Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Alpha Omega Publications ( A Schoolhouse Crew Review )

My son struggles with reading.  I've mentioned before that out of all our studies, reading is probably the one thing he loathes more than anything.  I'm willing to take some of the blame on this as I wasn't truly prepared to teach him phonics properly.  This is the reason I was thrilled to be given the chance to review Horizons 2nd Grade Phonics & Reading Set from Alpha Omega Publications.  I stressed out about the fact that while Garrett was ahead in most subjects, he was quickly falling behind in reading and I was hoping that maybe this would be our salvation to helping words and reading click for him.

What We Received

The 2nd Grade Phonics and Reading Set includes everything needed for this curriculum in one box. This includes a 380 page Teachers Guide, two leveled Readers and  two consumable Student Workbooks.

The two student workbooks contain over 160 various activities that cover phonics, spelling rules and vocabulary.  Tests are also included following every 10th activity.  Activities cover a full range of scope and sequence to help build language proficiency.  A full listing of all Scope and Sequence covered within the workbooks can be found at Alpha Omega Publication's website.
The workbooks are designed with perforated pages so that they can be removed from the workbook and placed in a 3 ring binder after being punched with a hole punch.

The two readers work together with the workbooks. After your student finishes the daily lesson in their phonics workbook, they can then use the skills learned to read the reading assignment that matches with the corresponding activity. All activities as well as the matching reading is color coded and labeled to make it easy to find the corresponding lesson/reading each day.

Samples from the Reader books

The Teachers Guide is truly a useful addition to the set. It includes set by step instructions paired with each activity for the entire curriculum. It breaks down each concept and gives advice and tips in regards to not only teaching the lessons but to also assess and identify if your child is learning these concepts.

How We Used It

Horizons Phonics and Reading is ready to go right out of the box, no special preparations needed. This was very fortunate for me as the kids wanted to start it almost as soon as we received it.  We had to wait roughly a week to get started, however, as I did order a second set of student workbooks so that Ashleigh could use the curriculum as well.  (Workbooks are sold individually from the Alpha Omega Publications website).

We tried to do 1 lesson each day and found this to be an acceptable pace for the kids. Each day we would start our lessons with our daily drill, followed by doing our lesson from Horizons.  So far, I have yet to have the kids complain about having to do the workbook and they both seem to enjoy the activities.

Getting Started With Lesson 1

What I Thought

We did find the reading a bit trying for Garrett who quickly got frustrated with it. However, as time went by I noticed he wasn't having as much difficulty (although, he still balks when he sees a longer page of reading).  I have had no issues getting him to read or sound out many of the words in the activities.

Rules on the White Board
I found the teachers guide to be an invaluable resource with this curriculum.  Many times the pictures can be a bit confusing and the guide is there to take any doubts away. Example: a picture of a bed with an arrow pointing to it could be blanket or a quilt, yet the teachers guide quickly lets you know the word they are looking for is cover.

Each subsequent lesson builds off the previous lesson as well as introduces a new concept.  I found many times writing the new rules on the whiteboard for the kids to have to reference helped them to learn each new concept (example: Spell the /k/ sound with k if the sound comes before e,i, or y. Spell the /k/ sound with c if it comes before a,o,u or any consonant).

I really liked that the workbooks have the three line writing guides to help the kids with proper letter formation. Because of this, Garrett has really taken great care in trying to keep his letters where they should be and it has improved his handwriting overall - an added bonus.  I also like that the activities switch up what they ask the students to do which keeps my kids from getting complacent and automatically doing the same thing over and over. By having separate instructions for each activity in the lesson, they have to actually stop and read the instructions to find out what is being asked of them.

Another thing that I am enjoying about this curriculum is that there are guided questions in the Teacher's guide in regards to the reading assignment.  These questions give us a great platform to discuss characters, settings, cause and effect and other story elements in regards to what we are reading.  I also like that the reading books both focus on classic literature; Book 1 mainly focuses on the novel Robinson Crusoe while Book 2 focuses primarily on A Little Princess.  Both books also include a scattering of nursery rhymes, poetry, and other writings.

We did not take the pages out of the books as both Ashleigh and Garrett did not want to do that.  They both enjoy having the book intact and they are able to turn immediately to the lesson we need to do.  I can see how for some kids, having the pages removed would work well but my kids are just picky like that.

Overall, I found this to be a wonderful curriculum and I feel I was very blessed to have had the opportunity to try it with my own children.  I do feel that this just might be the tool we needed to help Garrett catch up on his reading and I appreciate that Alpha Omega Publications has made a phonics/reading curriculum that even someone as inept as myself can teach him.  I can honestly say I expect other Alpha Omega Publication products will be in my purchasing future, starting with the Grade 3 Phonics and Reading set.

Alpha Omega Publications can be found on the following social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

While I only reviewed the 2nd Grade Phonics and Reading set, other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had the opportunity to review other Alpha Omega Publication products for Grades K-2, including Math, Penmanship, Health and Physical Education.  Click over to read their reviews on these wonderful products.

Alpha Omega Review

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