Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Special Needs Mommy’s Take on All About Reading (a TOS review)




I have been intrigued by All About Reading for ages now.  Seems like all the cool moms are using it.  And you know me…I’m all about the cool factor.  In love  Plus, I mean comon’, how adorable are the posters? 




(sold separately for $15.95)


Seriously though.



Not only are the posters super cute and all the cool moms using it…but another demographic, into which I snugly fit, also seems to be fans of the program.



Special mommies.  With specially abled kiddos.



I happen to have one of those.




(click here if you want to know more about his miraculously special story)



My little miracle boy (and primary reason for being SO excited to review AAR) just interrupted this post so we could have “ABC time”.  Which I’m thinking might be a hint of which direction this post is moving?  In love  But before I dive headfirst into my editorial let me start with the nitty gritties.




What is All About Reading?


You can read the whole inspirational back story hereAll About Reading is a program designed to capitalize on the three essential ways learning takes place – through sight, touch and sound.  Each lesson incorporates these three factors which are proven to help little (and not so little) minds wrap around new ideas and concepts.


All About Reading is the reading branch of the company All About Learning Press.  I’d encourage you (and me!) to explore their All About Spelling program too!



How Much Does it Cost?


Ahhhh…the ever present question for most one-income families.  How many times have I purchased a curriculum only to feel like I wasted my money?  You don’t wanna know!  Then again if you’re a curriculum junkie like me, you probably already do!  



We were given the special privilege of reviewing the Pre-Reading program.  Actually, the AAR team worked together with me to figure out the best placement for Trevy (two thumbs up!).  And when we all decided the Pre-Reading program was the right fit, they granted me this special review (which makes me wish I had octopus arms so I could give them even more thumbs up!).


Click The Deluxe Program ($119 – pictured below) to see a full listing of what’s included.  The only con for me was having to laminate all the little picture cards.  Many many children with special needs tend to have significant oral needs (read: chew & lick anything in sight).  If I hadn’t laminated those cards – Trevy would have demolished them.



Click The Basic Package ($79.95 - pictured below) to see a full listing of what’s included.  I don’t think you need all the bells and whistles of the Deluxe package to use this curriculum successfully.  But…the tote is not only an adorably cute way to store all the books – it was also a great reinforcing visual cue for Trevy.  In fact, he knows the All About Reading logo anywhere now!  And he knows where I keep my tote and will run over and point at it whenever he wants “ABC time”.




Any way you slice it – All About Reading is an affordable reading program!  Plus, it’s cute!



They also offer a ONE YEAR money back guarantee



But is it Easy to Use?!


This is one of the most essential questions I have for any curriculum!  Because being Trevy’s (along with two more!) mommy leaves little time (read: energy & creativity) for prep and complicated lesson plans.



All About Reading is sooooooooo perfectly simple to use!  In fact, it’s quite possibly the easiest to use program I’ve tried yet!  The teacher’s manual ($22) breaks each lesson down into very simple and easy to implement steps.  Even the consumable student packet ($24.95) has ideas for how to use each coloring sheet printed right on the back of each page!



And one of the things I loved the most was the encouragement to just spend time reading with Trevy.  It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of doing.  Therapy Therapy Therapy!  Everything must be Therapy!  I often forget the power of just snuggling up and reading a book together brings.  Every lesson plan encourages mommy to spend time reading.  Seriously, girls, how easy is that?!



So What Did I Really Think?



Um.  If it didn’t shine through loud and proud above allow me to clarify now --



I imageAll About Reading!



And not just because it cutes up my school/therapy room either. 



alphabet book 009


But it totally does.




I love it because he does!




We followed the lesson plan’s suggestion of starting with singing the ABC song.  Trevy loved the mommy flair of using our puppets (I used Ziggy – he used an IKEA zebra) to munch up the letters on the poster while we sang.


I also laminated the posters to lengthen their life spans.  We have a LakeShore Learning store which happens to be enroute to Trevy’s vision specialist – so I was able to laminate them for just 19 cents per foot!




We would then sit and read from our read-aloud together.  He usually likes to cuddle in my lap while we read it. 




Pre-Reading introduces the concept of rhyming.  I’ll be completely honest, Trevy is still not fully getting this skill.  Rhyming is a bit abstract.  And the wagon game suggested in the book just wasn’t working for him.  Buuuut…he is very into memory matching games (thank you Mr. iPad!) right now.  So I’ve started using the cards in a memory game way instead.  The concept still isn’t clicking entirely.  But he’s enjoying it more and makes at least once successful rhyme per ABC time!




I love the simplicity of all the graphics and how they all coordinate.  Less is more for children who struggle to focus!  And Trevy definitely loves the logo.  He calls our All About Reading time ABC time.  And will go point at my tote, which lives on the back hook of the school/therapy room door every time he wants to learn more with mommy.



He actively intentionally asks for ABC time!  


alphabet book 005



The consumables are wonderful too!  We’re using them to create our very own ABC book!






I imageAll About Reading!



I not only recommend this program for other special needs mommies, I will also be purchasing All About Spelling for my 2nd Grader next year.  And am looking forward to the day Trevy moves on to All About Reading Level 1! 






**This is my little place to disclaim, as part of the TOS Crew, I was given All About Learning’s Pre Reading Deluxe Program in exchange for my honest and timely review.  All thoughts expressed are my own.  I received no other compensation.**


***double disclaimer – it occurred to me after posting this review that I should mention that I do not fully homeschool Trevy (at this time).  I consider him blended schooled.  He attends a 1/2 preschool program 4 days a week.  There he receives ABA and Speech Therapy daily, along with Physical and Occupational Therapies weekly.  All of these, combined with my work here at home, create a special learning program for a very special little boy.**

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