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by Karen Lacey, MS CCC/SLP and
Wendy Baird, MA OTR/L

Reviewed by Angie S.

Purchase details: WatchWord by Karen Lacey, MS CCC/SLP and Wendy Baird, MA OTR/L. Teacher's guide with CD-ROM, 10 student readers, sound blending charts, $133.49. System Requirements: Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP or Mac OS 8.1OS X operating system; 200MHz processor; 32MB RAM; CD-ROM drive; sound. Available from Sopris West.

WatchWord was something that my husband found during a homeschooling conference this year. The curriculum is designed for non-readers (ages 4-8) to start enjoying the art of learning to read.

Our middle son had severe difficulty when learning any abstract concept (letters of the alphabet, colors of objects, sounds of letters, etc.). I guess what I'm trying to say is, "How do you explain the letter "A" to a child that doesn't retain the concept of letters." Five years ago when we were searching for something like "Watchword," we were unable to locate anything. Being a homeschooling Mom, I just basically had to write my own. Writing your own program, plus teaching two other children wasn't exactly easy, but necessity made it one of my priorities. Therefore, when I saw this program, it was SO much like the one that we created for our son that it really impressed me. I spent many hours thinking up ideas to use so that our son would see and understand what letters were, and what sounds they made. I was very impressed by WatchWord's simplicity and the great ideas they give for teaching the sounds of the alphabet to children. After having a child that had great difficulty in learning to read, we did an incredible amount of hands-on activities to help him remember the letters and their sounds, and I see many of these same concepts put to use in WatchWord.

In the beginning of the program, the Teacher's Manual discusses topics such as reading disabilities, multisensory language programs, how the program was developed, terminology (which was really interesting, as most homeschooling programs that I have seen didn't have this). It also gives a description of the six syllable types in the English Language, three of which are addressed in their program. OK, enough of the technical stuff--on to the program. The Teacher's Manual gives basic lesson plans that are followed daily and a weekly review/checklist, with a lesson plan for handwriting and creative writing as well. The program uses easily found household items in its material list, making it very cost effective and easy for a homeschooler to use!

When each letter is introduced, the child is given a "key object," such as a Turtle for the letter "T." Then the child is asked to look in the mirror as other "T" words are said, giving a visual observation of what shapes the mouth forms to create certain letters. After that, they discover the sound that the letter makes, they move on to the oral motor description of the word, which is a fancy way of explaining the way the different parts of our mouths help us to form and say specific letters. This is really a very interesting way to present the letters, especially to young children, and children who have had difficulty with learning and remember their letters. The next part of the lesson involves a lot of FUN! They give you the key object, "Turtle." You then will do an easy craft by making a Rock Turtle. The kids can paint it, glue eyes on, and stick furry little green pom-poms on it to create their own "T"urtle.

Also included with each lesson for the letters is a list of related children's books and their authors for you to find at your local library for additional reinforcement of the new sound and letter.

Your student book is designed so that students who are ready can begin reading after the second lesson. The words build upon the letters that have been taught in a very specific order, to encourage kids by allowing them to read right away! The program completes the same material covered in a standard first grade phonics program. So, at the end of the program, the children should be reading words and sentences at a first grade, nine-month level.

However, WatchWord only contains words and sentences and is designed to be used as a part of a balanced literacy approach. This means that it does need to be combined with appropriate literature (they recommend the Bob books or other phonetically-based beginning readers) as children are ready to take the step from words and sentences to stories.

Both picture and letter (individual and combination) cards are included for you to use with the program. Children learn how to listen for the sounds, how to locate individual sounds, rhyming, word counting, syllable counting, how to segment a word, blending words, and how to analyze words.

Also included are oral motor activities and games, as well as some very fun and interesting pre- writing and writing activities for fun in learning how to form the shapes that form our everyday letters! resources related to this review:'s Language Arts Resources Section for tips on teaching reading and more!
Review of The Reading Lesson
Review of Rocket Phonics
Review of Sing, Spell, Read, and Write, Pre-Kindergarten
Review of Sing, Spell, Read, and Write, Kindergarten and Level 1 Combo Kit
Review of Spell to Read and Write and The Wise Guide
Review of Sound Beginnings

About the Reviewer

Angie S. and her husband have been homeschooling their 3 children since 1992. They were committed to home educating their children before they were even born. Knowing that all children are very different, Angie has done extensive research in the area of learning styles. Within their own family, they have found both gifted and learning-challenged students. Thus learning the styles of each child has made teaching and learning much easier to accomplish. Their goals are to help other parents who have been blessed with multiple learning styles within their own homes. Angie's motto is "Every child can learn once we as the homeschooling parents find the key to unlocking the door to their specific way of learning!"

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