A fun guide to the building blocks of the English language.
Reading is undeniably the cornerstone of education, but there’s much controversy over what the most effective methods are to teach this crucial skill. Prince (The Alpha Rap: Read In Kids, 2011) makes a solid case for the importance of “systematic phonics instruction”—urging new readers to sound out unfamiliar words—as part of the educational process. She begins with a literature review, summarizing studies that support her assertions, but readers who are uninterested in theories of learning or already convinced of the method’s benefits can easily skip right to the materials themselves: charts, exercises, and activity sheets that feature attractive visuals with bright colors and cute images that illustrate such words as “pear” and “thimble.” The author successfully demonstrates ways to make the process of acquiring language skills more dynamic and interactive. Her active learning tools include word searches, bingo cards, rhyming exercises, and word scrambles. However, the word wheels in the fourth chapter are the book’s real standout feature. An arrow labeled with a consonant blend (“cl,” for example) lies in the center of a circle with 16 word endings set around it (such as “oud,” “ean,” “aim,” or “ing”). As students or teachers move the arrow, new words may be formed, pronounced, visualized, sketched, or acted out—the possibilities are endless: “The Word Wheel is a blueprint instrument to apply the sound blending process which is a main component of the decoding process to generate thousands of new words,” Prince explains. The book contains word wheels for 25 different consonant blends, and one can easily imagine the delight of students experiencing the pleasures of language production as they also acquire the tools necessary for further progress. Clearly, elementary school teachers will welcome this resource, but it also seems like it would be useful for students of any age who are learning English as a second or third language—especially those who are less familiar with the workings of the English alphabet.
A valuable set of educational materials for teachers, parents, and children alike.