Kindergarten teachers often talk about CVC words and their importance in helping children learn to read. CVC words follow the consonant-vowel-consonant pattern and are easy for youngsters to sound out such as cat, dog, fat, hip, jam, man, pig, sun, and win. Kids get excited and empowered when they see these words in print and read them without adult assistance.
Dr. Seuss books are wildly popular with youngsters because they're choke-full of CVC words. The first book I ever learned to read was Green Eggs and Ham because it had easy to read lines with both rhyming and CVC words such as box and fox: "Would you eat them in a box? Would you eat them with a fox?" The Zoo-phonics program is so highly successful because it emphasizes letter sounds. This helps children transition easily and effectively into reading CVC words.
Research shows time and time again that little ones learn best by playing with concrete materials. Zoo-phonics capitalizes on this with their 26 animals. How much more fascinating is it for kids to learn about Allie Alligator, Bubba Bear, and Catina Cat, rather than A, B, and C? A, B, and C mean very little to 4-and 5-year-olds, no matter how enthusiastic their teacher gets about them.
By playing with concrete materials -- stuffed animals, letter cards, and stamps -- kids build CVC words by themselves. They can switch out the middle vowel for another to make new words: cat becomes cut, dog becomes dig, fat becomes fit, man becomes men. They discover the patterns of our language, and it makes sense to them. They start to feel in control and ready to take on more.
Unfortunately in preschools and kindergartens today, many teachers get pressured to rush through the hands-on learning and get to the "real" learning. This means kids are learning too much, too fast and often feel frustrated and confused. Their parents get told that they're behind and need extra help at home or, better yet, after-school tutoring at a learning center. The truth of the matter is, however, that there's nothing wrong with these kids. But there is something wrong with the escalated curriculum that requires too much of them at too young of an age.
Zoo-phonics celebrates kids for where they're at developmentally and doesn't try to rush them. It lets them wriggle, dance, sing, and play. Whether you're homeschooling or supplementing classroom instruction, it's a fabulous program that will stay with your child forever.
You absolutely do not need to spend a lot of money on Zoo-phonics materials. I collected my 26 animals at garage sales and thrift stores. However, you do want to invest in these large picture cards that depict the 26 Zoo-phonics animals from Allie Alligator to Zeke the Zebra. You'll use them on a regular basis because they serve as the program's foundation.