Steck Vaughn Phonics
Now that the educational establishment has bestowed their blessing on phonics (National Reading Panel guidelines) as well as their distinctive terminology (onsets/rimes), there are some well-done programs emerging from secular publishers. This program is one. Colorful, with a predominant use of photographs, there is a multicultural look to the worktext. A conscientious effort to build language skills in an integrated context links phonics practice to spelling, reading, and writing. With a stated intent of drawing parents and families into the reinforcement of school-time instruction, there is an abundance of activities that open up interesting possibilities for use in a homeschool setting. The scope and sequence is a little less accelerated than some of its counterparts from Christian publishers, but it would be possible to move sequentially through the program at a quicker pace, perhaps even starting a year earlier with the K book, which is focused on readiness skills.
The student book is a consumable worktext with perforated pages in case you prefer to present one page at a time. Each unit is introduced with a poem by an acclaimed children's author and a "Think About It" question. This page also includes a letter home (written in both English and Spanish) with an overview of the unit and a book suggestion (library link). Daily worksheets introduce concepts clearly and provide practice. Sprinkled throughout these pages are rhymes and tongue twisters that emphasize whatever sound is being covered. Each page includes an "At Home" reinforcement activity. Completing each unit are several pages that connect the phonics instruction with spelling, reading and writing, and then a review lesson and a unit check-up. A take-home reading story (cut and fold booklet) is included at the lower levels (K-2) along with other manipulatives - key photo cards (K) and letter cards (A).
Although the student books could be used by themselves as a fairly comprehensive presentation of phonics skills and practice, the teacher books round out this program to a thoroughly integrated language arts course and provide lots of additional reinforcement activities giving particular attention to different learning styles. The wraparound teacher text (with reduced student pages), includes objectives, phonemic and introductory activities, and step-by-step presentation information on one side of the lay-flat book. On the other side are activities to integrate the phonics instruction with other curriculum subjects (2-3 each day including music, writing, math, science, spelling, art, social studies, science, and even physical education) along with specific suggestions for working with ESL students and various learning styles (auditory, visual, kinesthetic). The intro information for each unit includes thematic activity suggestions, reinforcement activities, activity and assessment masters (reproducible for one class) and reading "links" (suggestions). There is a lot of valuable material here in a very user-friendly manner.
As mentioned earlier, the K program is primarily phonemic awareness and readiness. The A (Grade 1) level introduces and focuses on consonant and short vowel sounds (concurrently so the student starts reading immediately) before moving on to some introductory consonant blends and digraphs. Long vowels are also introduced. Interestingly, a few common double vowels are covered at the same time as silent e words. In terms of word structure study, only inflectional endings and contractions are covered at this level. Level B (Grade 2) reviews these concepts and continues with more complex phonics - blends, digraphs, variant and silent consonants, vowel digraphs, r-controlled vowels, and diphthongs as well as more complex word structure concepts - plurals, possessives, compound words, syllabication, and suffixes/prefixes. Levels C and D continue with phonics review (schwa is introduced in Level C) and word structure with an increasing emphasis on reading fluency and comprehension. Root words and synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms are also covered. ~ Janice