Age 5-7 Reading is a thorough, multisensory phonics program that can be used with children in kindergarten through first grade to teach phonics, reading skills, handwriting, spelling, and sentence structure. Before starting this program, children should have already been introduced to letters of the alphabet and their sounds and should have learned how to write both upper and lowercase letters. This program should be especially good for academically gifted students. However, Age 5-7 Reading should work for most students who have reached this level of readiness as long as parents don’t push those who need extra time to complete the program in one year.
Program Pacing and Format
The program moves more quickly than many other phonics programs. The first month reviews the sounds of the letters while also teaching blending those sounds into words. Week five introduces words with the digraph ck and how to form plurals by adding s. Age 5-7 Reading continues to work through phonetic elements and sight words so that by the end, students should be able to read words such as thing, plants, gnat, and knee. At that point, students still need to learn some of the more complex phonograms like ough and eigh plus more advanced vocabulary, but they will have a solid foundation.
The program consists of two parent manuals, two student activity books, (one parent and one student book are used each semester), and a Reading Kit. The Reading Kit includes two sets of flashcards with the letters of the alphabet (one lowercase and one uppercase), a large set of cards with two- or three-letter phonograms (e.g., ab, ee, and onk), a set of sight-word cards, a set of “Making Sentences” cards, a package of markers and highlighters, 30 small readers, a laminated writing sheet, lined paper, and a set of “Weekly Messages.”
Children begin printing individual letters at the beginning of the course and are writing complete sentences by the end of the first semester. Note that Age 5-7 Reading does not teach how to form letters. Children still developing the small-motor coordination required for writing can do some of their initial writing in shaving cream, rice, or other media that doesn’t require the precise movements of handwriting. However, beginning the first week, they also have pages in their activity books for tracing and copying letters, then writing entire words. The lines and spaces are large. The laminated writing sheet also has large lines for practicing with a wipe-off marker. Later, students will write words and sentences taken from dictation on the lined writing paper. This amounts to more writing than is typical of a program used in kindergarten, so if you are using it at that level, consider the suggestion in the first parent manual to have students do less writing for some of the assignments.
I mentioned that this is a multisensory program. Music videos (generally on YouTube®) are used throughout the program. (You might want to pay for a YouTube account to avoid the ads at the beginning of the videos.) Students will take short, online quizzes three days per week using Moving Beyond the Page’s Learning Gates system, which requires them to listen, read, and respond by clicking the correct answer. (You should think of the quizzes as online worksheets rather than tests.) Some hands-on work occurs with word and sentence-building activities using the flashcards and word cards as well as cut-and-paste activities in both workbooks. There’s a strong auditory component beyond the videos since parents teach the program, discussing and interacting with students. Students have plenty of opportunities to give oral responses during the lessons.
The “Weekly Messages” are an unusual course component. These large sheets have encouraging messages that relate to what students are learning. One sheet is used each week to teach reading skills such as following from left to right and top to bottom, identifying punctuation at the end of sentences, practicing reading words they have learned, and recognizing high-frequency words that might be beyond their reading level.
The parent manuals are the heart of the course. They list the goals for each week and required resources, and then they walk you through each part of the lesson and the use of all components for that week. They do not break lessons down into what is to be accomplished each day. You get to figure that out. (It’s best to stop each day’s lesson while a child is still enjoying the lesson rather than when they are exhausted or frustrated.) Many activities are described only in the parent manual, and the lesson plans present a well-thought-out progression for all the different types of activities. The program requires parental instruction and interaction most of the time, and parents will probably want to look over the lessons ahead of time to pull out the resources they will need.
The student activity books reinforce lessons, but they are not the primary source of learning. They repeat many activities from week to week, but the activities gradually change to require more reading and writing. Many activity pages have students cut out words from one page and sort them by word families or common phonetic elements into the correct columns or boxes on another page. Students will fill in blanks with letters or words on some pages, and there are occasional word-search puzzles. Spelling tests are given each week in the second semester on formatted pages.
The 30 readers are 5.5” x 4.25” and have eight to twelve pages each. Full-color illustrations are on the right page and text is on the left. The first reader begins with only eight different words and one short sentence of text per page. The final reader has about four sentences per page with dialogue, exclamations, and questions. Comprehension questions for the readers are in the parent manuals, and these are used orally.
You can check out an online sample of one week’s complete lesson before buying.
Age 5-7 Reading is a great option for children who can learn to read at a faster pace than others. The excellent combination of multisensory learning techniques keeps the program interesting while addressing various learning styles.