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I would love some free or low cost suggestions on learning to read from a phonics based curriculum as well as learning letter recognition. My daughter is in Kindergarten and I'd like to start working on these things with her at home. Any reviews on abcmouse.com and/or readingeggs.com?
 

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I'm a bit traditional myself and really like The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. No bells or whistles, we spend about 10 minutes per day. It's scripted so you know how to explain things... but not so scripted that you need to read it word for word or anything. Very little prep. No weird orthography like Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Downsides: my son is very distracted by all the words on the page, so I copy out the parts that he's supposed to read (parent instructions are interspersed in the book... which would be awesome if my kid would just look at his part!). Again, this prep takes maybe 5 minutes for each lesson. If I wasn't doing the copy work in my best writing, I'd probably just glance at the lesson as we sat down to work. Currently $20 on Amazon and Rainbow Resource Center, even cheaper used. One book takes you to about a second grade reading level.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 EZ Lessons is another old standby if you want a very economical phonics program. Not a ton of bells and whistles, very much "open and go", scripted (again script is intersperesed with the lesson, so if your child is going to be distracted by all the type on the page, would go with the Ordinary Parent's Guide). Uses a strange orthography which it then transitions out of later in the book. Given that my kid is distracted by the extra type on the page, and I was distracted by the very elaborate scripting on the page, and because of the weird orthography that was a pain in the rear to try to copy out... didn't work for us. But lots of parents like it. About $14 on Amazon and again you can use it through about a 2nd grade level.

You may be able to find either or both at the local library or on ILL if you just want to try them out (which is what we did).

We also use Progressive Phonics (available free online although you have to dig around their website to find the 'old' edition as the newest edition is in progress) as a supplement. My kid loves the funny stories and silly pictures. I think some people use it as their primary curriculum and it is written for use that way.

I've heard Reading Eggs is good from friends, but ... I like to avoid screens where possible and it's pretty expensive compared to the Ordinary Parent's Guide. One thing we used to get our son over the hump with letter recognition was Teach Your Monster to Read (by Usborne) which is free and has a beginner and more advanced version.

Anka
 

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For what it's worth, my kiddo watched the Leap Frog Letter Factory show like 2 times and learned all the letter names and sounds and it's on Netflix, Hulu, and often at the library.

After that we did the Bob books because they were at the library.

(Full disclosure, yes, she's in public school now, but early reading instruction was entirely at home and she was reading before starting school.)
 

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Progressive Phonics is a free program, apart from printer paper and ink. http://www.progressivephonics.com/

Myself I prefer a number of good ABC books to teach the alphabet along with some songs and rhymes. I will second Leap Frogs Letter factory DVD; the old one though, not the new one I have heard about.
 

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I am trying to see if I can teach my three year old to read with "secret notes". This means that you give them notes with words and you tell them "This is a cat" if it says cat and so on. You then play little games with the notes. "I think daddy wants to play with the horse" "Yes, is daddy riding the horse now?" "Oh look, a cat is coming towards them saying meow". We have just started but my daughter already recognizes words. She also asks me what the different letters sound like when we are playing. I have only done this for a very short time but it seems to be working.
 

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I've tried a few different approaches to phonics and letter recognition. Firstly I love having lots of posters of the letters around the room, it adds some nice color (and the pictures help keep things interesting) while serving as a good reminder throughout lessons. Try a variety of different fonts for the letters to avoid getting stuck on thinking a letter only ever looks a very, very specific way!

I've used BRAINtastic: Reading Success software from EdAlive, I think they have a trial for it up at the moment, a lot of great stuff for lower ages; lots of sound support. Reading Kingdom also has some great stuff for letter recognition and a bit in the way of phonics.

Themeasuredmum has some free to download phonics books on her website that can be a useful resource.
 
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