Review Crew: ABeCeDarian Company

I have a reader at my house and two kids waiting just in the wings to take off on their own reading journeys.  I spend most of my days doing phonics lessons and sounding words out.  Since my life is full of phonics I was excited to try a new reading program to help nudge my little people toward some reading independence.  We had the chance to review the reading program from ABeCeDarian Company!

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ABeCeDarian Company produces the ABeCeDarian Reading Program that was developed by Dr. Michael Bend.  This program focuses on phonemic awareness and takes the student through a systematic phonics program that was designed to promote literacy and reading fluency. 

What did we receive?
The program has several levels of reading instruction with comb-bound student books and teacher’s manuals, as well as a set of readers.  The website also has letter tiles to download and print to use with the program.
The teacher’s manuals contain all the instructions as well as the philosophy behind the program.  The manuals are scripted for the teacher.
The student books are consumable and contain handwriting practice, pages for spelling tests, and pages for practicing with the printable letter tiles.
The readers are paperback storybooks with black and white pictures.

I received Part 1 and 2 of Level A and Part 1 of Level B as well as the 10 Storybook Collection and the Aesop Reader.

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Part 1 of Level A covers words such as map, pop, not, and run.
Part 2 of Level A teaches words such as fill, jam, ship, chip, and box.
There is a set of 10 story books that correspond to Level A.  The first book is used toward the end of Part 1, with most of the remaining readers scheduled throughout Part 2.

Part 1 of Level B teaches words with phonograms /ar/, /ed/, and /ow/.
This level has a separate reader which is a collection of Aesop fables.

This program is geared for early elementary students or any student needing remedial phonics work.  I used Level A-1 with my 4-year-old and 5-year-old.

Level A-1 Student Workbook retails for $12.25
Level A-1 Teacher Manual retails for $28.50

Level A-2 Student Workbook retails for $12.25
Level A-2 Teacher Manual retails for $28.50

Level B-1 Student Workbook retails for $10.25
Level B-1 Teacher Manual retails for $25.50

The Storybook Collection retails for $21.50
The ABeCeDarian Aesop retails for $2.50

How did we use this product?
I was initially going to have Curly work in the last books of the program but once we received our products, I realized that she is reading above a second grade level already!  Wow!  I was pleasantly surprised that she is past this program.

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I used the first book (Level A-1) for both Tiger and Bee.  After reading through the extensive introduction which explains the method and types of activities in the book, we began on the first lesson.  Tiger is already beginning to sound out simple words so he was able to do several lessons per day.  He was ready to do the handwriting in conjunction with the program, so he was writing very well by the end of our review period.  The first book of the program was slightly below his ability in reading but he had not yet had an practice with spelling words so this section was challenging for him at first.  Tiger was able to complete more than 1 lesson per day as we worked together.  Now that he is almost to the end of the first book, his pace has slowed slightly.

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Bee was working at a much slower pace as she has not yet had any reading instruction.  She was able to complete about 1/2 lesson per day.  The handwriting was a little more difficult and time consuming for her since her motor skills are not quite ready for lots of writing.  So, we took this section more slowly and I had her do her writing on the white board.  She really enjoyed the challenge of sounding words out though and she did a great job remembering the letter sounds introduced in the program.

What did a day of using this product look like?
Tiger (Level A-1 Unit 4 Lesson 19)
The first page of our lesson has three words – “can,” “on,” and “did”
Tiger taps each letter saying the letter sounds and then he blends them together to read them.
Next, I pretend to read the words, making simple errors such as saying “fan” instead of “can.”  His job is to figure out which letter is incorrect.  He loved trying to catch my mistakes.
The next page has a list of words for him to read.  The goal is to be able to read them without needing to sound them out.  Because of his practice in previous lessons he is able to recognize many of the words.
The following page teaches the word “the.”  He practices reading it several times.
Then we work on spelling practice.  At the bottom of the page are the 3 words he learned on the first page of our lesson.  I give him the words in random order and he has to write them on the lines provided.  He is able to look at the words at the bottom of the page as a reference if he needs spelling help.
The last pages of this lesson have sentences for him to practice reading.  These sentences contain review words but also incorporate the new words from this lesson.

Bee (Level A-1 Unit 1 Lesson 7)
Bee’s first task in this lesson is a spelling chain.  I use the letter tiles to spell the word “map.”  Then we progress through a list of words that Bee spells.  Each word is only one letter different than the word before.  “Map” becomes “tap” and then “top.”
The next page has a list of words for her to practice reading without needing to sound them out.  If she gets stuck, we tap each letter, saying the sound until she is ready to blend and read the word.
The last part of this lesson has a short spelling test.  I dictate the words to her and she writes each one after sounding them out.

What didn’t we like?
I noticed a few slight errors in the Teacher Manual-simple things like instructing me to use certain tiles when I actually needed a different letter.  It was easy for me to correct the error and understand what I needed to use with my kids.

This seems silly but to Tiger this was a big deal: The covers of the Level A student books were hot pink.  He was offended at having to work in a bright pink book.  I kept the books open so he didn’t have to look at the covers but he was sad that the readers were pink too.  He doesn’t do pink.  We were able to work around it but he was not thrilled that his program was so “girly.”

The Teacher Manual for Level A-1 has extensive instructions and background information at the beginning.  I found this material a little daunting and intimidating.  Once I started using the program, the background information made sense but it was a lot to wade through in the beginning.  Definitely set aside time to plan ahead and familiarize yourself with the program before you begin using it!

The program has handwriting incorporated into the lessons which could be a huge plus for some but could be a detriment to students who lack the motor skills for writing.  Some students are ready to read before they are ready for much writing.  Bee did not have the stamina to do all the writing exercises in the books so we did a few things on the whiteboard and used the letter tiles for other things.  This helped her be able to complete lessons without the frustration of all the writing.  Some lessons were too much writing for her, yet she was still ready to read the words and progress through the books.  It was easy for us to adapt, however.

What did we like?
Once you get through the information at the beginning, the program is very straightforward and easy to use.  I loved that it was open an go after I got used to the format.  Simple!

The Teacher Manuals are scripted which is great when you don’t have time to plan ahead (like me….).  I could open up the manual for the next lesson and dive right in without any advance prep.

I liked that the program did incorporate more than just teaching the phonics.  The program also teaches handwriting and spelling.  This was perfect for Tiger who was ready for more challenges and with some adapting, the program was workable for Bee as well.

The pages are black and white and have large, clear text.  This is great for an easily distracted kid like Tiger.  The readers are also black and white with simple pictures and easily readable text.

This is a phonics-based program that teaches phonograms and teaches reading through blending.  This is how I learned and how I want to teach my kids.  So, the philosophy behind the program matched what I want for them!

What did we think overall?
Once I got into the groove of using the program and was used to the scripting and the instructions, it was very easy to use.  I could grab the manual and go-it was very straightforward.  It was also very simple phonics instruction which works so well with my crew.  Tiger was spelling words on his own after just a few weeks and he was sounding out short words with confidence.  Bee was beginning to sound out words and her handwriting was improving.  I could see such a difference in their skill levels after just a few weeks.

We really enjoyed this program.  It is simple, no frills but is easy to teach and progresses at a slow but steady pace.  I’m excited to continue using it and watch how my kids become independent readers and are able to sound out new words.  Tiger is excited to reach the part where he can begin with the little readers!  He’s almost there!

See what the rest of the Crew thought about ABeCeDarian Company!

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