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All About Reading Levels 1-4 and Deluxe Interactive Kit Review by Ashley KoulakMarie Rippel
All About Learning Press
615 Commerce Loop
Eagle River, WI 54521
Teaching your kids to read may be the most important and stressful undertaking of any homeschool parent. The English language has so many phonological "rules” and it seems like just as many words that do not follow those rules. It can seem confusing and overwhelming! With so many programs for reading out there, how would we be able to choose what was best for our kids? We had tried several different reading programs with my oldest daughter, who is dyslexic, to no avail. She was really struggling. That was the year we tried All About Reading and I am so glad we did! All About Reading ended up being a great match for her, it was interactive, multi-sensory and highly organized. All About Reading takes a very gentle approach to learning to read, slowly building on new concepts. What is the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time! And that is exactly what we did! I am proud to say we now have two All About Reading graduates! My oldest took more time on most lessons while her younger brother flew through with flying colors. But that is fine, these lessons were not meant to be completed and mastered daily. All four levels of All About Reading were easily adapted to my kids’ specific needs.
Each level of All About Reading comes with a Teacher’s Manual with open-and-go lessons already laid out. There is an Activity Book that has all the interactive activities to cut out and assemble. There are hardcover readers for each level that are full of beautiful illustrations. Phonogram and word cards specific to each level come in card stock sheets to pop out, and they store nicely in the reading review box with dividers. Letter tiles are used throughout the four levels for a tactile approach in blending and separating words. Lessons took anywhere from 10-30 minutes, depending on my kids and how our day was going. There was plenty of repetition and familiarity by practicing concepts previously taught throughout the lessons. Afterwards we would read aloud and log it in our reading log that came with each level. As we moved through lessons, I divided our cards with the provided dividers-so staying organized was a breeze! My kids’ favorite part, no matter what age or level, was placing their sticker on their progress chart. Each level has its own progress chart that I laminated and hung in our school area. It was so encouraging to watch those stickers add up. Each level of All About Reading can be found online and ordered for $134.95. You will also need an interactive reading kit, that can be used throughout all four levels. There are two options for reading kits. The basic reading kit includes letter tiles, magnets to stick to them, divider cards and the phonogram sounds app. The basic kit is $21.85. The deluxe interactive kit includes everything in the basic kit as well as a reading review box for your cards and a canvas tote bag. The deluxe kit is $43.85.
Before Starting All About Reading Level One, your child should already know the alphabet and the differences between upper and lowercase letters. “Rocket” the dog is your guide through the 53 lessons in level one, where you will learn the difference between vowels and consonants, which are color coded on the letter tiles. Phonogram cards and word cards are introduced, along with sight words. Kids learn how to count syllables and separate words with syllables. By lesson three they can blend letters into words and even begin reading from one of the three readers! Level one is perfectly designed for children beginning to read. As they move through levels 1-4, they will learn many decoding rules that are easily remembered and fun to implement, but still age appropriate. My kids enjoyed being able to use the letter tiles to build and separate words, it was also incredibly helpful for my dyslexic daughter at this level. We used our letter tiles on a magnetic white board that we hung up, and it worked seamlessly throughout the four levels, and with all my kids.
Level Two is called “Leap into Reading” and Herman the frog is your guide through the 57 lessons of this level. You will start with a review of concepts in lesson one as well as closed and open syllables. This level comes with colorful laminated “syllable tags” that have a picture to indicate the type of syllable as new types are covered throughout lessons. Children will use these throughout the level as helpful tags for the syllable types. There are a few more magnetic tiles to prepare for this level that are assigned their own color as well. Consonant teams are taught throughout level two in a gentle manner and there is plenty of repetition and reinforcement of new concepts. There are a ton of colorful activities that are all simple to prepare and fun! In level two practice sheets get longer with more words to decode and read, there are also more phrases and sentences to work through. As in other levels, two hardcover readers with an array of colorful stories are included. Level two readers become a bit longer and incorporate more words. Some lessons took us 2-3 days to complete, which was ok. There is no rush to complete a lesson a day. In level two more phonograms are learned including the job of “silent e.” The color-coded magnetic tiles of vowel blends and the syllable division rules really helped my dyslexic daughter with decoding words in this level. I also would go into our reading review box and pull out cards she had already mastered, this helped her stay confident and see how far she had come.
Level three really broadens your budding reader’s horizons. In “Swing into Reading” Melinda the monkey guides you through 54 new lessons and 17 new phonograms. Syllable types are expanded on from level two and prefixes and suffixes are taught. Figures of speech are also covered in this level. Our favorite activity in this lesson was where onomatopoeia was introduced and incorporated into stories from the readers. There are new phonogram and word cards as well as new magnetic tiles to add to your board. The tiles are color coded and include vowel teams, the sounds of “er” and some more punctuation and symbols that are introduced. While the letter tiles were so helpful for my struggling reader, they were also tremendously helpful during this level in keeping my son engaged in our lessons. Having the possibility to be standing, or wiggling, at our magnetic board to build and blend words was so great! Level three was really where the rubber hit the road for us, I noticed a tremendous difference in my kids independent reading skills from level two as we worked through level three. By the end of level three they were able to read small chapter books without much help. One of the greatest feelings in the world is when you see your child finishing chapter books and starting up a conversation with you about it!
At last we made it to Level Four, the final level in All About Reading. Level four really builds on what has already been taught, but still introduces new phonograms. This level ties up any loose ends your student may have in reading, by teaching more of the trickier parts to phonics. Throughout the 63 lessons things like words with unaccented syllables and silent letters are covered. These types of words can really throw off a budding reader and I am so glad they were covered in this level in such a fun and easy manner. Words with Greek, French, Spanish and Latin influence are covered in level four as well as idioms, personification, and acronyms. New letter tiles are added with their own unique color to use as well as new phonogram and word cards. The two hardback readers have delightful stories that are engaging and certainly do not feel like readers from a curriculum. They are very well written, and the illustrations are all done nicely with vibrant colors. While the stories are much longer in this level, with many more words, they are still level appropriate with just the right amount of challenge to them. As in the other levels, there is daily read aloud time. By this point in the curriculum my kids wanted to read to me, or even go read quietly in their rooms. I felt confident in their skills to let them do that, and it was a fun way to change up our routine a little.
All About Reading is a program I frequently have recommended to other homeschooling parents with struggling readers-even those without a struggling reader! The organization of the lessons is so helpful, especially when you have kids in multiple levels at the same time. While you still need to prepare your activities and cards before you jump in, it really does not take much time at all. Every lesson lists what you will need and has helpful teaching points clearly laid out. All the teacher’s manuals have helpful charts and syllable division rules in the appendix, as well as tips on organizing your materials. Finding what I needed was a breeze. Being able to open my teacher’s manual and just jump in was refreshing. The lessons are very systematic, and concepts are introduced in a gentle yet hand-on manner. Because some of the activities have smaller pieces to them, it can be hard to keep track of them, we stored ours in paper protectors when they were not in use. I am happy with the progress we have made using All About Reading and I look forward to putting my younger children through the program as we continue our homeschool journey.
-Product review by Ashley Koulak, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2019