Sing, Spell, Read & Write
Considering the approach, ease of use, content, child-appeal, benefits, effectiveness and cost of all the phonics programs we were familiar with, Sing, Spell, Read & Write was our choice for personal use. We have used several programs and read about many others. Although we didn't use this program in total with our children (because we extended the spelling, used italic handwriting instead of ball and stick, etc.) we did find it the most used and useful of those we tried. AND the results were wonderful! If you're looking for something to really lay it all out for you, something that works, is easy to use, and will have your child singing the letter sounds in days, followed closely by actually reading... this is what we recommend! Here are some of our reasons:
- The "raceway" theme is very appealing and motivating to children, who love tracking their success via race car around a track as they complete the 36 steps to independent reading.
- The songs are contagious - children will sing and sing and learn their letter sounds, long and short vowel sounds, blending vowels and consonants, and digraphs almost effortlessly - and enjoy it! That is, if you can bear to listen to it sung over and over, multiplied by x times the number of children using it throughout the years.
- The 17 phonetic, full-color storybooks cover all 36 steps, providing immediate, rewarding reinforcement for the decoding skill just learned. This makes good sense.
- The games are not just fluff, but real fortification of phonetic skills. They are more fun, however, if you can play with more than one child.
- The step-by-step instructor's manual provides easy-to-follow directions for all lessons. It will aid you in understanding/teaching the phonics program - and give you the confidence to do it!
- Included is a complete, phonetic spelling program dove-tailing with the phonetic constructs being learned and a complete handwriting program (if you use ball and stick manuscript).
- Two workbooks include grammar and creative writing as well as letter recognition, sequencing, phonemic awareness, phonics practice, manuscript writing, reading, comprehension and spelling.
- phonics songs are now all featured on CD
- The two workbooks and the assessment book included in the set are the only consumables in the program. These are also available separately if you are teaching additional students.
To be honest, we have just a few quibbles:
- Some of the audios are not as clear or distinct as a perfectionist might demand. Some may go a little too "fast" for your taste - notably the Ferris wheel song used to practice blending sounds smoothly. For us, this was a plus, since we kept at it until we could keep up with the song, resulting in perfect blending!
- The prizes have been eliminated from the program (although the empty Treasure Chest is still included). However, as we always thought these were cheesy, we have traditionally included a bag of 36 prizes from our own Incentive Box (a $20 value!) free with Level 1 Kits or Kindergarten/Level 1 Combo Kits. This free incentive bag will continue to be included although they have dropped their prizes.
The kit has been revised since we last used it and now includes an instructor's manual instead of videos, audios on CD and cassette, and newly-designed workbook covers, with some color printing inside (selected pages of the Raceway Book are full-color). However, the content appears to be very similar to the 1st edition; even the design of the Raceway chart and many of the readers have not changed.