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Hooked on Phonics
Pros: Rich resource includes a full phonics curriculum for an entire class of students.
Cons: Hefty price tag and some wonky design.
Bottom Line: Thorough phonics program offers a nice mixture of learning, practicing, and reading.
Students can use the app individually, with each student totally engaged and working at his or her own pace, freeing the teacher to pull students for individual reading instruction. The videos could be shown to the whole class, introducing letter sounds or reviewing sight words. The ebooks are frustration-free read-alouds to show kids that they can read. Students can work at their own pace, allowing advanced readers to move more quickly, or teachers could build a semester-long curriculum, covering one step per week.
Hooked on Phonics includes 12 steps; each teaches rimes and letter sounds to help kids build words. Within each step, videos with catchy songs introduce letter sounds and sight words, and games help kids build words using onsets and rimes. Kids practice reading immediately, starting with step one, using the three ebooks that correspond with each step. Lessons include all letter sounds, plus the rimes -at, -an, -ap, -ad, -am, -ag, -ig, -id, -ig -ip, -im, -in, -ix, ill, -ot, -op, -ox, -ob, -og, -ug, -un, -ut, -ub, -up, -ed, -en, -et, -eg, and -ell. Adding s to words, the blend -ck, and reviews are also built in. Up to 25 kids can have usernames on each device, with their progress tracked step-by-step. If necessary, teachers can unlock all content at once rather than have kids progress through it sequentially. Rewards and extension sections are accessible by clicking the trophy at the bottom of the screen. Kids earn points by completing lessons and can buy items to embellish their trophies using those points. They can also practice writing sentences or stories using the words covered in the app.
The step-by-step approach, with reviews built in via songs and ebooks, is very effective for teaching reading. Teachers will appreciate the mix of phonics and sight words, and kids will enjoy the variety of delivery -- songs, games, and books -- and the predictability of how each step advances. Though $8.99 per month (or $49.99 for a lifetime subscription) might seem expensive, teachers get a step-by-step curriculum for an entire class of students, which can be reset every year and reused for a new class of students. Differentiation is easy as well, as teachers can unlock all content for students who can already read, allowing them to review at their own pace. Kids can also practice writing using the words in the writing section.