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Basic Phonics Skills, Level B Review by Cindy West

By Jo Ellen Moore, Katherine Scraper, Jill Norris, Tanya Dean, Joy Evans
Evan-Moor Educational Publishers
18 Lower Ragsdale Drive
Monterey, CA 93940-5746
800-777-4362
http://www.evan-moor.com/

Basic Phonics Skills, Level B is a great big book that's full of phonics teaching and practice for the Kindergarten or 1st grade child. Whether you're looking for a supplement to the phonics program you're already using or would like to use it as a stand-alone curriculum, I think you'll be pleased.

In 288 pages, this book teaches beginning and ending sounds, short vowel sounds, plurals and inflection endings (-ed and –ing), and word families. Even though the program reviews each letter sound, it's meant to be used after children have already been introduced to the sounds letters make. The reason for this is that the activities move pretty quickly into beginning and ending sounds. If a child is just learning letter sounds at this point, hearing and understanding the sounds at different parts in a word might be difficult.

The activities pages are in black and white, and include many cute pictures to aid in completing the activities. Skills are taught one at a time with at least a couple pages of practice. For instance, when learning the letter b, there are two pages that teach b at the beginning of words and two pages that teach b at the end of words. The review sheets often combine two or more skills. In the case of the letter b, you'll find two worksheets that ask the child to decide whether the b is a beginning or ending sound.

Many of the worksheets require the child to write a particular letter in the context of the activity, but the book is not meant to teach or practice correct handwriting skills. Besides filling in letters, the activities vary from circling correct answers to cutting and pasting. An answer key is included at the back of the book.

To help teach the skill of word families, there are sliders that the parent cuts out for the child to use to practice. After working through all the word families, your child should be ready to read the 20 mini-books that you will find at the end of the book. Each mini-book includes a title page, six pages of reading, and a little matching activity on the back page. You have to cut and assemble the books, but it will be worth it when you see your child progress through each one!

I found this to be a very good book for teaching, reviewing, or practicing phonics skills and beginning reading. There are few instructions for the teacher on how to teach the skills, but the worksheets are self-explanatory. Even though this is basically a collection of worksheets, word family sliders, and mini-books, I believe children who complete the entire book will be well on their way to a solid understanding of phonics. Of course, this book does not teach phonics in its entirety, so other instruction would need to follow.

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2008

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