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Friday 2 March 2012

Oxford Reading Tree: My Phonics Kit Reviewed

Dh and I have already bred one avid reader in JJ and I am hoping to develop another two with my twin girls.  At 4 years old they are still in the first stages of phonics and in truth are not really ready to make use of this Oxford Reading Tree phonics kit yet but Miss M, my slightly more advanced reader had a jolly good go with me!

My twins are proof of just how different children can be in their abilities. Miss M knows all her sounds and can happily blend them to make 3 or 4 letter words. When she applies herself she reads a simple book well and enjoys it, the trouble we have with her is that she will get bored easily.  Miss E is a different kettle of fish, she seems to find the whole concept of reading completely unnecessary. She has already told me she will live with me and not bother to read and work as it is no fun. I still have to constantly remind her of what some letter sounds are as she just seems to forget and blending is a complex task for her. Continual praise is the name of the game as far as we are concerned with Miss E.

From the summer of 2012 all schools in England will implement the phonics screening check in school year 1 (age 6). This will ensure that those children who need extra help are identified and are able to catch up and meet the national expectation.  I am pleased to hear this, it means my little Miss E will be helped to reach her full potential with reading.

Included with the phonics kit are three A5 size phonics workbooks, all with the popular characters Biff, Chip and Kipper that my girls are familiar with from their school reading, then stickers to stick on each page as your child completes that section and also a wall chart with some stickers for the child to collect as they complete the 6 e-books that are included on a CD. Also on the CD are some good parent notes to help you understand what the school check is about and a fab set of audio sounds so that parents can ensure they are working accurately with their child.  I know from when JJ started to read and I used to always sound M as 'Merrr', where as I now understand it is 'mmmmm', these kind of parental errors can be a problem.

My favourite part of the kit was the e-book, even though my girls are too young to read much of it for themselves, they loved sitting either side of me at the laptop and using the computer to turn the pages and turn the volume on and off as the e-book read a loud. Also there were associated activities that could be completed after the book was read which helped to test their understanding and recollection skills and all in the guise of fun as it was computer based.

We have not used the actual workbooks yet. At the beginning of the books it shows a page of words such as - egg, spoon, queen, shiver etc and says that if your child can read these they are at the right stage to do the book. There is then about 13 pages of activities and each page practises between 2 and 4 of the regular phonic sounds, the children are encouraged to spot the sound on the page, match captions to sentences, read some words and fill in the gaps. The pages look bright and welcoming to use.

For the cost of £9.99 RRP I think the kit is fantastic value, the e-books alone are worth way more than that.  It is a great kit for making something which could be hard work into fun. Anything that can engage Miss E and promote her reading is a must as far as I am concerned.

Check out the wide range of Oxford University Press phonics resources for parents, which includes free e-books and advice.

Disclosure:  We received 2 phonics kits free of charge for use with my twins, I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest. 

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