The Delightful Reading Kits can be used to teach reading skills to children from the toddler stage up through the early elementary years using Charlotte Mason’s methods. There are three kits that are to be used in sequence. Whichever kit you are using, if you are teaching more than one child at the same time, you will need an additional "Learner Pack" for each child.
Level 1: Playing with Letters and Sounds
Children who do not yet know the letters and their sounds should begin with Level 1. The playful approach used at this level is good even for some toddlers. You might use this kit over a few years.
The kit includes a teacher's book that explains more than 100 games and activities to be used. There are card decks with uppercase and lowercase letter cards, and four more card decks with pictures and words. A number of other items come in the kit. An Alphabet Bingo game is used to reinforce letter and sound recognition. The A Is for Art: A Fine Art Alphabet Book is used to introduce each letter alongside a beautiful artwork image. My ABC Book has pages for students to color and decorate with images of items that begin with the letter on that page. A set of jumbo craft sticks comes with letter stickers to affix to them—these will be used in some of the games. And the ABC Placemat can also be used to reinforce learning.
Level 2: Words I Can Build
Children who are ready to begin blending sounds into words can start with Level 2. They continue to learn phonics and reading skills through more than 90 games and activities. Those games and activities are used within lessons in a more systematic fashion than in the first level. Children will learn to read both short-vowel and long-vowel words along with words that have blends such as th and tr.
The kit contains a teacher's book that explains the games and activities. You will use a set of small ABC tiles (with a lowercase letter on one side of each tile and an uppercase letter on the reverse side) along with six decks of word cards (with more than 300 words in all).
Words I Can Build is a student workbook where parents will record new words the student has built from the letter tiles. Colored dot stickers in the kit are used with some of the workbook activities. Children do not have to do any handwriting in the workbook, but you can let them do so if they are ready.
Level 3: From Words to Books
Level 3 is for children who can already read both short-vowel and long-vowel words and are ready to start reading sentences. This kit has a teacher's book with instructions for lessons that teach both phonics and sight words in conjunction with the content of the small book, A Delightful Reader.
The reader features four reading selections: the poem “Rain” by Robert Louis Stevenson, "The Dogs and the Fox" by Aesop, Proverbs 23: 4-5, and “Letter to My Friends” by “a delighted author.” At the end of the reader is an additional section titled, “More Sentences You Can Read.” The content of the reader is secular since even the quote from Proverbs relates to wisdom and wealth rather than mentioning God.
The six card decks included in this kit consist mostly of word cards. Some cards with smaller letters and phonograms need to be cut apart to be used as tiles for building words. The My Word Book journal is used by the parent to record words the student has learned.
Many homeschoolers are surprised when they discover that Charlotte Mason’s approach to reading relies heavily on teaching sight words. Mason’s rationale is that there are so many exceptions that phonics cannot be consistently applied. In addition, she points out that fluent readers do not continue to sound out words once they recognize them—they essentially read by sight.
Delightful Reading does not rely exclusively on sight-reading. It also teaches phonics, especially through word families. For example, children learn the word it, then they learn how to create more words by adding various consonants at the beginning. Children learn long-vowel words by a similar process. They start by adding a silent-e at the end of consonant-vowel-consonant words they have already created using word tiles. For instance, they will add a silent e to can to make the word cane.
When you get to the third level, each lesson begins with students learning the words that will appear in the readings in A Delightful Reader. (Those readings are not limited to a phonetic vocabulary.) Students learn in an interactive, hands-on fashion using word cards to construct sentences. Then they work with the letter/phonogram tiles to construct words phonetically. Once they’ve mastered the new words, they read the original sentence or sentences from A Delightful Reader. Then the lesson shifts to word building as students work with either “base” phonograms or words to form additional words (e.g., adding the letters g or r before ain to form gain or rain, or substituting c at the beginning of the word falling to make calling). Students conclude by creating new sentences from the words they have learned.
Because lesson words are derived from the reading material, the vocabulary is more advanced than we often see in beginning programs. Children learn words such as meager, quay, and squinted. The sentences in “More Sentences You Can Read” (found in the reader for the third level) often include unusual words or poetic phrasing such as, “Was it a jet or a drone in the no-fly zone?” and “Have you met many fiends who were not in fetters?”
As you might expect if you are familiar with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education, this is an interactive approach to reading that often seems like play. It incorporates literary vocabulary that stretches the child’s mind and imagination. I expect it will work especially well with children who enjoy “playing” with words.