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All About Pre-Reading! {Review}

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This year I decided to try something new with my youngest: All About Reading: Pre-Reading. I’d initially planned to just have her use various workbooks and participate in our daily storytimes, but this little one was desperate to “do school,” so I thought I’d give a published curriculum a shot!

We have used All About Reading and All About Spelling for a few years now (I’ve written an overview All About Reading and All About Spelling over here), and I really enjoy how parent friendly it is – fully scripted, fun games, and I can see my children thrive with it.

I do have a confession though. As much as I thought we would have finished All About Pre-Reading MONTHS ago, we are still not quite there! Now, my 5 year old would happily do multiple lessons per day, but I have found this year incredibly hard at keeping all.the.balls.in.the.air. You too? I’m hoping with the return to our normal co-ops, friend groups, field trips, and activities next year, it will be easier to keep on top of everything. Fingers crossed. Lol.

All About Reading, however, has been her absolute favorite thing all year. And why?

Ziggy.

The puppet hero of this curriculum.

So the funny thing is, I would never have actually bothered buying Ziggy had it not been for receiving a complimentary review copy of the Deluxe Version of AAR Pre-Reading. My plan was to just use one of our other 20 puppets in place of Ziggy.

My goodness! The passion for this puppet has been intense! My daughter hugs ziggy during lessons, sneaks him into her bed, kisses the puppet, reminds Ziggy how to read things when he muddles up his letters, and asks if Ziggy can participate in her math lessons as well.

Moral? Buy the Deluxe version! Ziggy has been so worth it for us!

Here’s my kids unboxing All About Pre-Reading!

What’s in the Box

When it comes to prereading, you do have two choices: Basic Package or Deluxe. The Basic Package includes a Teacher’s Manual, Student Packet (this has all your flash cards, coloring sheets and alphabet posters), two hardcover readers: The Zigzag Zebra, and Lizard Lou, Divider Cards (you use these with an index card box), Letter Sounds A to Z app, and Adorable Animal Stickers. The Deluxe Package comes with all these things PLUS a tote bag, index card box, and the Ziggy puppet.

It’s also possible to buy the parts individually, so if you just wanted to do the Basic Package and tack on the puppet, then that’s totally possible (though if you also want the index card box, it ends up being only an additional $8 to just get the tote bag anyway).

While you CAN buy All About Pre-Reading from some third parties (such as Rainbow Resource and ChristianBook), there are two main benefits to buying it direct from the publisher:

  • First, if you buy direct, you can return the curriculum back to All About Learning in ANY condition within 365 days of buying it (less shipping).
  • And something fun: If you purchase your kit directly through All About Learning, you can request “box art” on the outer package! My daughter is owl obsessed, so naturally, we had to request an owl. Their Sharpie shippers are so talented!

Finally, something to note is that All About Learning never have sales, so you can buy it any time of year and be confident that you’re getting the best price.

Last year was a crazy time for homeschool products, and All About Learning struggled to keep their supply up with demand. While I don’t think this year will be quite as wild, I do suggest buying your curriculum sooner rather than later to ensure you’re not disappointed by shipping delays or backorders.

I’m not super great at making videos, but for those who prefer not to read (haha), I’ve put together one below.

Pre-Reading In Action

If you’re familiar with All About Reading, you’ll notice that the Pre-Reading teacher guide is also scripted in much the same way. Everything you need to say and grab is (mostly) written down for you. Each lesson includes a coloring page from the student pack, a story or poem, some will require Ziggy, and some will require flash cards. The appendix of the teacher book includes suggested activities for enhancing each lesson (e.g., writing the letter of the day in sand, with wiki sticks, playdough, doing a scavenger hunt for things starting with that letter, etc). I did find I didn’t always have time/energy to add the enrichment activity, so we often skipped it, however I did try to give my daughter the corresponding letter page from her handwriting book.

Ziggy is always close by!

The back of each activity sheet will tell you additional pieces to gather. These are usually easily found around the house, and of course you can substitute if needed. Mostly though, you’ll need things like crayons, watercolors, tempera paint, scrap fabric, construction paper, markers, and occasionally things like tin foil, dried spaghetti, patterned paper, yarn, cinnamon.

We’ve taken to putting each completed coloring sheet up on our school wall, though you may want to have a display book to put them into after each section is completed (there are 3 sections – Capital Letters, Lower Case Letters, and Sounds). It’s fun to be able to look back and see the progression of your child’s artistic abilities over the year!

Similar to All About Reading, the teacher guide is also peppered with tips – hints on reading to wiggly kids, suggestions on how best to have the puppet speak, tips on engaging your child in story time (such as asking questions about the author), why it’s important to read the same stories over and over, reading in the doctor’s office, etc.

The last section of each lesson is “Storytime” – reading to your child for 20 minutes. This is something we do as a family anyway, so I don’t carve out an additional time for this portion of the lesson.

Section 1: Capital Letters

The first section contains 26 lessons, one for each capital letter. The lessons start out as very basic, with the child listening to a short story in the Zig Zag Zebra reader and identifying the letter of the day in both the reader and the alphabet wall chart. Initially I thought, “well, I didn’t really need a curriculum to help me do that!” The second part of each lesson however, includes “Language Exploration” – and this, I think, is something that really shines in this curriculum and makes it a worthwhile investment in your preschool. This section doesn’t necessarily correlate to the letter of the day. Instead, it’s focusing on rhyming, playing letter games with Ziggy, listening to beginning and ending letter sounds, counting syllables, etc. I found the rhyming very difficult for my preschooler in the beginning. And: that’s OK! At this stage, it really is more about exposure than mastery, so if your child isn’t really picking it up, just expose them to it and move on. Now that we are at the end of the year, my daughter is coming up with rhyming pairs all on her own – it seemed out of the blue!

One day, she decided to take the flash cards and draw pictures of them. Ziggy close at hand, of course!

Section 2: Lowercase Letters

The second section also has 26 lessons, one for each lowercase letter. These lessons incorporate the Lizard Lou book which is full of poems. In some cases, these poems only contain one word that features the letter of the day, and an image representing that word will be sketched on the page. While it seemed to me a little overkill to be doing poetry with my preschooler, I did find that she enjoyed them a lot, and I think the exposure to poetry helped her to subconsciously understand how to rhyme. Plus, she had one on one reading time with mom and for the youngest child, that’s always going to be a win!

In this section, language exploration starts to get a little more advanced, and in some lessons, the child is given a line of alliteration (read by Ziggy) and they identify the beginning sound. My daughter really loves this activity and has started working out how to spell simple words, just from sounding them out!

Sometimes big sister likes to help Ziggy read to little sister!

Section 3: Sounds

The final section once again has…. 26 lessons. This time the lessons focus on phonics, so the sound of “K” has two lessons – once spelled with “C” and once as “K”. Q is taught as the sound of “kw” and x as “ks”. We plan to work on these lessons over the summer break, so I haven’t had an in depth look at them yet (I’m definitely your “open and go” homeschool parent!). These ones do suggest the addition of snacks with the corresponding sound (e.g., N: Nectarines, nuts, noddles, nachos), so some advance planning will need to happen each week if you want to incorporate that section.

Final Thoughts

While I’ve personally struggled to complete ARR Pre-Reading this year, I do think this is an easy curriculum for anyone looking for some hand-holding through their preschool year. The program is easy to teach and engaging enough for little ones without resulting in a ton of mess or extra planning! It’s also a curriculum that can be taught fairly quickly and given to the child to work on while you teach your older kids (I usually have my daughter do the coloring sheets by herself while I teach her older siblings).

If you have additional younger kids, you can plan to reuse all the pieces with the exception of the activity book. This is the only consumable and a replacement is $20.

The Ziggy puppet can also be reused in Level 1 of All About Reading. The book, “Reading Games with Ziggy the Zebra” is available as a separate purchase and goes along with that level. I’ve not used this resource before, but I think now that we have the puppet, we’ll get a copy of the games book to use with Level 1 in the fall!

If you have any questions about this curriculum that I didn’t cover, do let me know in the comments!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of All About Pre-Reading (Deluxe) from All About Learning for purposes of review. Opinions 100% my own.

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