I was recently asked on Facebook how I teach my kids to read. The question caught me off guard because while it seems like a simple question, teaching a child to read is an incredibly complex process. I use a combination of phonics, sight words, word families, and constant reading! The right curriculum is the one that works best for your child, and it can often take a bit of trial and error to find the right one. Today I’m going to tell you a bit about our latest review, Fun-Time Phonics!™ Software – 2-PCs Win Download from The Critical Thinking Co.™
About Fun-Time Phonics!
We received a digital download of Fun-Time Phonics! for this review. It is a windows specific program, so we were only able to use it on one of our computers. The program is intended for students preK-2nd grade and uses a progression designed to ensure a phonemic awareness mastery.
The program has a little over 100 lessons that take students through a four step progression. The first section teaches that words are made up of sounds by having students isolate beginnign, ending, and vowel sounds along with identifing words that rhyme. The second section teaches short vowel sounds. The third section teaches consonant-vowel coarticulation (blends of sounds). And finally the fourth section teaches children to combine all the knowledge of sounds into reading words.
Each lesson is taught by two robots who ask the students to answer questions by clicking and dragging things on the screen. Students do need basic computer skills to successfully navigate the programs.
How We Used Fun-Time Phonics!
I initially thought this program would be a good fit for 5 year old Magoo, but he already has mastery of most letter sounds. When we first started the program, it just put the boys in first lesson. There was not any kind of assessment or placement test. For students new to phonics, this is not a problem. For a student like Magoo who has a basic knowledge of the letters but just needs some review, starting further ahead would be better. I was able to go into the parent section and move him ahead. He really only needed the last 4 lessons.
After realizing this was too easy for Magoo, I started Fun Time Phonics! with 3 year old Doodad. He knows a handful of letter sounds, so starting at the very beginning was a good choice for him. Doodad’s computer skills are limited, so I had to work the lessons with him. I don’t think that is an issue for the success of the program, but Doodad did not like having my help.
We tried several different ways of fitting this into our regular homeschool routine, and it never quite fit. If this had been an app available on a device with a touch screen, then Doodad could have worked independently, making this a better fit for our homeschool. We will be trying it again next year when Doodad’s computer skills have (hopefully) improved.
What We Think of Fun-Time Phonics!
I would have preferred a web based program or something that could run on tablet style devices, but otherwise we had no technical issues. I did think the necessary computer skills are above the normal skill set for most emerging readers. That means this is a program that will require a parent or other helper for young students.
Fun Time Phonics! teaches letter sounds is a logical way, and following their program fully will give students a nice foundation in phonics. I was really disappointed that this wasn’t a good fit for my boys. A year ago when Magoo was first learning letter sounds, this would have been a great resource to have. And I think Doodad will benefit from it when he is ready for PreK work next year.