The samples contained about two weeks’ worth of lessons. Ellen thought they were fantastic. She begged to do them every day. She even went through the lessons twice.
I showed them to a friend with older children and asked her opinion. Her response was, “You don’t need a book to tell you to clap the syllables of words. You know how to do that.”
I retorted, “Yes, but my brain is too addled to think of it right now. The trouble is I don’t REMEMBER to teach the little people the alphabet.”
So I wrote the nice people at All About Spelling and told them Ellen was interested in being a guinea pig for their new pre-reading program. They sent us a big box of goodies to review. And Ellen’s verdict is: “It’s Good. It makes me happy. I’m learning my ABCD’s.”
And I feel exactly the same way.
The program centers around a puppet Zebra named Ziggy. Ziggy tends to get his words mixed up or need help counting syllables. Ellen gets to interact with Ziggy and keep him from getting confused. And there’s just something about a puppet that makes us giggle.
You could always make your own sock puppet if you wanted to save some pennies. You could, in theory, just show your child a picture of Ziggy and tell stories about him. But if you can pull off a puppet, definitely do it. Because puppets are COOL, y’all.
We read a silly little poem about our daily letter and then she tries to find her letter in the poem. They’re just little stories that seem kind of dumb, but she finds them funny, especially when Ziggy reads them to her. And she’s looking at the words hunting for letters, so there has to be something educational in that.
We use Ziggy to play our word games. Sometimes that involves using the box of pre-sorted cards they provide. There’s matching games and rhyming games. The concepts seem really basic, but since I’m using the upper levels of All About Spelling to teach my kids to read, I can see where these very basic concepts come in handy. Ellen is already leaps and bounds ahead of where Adam was at this stage because she understands how to break a word down into sounds and syllables.
I think that, just like Adam, she would have picked it up just fine later on down the road, but this extra boost isn’t doing her any harm. (Adam often sneaks into our preschool lesson, too, so I know he would have enjoyed this a year or two ago.)
The last aspect we do is a coloring page. On the back of the page, there’s a suggestion for some other activity to do to the picture to make it a little more “crafty.” I love that they’re very basic ideas that use STANDARD household objects. I don’t need to worry about whether or not I have fuzzy pipe cleaners or buttons on hand. The suggestions are things like toothpicks, aluminum foil, or a piece of construction paper.
That, I can handle.
And, of course, if I’m feeling lazy, I just let her color the page and be done with it. But I think having these simple craft ideas on hand means she does more crafty things than I did with the boys at this age.
Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of doing this is that I have a designated time to hang out with my Little People. Ellen loves the quality time. We’re never alone, of course. Willa, Adam, and Mira all feel entitled to participate. And Sam and Ian are never far behind. But my focus gets to be on Ellen and Willa for a few minutes when I’m not angling to just meet their needs. That’s pretty special stuff.
So, do you NEED to do this curriculum in order to succeed with All About Spelling or teaching your child to read? No. But is it great preparation? Absolutely.
It’s open and go, y’all. No printing, cutting, or thinking involved on my part. And there’s a PUPPET. What’s not to love?
To show you how preschool looks in our house, I’m swallowing my pride and letting you in on one of our lessons. Now you know the truth about my dopey puppet voice and how many interruptions I field in a four minute time frame. Enjoy!
*All About Learning Press generously provided the materials for this review, but the opinions are absolutely, positively, entirely my own.
*Affiliate links included as of 1/8/12