All About Reading
5 out of 5 stars
My daughter struggled with reading in first grade in private school. The stories that her teacher assigned never seemed to be the right reading level. She started out the year with material that was much too simple for her, and then all of a sudden she was pushed up to a level that was incredibly difficult.
We would fight to get through her reading assignments together, and there were tears. Lots and lots of tears.
One of my biggest goals with homeschooling for 2nd grade was finding a reading curriculum that allowed her to feel successful while also pushing her to a higher level of reading comprehension and fluency.
I poured over curriculum reviews, asked friends for suggestions, and finally settled on All About Reading. Did it work for my daughter? Read on to find out!
What is All About Reading?
According to their website, All About Reading is an all-inclusive reading program that provides “research-based multisensory instruction with lightly scripted lessons that give results with only 20 minutes a day.” The curriculum covers phonics, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.
They have 4 levels to their program plus they offer a pre-reading course for preschool/kindergarten. There are placement tests on their website to help you decide which level is best for your child, but I have noticed that their levels coordinate with standard grade levels pretty well. You should still utilize the placement test to ensure you choose the correct level, but I think you can use their grade level as a starting point.
What materials are required?
There are quite a few materials you’ll need to purchase in order to successfully use this curriculum. You’ll need the:
- Teacher’s Manual
- Readers (2-3 depending on the level)
- Student Pack
- Activity Book
- Flash Cards
- Reading Interactive Kit (buy once for all 4 years)
- Letter Tiles
- Divider Cards
- Phonogram Sounds App
They offer bundles on their website or the option to buy items separately. The complete package for each level is $149.95 and the Basic Reading Interactive Kit is $21.85.
This is a bit on the high side for me (although I think it’s TOTALLY worth it), but I have found you can save a lot of money by buying part or all of your materials used from places like eBay or Facebook Marketplace. If you go the used route, you do need to watch out for which edition you are purchasing and whether or not the readers are in black and white or color.
Often people will sell only the teacher’s manual or only the readers and you’ll have to piece the materials together. For me, it’s worth the trouble of hunting for a deal (I’ve saved over $200 this year on buying used curriculum!!), but for others, it might not be worth the time to save the money.
I’d also recommend having a magnetic whiteboard for your letter tiles. They recommend a 2’x3’ board, but a smaller one I already had is working fine for us so far (although we’re not to level 4 yet!).
The pacing for this curriculum is very flexible, but having some type of a rhythm or schedule helps my brain as I plan out our weekly lessons. Here’s my recommendation for pacing if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Make your goal one story per week. For most of the year, the lessons are laid out in this pattern: story, new reading concept, story, new reading concept, story, new reading concept, etc.
I found that we did well with a weekly schedule that covered two lessons from the curriculum. Let’s pretend Lesson 32 is a new story and Lesson 33 is introducing a new reading concept. Here’s an example weekly schedule for those two lessons:
- Monday: Do the pre-reading activity and read the new story as presented in Lesson 32. Save any post reading activities for the end of the week.
- Tuesday: Reread the story and begin introducing the new reading concept in Lesson 33
- Wednesday: Reread the story and complete the hands on activity in Lesson 33
- Thursday: Reread the story and review the flash cards from Lesson 33
- Friday: Complete the Practice Fluency page for Lesson 33 and finish any leftover hands-on activities from Lesson 32 to close out the week.
This type of schedule provides lots of wiggle room. I could spread out that second lesson over 4 days or squeeze it into 2 or even 1 in a pinch. We had time to review concepts as necessary but there was also breathing room incorporated when my goal was two lessons per week. If we had a doctor’s appointment, I knew we could skip reading that day and not fall behind.
We were able to easily complete the level 2 curriculum within 34 weeks by covering 2 lessons a week. Some weeks we’d do 3 lessons and some we’d only do 1 lesson, but we basically stuck to the rhythm of reading one new story each week.
The predictability of this type of schedule was helpful for my daughter. We got into a nice groove, and she knew what to expect.
What do I love about All About Reading?
All About Reading was by far the best curriculum choice I made last year. It was easy to implement, my daughter’s reading fluency increased drastically, and above all, it was fun! Here are my favorite aspects of using All About Reading.
First, I absolutely love how much review is incorporated into the program. Their mastery-based flashcard system has a review section built in so that you’re reviewing mastered words throughout the year.
They also have review concepts sprinkled throughout the curriculum at the beginning of the lessons. Most lessons begin with using the letter tiles to build a few words and then labeling the syllable types. This allows your child to review previously taught syllable types before you move on to introducing the new phonogram or syllable type.
Not having to create review lessons myself was a huge bonus for this curriculum. Not only did it make planning easier for me, it also highly benefited my daughter. Reviewing older concepts kept everything fresh in her mind, making decoding new words easier and easier as the year went on.
This curriculum has incredible tactile components. Manipulating the letter tiles on our whiteboard and using the flashcards for review are fantastic tools, but our favorite component hands down is the activities found in the student packet. The hands-on activities were something my daughter looked forward to each week.
There is some prep involved with cutting out all of the pieces to the individual activities, but I loved that I didn’t have to use an ounce of brainpower to create my own activities from scratch. The activities were already done for me, all I had to do was cut them out. Easy, peasy!
Some of the activities would seem simple and cheesy to me, but my daughter was delighted every time.
Her favorite from level 2 was creating a tunnel maze for the pretend gerbil. She had to read the words correctly in order for the gerbil to pass through that section of the maze. She came back to this activity multiple times throughout the week. In my opinion, these activities are the perfect way to combine fun with learning.
The stories found in the readers were perfect for my daughter. They were a great length. Long enough to give ample opportunity to practice reading the new types of words, but not so long as to feel overwhelming to her. The length of each story was very manageable.
My daughter looked forward to reading the new story each week and she got super excited each time she read the last story in a reader (level 2 has two readers, so this excitement occurred twice!).
I also liked that they included all different genres of writing in the readers- even poems! I appreciated the exposure to different forms of writing, and the variety helped reading not feel monotonous. Each week was something new!
What are the parts of All About Reading that I would change?
Honestly, there is very little I would change about this curriculum. I’d say the worst part for me was prepping the activities each week. Because of this, you can’t really “open and go,” you do have to prepare your materials before you begin the lesson.
Sometimes there were two “new concept” lessons back to back which messed up the weekly rhythm we had established (one story and one new concept introduced each week). I would have preferred the entire curriculum follow the alternating pattern of new story, new concept throughout the year.
Am I using this curriculum again?
Absolutely, 100% YES! My daughter’s confidence as a reader grew exponentially last year. This alone is reason enough for us to use the curriculum again for third grade. Add in the fact that it is fun and very manageable and you’ve got a no-brainer for my family.
I am in love with the All About Reading Curriculum. It’s fun and easy to use. My daughter enjoys reading the stories and completing the lessons, and I love seeing her grow and mature as a reader. I’m so impressed with what this curriculum has been able to accomplish in only one year for my daughter.
I can’t imagine giving All About Reading anything less than 5 out of 5 stars.
Have you used All About Reading? Is there another reading curriculum that you love? Let me know in the comments!