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Saturday, December 6, 2008

review of Rime to Read

I invite parents of preschoolers and early elementary students to take a look at this new online reading program called Rime to Read (http://www.rimetoread.com/).

This program uses virtual books of "rimes" to teach reading. Yes, I said rimes, not rhymes. Rimes are word families such hat, cat, Pat, mat. These books are based on these rime patterns rather than phonemes (separate letter sounds such as a,t) because children supposedly can hear and distinguish them more easily.

Your beginning or remedial reader can use the program to learn the basics of reading or to practice and master a concept that has been difficult to grasp. It is suggested by the company that children under 4 are not taught reading at all. But if you have a child who is ready to learn and already knows most of his consonant sounds, then he is ready to use Rime to Read.

By the time your child reaches the program's end, she will have been taught single syllable short vowel words from 20 word families and 46 high-frequency words. The rimes are color-coded which makes this program unique and especially easy to use. For example, the first book (which is available for free to sample) is called Pat. The -at rime is blue so on each page, anytime the -at rime appears it will be blue. Learning the rimes in this color-coded fashion is particularly appealing to the visual learner, but can certainly help any child recall the sounds of the rimes.

In each book on the inside cover page you'll find suggestions for using the book. Also included in each book are sight words and the pattern word list for review (these words might be put on index cards with the rimes colored as in the book, and used for simple flash cards). The colored portion of each word in the rime pattern can be spoken aloud by the program as well, thus reinforcing the sounds again. Now you are reaching the child who not only learns visually but audibly as well.

There are simple, non-distracting illustrations on the pages, and the books are short and easy to read in a sitting.

The company has some recommendations for using Rime to Read, such as reading the books in order, reviewing previous books, reading for accuracy of at least 90-95% of the rimes before progressing, making the flash cards (or Go Fish or concentration games from the word lists) for those who need extra support, and waiting at least one day between the books before introducing a new one.

This cumulative 20-book program can be printed for your child or read on your computer directly. You can purchase the entire 20-book set or purchase books in packages of 4. If you opt to go the entire package route, the program costs $44.99.

As a homeschooling mom, I feel very fortunate to have been given the chance to review this program. I have tried it for a few weeks on and off with my 4-year old daughter, and although she is enjoying the books, I am not seeing her recall many of the words. She just turned 4 though, and so it may be that she is not quite as ready as I imagined her to be for reading. But as long as the program is available to me for free to review, we will keep trying it.

I personally find the price to be a bit high for our family but if a program works and teaches reading it is worth almost any price. However, I feel we would be going through the books too quickly to justify the cost. Also, this program doesn't teach the consonant sounds of most letters but assumes that the child has already been taught them. So even if your child memorizes the
-at family and can recite it each time he sees it, if he hasn't been taught the sound of that letter "P" in front of the -at, then he still can't read "Pat" as a complete word. My child has barely scratched the surface of the world of consonants and their sounds, so it may be awhile before this program really clicks with her.

To me, this might be a great supplement or aid to a child who has already been exposed to the consonants and their sounds, or perhaps a child who needs some remedial work.

I would suggest visiting the site and getting the first book free. If that seems like a good match for your reader, then perhaps try a smaller 4-book package before taking the big plunge. The 4-book set will cost $9.99. I would suggest that families who purchase these e-books also print then, laminate them , and perhaps bind them in some fashion to make the program more usuable for a longer period of time. Of course doing so adds more to the cost of the program.

Some families will be very sold on the older but tried and true phonics methods of reading, but there will undoubtedly be many other families who find Rime to Read a perfect fit for their needs.

My suggestions to the company might be to lower the costs slightly, or to offer printable sight word cards in each bundle, and possibly even add some simple printable worksheets/games to the site to reinforce the rime from each book. These small added bonuses might persuade potential customers that they are getting a little more for their money than the e-books alone might.

If you have any questions be sure to drop on over to http://www.rimetoread.com/ and the friendly staff there will be most happy to assist you.

God bless!

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