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Hooked on Phonics: Learn To Read Review by Lisa Barthuly

Gateway Learning

"To see the smile on her face when she "got it"- priceless! Hooked on Phonics is an excellent program" -- The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

I ABSOLUTELY love this reading program; it has it all! My kids LOVE IT, I LOVE IT--and best of all it WORKS!

I don't even want to remember the countless hours I have spent looking at, researching - and ultimately being disappointed in, various reading programs! I decided to give Hooked on Phonics a try since they have a money back guarantee - I couldn't lose, right? It had been the only program I had looked into that appeared to make sense. And make sense IT DID!

We have been using it and LOVING it ever since! This program contains five color-coded levels and a “parent's toolbox,” which contains all kinds of information and ideas on using the program with your child.

It includes an instructional video and books that walk you through the program - step-by-step. The developers put the ideas for using the program "out there" for you - and you can tailor it to your child's interest and needs! It is as detailed, or simple, as you want to make it. Some days, we sat and 'played' for an hour (and my child an hour more after that!). Other days it was a 20 minute lesson, followed by a session on the computer with the Level One CD-ROM that is included. The program uses many mediums that engage the child - word and letter games (they even give ideas for making up your own!), tapes and flashcards, CD-ROM games, workbooks, and BOOKS! They tie it all together with a reward system of progress posters and stickers so that the child can track their own success. And do they find success with this program? Try it and see for yourself!

The age range for this program varies, possibly starting with the youngest (my two-and-a-half-year-old sits down with the yellow box, listens to the tape, and looks through the letter flashcards and workbook, keeping him occupied) to an elementary age child who may be struggling. It begins with learning the ABCs, the sounds of each letters, and continues on in an orderly, EASY-to-understand way. Before you know it - they are READING! I would recommend this program to anyone - but especially to homeschoolers - it is so adaptable. We all have done a little “car-schooling” - I don't know how many times my daughter just grabbed the box of the level she was in and worked on it in the car. This program was even packed (by my five-year-old) for a vacation - IT IS FUN!

My five-year-old has just completed the program and, looking back now, I would purchase this program again - in a heartbeat! We have enjoyed countless hours of time spent reading together, playing games, challenging one another on the CD-ROM - even making up our own games with it. And to see the smile on her face when she "got it" - priceless! Hooked on Phonics is an excellent program - and as this homeschooler likes to say, "The proof is in the puddin!"

-- Product Review by: Lisa Barthuly, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Hooked On Phonics: Master Reader
Gateway Learning

This is a brand new reading/language arts program from Gateway Learning, and it is FUN!

I tend to have a “problem,” if you will, when it comes to CD-ROMs - the “games” tend to talk down to kids, or use language, or talk in a fashion that I would just soon not hear repeated. Those are the ones that never make it past my desk! (I mean, really, there has to be something better!)

There is! That is just one of many reasons why I love Master Reader. It talks in a normal tone of voice, doesn't use any wizards, or gizmo creatures, or (ugh!) rap/hip hop music (sorry, I am just not a fan). It is engaging, encouraging, and interesting - I even play with this CD-ROM!

Master Reader comes in four color coded levels and is geared toward seven to 12 year olds, but, for example, our five-and-a-half-year-old has been using Level 1 - and loving it! Each level is a flip chart that stands up on its own, right next to the computer - with the CD-ROM for that level included - and all the short stories for each lesson! It is organized, compact, and easy-to-use. Master Reader also comes with a series of four books, geared with words learned in each level. Also included are success posters and stickers, to track (and show off) their successes!

The folks at Gateway Learning have made it easy for parents and kids to use - lessons begin on the computer - with the introduction of new letter sounds and combinations. (It even tracks their progress automatically - with a parents “score page” so you can see detailed information on the lessons your child has completed!) The games teach words that will be used in a short story that follows each computer lesson - with each lesson building on the last. The short stories range from Mozart to lightning to the story of the Popsicle! I think the variety of the short story subjects is great! These lessons are fun to do together, and the stories are interesting, and often times lead to a trip to the library to find out even more on a subject covered! There is also a parents reference guide included - with details on each lesson, computer helps, and general information. This program could be used for just about any level reader - a struggling older child or advanced younger one, easily! We have really enjoyed using this program - and as I say, "The proof is in the puddin'." I have seen the improvement in my own child's reading ability using this program!

If you have kids that enjoy learning on the computer - they will love it (and so will you)!

-- Product Review by: Lisa Barthuly, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine