I was introduced to All About Reading by a friend who had used it after discovering gaps in her child’s reading abilities. She said that her daughter had picked up reading rather quickly on her own but eventually hit a roadblock when the texts she read became more challenging, and she did not have the “tools” to get through them. All About Reading was able to fill those gaps for her and move her along to increasingly more difficult texts.
I had started with a different reading curriculum at the time, but after struggling through it decided to abandon it and jump into the phonics lessons in My Father’s World. The lessons were effective, but by Unit 12, my son just couldn’t pick up on the blending of sounds. In desperation, I sat at my computer and looked through All About Reading and all of the components of Level 1. I downloaded the sample lessons, pulled together some magnetic letters, and decided to give them a try before purchasing the entire curriculum.
Day one was a HUGE success! For the first time, my son was able to “sound” out each phoneme and blend them together to make a word! I was so surprised by our success that I decided to purchase it all and continue with the lessons in their entirety.
All About Reading uses a multisensory approach to teach phonics and reading comprehension. I have come to realize that it was this very approach that allowed me to discover that our son had eye challenges that were later diagnosed as “convergence insufficiency.” This means that his eyes are unable to “converge” for extended periods of time as is required during reading, and it is because of this that he struggled so much with the other curricula. When using the magnetic letters, however, he was able to see clearly, and reading was able to come to life!
We have greatly enjoyed our experience with All About Reading and have been able to work through his eye challenges because of this curriculum. For anyone interested, here is a breakdown of Level 1, including my thoughts on each component.
All About Reading Level 1 consists of two parts, the Level 1 materials and the Reading Interactive Kit. Both are needed when beginning the curriculum, but the Reading Interactive Kit can be used for Levels 2-4 and for All About Spelling. The Level 1 materials can be used with one student but additional student packs can be purchased if you have more than one child.
The only additional purchase that is required is a white magnetic dry erase board, 2’x3′ preferably. This board is used for the lessons to introduce specific phonics rules with the magnetic letter tiles.
I like that the kit and most of the Level 1 materials can be used with the rest of my children with minimal expense. In the future, I will just have to purchase the student packs, and the kit will be used all the way up through Level 4 for all three children. This makes the initial investment very cost effective for me and sustainable.
The Teacher’s Manual
The manual consists of an overview of the curriculum, set up tasks, and lessons. Each lesson explicitly posts the needed materials along with any specific information needed to teach the lesson effectively. Each lesson also includes a daily review, direct instruction, learning activities ,and a reminder to read aloud daily for at least 20 minutes to further support effective reading comprehension.
I love the teacher’s manual! This is literally a curriculum that I can pick up and teach without much preparation. Everything is done for me and specifically laid out so that I can easily follow it day by day. This has made lesson planning so much quicker as I break down the lessons over the week.
Now, I did have to do initial preparations with setting up my magnetic board and the letter tiles, cutting out the perforated flash cards, and “studying” the phonograms. Once initial preparations were done, however, the day-by-day preparations have been minimal.
The Magnetic Letter Tiles
The magnetic letter tiles are part of the Reading Interactive Kit and are introduced slowly throughout the levels. They are used in every other lesson to teach specific phonics concepts. The teacher and student can manipulate the letters to decode and create new words together.
The magnetic letters was what brought reading to life for my son. He could visually see how words were formed and how the sounds could be moved to make new words. This has been a fun and effective part of our lessons.
All About Reading comes with a number of flash cards, some for individual phonemes or sounds and others with words that drill specific phonics patterns that have been taught. The curriculum package comes with divider cards for cards that will be taught in the future, those that need to be reviewed, and those that are mastered. Each lesson specifies which cards are to be introduced, and then the teacher can then determined based on the student’s needs how much review will be needed for those cards.
Flash cards were such a big part of my own education that it makes for a perfect fit in our homeschool. We use them for reviews and have fun playing games with them. Sometimes we try to “beat the clock”; other times we act out each card. Overall, they have really helped my son gain automaticity in reading.
The first few lessons then about every other lesson include an activity of some sort to solidify the learning. Some include cutting and pasting and others offer opportunities for kinesthetic learning. The activities usually include new words for fluency practice in an engaging format.
Some may think that the activities are extra “fluff” or unnecessary for older students. My son, however, LOVES them. He role plays at times and really brings the activities to life by “feeding the monster” or “flipping the eggs”. I also like that he is getting cutting and pasting practice in with his lessons along with additional fluency practice. These activities have helped break up our day a bit and have been enjoyable overall.
Each activity lesson also includes fluency pages with individual words, phrases, and sentences for reading practice. The pages can be used a number of ways to encourage fluency and automaticity in reading.
This has been the least favorite part of the curriculum for my son. I have found that because of his “convergence insufficiency”, this has been even more challenging for him as his eyes fatigue easily. I have decided to break up these fluency pages over a number of days to help with this. Sometimes I’ll write the words on a dry erase board and have him erase them as he reads them, and other times, we use a highlighter to highlight words that have been read. The fluency practice has been very helpful for him, but we have had to modify it a bit to meet our needs.
Level 1 comes with three readers that have a number of stories for additional reading practice. Each story coincides with the lessons to address the specific phonics rules taught. A story is read in between each “activity” lesson to further support fluency and reading comprehension. The words are typed on lines to help ease the student into reading and contain pencil drawings that support the reading but do not allow the reader to “guess” the text.
This is probably one of my favorite parts of the curriculum. When we get to a story, my son can be confident that he can get through the text without having to worry about running into unknown words. This was a component that I wasn’t able to find consistently in other reading programs. Many basal readers contained words that hadn’t been introduced, or the program lacked readers altogether, which made it even more difficult to practice previously-taught concepts.
I also like that reading becomes enjoyable through the stories, offering a meaningful platform to practice the phonics rules in a way that makes sense. We have really enjoyed the stories and still use them for reading practice even after beginning Level 2.
The Reading Progress Chart
All About Reading contains a progress chart for monitoring the progress of each student. As each lesson is taught, the student can place a sticker on the chart to see how much he has learned.
My son is SO motivated by this chart! We have it posted on our magnetic white board, and he loves adding stickers to the chart. We may not always finish a lesson in a day, so adding a sticker is a fun accomplishment. The neatest thing about it all is that it has motivated him to look further at the following levels. As he neared the end of his chart, he couldn’t wait to get started on the “green” level and is now looking forward to the “red” and “purple” levels.
Overall Thoughts: All About Reading has been very effective in developing my son’s reading skills. As a former reading specialist, I personally like that it is very thorough and comprehensive and is a step-by-step approach that includes all of the phonics rules and reading strategies necessary for independent reading. All of the work is done for me!
The only caveat to using this program is that it follows a different sequence than other beginning reading programs. Many programs introduce silent E words like “cake” and “bike” early in the process where as All About Reading does not introduce this concept until Level 2. This will make reading other basal readers more challenging. If you stick with All About Reading, however, it builds nicely upon previously-taught concepts and fills all gaps along the way.
We personally use AAR about 20-25 minutes a day and complete 2-3 lessons a week. If we zoom through a lesson, we go back and review the fluency pages or readers that we’ve previously read in order to further develop automaticity.
Reviewing the readers is something we also still do as we have ventured into Level 2. We have weekly “Reading Cafe” Days where we sit back with lemonade or hot chocolate and enjoy independent reading together.
Overall, All About Reading has been a program we plan to use with all of our children in order to ensure their reading success.
Have you used All About Reading before? What are your thoughts?
Disclaimer: This review is based on our personal experience and was not influenced by AAR in any way. I did not receive any free items or incentives to write this review. I did, however, include affiliate links that will pay me a small commission at no additional cost to you should you choose to make a purchase. Thank you for supporting my blog.