As part of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, I’ve received the ABeCeDarian Company’s reading program to review. I received the student workbook and teacher’s manual A-1, the student workbook and teacher’s manual A-2, the student workbook and teacher’s manual B-1, the ten story books, and ABeCeDarian Aesop.
From their website:
“ABeCeDarian Company publishes and distributes the ABeCeDarian Reading Program, a research-based, explicit, comprehensive, multi-sensory decoding program developed by Michael Bend, Ph.D. The program efficiently addresses the key areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency.”
When I first got this curriculum, I spent a few evenings reading through the introductory materials. There’s quite a bit of it, and to fully understand the methods and thought and to be able to teach it properly, reading that is necessary. It was a bit intimidating at the beginning – I rather like to just jump in – but in the end, I learned a lot in what I read! By the end of the intro, I couldn’t wait to get started. I wanted to see what it could do!
Words like “graphemes” and “morphemes” and “phonemes” scared me just a bit – but everything is clearly explained and makes sense upon reading the beginning instruction. It includes handwriting instruction as well, and one thing I really, really appreciate is having that combined. They are learning to write the things they are learning to read. That makes so much sense! It doesn’t teach letter names. At first this made me wonder, but calling each letter by it’s sound makes it easy for remembering – and really, in the end, it turns out my kids learned the letter names all on their own. ABeCeDarian states that they do need to learn those names eventually, but early on, when so much remembering is required of your young student, learning the letters by only their sounds simplifies things greatly. I rather agree now. It’s just simple. Something tells me that even if I never teach them the letter names, they’ll pick that up anyway. I can’t picture Ruby at 25 telling someone how to spell water and saying “It’s spelled wuh, aaaaaa, tttttttttttt…. you get the picture. (Come to think of it, I can’t picture Ruby at 25 at all. That’s a strange thought!)
I started Sterling (almost 6 and just finishing kindergarten) in B-1. He was reading well, had made it through my set of 40 little readers, but had little formal instruction beyond me explaining the rules of phonics as we went along. I know. It’s awful. But he hated the phonics curriculum I had used with my older girls and I was tired of the tears. We dropped that, did our own thing, and it rather worked. But I digress.
From day one, Sterling was excited about ABeCeDarian. It was simple, to the point, and the work was right up his alley. His favorite part is the sentences that he has to read, choose the correct word that’s missing out of the two offered, and write it on the blank. He gets excited every time we get to that page each day. He sorts words that all have the same sound by the way that sound is spelled – ow, ou,… each word goes under the category for that letter blend. He does it like a pro. There’s been no tears, and when I asked him yesterday if he likes the ABeCeDarian Company’s reading program, he announced, “I love it the best. It’s my favorite subject in school. It works really well.” High marks from Sterling, I assure you!
Sterling is 12 lessons into B-1. He’s still excited about it. He’s learned a lot and is reading faster now than when he started – he’s barely sounding anything out anymore. The AbeCeDarian Aesop is interesting and fun. I had to read all the stories in it to him right after he read the first – he wanted to know all the stories. Now, he sits and reads it on his own after his lesson, rereading the stories he’s already read.
After Sterling’s animosity towards our old way of teaching phonics, I started Ruby doing a different curriculum in January. She’s 4 1/2 and was reading short 3-4 letter words and sentences of short words when we started ABeCeDarian. When we received ABeCeDarian, I jumped from her old curriculum to ABeCeDarian’s A-1. She’s gained confidence and is easily reading the words introduced each lesson – and remembering them after sounding them out just a few times. She’s taking the little letter cards (part of a free download to be used with level A books) and putting the letters in order to spell the words I ask her to spell. She loves the “spelling tests” best – the words she’s been working with, she’s writing them all on her own when I tell her the word. Fun stuff! She’s so proud, she’s learning, and we both love it.
It’s not tedious. We spend 15-20 minutes on it most days. Both Sterling and Ruby are asking to do ABeCeDarian. When we finish one lesson, they ask to do another. We’re most definitely going to finish this curriculum and use it again when Pierce and Charlotte are older.
I have run into one error in the A-1 book. Lesson 12 had a different word list in the teacher’s manual than in the student’s workbook. Really not a big deal – once I realized the error. Poor Ruby sounded out ‘mop’ over and over and I kept telling her it was wrong. Oops. I was wrong!
After using a few different curriculums, I have to say this one is my favorite. I can’t wait to see where it takes us. They have upper levels as well, and from just looking at them on their website, they also look fabulous. ABeCeDarian goes all the way through level D for 5th-6th graders. A placement test is available here.
Level A is written at a kindergarten level, although some younger students might do well with it. For Level A, The A-1 and A-2 student workbooks are each $12.25 and the A-1 and A-2 teacher’s manuals are each $28.50. The set of ten story books are $21.50.