Begin this program at Level 1 if your child already knows her letter sounds. Otherwise, begin this program at the K level. Workbook K teaches one new consonant sound per lesson, with cumulative review of all previously-taught consonants. Lessons are very thorough and also include a short printing practice (traditional lower case) for each letter. You will need the Teacher's Guide in order to use this workbook effectively since this part of the program is teacher-intensive. Once a child has mastered all of their letter sounds, they are essentially able to read very simple words. The Consonant Workbook would be excellent to use for reinforcement of the skills being learned in each lesson, beginning after lesson 2. It contains two pages per letter of practice and could be used for independent work following the consonant lessons. Also available is the More Consonant Workbook which provides additional practice.Since there is much coloring and use of color words in the Primary Phonics Workbooks, you may will also want to have your child go through the Color Workbook prior to beginning the Level 1 Primary Phonics books. This entire workbook (32 pages) is dedicated to teaching eight color words: red, yellow, blue, orange, green, purple, brown and black as sight words. This could be done in conjunction with the Consonants lessons or even earlier.
In 2008 the publisher added explicit teacher instruction through teacher's guides for Levels 1-3 and 4-6, making this program more useful for the homeschooler. Here are all of the lesson plans, pacing information, material correlations, and pre-testing. Each lesson gives you a list of materials to use: workbook, comprehension workbook (Thinking About Mac and Tab), and storybook pages. A Warm-Up has teacher-led student review of learned concepts. Phonemic Awareness instructions help students practice sounds in an audio drill-like format. The Phonics portion of the lesson introduces the new concept (introducing a new phonogram like short a or ay, for example). This is followed by a Vocabulary section including Word Knowledge (making sure students understand words on workbook pages or in lesson) and sometimes a Sight Word section to introduce new sight words in the lesson. There are also directions for completing assigned student pages in the workbook(s). Other components of the lesson may include: Comprehension (oral questions about the student work), Writing (using concepts in written form and Reading in Context (if students will be reading from a storybook reader). There is also an occasional Differentiating Instruction section that has specific suggestions based on student learning styles (auditory, visual, kinesthetic, etc.). One of the nice features of this program is the consistent review of previously introduced material, insuring that the student will achieve mastery of each phonetic concept. The corresponding storybooks reinforce the phonetic elements taught in the workbooks, but can also be used independently or to support any other phonics program. Comprehension is an integral part of the program also and is introduced at the earliest possible point in the program. The comprehensive Thinking About Mac and Tab Teacher's Guide contains discussion questions corresponding to each story as well as an answer key to the corresponding Thinking About Mac and Tab workbooks (there is one workbook for each set of storybooks). After your student has read a story(book), you ask the discussion questions, then initiate a follow-up activity (optional). The student is then to work the brief comprehension exercise in his/her Thinking About Mac and Tab workbook independently.
Phonics skills taught per level are:
Workbook 1: Short vowels plus six common sight words and basic color words
Workbook 2: Long vowels a, i, o, u and vowel digraphs ie, oe, ee, oa, ai, ea, ee
Workbook 3: Plurals, initial and final blends, compound words, two-syllable words and the sight word are.
Workbook 4: Consonant digraphs and r-controlled vowels.
Workbook 5: Additional vowel combinations, qu, three sounds of y, special sounds (esp. the letter a), and open syllables.
Workbook 6: More plural forms, compound words, two-syllable words. New consonant sounds and diphthongs including soft c, soft g, gu, dge, ph, ie, oi, oy, ight, ow, and au.
Although Workbook 3 covers initial and final blends, an additional Workbook is available (see More PP Workbook Level 3). This workbook presents initial blends in a comprehensive, systematic way. Every two-page spread introduces a new initial blend and provides cumulative practice of previously-introduced blends. This gives much more concentrated practice of this skill than the Workbook 3 which introduces 2-4 blends per page. You may even want to have your child work through this More Workbook prior to using Workbook 3.
Speaking of extra practice, the More Primary Phonics Workbooks 1and 2, along with their accompanying Storybook Sets provide just that. They can be used for additional practice of all skills introduced at the corresponding level of Primary Phonics (similar to the Explode the Code ½'s) if you feel your student needs more reinforcement.
Two final supplemental products round out this program. Audio CDs are available for Storybook Sets 1-6 read by Sarah Lawson. This may be helpful (and fun) for students to listen to in addition to decoding the books themselves, or for extra support or reassurance of their decoding skills. The Primary Phonics Picture Dictionary includes a picture for each of the 2500 frequently used words contained within. This includes most of the words used in the series plus other common words. This would be a nice resource for beginning writers or children learning English as a second language.
Primary Phonics is a solid, comprehensive beginning phonics program, made even more so with the inclusion of the new Teacher's Guides. It's comparatively low cost makes it an even more attractive choice.