Gather 'Round's Beginning Reading and Math

Gather 'Round's Beginning Reading and Math

Gather 'Round is primarily a unit study program that can be used with all grade levels. However, young learners need sequential instruction in math and reading that can't be included in their units, so they have produced two programs for beginning students.

Letters + Numbers and Ready to Read are both complete, standalone programs that cover language arts, math, Bible, science, social studies, and art. While they are designed in a unit study fashion with themes running through the programs, they teach beginning reading and math skills in a sequential fashion. They spend more time on basic skills for math and phonics than on science, social studies, art, and Bible. These are very comprehensive programs that cover everything, including handwriting. The amount of Christian content is significantly higher than in the unit studies.

Both courses have lessons for four days per week. Letters + Numbers has 208 lessons for 52 weeks while Ready to Read has 144 lessons for 36 weeks. You can see that Letters + Numbers will probably take more than one school year to complete, even if you do lessons five days per week.

The two programs are described as being for preschool and kindergarten on the website's FAQ page, but the scope and sequence is quite advanced. Letters + Numbers teaches children to read and write all of the letters and numbers up to 20. Children also learn the sounds of letters and begin to read words with short vowel sounds. (Generally, children begin to read short-vowel words in kindergarten.) Ready to Read teaches most of the other phonetic concepts, including the phonograms that make the sounds /oi/ and the different pronunciations of g and ow. Children learn to write complete sentences, and they learn about question marks, exclamation points, and quotation marks. In math, they learn to add and subtract, with addition problems in the fourth unit like 36 + 42. Ready to Read covers much more than these concepts, but these examples reflect a scope and sequence closer to first-grade level than kindergarten. Given the advanced scope and sequence and the extra lessons in Letters + Numbers, you could stretch these programs out over two and a half years, from pre-kindergarten into first grade. Doing so should make the scope and sequence align more closely with children's abilities. The courses are not labeled for particular levels, so you can use them when they are appropriate for each child.

Each of these courses is presented in four separate, themed units. Each unit has a teacher guide and one or more student books.  Flashcards, cutouts (including math manipulatives), and math visual aids are included at the back of the student books. Mini-books for reading practice are assembled from lesson pages in some of the student books. There are lots of cutting, pasting, and assembling activities in these two courses! (The optional Expansion Pack for Letter + Numbers provides you with some items already preassembled.)

The lesson material presented from the teacher guides covers more of the science, social studies, and Bible content while the student books are where you find most of the math and language arts instruction and activities. Lessons vary with different formats and types of activities. You will generally spend about five to fifteen minutes presenting lesson material from the teacher's guide and another 10 to 30 minutes each day guiding children through the student workbook pages. Of course, you will occasionally also do art, life skill activities, field trips, or other things that take more time.

Young children need individual attention as they work through these lessons, so they require one-on-one teaching time. But the course content should be enjoyable to teach with its mixture of fascinating information for science and social studies, frequent Bible connections, and weekly art activities, intermixed with math and language arts.

While these programs can be used on their own, Gather 'Round's unit studies include pre-reader level student notebooks. If you want young children to participate in unit studies with older siblings, the pre-reader notebooks allow you to do that without overwhelming young learners. Younger students can sit in on your presentations to older children, perhaps completing one of the coloring pages in their notebooks. They do not need to listen in if the subject matter is over their heads or if they've just had too much instruction for the day. While the coloring pages and illustrations tie directly to the unit-study topics whenever possible, pre-readers are not given assignments or questions regarding that teaching.


Whether or not you use Gather 'Round's unit studies, these programs for early learners can be used on their own. They do a great job of applying a unit study approach that includes reading and math.

Pricing Information

When prices appear, please keep in mind that they are subject to change. Click on links where available to verify price accuracy.

Letter + Numbers: full bundle: digital - $179.80, print - $239.80
Ready to Read: full bundle: digital - $179.80, print - $239.80

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Instant Key

  • Need For Parent or Teacher Instruction: high
  • Learning Environment: family or one-on-one
  • Grade Level: grades PreK-1
  • Educational Methods: traditional activity pages or exercises, multisensory, life applications, interactive, intensive phonics, highly structured, hands-on, discussion, creative activities
  • Technology: PDF
  • Educational Approaches: unit study, eclectic
  • Religious Perspective: Christian

Publisher's Info

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