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Phonics Time CD-Book Set / Advanced Phonics with Miss Jenny Review by Melanie Bunnett

2067 Rurline Drive
St. Louis, Missouri 63146

I was recently given the opportunity to review these unique music-based phonics supplements for The Old Schoolhouse and was intrigued by the concept. While I have used several different methods to teach my three older children to read, I have one more non-reader and am always looking for ways to improve my methods. While these CDs and accompanying combination lyric books and teacher guides are not a complete curriculum in and of themselves, I can definitely see ways they could be used to supplement and reinforce other phonics lessons taking place in my homeschool.

The first title we reviewed was Phonics Time CD-Book Set: Learn to Read as You Sing with Miss Jenny and Friends. This set is said to be for preschool through grade 2, but I would recommend it be used with the children in the younger end of this range. The CD contains 28 songs, all written to different types of tunes. The music is catchy and memorable, and the younger kids love it. I will say that it can become a bit annoying to the older members of the family, so we used the music in moderation. Titles include "ABC Fun," "Letter Sounds," and "The Sentence Song." Because these are new ideas to most children in this age group, any of the songs would be a great introduction before working on a topic more in-depth.

In addition to the original music provided in this set, there is also a more than 60-page book included that contains written lyrics for all of the songs as well as a teacher guide with a scope and sequence, a frequently asked questions section, supplemental activities to go along with each song, and other teacher helps. These materials were written for the traditional classroom, so they may need to be slightly adapted for your homeschool.

The second title was Advanced Phonics with Miss Jenny. Whereas the first title seemed ideal for pre-readers preparing to learn phonics, this selection appears to be geared to new readers. It contains songs reviewing phonics sounds and teaching some of the phonics rules of the English language. There were several that I could see being helpful, particularly to struggling new readers: "Short and Long Vowel Review," "Past Tense Tricks," and "A Base Word is the Basic Word" among others.

Again, we are provided with the upbeat, catchy, but sometimes slightly annoying music and singing. Your students should definitely be able to remember what they learn with this material (as will everyone else in hearing distance). Also, we are provided with the same lyric book and teacher guide.

Because this second title is geared to older students who are already beginning to read, I can see using it as a remedial help or as a reminder of the things they have learned. I doubt that you will have to encourage your younger students to listen, but you may have to cajole your older ones into being tolerant of the learning sessions.

Each set retails for $19.99. This seems to be an inexpensive way to supplement your phonics teaching. This is one of those items that most families can afford to give a try without agonizing over the added expense in your homeschool budget. I imagine when your family is through utilizing the CDs, you will be able to find other homeschoolers who would be delighted to give them a try also.

Product review by Melanie Bunnett, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2007