Little Stories for Little Folks is an amazingly affordable, multisensory phonics program that covers preschool through first grade. Used in conjunction with My Very First Catholic Speller, it provides a complete program. Catholic Heritage Handwriting Levels K and 1 also correlate with it but are not required. Kindergartners might also benefit from the optional Little Folks’ Letter Practice workbook with pre-reading exercises in letter formation and beginning phonics.
The fifth edition, published in 2012, combines what were formerly separate components—a parent's guide; card stock with flashcards, blending strips, and word tiles; and 45 make-it-yourself readers—into a single book. The new edition has also added a worksheet for each lesson in the first two levels of the book. Instructions are clearer and much easier to follow with everything in one place. The entire book is printed in full color, including the pages for the readers.
The book begins with two beginning steps to teach the alphabet, letter and sound identification, and blending. Flashcards and games for beginners are provided in the book, but they also recommend that you use magnetic letters for additional hands-on learning. These early stages might take a year or more with preschoolers or kindergartners. Flashcards, blending strips, and word tiles printed on heavy card stock need to be cut out before you begin. The blending strips help students to learn to blend by working with word families. The word tiles are used in the Silly Willy Sentences Game used frequently throughout the lessons.
Once students are able to read simple words such as “cat, sat,” and “dad,” they begin the first lesson in level 1. Each of the 45 lessons that follow is built around a four-page reader. One page of teaching instructions precedes the reader. Lessons might include discussion, a game, and/or a worksheet, although it varies from lesson to lesson. Instructions are relatively brief. Parents might need to prepare flashcards, game materials, or readers in advance, but none of this takes much time. Readers include the new words to be learned, and they sometimes have “The Name Game” written activity on the fourth page.
Lesson instructions also cross reference the correlating lesson(s) in My Very First Catholic Speller, Catholic Heritage Handwriting Level K, or Catholic Heritage Handwriting Level 1.
The program follows an orderly phonetic progression using a word family approach and teaching the necessary sight words.
Character building and Catholic content makes this program a great choice for Catholic families. Catholic content isn’t just Catholic vocabulary; stories include serious Catholic content with stories such as those about perseverance in the faith for salvation, a Catholic mission in Asia that takes in abandoned female babies, the gift of a new baby for a family, and Our Blessed Mother’s example.
One way the publisher has kept the price so low is by printing the readers on removable pages in the book. Each of these pages needs to be folded into a four-page booklet. The booklets are color-coded and numbered reflecting the four different levels in the program. Because each story has to fit within the four pages, most of the books have more words and fewer illustrations that do some other readers.
The removable reader and worksheet pages raise my only concern regarding the new format. As pages are removed, the remainder of the book might not stay tightly bound together. If you want to reuse the program with another child, you really need to purchase another book since children will have written on the worksheets and in some of the readers. The low cost makes this very reasonable to do.
Little Stories for Little Folks is one of the most practical options for families looking for a Catholic reading program for beginners.