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Ring Around the Phonics (game) Review by Kate Kessler

Roma Cox
6252 Buck Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32221

Created by Roma Cox, an English Professor and homeschool mother, a professional game designer, and inspired by the Lord, Ring Around the Phonics, is a unique and helpful phonics game.

Level 1 contains a sturdy square game board, 119 static cling letters for use on the game board, 25 activity cards, 25 question cards, 5 beginning readers designed for this level, and all the important game pieces for four players.

Before beginning the game, parents will want to read the instructions completely. This is a systematic game that builds on itself so a thorough understanding of its progression is very important. It is recommended that your child know and recognize the alphabet before beginning this game although it can be used without any previous experience with letters. It is also important that you or an older reading child play along with the learning child or the activity/question cards will be quite frustrating!

The game board is a spiral pathway leading to the finish space in the center. The pathway your game piece will proceed on is comprised of various spaces: activity or question card spaces, letter spaces, and a few extra surprise spaces where you might go forward, backward, or obtain a "ring of knowledge." The static letters are the key to the game. They call them "letter cards" but they are small and more like stickers that statically cling to the game board in the letter spaces. These letters will be exchanged for other letters as your child learns the first set. In order to pass the letter spaces, your child must give the letter's sound. If they can't say the sound then they do not move forward. At that point you will give them the sound so that on their next turn they can say the sound and move forward.

As mentioned above, the other game spaces are activity cards that make the game active and enjoyable. You might be told to pretend you are a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, or told to wriggle your nose without using any body part to help you, or told to "jump up and down three times." The question cards are more introspective or informative with questions like: "Who is your hero and why?" "Who was the last person to give you a hug?" "What is your phone number?" My only suggestion would be that they offer more cards for purchase. If you play the game as often as is suggested, the cards might get old for some players. (Although my children did not complain about this--perhaps it is an issue with my adult mind?)

Once your child has mastered enough letters you should try introducing the first leveled book. "Sam and Dan" is the first little reader and it was quite the exciting moment when my little one was able to read it! At the end of Level I, your child will be able to recall all the following sounds: s, a, m, r, n, t, o, d, I, b, long a, e, g, u, h, c, and th. When all of these letters have been learned, your child will receive the Level One Certificate. This is also a very exciting time as your child will have already learned a lot of letter sounds!

Level II will teach them the sounds: p, j, f, l, w, sh, k, y, qu, x, v, z, and the long vowels: e, o, i, u. This level also includes additional static cling letters (112) and four appropriate-to-the-level readers, as well as instructions for the parent, a phonics sound guide, and a certificate of completion for the child.

Level III will teach them the sounds: wh, y ending a word, oo, ch, ai, to, ea, ou, ing, er, ie, ee, ar, ed, and ph. This level also includes additional static cling letters (105) and five appropriate-to-the-level readers, as well as instructions for the parent, a phonics sound guide, and a certificate of completion for the child.

For $58 you will receive all of the above. You will also very likely have a child motivated to learn. My daughter jumps up with excitement when I say it is time to "play her game." She really is enjoying it and what is better is that she is learning her phonics at the same time. I have taught four other children to read and not one of them was as excited about learning as my littlest girl is to learn in this way. We will accomplish the same set of knowledge in a much more gentle and interesting manner. This is a real winner to our family!

Product review by Kate Kessler, Product Reviews Manager, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2009