Horizons Phonics and Reading
Starting with alpha-phonetic animals like Katie Kangaroo, Ollie Octopus, and Zippy Zebra (each engagingly illustrated), this creative and colorful material from Alpha Omega is a complete phonetically-based word recognition and reading program. With all the elements one expects to find in an excellent, easy-to-use program, basic concepts are approached in several ways for emphasis. Concepts are presented one at a time while review of previous material helps student achieve mastery. Sounds - the basic building blocks of reading - are presented phonetically and are practiced in words, word lists, word families, and short sentences. There is also a strong emphasis on general language arts skills and comprehension.
The Kindergarten program starts with letter recognition and consonant and short vowel sounds, but it also includes consonant digraphs and blends, silent "e," double vowels, "r"controlled vowels, vowel diphthongs, beginning silent letters (w,k,b,g,gh,gn), "le"endings, and a few non-phonetic word families (alk, ph, old, ost, olt, ild ind). Proper nouns, sentences, and creative writing complement the spelling and vocabulary development for basic language arts instruction.
Reviewing previous concepts starts the First Grade coursework, which continues with vowel pairs, contractions, compound words, prefixes and suffixes, "x" words, "y" as a vowel, and irregular plurals. Language arts instruction includes capitalization, punctuation, writing lessons (stories, letters, personal narratives, poems, and journal entries), possessives, synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms as well as alphabetical order (to second letter).
Second Grade starts with a comprehensive review of phonics concepts and progresses to more advanced phonics (schwa sounds, triple consonant blends, inflected endings, final adjacent clusters, silent letters, and long vowel digraphs). There is more emphasis on reading fluency and comprehension at this level. Stories are 4-5 pages long, each one introduced by a maxim and a single introductory picture. Some stories take the student beyond the concrete into an imaginary make-believe world.
The focus on the Third Grade course is encouraging a love of reading through the stories and poems of its two illustrated student readers. As in previous courses, there is both review and reinforcement of previously taught phonics. New concepts are introduced - compound words, regular and irregular verbs, inflected endings, palindromes, and more. 160 daily lessons.
The Horizons courses are notable for their balance between teacher/student interaction and independent student work. The Teacher Guides include reduced copies of the consumable student workbooks. They provide easy-to-follow concept presentation and activities with clearly stated objectives. There is very little teacher preparation - just being familiar in advance with each lesson and collecting the necessary materials and supplies. These supplies are quite basic and readily available, such as a white board or chalkboard, phonics rules and word flashcards (made as needed), and a dictionary. The workbooks are bright and colorful. The student readers use a distinctive print font that is easy on the eyes and utilizes the forms of letters being taught (i.e. a manuscript "g" rather than the more typical printed "g"). Program is from a Christian publisher, so stories have noticeable moral content, but little religious content. There is either a review (kindergarten) or test (1st and 2nd grade) every ten lessons. Each course contains 160 lessons. The complete sets for each grade level include the student workbooks, readers, and teacher guides, but these items are also available for separate purchase. The K complete set also includes an alphabet floor puzzle and a small (8.5" x 11") wipe-off lined writing "tablet" (board). ~ Janice