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Foundational Phonics Review by Erin Slocum

Ariel Gunther Mount
Little Seedlings Press, LLC

Foundational Phonics is an easy mom-friendly approach to teaching a child to read. Little Seedlings Press, LLC produced the program using the traditional phonics method (Orton-Gillingham Method) with a multi-sensory approach to work with all children. 

With the Foundational Phonics program ease is brought to an otherwise stressful time of teaching. No more do I need to have two different teaching books, plus the manipulatives, plus the student books. For Foundational Phonics only two books are needed. 

The first book works on letter mastery while the second book words on word mastery. These are currently the second edition. For the complete set of both books, the cost is $94.00. Each book can be purchased individually for $48.00 or there is an option of a PDF download. Also available for purchase is a set of letter flashcards which is a PDF download but not required for the program. 

These books are consumables, so each child working through this set will need their own book. The program is designed to take one year to go through each book though they can certainly be used more than once, or the schedule tweaked to meet your needs. 

I do want to take the time to mention the aesthetic of this curriculum. The covers of the books are very vintage themed with old artwork of a woman instructing her child at home. I am a lover of this type of artwork, so it drew me to the curriculum. Within the curriculum, the pictures are black and white but wonderfully drawn. The script is both block letters but also cursive letters. Honestly, it reminds me of old schoolbooks, and it made me excited to grab the book daily.

I am using this set with a developmentally delayed 10-year-old girl who has had lots of trouble remembering her letters. On the day you teach it she will have mastered it but the next day she might have forgotten it. I wanted to see if this program might be a better fit. I liked that the workbooks were all that we needed and that it would be an open and go curriculum.

Because I was worried that she might need to repeat some of the pages I decided to have her work with a sheet of lamination paper much like a wipe-off-page on the book. Then once she could recognize the letter and sound for five days in a row, I would let her go back and do the page in pencil signaling that she had mastered the concept. 

She was excited by the fact that she could do the page over and over without erasing. Her school journey thus far had included lots of erasing and it was disheartening for her.

We decided to start our school with this series slowly and build up speed as needed. For our purposes, we used Foundational Phonics five days a week for a short ten to fifteen minutes each day.

There are optional storybooks that can be read as well as optional extra activities to help with learning the letters. Sometimes I would grab the extra books, as I said before we love good literature, and pop them in our book basket for free reading or used as read alouds. However, I never counted reading them as part of the lesson.

Each letter or sound has its own chapter. With our rate of working through the books, it did take us one to two weeks to work through each chapter. There are twenty-six chapters within the first book but also what I would call some sub-chapters that talk about letters as words and important grammar rules like capitalization thrown in. At our rate of working through the curriculum, I do think that a year for each book is a good fit. 

In the second book of Foundational Phonics word mastery is worked on. Again, the book starts with a gorgeous cover, lovely lettering, and cute illustrations. The readings are simple but not nonsense that might confuse. In respect to the writing of the letters in the book, it is a form of Italics or a modern translation of Chancery Cursive. I did have to do some research on this way of writing, and it has made me pay more attention to my penmanship.

Book two has 16 chapters but they are more in-depth and harder than book one. It takes what the student learns in book one, their letters and sounds, and uses this to expand on their reading and writing. The chapters are longer as well. For instance, chapter 15 works on suffixes and word endings and is 18 pages long. While we have not made it to this book yet I can say that I think if the content is fully covered that it will take us a year to work through it as well. 

I think this is a wonderful curriculum for teaching letters and sounds. My seven year old knows her letters and sounds so I am planning on purchasing the second book for her to work through this year on word mastery as she does still need to work on sounding out rules and learning all the rules. 

Foundational Phonics is a full phonics program that will teach your child how to read with ease as well as some of the beginning grammar rules. I love that it uses living books as extra reading and allows my child to progress at their own pace. No grade levels are assigned but I would personally call this first and second-grade phonics for my child. We do not start schooling until age seven and at that age, they begin grade 1. So, I would recommend book one for age seven and book two for age eight. 

Overall, I think this is a great curriculum for teaching children how to read. It is pleasing to my eye and as the mom, I did not dread grabbing it every day. There is no prep work and it can easily be grabbed and go. Because there are no needed extras it can easily be done at the park or in the doctor’s office if needed. 

My daughter has loved using the program and is eager to go when it is school time. I think she would gladly work on it twice a day if I would let her. I do plan to continue using this as my curriculum of choice for teaching children to read. I feel that Foundational Phonics truly does cover all the foundation of learning to read and gives children the confidence in reading that they need to take off on their own. 

Product Review by Erin Slocum, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2020