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Hooked on Phonics is a phonics-based reading curriculum. I’ve used it in our homeschool with all three kids, with two children currently using it (one about to graduate out). This is the only curriculum I’ve used to teach my kids to read.
Hooked on Phonics Review
While you can purchase individual grade levels separately, I purchased the entire set (Pre-K to 2nd grade). Each grade comes with a level 1 and level 2 books for phonics practice, a set of readers (beautiful with fun stories), stickers to mark completed lessons, and DVD’s with video content for each lesson.
Each lesson mostly consists of word families, with a page introducing the words, a practice page, and a little story using words in the word families that they’ve used so far.
Every few lessons, the student gets to read a fun, colorful reader. My kids are always so excited when they get to read a real book! There are also some reading comprehension questions for the parent to ask, and a place to put a sticker showing that the lesson has been completed. Since I have three kids, my younger kids put a sticker underneath the previous brother’s sticker. I thought that it would bother my younger boys to not get to put the sticker in the “real” spot, but they actually like seeing that they’re learning something that their older brother(s) learned.
Besides word families, Hooked on Phonics also introduces what they call Helper Words. Helper Words are basically sight words or high-frequency words. I usually play a little game with them where they say the word of the color I choose, but I don’t worry about them memorizing them just yet and simply provide them when needed if my child can’t remember it. Since they are high-frequency words, I know that it won’t be long before they remember the word on their own.
Hooked on Phonics was sufficient to teach my oldest to read, but since my younger two enjoy reading we usually read something in addition to the Hooked on Phonics reading for that day, like BOB Books or a history reader.
I also found that it was nice to have fun magnetic bookmarks to mark our place in the book. I put these Dr. Seuss bookmarks in my kids’ Christmas stocking, and the magnetic feature is so nice because my kids drop their stuff ALL THE TIME. No more wondering, “Where were we?” because the bookmark stays in place.
Teacher Prep Time
Hooked on Phonics is pretty much open and go, so there really isn’t any teacher-prep time. It’s just a matter of having the readers easily-accessible when you need them. I keep the grade-level bin that my student is currently working on in his crate on top of his workboxes so that I can quickly grab a reader for his drawer if needed.
The amount of time a student spends on a lesson each day is dependent on the child. Some kids have an affinity for words and love the process of learning to read. Others see it as a drudgery. But even kids that enjoy the process can take only so much of new learning at a time.
In general, I’d say that about five minutes of word family practice is sufficient per day. Sometimes that means that we read through the words on the lesson introductory page a couple of times. If we’re on a lesson practice page, we might read one line a couple of times. or read through the whole page if my student finds it easy. If it’s not so easy, we’ll just work on part of the page and go back to it the next day. We end the lesson if I feel like my student is getting frustrated or mentally worn-out with their new learning.
Writing it out makes it sound so much more complicated than it is, so be sure to watch the video to get a better explanation.
To whom would I recommend Hooked on Phonics?
- Students that do well with the Written Word because there aren’t a lot of extra activities included in Hooked on Phonics. A Visual learner may be greatly helped by the DVDs. And a Spoken Word learner will appreciate hearing each word in the word family spoken by a parent or on the DVD. There is also now a Hooked on Phonics app with games that may be great for an Interactive learner, but we haven’t used it.
- Students that prefer working One-on-One because this curriculum is designed for parents to sit side-by-side with their child and guide them through their learning. But Independent learners may enjoy the DVD portion and find that they need little prompting from their parent when it comes to the reading portion.
- Students that have a Delight for one-on-one time with their parent (my boys love to cuddle up with me to read!) or that simply love silly stories.
I would NOT recommend to…
Students that prefer Physical learning because this is a sitting-on-the-couch curriculum. You could try having your student use a pointer as they’re sounding out words (either store-bought or one he makes with craft supplies). And you could supplement by incorporating a physical element, like maybe using letter tiles to build words and move each tile when sounding out the words. But if this is your situation, I wouldn’t use this curriculum if you don’t already have it. You might instead want to try something like All About Reading, which I understand incorporates some physical activities (we haven’t used All About Reading, so please double-check).
My Best Tip for Using Hooked on Phonics
When lesson planning, set aside an amount of time (ex. 5-10 minutes) rather than what page you expect to be on. Some word families may be more difficult for your students than others, so they’ll take longer to get through.
Common Questions/FAQ About Hooked on Phonics
Question 1: Does Hooked on Phonics teach the alphabet?
The purpose of the Pre-K level is to teach the alphabet (and letter sounds) and gives ideas for fun activities, but I honestly didn’t feel it was super helpful or sufficient. All of my kids learned their letter sounds with this fantastic video (great for kids that prefer Visual and Spoken Word learning methods).
Question 2: How do I know if my child is ready to start reading?
One of the things that you’ll want to look for in your child is phonemic awareness. You can do a search for phonemic awareness online, or you can refer to this post by This Reading Mama. She going into detail about the steps a child needs to go through to learn how to read, and also has some great printables!
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Hooked on Phonics
Hooked on Phonics is a great phonics curriculum for kids that are interested in reading and have the patience and maturity to spend a couple of minutes sounding words out during the early stages. And the Kindergarten-2nd Grade levels are perfect for parents that need an open-and-go solution and don’t want to do a lot of lesson planning.