The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Rocket Phonics Newest Edition Review by Amy Christy

PO Box 1411
Vista, CA 92085-1411

In any homeschool, teaching a child to read is one of the most exciting adventures. However, choosing the right phonics curriculum to start this journey can be a somewhat overwhelming task. I know that we have tried several programs thus far in our nine years of teaching, but have yet to find something as unique and effective as Rocket Phonics. Created by a physician and a former English teacher (who are also homeschooling parents) this complete kit for grades K through third (ages 4-9) has a unique "One letter, One Sound-No Exceptions" method that gets children reading quickly and without confusion.

Rocket Phonics has a three step approach: teaching the Initial Teaching Alphabet, (also referred to as the ITA), sound blending, and then of course, reading. Instead of using the 26 letters in the English alphabet, Rocket Phonics has created 36 symbols, or the ITA, made from single letters and two letter combinations. Your child will be reading in the very first lesson and by the end of the Rocket Phonics program, he or she will have mastered over 600 sight words and will be reading at a fifth grade level!

It is recommended to have three to five weekly sessions lasting 15 to 50 minutes, depending on the child. We worked daily and didn't watch the clock, but rather, worked until my son was ready to move on to another subject. With the games, jokes and stories, the lessons are enjoyable and go quickly and smoothly. The creators of Rocket Phonics believe that if children are having fun they will learn more, and from what we have experienced with their product, we agree! This curriculum has its own versions of familiar childhood games like Go Fish, Simon Says, Memory and Bingo, and includes beloved stories like Cinderella and Aesop's Fables.

With this kit you will receive:

  • Two durable, non-consumable, spiral-bound workbooks
  • (This is great for families with multiple children.)
  • Two sets of (36) colorful and sturdy symbol cards
  • Bingo chips and sheets and a list of several different games to play
  • A Rocket "Peeker" (a rocket shaped piece of cardstock with a window that reveals one word at a time to keep the child focused)
  • Word lists for testing
  • A treasure hunt complete with prizes
  • Multiple teaching resources and tips
  • Bonus materials: The Rocket Phonics Word Find Treasure Hunt, The Phrase Game, and various pre-school card games sent through email

The program is easy to use. Each workbook starts out with a Quick Start page, Teacher Guide and Progress Notes. The Appendix in Volume Two contains a Rocket Phonics Question and Answers section that is quite helpful as well as many useful resources for the teacher. The text is in large print and easy to read. There are "helpers" along the way to assist the student by using the sounds he or she has already learned.

The website is also full of resources, including a "Problem Solving" page and an "Ask Dr. Phonics" section where the creators make themselves available by email to answer any questions users have. They have also taken the time to make several videos on YouTube that include an introduction to the kit, sample lessons, teaching tips and explanations of the games. I was so impressed with the dedication of this company. They seem so helpful and truly want you to succeed! Not only that, but they make learning fun.

The kit comes with a treasure hunt complete with prizes ("sticky hands" small rubber balls, etc.) and uses rhyming clues. The cards instruct the teacher where to hide each treasure and clue, and then the child reads and follows them. For example: "Let's start now, and begin the fun. Under the telephone you'll find clue one." In addition to this game, you will receive: The Word Find Treasure Hunt, The Phrase Game and Rocket Phonics/Big Movement Pre-School Games-all free and through your email!

The Word Find Treasure Hunt is a lot of fun and helps the child with word blending, reading left to right, and recognizing sounds. This game includes many common household words. When the child reads what's on the card, they can then go hunt for the matching bingo chip. For example, if the card reads "keyboard" then you could hide the chip underneath it for him to find. When all the chips are found, the child wins and you can then reward him. This is a very effective game with lots of possibilities and challenges. (I added and combined words as we progressed.) The Phrase Hunt Game is similar, but combines the words into a phrase. There are a variety of word cards to choose from. This time, you select three cards, for example, "In the pantry." You would then hide the chip in that location. Included are several ideas for variations of play.

The pre-school card games are really great. They are creative and high energy. Each game uses printable letter cards and introduces letter shapes and sounds while doing activities such as "Bowling," "Going Fishing," and "Shopping." The children use their imaginations and act things out. Phonics has never been so much fun!

If you are looking for a phonics program, whether you have a beginning reader or a child who struggles and needs a fresh perspective, I believe that Rocket Phonics would be a good choice. The complete kit costs $160.00 and they believe in their product so much that they offer a 90 day money back guarantee. With everything that this version has to offer, I think you will be pleased and will enjoy using it as much as we have in our homeschool. I am happy to recommend it.

Product review by: Amy Christy, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2008

Editor Note:

In addition to the purchased program, you will receive 28 bonuses emailed one per week.

Some of these include:

  • A multi-sensory, nearly foolproof spelling strategy perfect for all ages
  • Additional games (Bingo, Treasure Hunts, and riddles)
  • Additional reading practice for grades K-6 (fiction, non-fiction and poetry)