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A couple of months ago I had purchased Pre K Hooked on Phonics kit. It’s designed for 3 years on up, but I decided to buy it anyways, out of curiosity. I was impressed with the DVD that came with it, and Jenna watched it about a dozen times before we moved on to “Leap Frog’s Letter Factory”. We also have been reading two of the books, The Cereal Box and The Party. For some reason, Jenna doesn’t want to read any of the other four books that came with the set.
At 23 months, Jenna is still too young to follow the Pre K Hooked on Phonics instructions. She just stomped on the flashcards when I gave it a try today! But that doesn’t mean that she can’t benefit from any of the materials, especially if I modify how I use them.
Today for example, after the ABC cards were thoruoughly trod upon, I threw in an on-the-fly phonemic awareness activity. While Jenna was sitting still for all of three minutes, I whipped through as many of the cards as I could.
Showing the web: “W-W-W-W- Web!” Flip card over showing the letter “W”
Showing the escalator going up: “U-U-U-U Up!” Flip card over showing the letter “U”
We are not doing this activity every day. Rather, I have the boxes sitting in the living room, and when Jenna sees them and wants to get them out, we do and it’s really fun. We read the two books, we play with the flashcards, and she gets a star sticker. Eventually, we will be able to do some of the actual Hooked on Phonics games, but we aren’t quite there yet.
I’ve started playing letter identification games with Jenna. Right now we are using the Hooked on Phonics cards, but any cards would do.
Way back when, I was trained in A-B-A therapy for working with two little boys with Autism. Some of those methods have stuck with me. In general, when working with flashcards I like to give the child three chances to get the right answer. By the third try, I “help” the child touch the correct card. I always use a lot of positive reinforcement when doing flashcard work, and I keep the sessions extremely short.
With Jenna, we are working on upper and lower case letter matching. We only play with the cards for about five minutes, and she earns a sticker at the end. So far her accuracy is only at about 50%, but that’s okay for now. The important thing is that she is having fun.
Recently, my friend C. suggested looking into the Hooked on Phonics books, as colorful, more interesting alternatives to the Bob Books. C suggested buying them on ebay, or else buying then one by one on the Hooked On Phonics website. I can see how this would be a good way to go, because the complete kits are quite expensive.
I had never looked at Hooked on Phonics before, but I respect C’s opinion so I decided to look at the website. I do remember hearing that Hooked on Phonics got its big break during the Whole Language movement in the 1990s, when parents across the country were frustrated with reading instruction in their children’s schools and decided to take matters into their own hands. For more on the Whole Language controversy, please see my post at:
Mainly out of my own curiosity as an educator, I decided to purchase the Pre K kit for Jenna. The kit says it is for 3-4 year olds, and Jenna is only 19 months, but it covers content we have already been working on; phonemic awareness, letter identification, and letter sounds. The total price was about $45 and included two workbooks, two sheets of stickers, two packs of flashcards, six books, and two dvds. It arrived in the mail yesterday.
The official instructions say to have your child alternate between pages in the workbook, flash card games, read aloud books, and corresponding segments of the dvd. It really does spoon-feed parents how to teach… a three year old. But obviously I wouldn’t have my toddler sit down and do a workbook page every day. I’m not even sure if she is right or left handed! We will however, look at a few workbook pages together, read the books, and play some of the flash card games. I’ll follow Jenna’s lead in these pursuits, and let her interest guide our instruction.
What I’m really excited about however, are the movies. They are fun, engaging, and appropriately paced for young children. And let me tell you, I am so sick of watching “Rusty and Rosy’s Letter Sound Songs”! These Hooked on Phonics movies are going to be a nice change. I’m still a believer in “Rusty and Rosy”, but I’m going to alternate days with the Hooked on Phonics videos.
All of these materials are still new to me, so I’m not sure if I would recommend them or not. At first glance, I think they are overpriced but useful. I think C’s idea of buying the K, 1st and 2nd grade reading books piecemeal off of Ebay is a very good idea. If they are anything like the Pre K books, they are probably a lot more engaging than Bob Books. I’m still a big fan of Bob Books though, and they are a lot cheaper and easier to acquire.