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Jul 13, 2016

ABeCeDarian Company TOS Review

ABeCeDarian Company starts teaching spelling and reading by introducing the phonemes, or sounds, of consonants and short vowels into easy to decode CVC words.  Lesson one jumps right in spelling (by reading the phonemes) mop, sat, and tap.  Students use word puzzles, such as unscrambling letters, to spell the words correctly.  They are taught how to break words into sounds and how to rebuild the individual sounds into words.  ABeCeDarian Interactive A Workbook is for beginners approximately 4-6 years old (K to mid-first grade).  Handwriting practice is integrated into each lesson.  The Teacher's Manual is available both as a printed book or a free digital download.

The workbook takes about two minutes to load on the laptop, and five minutes on the Kindle.  While it is loading, the first screen you see is just black.  There is nothing to show it is loading.  Just be patient.  It's referred to as an "app" but you use it in your browser.  It is an online workbook.  There are no sounds or flashing lights or music.  So don't expect many app-like features, which can be distracting for some students.  App instructions are separate from the Teacher's Manual download.  Read it carefully or you might miss important information about seeing the full pages.  Two features the Interactive A Workbook does have, are showing one line of words on a sheet at a time. By clicking on the words in the lower right corner, you toggle through each row of words on the "page."

Here you click the words in the lower right corner to rearrange the words on the screen.  Each click causes the three words being learned to slide across the screen, changing location.

"Handwriting" can be completed on the computer pages with a mouse, touch pad, or stylus, depending on which device you choose to use.  I ended up printing most of them, which kind of defeats the purpose of the interactive online workbook.

Printing with Kindle, paper, and the laptop.

Unscrambling letters, Merrick is learning which letters are vowels and for the time being, I'm guiding him to place vowels in the center spot on the screen as we're building CVC words.  After he makes the attempt to unscramble the words, I tell him what word we are trying to spell.  When he unscrambled pat to spell tap, I let him because, hello! he spelled a word and sounded it out!  Then we redid it to spell pat.  After he unscrambled the letters and moved them to the line near the bottom of the screen, we would "tap and say" each sound.  

Using "tap and say' to enlarge each tile as he practices its sound.
When he had no trouble or hesitation, we added a little action.  He holds his hands out in front of himself, then uses a clapping motion (the louder, the better) to imagine smacking the letters together to make the word, which he then reads in its entirety. 

Clapping /c/ /a/ /t/ into cat.

The TM contains guides for writing the letters, pronouncing the sounds used in the Interactive A Workbook, and correcting errors productively.  Each lesson is fully scripted.  Reading is taught as segmenting words and blending the sounds.

ABeCeDarian avoids non-reading busy work.  There are no pictures to match, nor circling objects.  It is 100% decoding and writing words.  Even "sight words" can be decoded and are taught that way.  You will be repeating lessons to fluency.  Which makes the reusable nature of the handwriting screens nice.

We are only on lesson five, but by the end of the Interactive A Workbook, students are decoding sentences like these.
  • I sat in the back of the van.
  • Mom went on a quick trip.
  • Tom kept a pen on his desk.

Merrick is four.  He would generally poop out after ten minutes, less if he was writing.  When he says he is done, we are done.  We'd do the fun online parts of the lesson one day and part of the writing another day.  The writing sheets (I'm printing most of them) are really helping him with his habit of starting letters at the bottom line and writing up.  There is a tiny circle at the starting point for each letter on each page.

On a side note, I saw this line in the TM and immediately thought, "Where is the /t/?"

I had to poll my FB friends to see how *they* pronounce catch.  What I said was, "My thing with the T, is that it is distinctly part of ket when I say it. It isn't smushed into the tch at the end which would sort of make it silent with a strong ch. Ket/ch not ke/tch."  The /e/ or /a/ folks were pretty evenly divided.  Also, the "/t/ or not to /t/" were similarly divided.  There may have been fewer no /t/ than yes /t/, but not by a huge margin.  We left many things unsettled that day.  The dictionary told us this.

I was disappointed.  I still say ket/ch.  You let me down, Dictionary.  You're never too old to learn something new!

What I didn't love.
  • You need two electronic devices open at a time, one for the Interactive A Workbook and one for the Teacher's Manual.
  • Completed sections are not tracked.  You need to watch where you left off so you don't end up repeating or skipping lessons.

What I really do like.
  • I like the systematic teaching of phonemes.
  • The writing pages can be used over and over, but for our purposes, I think I'd prefer the pre-printed workbook for regular use.
  • I like that the focus is teaching letter sounds, not letter names.  
I preferred the laptop computer over the Kindle.

Merrick already knew the letters names and the sounds, so it wasn't a problem, but the author recommends teaching the common sounds for each letter before their names.  Names don't help us to read and can actually hinder early reading attempts.
Not sure where to start?  You'll find a placement assessment on the website.

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