Florence Lindstrom, author of CLP's Adventures in Phonics, stresses sounds as the core of good phonics education. On that premise, she presents the English language not as a collection of words but as a series of sounds that make up all the words we speak and read. The program begins with vowel and consonant recognition and moves quickly to general rules and pronunciation of blends.
This is a very straightforward program. There is a lot of written work and review, and teachers are expected to actively instruct. The student texts are low on color and pictures, high on exercises and text, and there aren't a lot of supplementary materials to liven things up. CLP generally seems to favor a more old-fashioned approach in their curricula, and they don't disappoint here.
How Do These Work?
For each of the three levels (K-2) there's a consumable student worktext and a teacher's manual. There are four slim readers for the kindergarten program, flashcards and phonics charts, and a Phonics Sounds and Teaching Tips audio CD. CLP has also republished the Blue-Backed Speller by Noah Webster as Noah Webster's Reading Handbook, a primer to be used in conjunction with Adventures in Phonics.
Each worktext contains phonics rules to memorize, and extensive written exercises for kids to apply what they've learned while improving their handwriting skills. The sound of each letter is stressed even more than the name of the letter, so students are taught to instantly recognize and identify the cumulative sounds they encounter in various words. There aren't lists of vocabulary to memorize, just lots of rules and pronunciation guides.
The kindergarten readers have cute pictures and fun little stories that illustrate biblical principles. Next to the first page of each story is a chart that illustrates one or more of the concepts represented in the story. There are no readers for the other two grades, though the Reading Handbook can be used for the same purpose; it contains short stories, review of important rules, and charts and word lists to reinforce sound recognition. The original Blue-Backed Speller was written a century and a half ago, so the words, pictures, and formatting have been updated for modern users.
The teacher guides include notes for teaching and answers to exercises on reduced student worktext pages. Information for each lesson is limited, though there are ideas for presentation and activities. The author stresses the main reason we learn to read is so we can read the Bible, and there are lots of hints along those lines. The Phonics Sounds and Teaching Tips is designed as a companion to the teacher guides, though it's not meant to replace them.
Our Honest Opinion:
This series has been used for years at the Christian Liberty Academy, and is definitely more classroom-oriented than designed for homeschool use. However, it is fairly adaptable and integrates well with other CLP curricula. It is relatively slow-paced but thorough. The emphasis on pronunciation and correct sound recognition will help kids not only master phonics rules but also encourage them to be articulate and clear.
There is a lamentable lack of teacher support. The teacher's manuals, while adequate, are far from comprehensive, and many parents without experience teaching phonics may be unduly frustrated as they try to teach concepts they aren't fully familiar with themselves. You could probably get by without the teacher's manuals altogether. That being said, this course will certainly have your kids reading if you're willing to devote enough time to instruction each day.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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