a catchy title. Designed to be preparation and an entry point for their well-constructed reading program, LTR is phonics, and phonics well-done! The general “feel” of the program is wholesome, God-honoring, and rural.
Starting with frequently used consonants and short /a/, reading is begun early (the primers are added with the second light unit) and the decoded vocabulary grows through the introduction of all consonants, short vowels, long vowels, /wh/, /ch/, dipthongs (called vowel sets) – ee, ai, ay, ea, ie, oa, oe, ue, ui – beginning and ending blends, and finally trigraphs, compound words, suffixes, and special vowel sounds. Consonant sounds, short and long vowel sounds, and some digraphs are introduced using a rhyme as a mnemonic device. Light Units include frequent review lessons as well as a review at the end of each unit. Lessons are designed to teach to all the learning styles and include listening to stories, oral discussion, activity sheets, hand motions that accompany the teaching sequences, penmanship practice, several skill-building segments (e.g. working with sounds, blending fun, reading skills), dot maps (copying dot designs), and spelling. Classroom reinforcement is emphasized and includes use of flashcards, games, and the unique Sound Slider.
The four paperback Primers have black and white illustrations and are 50-70 pages each. They progress from single words to multi-page stories. [May I take a moment to rave about the illustrations? They are excellent! Drawings, but well-proportioned and very detailed with meticulous shading.] The stories contain new sounds and sight words. Small icon-like pictures substitute for words students have not yet learned. [What a good idea! Stories are much more interesting without the risk of encouraging sight reading utilizing this pictorial vocabulary.] Some stories contain challenge words – untaught but can be sounded out – which are bolded and listed in footnotes.
Light Units – consumable work texts that provide phonics reinforcement, reading comprehension, and handwriting activities. One unusual activity is the Dot Maps, which become progressively more complex and develop hand-eye coordination. About 50 pgs each, pb.
Practice Sheets – blackline masters (removable answer key in middle) that provide additional practice and activities. 52 pgs, pb.
Teacher’s Guidebooks are comprehensive and include a complete overview of the program, a detailed scope and sequence, daily schedule and lesson plans, reading assessment rubric, alternate tests, games suggestions, answers to all student pages/tests, spelling word lists, and grading/record-keeping info. Daily lessons are scripted and include reduced copies of light unit pages. A nice feature; examples are given to help evaluate student work. [One of the disadvantages of homeschooling is the lack of comparison with other students and a good working idea of what is acceptable. Sometimes we’re way too hard on our kids.]
Teacher support materials include: Letter Flash Cards (4”x 5”) – full color illustrations for each consonant, vowel, and the four main digraphs (ch, sh, th, wh) on one side and rhymes on back. Picture Wall Cards (8½”x 11”) (see our website) – same as Picture Flash Cards, but larger and without the rhymes. Word Flash Cards (8”x 2¾”) – both sight words and sound-out words. Phrase Flash Cards (11½”x 4”) – help students recognize thought segments in groups of words. Sound Slider, an ingenious device for practicing beginning and ending blends – a double-sided laminated strip (4”x 20”) listing all consonants and four main digraphs; five double-sided, laminated “sleeves,” each with a viewing window and a vowel positioned on one side for beginning blends and on the other for ending blends. Student or teacher slides a sleeve up and down the strip to practice – then turns the strip over and goes through the other side.
It’s hard to imagine a more let’s-get-down-to-business-and-learn-to-read program. Although designed for a classroom, the easy-to-use materials will lend themselves well to home use and the total cost is reasonable. Necessary components would include the Primers, the Light Units, and the Teacher’s Guides. Nice to have but optional would include the flashcards and sound slider. he practice sheets may be optional depending on the student. Expect to spend about two weeks on each Light Unit which leaves just the right amount of time (about 10-12 weeks) to finish up the year with the I Wonder reader from the Christian Light Reading Program (see description in Reading). ~ Janice