Related: Phonics Museum iOS App for Preschool
Related: 2016-2017 Curriculum Choices
During the 2016-2017 school year, we started with the Veritas Press Scholars Academy Kindergarten, with the inclusion of Veritas Press Phonics Museum Kindergarten. We went ahead got the combination box as we plan to continue through the Phonics Museum First Grade also. While we were trekking along, Veritas Press announced a beta testing team release of their upcoming Phonics Museum iOS app and I jumped for joy! I was on the beta team, and then we decided to continue our account. Now, I am blessed to be able to review the full app version and share our thoughts and opinions with you all about this wonderful addition to our school routine for the littles.
The iOS Phonics Museum is a free app from the iTunes store for iPad 2+ and iPhone 6+. The app is free but requires a subscription after a short trial period. Subscriptions are available for a monthly or annual price, with a bit of a discount for 12-month annual. For the benefit of this review, I have been given access to a 12-month subscription. All you need is an iOS device and an email address.
As I mentioned, my student that was already using the print materials was on a Kindergarten level when we began. The Phonics Museum curricula are aimed toward students working on a Kindergarten to First Grade level. It is a program for learning to identify letters and letter sounds, write (D’Nealian manuscript font) and ultimately to read. The physical materials are great and have proven themselves year after year, but now the Veritas Press team has taken this wonderful program and brought it to life in vivid detail. We use it nearly daily!
We use the Phonics Museum iOS app on an iPad 2 with my five-year-old (six in August!) Kindergarten daughter Princess student nearing a First Grade level and ALSO with my three-year-old (as of the beginning of July) Preschool son Rascal. Both of them are getting an extremely entertaining, vividly attractive, interactive, hands-on, self-paced, incredible phonics education. Before, I was only teaching to my daughter, but my son got some of the value through observation and slight participation.
In the physical program, there is a workbook and audio CD, as well as other features. In the iOS app, what you would be doing in the workbook is utilized in the touch-screen features of the tablet device, and each and every song from the audio CD is input when appropriate in the scheme of the learning path. I LOVE this Phonics Museum app!!! I wasn’t always a fan of getting up to put in the CD at the right time, so we didn’t get it as much as my children should have. My son is not ready to write, and wouldn’t and won’t be ready for the physical workbooks for a year or more yet. But with the app, none of these are issues for us anymore.
My son has a profile with the character red-haired William as the avatar. My daughter has a profile with the character dark skinned Wendy as the avatar. My son is on Level 1 near to completion. My daughter is on Level 7 with only a few more elevator floors (levels) to go until she finishes it all!
When we use the app, my children bring me the iPad which I unlock with a password and then click on the icon for the Phonics Museum app. I log in and select the appropriate avatar. When they are ready to switch for their sibling they bring it back to me. I have to answer a simple multiplication question and then can switch to the other profile. My only rule is they have to be in the room with me while using it so that I can make sure they stay in that particular app. I might add, it is also possible to have even more profiles on one account. During their lessons, they are completely able to go at their own pace, repeat scenes and even to observe their sibling while they work on something different. A preview for my son to watch my daughter, and a review for my daughter to watch my son.
“Teaching that parents can trust…”
In our homeschool, I am the teacher. I am not interested in full online school nor am one for soliciting out most of our lessons. However, now that there are four children, three of which I’m attempting to teach on different levels I do see the blessings of a self-paced online class or two.
It was not very long ago when I came out and had to sit to feed the newborn baby and I just wasn’t ready to start reading aloud or teaching my students, but they were all ready. This was a morning where I truly felt the blessings of what Veritas Press offers, both in their self-paced courses as well as the brand new iOS Phonics Museum app. My littles were able to practice their letters and basic primers and my older daughter was able to jump right into a history lesson. Then once my morning had calmed and the baby was down for another nap we were able to discuss what they had practiced and moved on into other subjects of our day.
Related: Veritas Press Self-Paced Bible
Using modern technology, Veritas Press has made it possible for my littles to get a firm foundation in their phonics program with a classical approach. My students are learning about art appreciation, historical eras, a variety of interactive hands-on games and songs all bringing together a unique education to master consonant-vowel and vowel-consonant syllables, as well as beginning blending with the goal of reading basic words and age-appropriate readers independently. Repetition is built in, with a good array of activities to keep them fully rapt and attentive to their lessons.
Related: Veritas Press Art History
Using the app
My children are building confidence from hearing “great job!” and reinforcement from pretty “dings” and advice to try again with a calm “dong” to their responses. During my son’s lessons, he is greeted by a clown Jack-in-the-Box when he acknowledges he hears the right beginning /b/ sound. Right now, my daughter’s lessons are giving her acknowledgment as she clicks the word she hears from “pig”, “pot”, and more as she works on the letter Pp. There are more than 20 games to provide them with a mixed bag of entertainment!
Miss Biddle is silly and exciting in the perfectly appropriate manner for the younger elementary set. Sometimes I do not have the energy to put curled ribbons or feathers in my hair and squeal with joy at every correct answer, but I would love to be able to do that for my children and get them to have enthusiasm with their learning. (We have good school days, but we have sleepy ones too! There is a newborn here you know…) With the experience of this app, they are getting the right eager communication about learning, without having to send them out to a preschool or primary school to get some of those good days in a distracting classroom.
Handwriting practice is built in through out the letter and beginning words phonics practice. With the ghostly image of Percival‘s hand, he helps to guide you as you trace the lines. (*Percival is the Knight and familiar icon for the physical Phonics Museum, but also one of a great cast of characters to the app.) Becoming familiar with the appearance as well as the shape that varied letters make. My son especially is not able to hold a writing utensil and write on paper yet, but he is learning bit by bit to trace and can recognize them and shape them on the tablet device. We plan to bring this activity off the screen in forms of salt writing or form or others. But the big point, he recognizes and can write it with his finger in paint (or something), if not with his hand and a writing implement.
The handwriting font of choice is D’Nealian print. This translates across from the physical workbooks as well as on to the digital app. Before working with Veritas Press materials, I was unfamiliar with it. Yet, watching as my middle daughter starts to write words in her D’Nealian italic versus my older daughters other manuscript there is a big difference in the overall attractiveness of the print, no matter the skill level involved. (My older daughter’s cursive is pretty impressive though in other regards…)
This mama’s thoughts:
Did you see the image at the top of this post, where my son is holding the iPad and it is stopped on a video about learning the phonetic sounds of the consonant letter Bb? He is being exposed to the Bookface font of the letter Bb, as well as the D’Nealian italic print. His teacher, Miss Biddle, is talking to him about things that start with the letter B and how it is often a letter leader with her little B friend to help give him something to see and remember as he connects the dots and his thoughts. The flash card with the “bull leapers” is shown to him that he recognizes from our physical Phonics Museum set as well as from my daughter’s history flash card Minoan Culture. This connects the children across the grades and through inter-curricular activities. He knows when my daughter is studying the Minoan Culture that there are bull leapers. He also knows that this is art and from an ancient time. All bits of a Classical Christian Education that make this mama smile and feel like we are getting a great firm foundation for learning pegs.
After experiencing our time with the Phonics Museum app I can hardly imagine going back to teaching phonics or using the physical Phonics Museum set without it. This is an amazing immersive, entertaining, engaging and inspiring curricula that I am delighted to add to our repertoire. I’ve been asked whether I would use just the app, and in the case of my son, yes, but only because he is not ready for written materials yet. What I think is the best of all worlds is what I am doing with my daughter. She is getting her teaching and lessons from the app as she delights to go through with no restraints or stops and then she is getting reinforcement and true written practice with the Phonics Museum Workbook and the primers. The flashcards, the museum, and all the rest is frosting on the cake, but ideally, the app and the workbook are what is for me. But in the end, if you just had the app your child still will get a fabulous foundation of which to grow upon.
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