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Reading Skills Plus Review by Michelle Gibson

Gwelda J. Carlson M.A.
VōWac® Publishing Company
1-866-598-6922
P. O. Box 75
Faulkton, SD 57438-0075
https://www.vowac.com

Reading Skills Plus from VōWac® Publishing Company is a consumable workbook based on the Orton-Gillingham theory which is a phonics-based system that teaches reading by decoding sounds and symbols. It retails for $16.00 and is designed for concurrent independent practice and review of concepts from an Orton-Gillingham reading program.

 

Students using the Orton-Gillingham method divide words into syllables, read the syllables, and then name the syllable types. In our current reading program which is also based on the Orton-Gillingham method, we have silly names for all these syllable types, but the VōWac® method shares a clever acronym to help you remember concepts. In fact, VōWac® itself is an acronym that means Vowel Oriented Word Attack Course. While the method of delivery is different using the VōWac® method, the concepts in the workbook are the same.


Students use the workbook activities independently to reinforce skills taught using the Orton-Gillingham method. A lesson plan in the workbook outlines the teaching method with Reading Skills Plus as the last step. VōWac® Publishing Company recommends it on their site starting in the 3rd grade, but it could be used by any student learning to read.

 

Your learner will read and choose words to fill in the blank, read a story and answer comprehension questions, underline phonograms in words, unscramble words to form a sentence, match words with the correct vowel sound, find rhyming words by drawing a line from one word to another, form new rhyming words, copy sentences, and more.

 

Each lesson includes a variety of writing exercises. Your student will write the days of the week, put words in alphabetical order, write question sentences, fill in the blank, learn vocabulary by looking up words in the dictionary, use synonyms in a sentence, draw a line from a word to its meaning, write complete sentences, and divide words into syllables. Each lesson includes a word bank which is wonderful for visual discrimination.

 

At 112 pages in length, Reading Skills Plus has a 30-page appendix that includes phonogram rules, a lesson plan outline, and advanced student workbook exercises on syllables, base words, doubling rules, prefixes, suffixes, and more.  

 

I used Reading Skills Plus with my 2nd grader, Bo, who reads at a 3rd-grade level. Now that he is ready for more independent work, Reading Skills Plus is just what he needs. We have used a reading program that follows the Orton-Gillingham method of sound/symbol decoding since the beginning, so these exercises are perfect, giving him meaningful independent work that reinforces our current method of learning. Working at a pace of one page per day, three to four days a week, we are still catching up to where we are in our reading program, but I can’t think of a better way to prepare him for the next level! However, once Bo catches up to where we are in his reading program, his pace will slow down, and I will use these activities as reinforcement and review as we go. 

 

Because my son is a strong reader, but not a strong writer, I initially planned to do all the lessons orally, but he wanted to do some of the writing. Having the word banks for each lesson helps him and gives him additional spelling practice as he writes the words and sees them on the page. 

 

I like Reading Skills Plus because it is phonics based and based on the Orton-Gillingham method. It includes phonics rules and the phonograms are presented in order of frequency used. The writing activities are great for visual or tactile learners. The exercises include vocabulary, sentence structure, composition, and reading comprehension. It is a well-rounded supplement that works well in a homeschool setting. My son liked it because the exercises were like little challenging puzzles to solve. His least favorite part was copying sentences, but he didn’t mind writing the words to fill in the blank. As he matures, he will easily be able to do all of the writing.

 

The Orton-Gillingham method calls for constant review, but the workbook does not include review. Even so, Reading Skills Plus is itself an excellent review program for any Orton-Gillingham reading program. 

—Review by Michelle Gibson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July, 2018

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