Ultimate Phonics Reading Program – A Review

In our home, teaching phonics and reading has been approached in a simple and straightforward manner. This has worked well for us as I have a houseful of avid readers across the ages. While the approach and resources have not changed over the years, I am not opposed to adding in extras to help supplement in weak areas of phonics and reading. Two of my children have been using Ultimate Phonics Reading Program from Spencer Learning to supplement their reading instruction and practice.

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program is a downloadable software that provides reading instruction for beginning readers to older readers who may be struggling at various levels.  Due to the presentation of the program, Ultimate Phonics is not limited to a young age range but can be helpful to mature readers.

You can view a DEMO and have 10 Days to use Ultimate Phonics for Free.

Ultimate Phonics consists of 262 lessons that covers all the phonic sounds and rules. The lessons cover sounds, words, and sentences. While the lessons build on each other, you have the freedom to begin at any level based on the needs of the reader. You can also choose to complete parts of the lessons instead of the whole. As the reader progresses through the program, you may find that a bit of review may be necessary. This is not a problem as moving back and forth in the lessons is a simple click of a button. The Scope and Sequence for Ultimate Phonics is a great resource for an overview of the lessons. A  Placement Test is available which is so helpful in finding a starting point for your reader.

How We used Ultimate Phonics Reading Program

Two of my children have been using Ultimate Phonics over the past several weeks. Sam, 6, who would be considered a beginning reader, started this program at Lesson One. We continued our normal daily phonics instruction and added Ultimate Phonics in a few times a week to serve as a supplement for him. Since it was on the computer, Sam was happy to work with Ultimate Phonics and enjoyed the program.

I had originally hoped that this program could serve as a bit of independent study for Sam but I was mistaken. I quickly found that Sam was listening to the sounds and words being read but not attempting to read them on his own aloud. This was totally an oversight on my part especially given Sam’s age. We continued to use Ultimate Phonics and I had Sam read aloud with someone close at hand to listen in and make sure he was progressing nicely. Since this was a supplement resource for him, it worked out well in this manner.

Sarah, 8, also used portions of Ultimate Phonics. I would not classify Sarah as a struggling reader but one who needs to build her confidence in her ability. She reads well but often tries to read too fast and that jumbles her sounds and words. I did not have her complete whole lesson of Ultimate Phonics. Instead she only worked with the sentence portions of each lessons. This provided review and confidence building for her. Since she was ahead of Sam, she could also listen to Sam during his lessons. Sarah loves helping and was a great confidence boost for her.

Final Thoughts

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program is a straightforward, easy to use and implement resource for phonics instruction. There are no silly graphics, characters, or games that limit this program to a young age range. It is definitely a bit dry in presentation and the automated voice that reads is a bit annoying. However, that means little distraction from the purpose of this resource which is to teach phonics and reading.

Ultimate Phonics works well as a supplement or a full phonics program. With the simple approach it can easily be used with a range of skill levels and learning abilities. Others on the Homeschool Review Crew used Ultimate Phonics so make sure you see how this program worked with a variety of readers!

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}
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Getting Started with French – A Review

In our homeschool, one of my weak areas is foreign language. Despite taking three semesters of Spanish in college, I can barely greet you in Spanish. Let us not even discuss my accent. Needless to say finding resources and curriculum to help my children experience, enjoy, and master a foreign language is important. When I heard that Armfield Academic Press has a foreign language resource, Getting Started with French, I hoped that it would be a helpful tool for my daughter, Mary, a high school junior.

Getting Started with French is a beginning French resource that works well for self-teaching students of any age. Whether it is used by a homeschool student like my daughter or an adult with a desire to learn French, anyone can quickly and easily put this program into practice.

Armfield Academic Press has other foreign language resources: Getting Started with Spanish, Getting Started with Latin,and soon they will have Getting Started with Russian.

How to Use This Book

Before handing Getting Started with French to my daughter, I did a read through on the “How to Use This Book” section at the beginning. This gave me a clear understanding of how the program worked and confirmed that my daughter could use this independently.

The set up is broken down into daily lessons that introduce new words, offer grammatical information, and translation exercises. One of my favorite aspects of this program is the free audio files that you can download. Being able to hear the correct pronunciation by a native French speaker is so helpful! My daughter found that the audio files were clear and easy to understand. She also noted that the pace or speed of the speaker was helpful.

The goal of Getting Started with French is mastery so you are encouraged to work on the lessons daily but to take time to review as needed. Practice speaking with your family in French or translating English text into French are great ways to work on review and repetition.

One way my daughter worked on review and repetition to build mastery was to utilize classic children’s literature. Our library had a few books such as Goodnight Moon and The Three Little Pigs available in French. We checked those out and she practiced translating the words into English. It was a bit more challenging than expected but a fun way to practice what she was learning.

Getting Started with French offers flexibility for your style of learning and setting your own schedule and pace. While the presentation is simple and user friendly, it is an effective approach.

You can preview Getting Started with French to get a feel for how the program is set up.

Mary’s Thoughts

Since Mary works independently I have very little interaction directly with this program but discuss what is being taught with Mary to keep an eye on her progress. Here is what she has to say:

I found Getting Started with French very easy to use. Since it can be used by all ages, I was worried at first that it might be too simple and not challenging or helpful. But that wasn’t a problem at all. It encouraged you to take your time and to not rush. It was very easy to understand the lessons and what was being taught. I found it very helpful in understanding the masculine/female gender usage and the pronunciations guides were very helpful for me. Mary – 16

Overall we are both very pleased with this program. I love the approach used and that Mary can work on it independently. Being able to set her own pace and schedule is a huge plus for Mary. She likes the flexibility that it offers.

As a homeschool family with a wide range of ages, I love that it can easily be used by different ages. I have Getting Started with Spanish on my to buy list. I think it would be a great addition to our Group Learning and be a fun family learning experience. Maybe I can finally get the proper Spanish accent?  Oh, and it is a non-consumable resource which is always a huge plus for our family. Just give everyone a notebook and we are set to learn a foreign language or two!

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}
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ArtAchieve – A Review for Every Artist

When you look around my house, you will naturally see books, books, and more books. You will also find sketch books, drawing pencils, watercolors, and more all throughout the house. One of my daughters hopes to one day illustrate children’s books so I am always on the look out for books, tutorials, and other resources to help her. ArtAchieve has allowed us to use and review their Entire Level 1 online art course and Lydia has been the primary student. I’d love to share her experience with you.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
ArtAchieve has five levels of art instruction available online. They do increase in difficulty and skill as you progress through the levels. We chose to go with Level 1 because the lessons were fun, we had all supplies readily available, and I could invite younger ones to join us at times. You can select any of the lessons at any level and learn more details about what that lesson will present to your student. Not only are supplies listed but also the approximate time the lesson will take to complete.

 

Another great aspect to the ArtAchieve lessons is that you can choose to dig deeper into the subject matter. In Level 1, Lesson 3,for example, is The Hungarian Insects. If you wanted to explore the subject a bit more, you are given links to resources that help you learn about the history and geography of Hungary. A list of picture books by Eric Carle on insects is suggested and a great way to showcase great art work. Science and writing suggestions are given as well. While we didn’t utilize all these cross-curricula resources, it is nice to have that option.

ArtAchieve has FREE lessons available. The lessons on Simple Lines and Shading are beneficial no matter which level of ArtAchieve you begin with.

How did Lydia use ArtAchieve Level 1?

Initially, I had two of my daughters using Level 1 of ArtAchieve: Lydia, 12 and Hannah, 10. Hannah completed a few lessons if she found the picture interesting but Lydia was my devoted student who I really had in mind for this course. Lydia used this independently and most often worked on her art in the afternoons. She would look over the lessons to see what supplies she needed, find a quiet spot, and create a masterpiece. She usually completes one lesson a week. She has looked over the other levels and is eager to give them all a try.

I really liked using this course. Well, I didn’t really enjoy the lesson on shading but it is an important skill to have. This would work really well for younger children as well because it is easy to understand. What you are doing is explained really well. The warm ups that you do are helpful and good practice. It was fun. Sometimes the videos were a repetitive in the beginning. And I didn’t like the words on the screen being read at the same time. I can read faster and like reading it for myself. Lydia – 12

There were a couple of afternoons that some of my younger ones (8 and 6) wanted to create a masterpiece of their own. They would wait for Lydia to finish and then copy her work. With a bit of guidance and encouragement, I think they could work through Level 1 quite well.

Final Thoughts

Overall, we were quite pleased with ArtAchieve Level 1.  The video instruction gives clear, easy to understand explanations. I loved hearing the instructor comment on how no two creations are going to look the same. This is your art. In a house with all of the children constantly drawing, sketching, and creating, we can easily find ourselves comparing our creations a bit harshly.

I appreciated the Warm Up activities for the lessons. I think they are really helpful for the student to get a feel for the lines, curves, and angles that will be used in the art work for the day. Very simple but very helpful.

Crew Members were able to review Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 of ArtAchieve. So take a moment and see what others are saying about Art Achieve and the various levels of art instruction.

 

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
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