Using a true phonics method, the two books of Foundational Phonics are all you need to teach your child how to read. This program follows the same framework as that of the Orton-Gillingham method, and uses multi-sensory reinforcement to guide any child to read. Following a logical, natural system of reading, these books present lessons in a simplified format. Letter Mastery is 26 chapters that cover each letter’s primary sound, how to sound out real words, practice handwriting, and exercises that help students learn to read a few sight words. Word Mastery (16 chapters) is the 2nd book and picks up where Letter Mastery stops. Word Mastery builds on letters and sounds and works on application within words, sentences, and reading, all while incorporating long vowels, syllables, blends, and digraphs. These books have an old world feel with a very straightforward approach to teaching children to read. This program isn’t limited to grade levels, but teaches children in a systematic way that goes from basic sounds to stories. Along with phonics, children are introduced to the alphabet using American Sign Language and letter recognition with a variety of fonts. Both books are consumable and not reproducible.
Both books in this program are spiral-bound. Letter Mastery begins with a note from the author explaining the program and why it is successful. The table of contents shows you the sequence in which letters, sounds, and sight words are taught. A couple of pages are then written to the teacher explaining ear training, tongue training, and eye training, which will be used throughout the lessons. The author then explains the lessons, flash cards (included at the back of each book), and how to build words, which begins in lesson 3. A refresher on diacritical marks for the parent and proper handwriting instructions round out the preparation before beginning the first lesson. There is one letter taught per chapter, but letters aren’t taught in order; they are taught in an order that promotes quicker success. An example of this is that the first 3 chapters teach the letters ‘M’, ‘A’, ‘N’. This allows children to be able to build words right away.
Foundational Phonics is to be completed at the child’s pace. You can complete one book per year doing 30 minutes twice a week, or 15 minutes 4 times a week. Let the child set the pacing and review and repeat if necessary.
The first lesson in Letter Mastery is a good example of what a typical lesson might look like. Introduce the letter ‘M’. “Look around you. How many things can you find or think of that begin with the m sound? Practice this letter and add it to your flash cards. Say the letter sound: m.” ‘Mouth Gymnastics’ are included in each lesson. This is a phrase to repeat and say that uses the letter of the lesson: “Miss Margo Muffet makes marvelous mango muffins.” You will then see the American Sign Language symbol for the letter – in this case, the letter ‘m.’ All of this is found on the first page. The second page is a picture study (blackline drawing) and students are to find things that begin with the letter. The third exercise is saying the names of pictures and directing students to circle the ones that begin with the featured sound. The fourth exercise is a page of letters in a variety of fonts, and the child is to circle all the letters for that lesson (find the letter m in lesson 1). A drawing activity is the fifth exercise. Children are then given a page of uppercase and lowercase writing practice with guided marks to help them out. The handwriting practice is done using a variety of handwriting styles, and students will see a different style or font modeled at the top of each page. The rest of the chapter includes more one-page exercises that include circling words, matching, and drawing pictures. Any additional teacher instruction is offered at the bottom of the page and a list of optional children’s stories to reinforce the letter sound are found on the last page of the chapter, along with a list of additional optional activities. 364 pgs.
The second book in the program is Word Mastery. Each chapter is divided into a varied number of lessons, and the table of contents shows the order in which you will progress through the sounds and words. Chapter 1 in Word Mastery is short vowel sounds, which is a review from Letter Mastery. Doing one lesson per day (not chapter) students will complete oral, written and reading exercises. Exercises include copywork, short reading passages, singing, and more. A Review or Mastery Milestone Challenge is found at the end of each chapter to make sure students remember what they have done to that point. This second book can also be used as a spelling program. Word groups that are covered in the book can be used as spelling lists and might make more sense to the child since they are being used within a context. If a child can recall the 26 letters of the alphabet and their basic sounds easily and read CVC words, he/she should be able to jump into Word Mastery without any problem. 271 pages.
While written for the K-3 crowd, this multisensory approach and simple format would be a good fit for struggling readers. Easy for both parent and student, there is no prep work required and no separate items to purchase. Just pick up the book and take your child from letters to stories in the time it takes to complete these two books. ~ Donna