Friday, May 15, 2009

Rocket Phonics

The Rocket Phonics website boasts that this reading program is easy to use, fun for the student, and will improve reading skills drastically and quickly. This impressive-looking program is sold online for $160 and comes complete with the following materials:

*Rocket Phonics workbook
*Two sets of symbol cards
*Bingo chips and extra games
*Word lists for testing
*Helpful teaching tips

A few months ago I received this product to review and quickly opened it and began pouring through its contents and reading through the Teacher's Guide Notes. I was hopeful that this program would help jumpstart my Kindergartner's reading since he is such a hands-on learner.

What makes Rocket Phonics unique is its "One letter, one sound - No Exceptions" rule which eventually looks a little something like this:

Basically the student begins by memorizing one sound to each of the letters or letter combinations like you see above. So they will memorize that 'oa' says the long 'o' sound and the will memorize the sound of 'z' and so forth. They will do this mostly with the use of flashcards and game ideas that are included in the kit and offered by download from the Rocket Phonics website.

Then the students will begin reading simple sentences and stories which are included in the workbook that look exactly like the sentences above. The idea is that student will read faster because he doesn't have to guess which sound such letters as the 's' in 'frogs' makes because the clues are listed below so they will know.

I can see where all of the fun games and materials included with Rocket Phonics would be appealing to the reluctant reader, but unfortunately after a month long attempt to use it with E5 I knew it wasn't going to work for us. There were small things that bothered me initially about the program. The included flashcards are vital to memorizing the sound and are quite sturdy with beautiful illustrations. But two of them in particular where confusing for E5. One was the 'O' card that had a picture of an otter displayed on it. Maybe its just E5, but he kept confusing the otter with a walrus and it somehow stuck in his brain. It was quite a struggle for me to re-teach him that the letter 'O' does not make a 'w' sound. Also, the flashcard for the letter 'U' included a picture of a duck. Oh, WHY?, I ask would one use this example for a five year old to teach the letter 'U' sound?! This one bothered me so much that I drew a picture of an umbrella and pasted it over the picture of the duck in the workbook and on the flashcard.

Still the confusion continued for E5 and the frustration continued to grow with me, but I think this is simply because I had already began teaching E5 to read using a completely different method which I felt was easier. I have always found that it has been simple for me to teach all of the sounds of each letter to our children at once and reading follows quite quickly after that. So I teach them that the letter 'A' has three sounds: 'a' like in 'cat', 'a' like in 'gate', and 'a' like in 'water'. They memorize all the sounds of each letter and several letter combinations (or multi-letter phonograms) like 'sh', 'oa', 'eigh' and so forth and they memorize the sounds in order that the sound is most frequently used in English language. The reason I am trying to explain the way we have always taught our kids to read is so that you might understand why it was confusing to E5 to switch him to the Rocket Phonics program. He had already memorized that the letter 'A' had 3 sounds, but Rocket Phonics wanted him to only use one of them. He had already memorized that 'oo' has 3 sounds, but Rocket Phonics only wanted him to use one of them, etc. Can you see how that might be confusing? I even tried to use Rocket Phonics with my older kids to see if it might help them with quicker reading fluency, but they quickly became confused as well.

While this program didn't work for us, a quick read through the customer testimonials will prove that it has worked for many. Also Rocket Phonics offers a 90-Day Money back guarantee which is helpful in making that initial purchase. If you are looking for a program to help your child learn to read or improve their reading skills, please take some time to look at the Rocket Phonics website to see if it might work for you.

You can also read more Rocket Phonics reviews on the TOS Crew Blog.

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1 comment:

  1. I wasn't a reviewer on this and wanted to be and then my luck changed when I read a review and that person wasn't in need of it and she sent it to me.. WE LOVE it as well.. We've been working on it a couple weeks and we are breezing by it with flying colors and it's so much fun. My son loves it too.. Well worth it for sure..



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