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The ABC's and All of Me! Kindergarten Curriculum Set Review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright

Melanie Herrmann
All of Me Literacy
571 Meadow Lark Lane
Smithfield, VT 84335

I remember many times sitting in a classroom listening to the teacher try to explain some difficult concept and finding it hard to make that light bulb glow! Then the teacher would draw a diagram, or show a picture, or make some visual demonstration of the material, and all of a sudden it made sense! Many students are auditory learners, but as many or more are visual and/or kinesthetic learners who need more than just an auditory lecture to get the most out of the materials. In my experience as both a student (for many years!) and a homeschool mom, I've found that people tend to learn best when they can utilize as many of their senses as possible--especially for difficult concepts. You might have laughed to see us making a train a few days ago and chugging around the room singing the names of the days of the week. It was a fun, simple exercise that helped my 10-year-old son with Down syndrome conceptualize and internalize the pattern and names of the days. My love for multimodal learning is only one reason I liked the The ABC's and All of Me! Kindergarten Curriculum Set ($255.84) from All of Me Literacy. The curriculum was developed by Melanie Herrmann, who operated a preschool for years before returning to teach in the classroom. 

There are several parts included in the Kindergarten Curriculum Set, which can be purchased individually or in various smaller sets. The Companion CD and Classroom Book (11"x14") form the core of the program. Ms. Herrmann begins by introducing each of the letters of the alphabet through lovely songs and motions that help the child learn both the name and sound of the letter. Small and large Alphabet Cards are used to show the letter with a corresponding picture, such as an alligator with an apple in his mouth for the letter "A." A variety of activities are offered to help the child learn each letter in turn, one per day or slower if needed, before the book is presented. The book shows each letter with color-coding to show how it is formed, along with the corresponding picture and the text for the alphabet song. This second phase introduces concepts such as blending letter sounds together to make words and learning to read from left to right and top to bottom. Again, The ABC's and All of Me! uses a variety of workbook activities, crafts, songs and movement while reading the Classroom Book, etc., to accomplish these "concepts of print" goals. The third phase continues to use many different types of activities but adds ABC Readers, which are short books with fun stories that allow the child to practice the words and reading skills they have learned to that point. There are 36 different packets of workbook pages with a plethora of fun and engaging activities. Two Classical ABC's CDs utilize the beauty of classical music to sing the names and sounds of the letters. These are great to play during other activities related to the corresponding letter. Program and Teaching Guides help explain how to implement the reading program in a friendly and understandable manner. 

That's the program briefly! There is much more information about the reasoning behind the curriculum and some great samples and videos available at the company website, My family really enjoyed the multimodal nature of this program. The more senses the child engages during an activity, the better and longer he will retain the information. I loved the different types of activities, such as finding the letters in alphabet pasta, forming their shapes with Wikki Stix and dough, using sandpaper to trace letters, tap reading, and rainbow reading (where the child blends the sounds of a word and then reads the word while tracing under it with a crayon, repeating this several days in a row with different color crayons). It would be easy to tailor this program to any child's particular style, including children with special needs. The workbook pages come in handy sheet protectors, but it would be great to see a folder included in future sets to hold all of these and organize them with labeled dividers. It would also be great to include blackline masters on a disc for printing the workbook pages without the need for a copier or scanner. While the program does not dwell on the finer points of phonics, it does use a strong combination of both phonics and high frequency sight words. This combination provides the best of both worlds and makes for more fluent readers.

The ABC's and All of Me! takes a gentle, fun, engaging approach that I believe would be very effective in teaching children with a wide variety of learning styles and interests to read!

Product review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010