by Valerie R
(Parker, CO )
Adventures in Butterfly Park
Introduction to Reading and Writing Package
1. Educational DVD: Little Readers In Motion and The Alphabet Workout
2. Color Flashcards
3. Blending Train
4. 3 Mini Readers
5. Handwriting Workbook
6. Parent/Teacher Guide
I found out about Alphabet Workout from a conversation with a Mom, Jean while watching our kids at gymnastics class. She was telling us about how her husband was at his local Kiwanis club meeting and Mary did a presentation on Alphabet Workout program to the group. Her husband told Jean about the program. Jean called Mary to schedule a free 1 hour introductory workshop for her and her 4 year old daughter, Hailey. Jean purchased the Introduction to Reading and Writing Package and followed the directions and began working with Hailey. Soon after, Hailey was looking at a book on her own and started sounding out the word map. After hearing the story, I was very impressed and wanted to know more about the program.
Being a visual learner, I wanted to see how Mary used the materials to maximize learning, before I made a purchase. I contacted Mary and scheduled a free 1 hour introductory workshop for 6 Moms and 9 toddlers (ages 2 to 4 years old). Mary was very prompt, professional, had puppets, cd's, props, products/packages and was ready to teach parents and toddlers about the program. Mary started off by telling us about the program: The Alphabet Workout is a research-supported, action-based phonics program that capitalizes on a young child's excitement for learning to read. Children march, jump, spin, and sing as they learn letter sounds, then blend them together to make words on the blending train. Letter sounds are taught through movement and music designed to stimulate brain development and foster letter sound memory. After that she was fully engaged in teaching the kids that were present. She introduced 10 letters (h,d,i,p,o,n,v,z,s,m), using the color flashcards, showing the movement, and modeling the sound. Along with that, she used the Blending Train to make words from the letters the kids already knew. Towards the end, she showed the kids the Farm Animal Games, so kids could practice letter recognition, sounds, rhyming along and other games to reinforce the letters they had learned. Mary did all of this within 1 hour?..which was short of AMAZING! What was so amazing was watching her interact with the children, watching kids identify letters, say the sounds, run/jump/hop, and be so engaged while having so much fun. Best of all Mary made it look easy to do. Bonus, she had each Mom participate so we felt empowered in our children?s love of learning.
I recently received my Introduction to Reading and Writing Package and wanted to give my review of this AWESOME product. **First, Alphabet Workout was created by two educators who have taught over 30 years and have a passion for reading and teacher training. This company is owned and operated by these two women, who are reading specialists that stay current with reading research. They created each character, made each DVD and CD, and produced all the materials on their own.**
This package is advertised for ages 3-5, which for me is appropriate since my son is 3.5 years old. I like the packaging because it fits inside a 13.5 L x 9.5 W plastic bag, which is nice and compact for mail and keeping all the items together. The package includes a DVD, CD, color flashcards, 3-mini readers (small kid friendly books), Handwriting book (54 pages front and back), and a Parent/Teacher Guide (1 page front and back).
This program is SO EASY to implement. I first started with the color flashcards to reinforce what my son, Jackson, had already learned from the workshop. I then made a copy of the songs on my iPod so we have the songs ready to listen to when we are at home. Then, I put the CD in the car, so when we are out running errands we listen to them. This is out of order of what is suggested, so if possible follow the Parent/Teacher Guide (I was just so excited to start the program). It is suggested to view the DVD with your child first, then act out the stories together, act out the motions of each letter and sounds using the color flashcards, listen to the CD, and mix them up and practice. Which is sooo simple because you do this (watch DVD, act out stories/motions, used flashcards) at least one time with your child and you can do it anywhere, with or without the materials. My son and I will be in the store shopping and I will ask him what the sound the letter h makes, then he marches saying "h,h,h." Or he will say, "Mom, turn on my alphabet music!" and he will sing along with the CD.
The DVD is very easy to use and makes kids want to interact immediately. The main menu gives clear description of the contents of the DVD. I like how it had a place dedicated to "contacts and products" in case you had questions or wanted to know more about other products. Make sure to view the "Parents & Teachers" section first to get an overview of the program. Second, go to the "Scene Selection" to decide which section, there are 3, you would like to begin. I fully appreciate how the DVD uses the picture of the color flashcards, story, puppets, and real kids doing the motions. Third, the kids learn how to write the letters by following the butterfly with their finger (tracing the letter) and saying the sound at least 3 times. Then, the kids learn how to put letter sounds together to make words using the blending train. Finally, the kids read a mini reader, either by listening to the kids on the DVD read it or watching the kids read it out loud. My son was very engaged watching and saying the sounds with the kids on screen.
The CD has a collection of 36 original songs. The book inside the CD has the titles and words to each song for quick reference. This can be used in conjunction with the color flashcards. I have a thing for things that are quick to the point, fun and exciting when it comes to learning. This CD fits the criteria.
What is wonderful about the parent/teacher guide is that there is viewing recommendations for Preschool (age 3), Junior Kindergarten (age 4), Kindergarten (age 5) and First grade (age 6). It is a helpful guide to use and a good reminder to follow your child's lead about how slow or fast they may grasp concepts. As with learning anything new, repetition is key to success.
Jackson takes pleasure in this learning activity. After learning a new lesson, he will "teach" my husband what he learned that day. Jackson's favorite thing to do is watch the DVD and pull the color flashcard out of the pile and put it against the DVD players so he can see them together. Also, on his own, he chooses to build words on the blending train, so it matches the DVD words.
Alphabet Workout is a hands on program that is user friendly for parent/teacher to use. Most of the activities involve parent/teacher lead activities once the letters/sounds are mastered. Then, children are inspired to be more independent learners.
The quality of the materials is good for the price. The versatility of the program is great because it can be used in the classroom and at home. You cannot beat a program that can do both. I believe that by supporting teachers, small business owners and women who want to make a difference for children is a very worthwhile investment.
Overall, I am very impressed with Alphabet Workout and products. I look forward to using this program to help my son become a successful reader and lifelong learner.