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Happy Phonics–Happy Mama!


I’ve definitely been MIA for awhile!   December kept us all busy with Christmas and birthdays!  (Both Jessica’s and Dallas’!) 



When I was a new homeschool mom (and even when I had several years under my belt!) I was always interested in what others were doing.  Now, remember, this was back in the early 90’s when there wasn’t even HALF the resources that abound today!


In all honesty, the plethora of resources sometimes makes it harder to make decisions!!!


As a veteran now in my 18th year (boy, does that look strange in print!!!), I thought I might share what I’m doing now.   Mind you, things change depending on the season of our lives!


Today I’m sharing what I use to teach my children to read.  That has changed in some respects.  No longer do alphabet cards grace my dining room (now the library) and flashcards and posters reside in the “school area”.


In fact, I’m not sure we have a “school area” anymore!  The whole house is the “school area”!   And the barn, and the yard, and the…..


Well, you get the idea!  



I had to trade in the “Early American Schoolroom Eclectic” look with desks for everyone for a “comfy relaxed-sorta-kinda-Charlotte-Mason” couches and dining room table.  (Oh, yeah.  We don’t have a dining room!  That is now part of the sunroom!)


The desks were just junk holes anyway, and the reality of 9 children each having their own desk was a bit daunting!  



Anyone who reads my blog for any length of time will right away figure out I do not try to replicate school at home.   We do have a marker board that is sometimes left out for ease, sometimes put away (and then we have the pleasure of finding it again!).  We do have drawers in an old dresser that now resides in the sunroom which are “school drawers”.  (And yes, they become “junk drawers”, too! LOL!)


All that said, phonics has taken a whole different direction for me.  I got tired of unfinished workbooks mocking me, and neither could I bear to make a child who had had a major “take-off” in reading come back to fill in blanks about sounds and diphthongs and all that stuff.  


My criteria in homeschooling resources is that it has to fit the child and it has to fit me, too!   If it’s too complicated for me to fit in my day, well, it just isn’t going to get done!



I have to say that Happy Phonics, from Love to Learn, is my absolute favorite way to teach reading!   Okay, to teach phonics!    Diane Hopkins does advise using Explode the Code books, and I did buy the first set of three…..and they sit unused in my bookcase!   (True confessions here!)


Happy Phonics is a series of games that uses a lot of the ideas in Writing Road to Reading, but they are a WHOLE lot more fun!  (I know, because we tried WRTR years ago!!!)  Diane has done a super job!


There are cards, books, and games, all printed on different colored cardstock, and a manual to guide you through it.  A very easy to use manual!   You will need to spend a little time cutting the cards out and assembling a few of the little booklets.   I spent some time and did some, then since I have three girls at three levels, I just try to keep a game or so ahead of the oldest one!     I bought a container at Wal-Mart that is just perfect for keeping it all organized:




This helps keep the cards together for a game.  Each game has a symbol, so if the cards get mixed up, you can sort them easily (or even a child can sort them, and that is more school for them! )


All you need to add is a brad for the Reading House wheel and staples for the books!



To make it special, I take the child into my bedroom.  That started out to have some peace and quiet from the rest of the household (yes, I’ve even locked my door when we had too many interruptions!).   They really liked it, so we continue to do it (don’t have to lock the door as much now!).  I spend about 20-30 minutes per child, depending on what we’re doing.  We’ve sometimes only spent 15 minutes.


Here is what I did this week with each of the girls:


Anna (she’s 12, and she actually learned to read from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but I wanted her to have some more phonics background to help her with harder words):


~Review Group 3-5 cards and lists/ Go over Group 6 cards and lists

~Memory Game/ read from Big Book/ Introduce Group 7 cards


Group 3 is ee, ea

Group 4 is er, ir, ur, wor, ear (from the WRTR phrase “Her first nurse works early.”)

 Group 5 is y__, _y, ___y, _y_   (different sounds of y)

Group 6 is ai, ay

Group 7 is oi, oy


Memory Game reinforces the ai/ay sound.  I also put together the ai/ay flip and read books for next time.



Bekah (10):


~Review Group 1-3 cards and lists/Group 4 cards and lists/ Big Book/ First Nurse Game with Anna



Charissa (8):


~First books/ Reading House “ame” / Silent E Game/ Climb the E Tree Game


The Reading House has a wheel behind it (this is where you need the brad) and then a strip that goes through two slits.   The wheel has a window, and I would have turned it to the “ame” rime, then the strip would put a different consonant at the beginning.  I slowly pull the strip, letting her decode the word (lame, tame, same, name, etc.)

Silent E Game helps get across how e causes the vowel to “say its name”,  and Climb the E tree help differentiate between the two sounds of e.



This gives you an idea of the materials and how I use them.   I pretty much spend about two sessions on each group.  I spend more time in the early games, which start off with Muffin Match for upper and lower case letters, Change My Vowel game, flip books, Rhyme Time (that helps them see how words rhyme), and there are games that match pictures with words.   It depends on the child and how quickly they are catching on.


I’ve used the Group Lists for spelling.  There are usually 3 lists for each group, so I might pick 3-5 words from each of the lists.   I don’t get too hyped up on spelling until they are reading well.   But using the lists helps reinforce the sound or rime that we are working on .


My girls LOVE Happy Phonics!  Noah does, too!  He has started on Muffin Match and using cards to “spell” his name.    Diane developed it for her son, Ammon, who is now nearly grown!


Here are some pictures of us using Happy Phonics:



Muffin Match with Noah (and Isaiah!)



Charissa and I playing "Climbing the E Tree"

Bekah and I playing "Her First Nurse" game

Anna and I playing Memory Game

As you can see, it’s a lot of fun!   And we really enjoy it!



This is really a no-stress “program”.   I get the manual out and write down a day or two ahead what I am going to do.  I don’t get too far ahead of myself, because I don’t know if we might need to spend more or less time on a group!   And my children have been patient with me as I look at the manual to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing sometimes!    



They get reading practice when we all read the Bible in our morning together time as well as at night after supper, besides the books that threaten to take over the house (which is why the former dining room is now the “library”!) as well as library books.  


They do copywork out of the Bible and I am using Institute for Excellence in Writing’s syllabus for some writing, so I don’t really feel I need to drill writing words with the sounds and matching and all that.  They seem to be blossoming, I’m not overtaxed, and we’re ALL having fun!



Now that’s MY kind of “curriculum”!      


3 Responses to “Happy Phonics–Happy Mama!”

  1. AJ says:

    I have ordered many items from this company in the past. Fun to see it mentioned here!

  2. momma24blessings says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I've been homeschooling for only four years now, but I can't believe how much more relaxed I have become in my methods, and how the whole homestead is our "classroom."

    I also wanted to thank you for visiting my blog and sharing your testimony. The Lord is wonderful, and even though I have my weak moments of fear, He is always strong.

    God bless you!

    Lisa @ "Isn't Normal Just a Setting on the Washer?"

  3. Homefire says:

    Oh, shoot! I really wish I had known you wanted Happy Phonics. I have that packed away somewhere–one of the many things that I need to get rid of–and I would have been so glad to send it to you! It's one of the 3-4 different things I tried with Dan that simply didn't take. He finally ended up just teaching himself to read at 8 yrs old, and I still have no idea how, but I know that Happy Phonics and some others were hardly even used!

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