The Phonics Museum: Why I Love It and What I’ll Change

LauraEarly Elementary Education

Recently, a reader asked about The Phonics Museum, which I used with Vivienne last year and this year.

I’ve been thinking about updating you about this curriculum, so here are my thoughts now that we are almost finished with the entire program:

It is a beautiful curriculum. I truly love the depth of art-appreciation as well as the historical appreciation that it birthed in Vivienne. She loves the “Lady of the Sea” – Queen Elizabeth – and brightens up whenever she sees her photo. She begged to read In the Shadow of Death every day because she fell in love with the story: a young Christian girl who helps victims of the Black Plague.  The primers are not your typical early readers, but I’m convinced that they were the best resource for our oldest daughter. I will reevaluate with each child: Lia may not take to them as well as Vivienne did, I don’t know yet.

I’ve read comments online of many people who don’t prefer the primers because of their difficulty, content, or writing style. Vivienne begs to read them because they are actually meaty, and she has always dragged through the fluffy early-readers I’ve picked up from the library or bookstores. (Lia, however, may be thrilled to learn to read with Dora or a pretty pony. Only time will tell.)

Concerning the writing style of the primers: The first year of primers do have awkward wording that needs to be explained to the early reader.  The awkward wording, however, is necessary to offer substantial content with the limited phonics skills. I don’t mind this at all; in fact, it has allowed for me to explain many, many things as we read and has expanded Vivienne’s vocabulary and poetic abilities.

What I won’t use the second time around is the same form of hand-writing that is taught in the workbooks. The form that Phonics Museum uses is lovely; your child’s writing will look gorgeous, but it is not compatible with any other supplemental workbook or worksheets you may use. Of course, I’ll still use the gorgeous worksheets, but will teach Lia the Zaner-Bloser method of handwriting from the beginning, which is much more versatile with other educational materials. (I switched Vivienne to the Zaner-Bloser method this year and wish I had started her with this program last year!)

I also found that the first grade spelling lists are too difficult for Vivienne at this point. Yes, she could memorize them if we spent lots of time on them, but each list is packed with various phonics rules, instead of drilling one or two, at the most. It was just too over-whelming (for me, anyway), and I decided that our time is better spent reading more.  After the first spelling quiz, we picked up Susan Wise Bauer’s suggested Spelling Workout A, and have been breezing through it; Viv has mastered everything seemlessly and is loving spelling. Just what I wanted. (Her mother is much happier, too.) Next year, we’ll begin the All About Spelling program, which works back through the same phonics rules.

Any other questions??