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!

VōWac® Publishing Company Review by Megan Russell

Ph: (605) 598-4492
P.O. Box 75
Faulkton, SD 57438-0075

VoWac is an acronym for Vowel Oriented Word Attack Course. This phonics program uses the Orton-Gillingham approach, with multi-sensory aspects of each lesson - auditory, visual, and kinesthetic - to optimize and individualize learning for each student. VoWac was written for classroom teachers but can be used very easily by homeschool parents.

I received the Teacher’s Guides 1A and 1B, the Student Workbook for 1A and 1B, Letter Picture Cards 1-64, Clover Word Bank Book, the Handbook of Teaching Tips, a CD-Rom PDF of Boardwork for 1A and 1B, a CD of Clover Songs, a Clover Songs activity book, letter cards, and a wooden blending shelf for the letter cards. The Teacher’s Guides are nice, thick books with sturdy plastic spiral binding. The Student Workbook is also a thick book with perforated pages. The Letter Picture cards are made of sturdy cardstock, and the letter cards are smaller, pink cards with letters and blends. The Letter Picture cards have a picture on one side, and a letter or blend on the other. The student will learn to name the letter, the card’s catch phrase, and the sound(s) the letter makes. For the short a card, the student would say, “Short A, ant on apple, a (the short sound for a).” The blending shelf is a heavy, wooden shelf made for the letter cards. You use the cards to make different words and sounds for the student to decode, starting in lesson 23.

There are 13 units in level 1, with a total of 140 lessons in all.

Teacher’s Guide 1A:

Unit 1: Readiness

Unit 2: Consonants and Short a; Open and Closed Syllables

Unit 3: Consonants and Short i; Reversal Helps; y as a vowel

Unit 4: Consonants and Short o; c, k, and ck; -ss, -ll, -ff, and -zz

Unit 5: Digraphs and Short e; -tch, -ng, and -nk; Short u

Unit 6: Initial Consonant Blends

Unit 7: Final Consonant Blends; Suffixes -s, -es, -ing, -er, and -ed

Teacher’s Guide 1B:

Unit 8: Vowel-Consonant-Silent e Syllables

Unit 9: Vowel Team Syllables

Unit 10: R Controlled Syllables

Unit 11: Consonant -le Syllables

Unit 12: Irregular Vowel Teams

Unit 13: Syllable Division Rule VC/CV; Review of Syllable labeling

There are also 24 sight words your child will learn throughout this course. 

The beginning of each lesson in the Teacher’s Guide includes Objectives and Materials lists. For example, in Lesson 27, the objectives listed are “to blend sounds into words and nonsense syllables, to review the sound of the consonant letter h, and to introduce the sound of the consonant letter l.” The materials needed are “Letter Picture pack, individual white boards or chalkboards, “l” card from Letter Picture pack, 7 (+) pictures from the Picture Card Kit beginning with l, and workbook pages 27P and 27”. This makes it easy to see what you will be teaching and what you need to gather for the daily lesson. 

Each lesson includes visual and/or auditory drills. These drills review letters, sounds, and words from previous lessons. There is also boardwork (review) for each lesson, which we did on a small board. The student will interact with the board, reading and/or erasing words or sounds. Then there is the introduction to the new material your student will be learning. It is all scripted, with the teacher dialogue underlined, so you know exactly what to say and do for the entire lesson. Finally, there are workbook pages to complete. The Teacher’s Guide includes a picture of the completed workbook page, so you don’t have to look over your student’s shoulder to read the instructions or guide them along. The workbook pages include cutting and gluing and other fun activities. At the end of each unit, there is a end-of-unit test for your student to complete. These tests are in the back of the Student Workbook. 

The Handbook of Teaching Tips is 157 pages in a spiral bound book. This book is very helpful in many ways. It includes a definition of terms section, with words like “breve”, “grapheme”, and “phoneme” defined for the teacher! It has the acronym for CLOVER, which represents the six more common syllables in the English language, with definitions and examples of each:

C: Closed syllable

L: -Le syllable (as in table)

O: Open syllable

V: Vowel team syllable

E: Vowel-consonant-silent e syllable

R: R-controlled syllable

It also includes a section on how to begin the VoWac program in your school, if you are a teacher. It tells you how to use the visual and auditory drills at each grade level, how to implement a spelling program to accompany the skills in each level and spelling helps, the rules of syllable division, suffixes, prefixes, roots, parts of speech, ways to improve reading fluency, and finally, speed drills for word fluency. There are over 50 pages of words to use for speed drills, each one labeled by the sound rules and grade levels appropriate. There are even more tips and information to help your student.

The Clover Songs CD has very catchy songs to help your student remember what he or she is learning. The accompanying activity book has plenty of games, worksheets, and the sheet music and lyrics to the songs on the CD. The Clover Word Bank book is meant for your child to write down difficult words, multisyllable words, and just for extra practice. There are divisions in the book for each of the Clover rules.

My 5 (almost 6) year old son enjoyed using VoWac very much. The lessons were engaging and fun, and he didn’t get bored. The workbook pages are not cumbersome and take only a few minutes to complete. I plan to continue using VoWac when we start homeschooling again in August, and I look forward to seeing how much he learns! This is a very easy to use phonics program, although it was a bit overwhelming when I first looked through it. Thankfully, the Handbook of Teaching Tips guided me through many of the unfamiliar terms and teaching styles. Once I actually started using it, I realized how easy it is to use. I highly recommend this phonics program for any child who is about to take on the task of learning to read.

-Product review by Megan Russell, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July, 2018