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Super Star Phonics Student Edition, Levels 1A, 1B, 2A, and 2B Review by Dawn Huffmaster

Help Me 2 Learn
12033 4th Street, Suite 3
Yucaipa, CA 92399

Super Star Phonics is a series of educational computer programs on CD-ROM that help children learn phonics and reading interactively. Each leveled disc contains motivational features (such as printable awards), 8-12 hours of "play while learning" activities, as well as data tracking features for the parent. Each disc also contains instructions in both English and Spanish. Users must have a computer running Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 or MAC OS X Version 10.3 or later, with basic peripherals such as a CD-ROM drive, sound card, keyboard, and mouse. 

Level 1A covers various skills, such as the recognition of short and long vowel sounds, vowel rules, short vowel words, and beginning reading. Level 1B introduces a higher level of skills, such as consonant recognition and sounds, common sight words, reading words and sentences, story building, and beginner spelling. Levels 1A and 1B are targeted for ages 4-8, and combined they contain 15 instructional songs and 36 different activities. Through the "Learn the Words" feature, which allows users to see and hear how words are formed, children will be introduced to 800 new words. 

Level 2A starts with a review of basic concepts and moves into blends, digraphs, diphthongs, and rhyming. Level 2B begins by working on general problem areas, such as three-letter blends, regular and irregular plurals, and R-controlled vowels. Then it moves into skills such as letter writing, and reading comprehension. Target ages for these levels are 5 to 9 years old. 

As I reviewed these programs, I found the set-up to be very easy. I had the option of installing the program on my computer or running it from the CD-ROM. Once the program was running, I found I could add a virtually unlimited number of children to it, so with ease I added my two children, ages 5 and 7, working on similar levels. This feature allowed them to have their own login and work at their own pace, yet it allowed me as the parent/teacher to check the progress of both of them in one screen. As the children sat down to work, they simply clicked on their name on the main screen. From that point on, helpful narration guided them so that they always knew just what to click on. I found that feature to be very helpful since I was not always available when they were ready to move on to another activity. 

Level 1A taught the short and long vowel sounds with a cartoon-like interface, using videos and games such as "Hen in a Pen" and "Mice with Advice." There was also a cute song for each vowel sound. This level was a lot of fun for my children and had them laughing and singing as they learned. Level 1B continued in the same pattern with the consonant letters. We really enjoyed these! Levels 2A and 2B were perfect for my 7-year-old child but a bit advanced for my 5-year-old child, although she still greatly enjoyed watching her sister and gleaning what she could. They were just challenging enough that my older daughter gained knowledge, but not so challenging that she felt defeated as she worked through the program. These levels also used games, songs, and videos to teach concepts, which were all great fun as well. Upon final review of all four levels, I felt both children had greater retention of phonics skills we had already been working on--and a greater knowledge overall in reading. 

Because these programs did what they said they would do, I feel confident in recommending them to others. The only downside to the program is the retail price of $32.95 per level. For some families that will not be affordable, and I would love to see this program at a more affordable price for all who would like to use it. Overall, this is a great program that I feel would benefit children; therefore, I give it a thumbs up! 

Product review by Dawn Huffmaster, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010