Alphabet Island is more similar to Sing, Spell, Read, and Write than anything else, but it really is unique. The Alphabet Island program introduces letters and their sounds by creating characterizations through stories, poems, and songs telling about Alphabet Island (a fictional place) and the letters who live there. The character pictures and characterizations are a little complicated but very interesting. However, the characterizations might be overly distracting for children with reading difficulties. Some children might not need or enjoy the detail, in which case it can be omitted after the initial introduction of the letter. The phonics presentation is excellent; rules are clear and understandable, without being excessive.
The complete kindergarten program includes three parts: Getting to Know Alphabet Island covering phonetic sounds, alphabet sequence, and letter formation; Learning to Read in Alphabet Island introducing reading and spelling of short vowel words; and Kinder-Math covering basic kindergarten level arithmetic concepts and then some. (See review of Kinder-Math under Math Programs.) By combining phonics and arithmetic the publisher has made this a comprehensive program for the academic basics. Kinder-Math is included free with the purchase of A.I. Phonics Complete, but it may also be purchased separately.
The advanced first grade to third grade program, Alphabet Island Phonics II, includes Phonics Fun in Alphabet Island and Spelling in Alphabet Island. (Choose materials for all other subjects from other publishers.) It quickly reviews the material contained in the kindergarten level. Older students just beginning phonics can probably start with this advanced level. It then moves on to long vowels and all the other phonetic concepts.
While the components are separately titled Phonics and Spelling, both subject areas are covered in both books, although the emphasis shifts. There is excellent instruction and application practice with both phonics and spelling rules.
Both levels are now sold only as downloadable files. Songs and stories are included as MP3 files. Workbooks and teacher's manuals are included for each component along with printable alphabet cards, game boards and cards, and flashcards. All subjects are taught largely from the teacher's manuals, and workbooks are for reinforcement. The workbooks are a big improvement over those in Sing, Spell, Read, and Write.
The entire program is unusually sensitive to developmental needs of children since it has larger print, more large-muscle activity, and entertaining presentation. It does require one-on-one presentation and a large initial time commitment in preparing materials and becoming familiar with the program.
(See also the review of Eagle's Wings Comprehensive Handbook of Phonics.)