Phonics Museum

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  • Reviewed on Wednesday, January 6, 2010
  • Grades Used: Kindergarten
  • Dates used: 2009-2010
This is our first year homeschooling and our first curriculum purchased. My son is 4 1/2 and wanted to begin reading. And since we are doing the classical curriculum style, we chose this to teach him to read. So far, we are up to lesson 75.

Pros: I love the artsy part of it and the introduction to artists through each letter.

The songs (particularly the first two) on the c.d. are catchy and my son likes singing them. The other songs on the c.d. haven't been very helpful.

My son enjoys the writing exercises. There is a lot of writing involved but he has been encouraged enough to spend days we aren't doing school writing on notepads.

The museum pop-up board and hanging of the art for each letter is fun at first, however, it does loose it's fun as time goes on.

Although they sound like a great idea, the primers (readers) are very hard for my son to read and they are very lengthy. They take a good portion of the day to get through and are very tough to understand with their wording at this young level. (ex. Pepin the Not-Big was set to get the tag of top man). That only confuses my son since he doesn't know what any of it means. This part is a big disappointment.

The puzzle pieces sound like a good idea at the beginning but it's extra work getting them out when he can just refer to the worksheet that has the outlines of the pieces already on them. The actual puzzle pieces don't motivate him any more than the worksheet that contains them.

Overall, it's not a bad curriculum. It's expensive so I feel we need to stick with it. However, the primers aren't too great and that was one of my biggest disappointments. They seem to make him more discouraged because he doesn't really get them or the stories in them without a very thorough explanation.

I can't say how the 1st grade kit compares although it's included in this box.


  • Reviewed on Monday, February 26, 2007
  • Grades Used: K and 1st
  • Dates used: Just started!
The Phonics Museum has suprised me! I have been very eclectic and relaxed in approach until I realized it wasn't working for my boys. I ran from curriculums! We have used 100 easy lessons, Alphaphonics, and the Eclectic Readers...all of which I liked, but didn't work for my boys.
I took the plunge and bought a boxed curriculum, the Phonics Museum. I love it, it is engaing, interesting, fun, and gives plenty of writing for busy little hands. I am an art education major, so I love the art emphasis and illustrations. And the boys love the stories. I had to hide the primers!
I am finding it very easy to teach both levels at the same time, and the teacher manuals have it all spelled out. There is no guess work with this program! Easy for mom!
As far as the method...there are so many and frankly I am more concerned with the end result. Veritas Press has a wonderful reputation for producing awesome readers and children who love literature.
This program follows the Classical Chirstian Method of educating...the idea is memorization at this stage, and the songs included are a perfect way to do it. If you like the songs(or pretend to) your kiddos will too!
If you are looking for a program that has it all together in a simple and interesting way, this is it. You will not be dissapointed.
PS...we are also following the rest of their it!

Laura L

  • Reviewed on Thursday, January 19, 2006
  • Grades Used: Kindergarten
  • Dates used: July 2005 to present
We have stopped using this and are looking for something different. When I take these books or play the music, my son groans and asks for us to do something else. My son did not like the pictures in the workbook although the exercises were easy for the most part. Because he has fine motor issues, we skipped the handwriting pages and used a different program. Considering that each week's lessons have at least 2-3 pages of handwriting, this was a real waste for us. The songs were cute but moved fast and were difficult to understand. He often missed the sound he was supposed to be learning in the songs. He found the story books confusing and not very interesting. I was regularly explaing the words to him because we had not been taught meanings to words not often used in normal everyday language. The sentence given by a previos reviewer is typical. Some of the words used for lessons were not quite pronounced as we say them. For example, " Anchor" was given as an example of beginning short A. Unfortunately for us, we pronounce it with a beginning long A sound.

I disliked the way he was taught to put sounds together. The first lessons are for the letters A, M, B, P and T. After being taught short A as a beginning sound, children are then told to listen for a as the short medial sound and asked to sound out groups like BA, PA, MA to practive A as the medial sound. They are not shown for another 15 or 20 lessons that these can be put together for "real" words. Because these do not sound like "real" words, my son was quite confused and frustrated early on. Irregular sight words were not introduced for a very long time. I found that for my son, he has been better able to sound out the words by introducing them as word families. And I have been teaching sight words such as those on the Dolch list separately.

The color pictures on the flash cards and museum pieces are lovely. But I was disappointed at times to learn that what was on the card was often just a very small part of a famous painting. No full views of the complete painting were included. The student workbook used very detailed and sometimes elaborate black and white drawings that were at times different from those on the flash cards. Some of the pictures are so detailed, they were actually distracting. Others are so elaborate that they at first could be mistaken for something else. For example, the alligator with the long curly tail always reminds my son of a dragon. He also had a difficult time remembering that the picture of the boy and dog was for the word "pet" in the medial e section.

Art activities range from cutsy color the letters to introducing art techniques like pointillism.

You have to complete 50 lessons before one of the story books is introduced for the child to read. It is estimated that you will complete 5 lessons each week.

I know other people say they loved it and had a great time with it, but this was not for us and I am disappointed that I spent so much money buying it.

S. Merrell

  • Reviewed on Saturday, December 31, 2005
  • Grades Used: K5
  • Dates used: July 2005-present
After attending a number of home school fairs and conducting lots of research, I decided to purchase Phonics Museum. I began the program with my daughter right after she turned four. We've used it for about 6 months, and we do a lesson every few days. We are at Lesson 100, about 2/3 of the way through the program. Like every curriculum I love parts of the program, and dislike others. Overall we've adapted the system to fit our family and I would recommend the program to others. Here is my summary:

My daughter loves the program (now) and asks to do her "lesson". It took about a month for us to get into the swing, but once we got used to the PM system of letter introduction, recognition, etc. it's been very smooth sailing. Each lesson takes us about 25 minutes (except the reading assignments, which I address below). We are now doing 2 lessons at a sitting with ease.

My daughter has made amazing progress. She reads all short vowels and all constants. Blending took a little time, but she's over that and blends words well ("ransack" was a word last lesson that she tackled with ease). What started as a trial to see if we could home school has been very fruitful and I believe the program contributed a great deal to that result.

The systemic approach to letter introduction, sounds, etc. is absolutely excellent. My daughter really loves the repetition and is totally unphased by the introduction of a new letter. The program is very consistent.

The art work is beautiful. I like that the kids need to think a little vice looking at colorful cartoons that are present in so many other programs.

It is super easy to prepare each lesson. The teacher's manual is clear and well written. It's easy to see what is classroom busy work and what you can skip as a home schooler. Very, very few outside resources are needed for each lesson (an occasional art project may need paint, for instance).

I have replaced all writing lessons with my own manuscript handouts (we use Start Write software). The D'Nealian is not for me and I was disappointed that there was not an option for manuscript.

The games and Museum seemed like a lot of busy work so we've skipped them. We occasionally listen to the cd in the car - but I've found that just sitting down, doing a lesson, keeping it short and being done works better for us than music and games and a long lesson.

The story books are, in my humble opinion, bad. They are too long, very confusing, and require too much sight work. The comprehension exercises to follow the books are tough for me, since even I had a hard time following the story (it takes a while for a 4 year old to read a 30 page book). I respect the desire to be authentic, but it's excessive and confusing (think of the story of the Mayflower using only short ā€œIā€ and a few constants...). We still tough it through the books but I read them to the kids after my daughter has read them to me. We supplement with Bob books, other first readers, etc. which are a breeze for my daughter to read after using this system.

I have really enjoyed the Phonics Museum. I don't think there will ever be a perfect curriculum so there will always be some picking and choosing from whatever you choose. I have found the backbone of this program - letter introduction, familiarity, sounds, etc. - to be excellent. My daughter is learning fast, is comfortable with the system and likes the lessons. She is a very comfortable beginner reader at 4 and she really enjoys it. While I don't care for the writing style and we skip most of the extras, I will definitely buy the first grade system when we finish up with this. I will also be using this system in a year with my son when the time comes (all I need is a new student manual - a great money saver for large families). Even with the negative points mentioned, I would highly recommend this system.