I repeatedly say that you don’t have to buy an expensive program to teach reading. But most parents want more direction and more activity than they get with a minimalist approach like Alpha Phonics or Noah Webster’s Reading Handbook. Diane Hopkins has solved the problem by creating Happy Phonics.
The teacher’s guide directs you through a step-by-step process from learning letters and sounds into reading real books. The rest of Happy Phonics is heavy-duty, brightly colored paper stock printed with an alphabet desk strip, flash cards, words, letters, game pieces, and stories. These are cut apart and used for their various duties as explained in the instructions.
The games are manipulative learning materials rather than competitive devices, but young children love the matching, flipping cards, and moving things around. They contain some of the same elements you find in reading workbooks or texts, but the format is more appealing, and the games are definitely more fun. You might even use these as a supplement to a phonics program like Alpha Phonics or Noah Webster’s Reading Handbook.
While it does take some time to put this together, it’s not overwhelming. A simple chart in the instructions shows which parts of Happy Phonics are used at which stages of learning. Diane also recommends using Explode the Code workbooks as part of your reading program and mentions other reading tools such as the Bob Books that you might wish to use. She also encourages you to make your own beginning readers.
Spelling lists are included so children can learn to spell phonetically. Happy Phonics will suffice as a beginning spelling program.
The program includes the instructions, games, little reading books, flashcards, and My First Big Book, which has an easy-to-read story for each phonic sound learned. If you prefer a clearly and thoroughly structured program or if you dislike cutting things out and organizing, this might not be the program for you. But if you are looking for a low cost, fun phonics program with games, this is it.