We are currently having a blast reviewing some great materials from Jolly Literacy! I wrote the other day about their fantastic grammar and phonics program; today I am sharing with you the fun we are having with Can Do Cubes from jollyliteracy.com (just2ducks LLC). Can Do Cubes are super sturdy, little wooden blocks. Each one has a letter (or letters) which are designed to help children learn phonics as well as phonemic awareness through hands-on activities. And if yours are anything like mine, learning happens the best when its something they can do.
I just love this duck! It makes me smile (my kids too) every time!
For this review we received quite the package. Wow! Included was the following:
- A complete set of Can Do Cubes with two cardboard student trays (one for Stage One and another for Stage Two)
- A DVD with full pronunciation guide. This included instruction books, and also word charts. The DVD has a couple different parts; one for playing the program, another for program subjects, sounding out (with a loverly British accent). There is an introduction to the cubes for you to view as well as a demonstration, the phonemes are sounded out too. They have an introduction to synthetic phonics and also a guide showing how to apply the system for Stage One and Stage Two. There is an extra which contains the weblink, pdf instructions of the hard copies provided in the box), credits and a thank you.
- A CD of the Teacher’s Guide and Template Book-The CD contains the complete workbook; each workbook contains a section (1-Phonological Awareness, Phonemic Awareness, & the Alphabetic Principle; 2-Blending; 3-Segmenting; 4-Dictation, Handwriting, & High Frequency Words) of teaching instructions and phonics worksheets to use along with the cubes.
- Home Edition-Stage One: This is the simple alphabetic code booklet: The booklet really explains the early processes of acquiring language and literacy, the alphabetic code, letter and sound correspondence, tips for supporting the beginning stages of reading and writing, and explanations of the processes involved in teaching early literacy. (I love this one especially!)
- Stage Two Enjoying Synthetic Phonics: A multi-sensory approach: This booklet speaks to the more complex aspects of the alphabetic code. It discusses split digraphs, consonant phonemes, double consonants, capital letters and punctuation. This book includes reading activities, spelling activities and games: there are also words lists to use.
- Two At a Glance Word Charts for Stage One cubes: These give us the new phoneme/word to be presented and show which cubes will be used with each new set of phonemes.
- Synthetic Phonics Overview Chart: This contains phonemes that are heard, the simple code for the sound and the complex code graphemes used for that sound. Also included are some VERY helpful teaching points.
If you are not familiar with the concept of synthetic phonics and the science behind these little cubes you can learn all about it here! This was all very new to me, but I have to say, I was quite impressed with all that I read. And it really made me even more excited about this “something new” for our homeschool! It’s nice too that these can be used on their own, or with any complete phonics program (we are using it with the Jolly Phonics program we received).
We used these with both my 5 year old daughter who is really just beginning to learn how to read and then also with my son who is 6 and struggling in his learning. Both of them really like these cubes by the way. These are super sturdy; I love how clearly the letters are laser-engraved on the blocks. They come in a cardboard holder (nice way to keep them together when not being used). Stage 1 has 27 blocks and Stage 2 has 30 blocks. Each side of the block has a letter on it except for a few which are blank. They also have a small number mark to help determine where they go in the tray when done using them. Nice little help for keeping them all organized.
With my five year old daughter we used these both to learn and strengthen letter recognition and also for sound recognition. She liked rolling one of the blocks to see what letter would come up and then having to make the sound and the corresponding sign for the sound (this is from the grammar and phonics program we also received from this company).
With my six year old son, we used these more for spelling activities. He enjoyed trying to make words out of a handful of blocks (sometimes he would roll them an sometimes would put them in a pile, close his eyes, and pick a couple to use). He enjoyed building words with these blocks vertically, horizontally, and one time even in the form of a crossword puzzle! (why didn’t I take a picture of that?).
I think my personal favorite in all of this were the handbooks that came with the Can Do Cubes. These were so full of great ideas and really helped me to use these in a way that was most beneficial for both of my kids. From fun activities for those not yet reading, to learning the alphabetic code, there is so much help they provide! The second handbook goes into details regarding vowel phonemes, split digraphs, consonant phonemes, double consonants, capital letters and punctuation. Again, so grateful for these handbooks because I have to admit, I needed a refresher on a lot of this myself. And I love to learn and for my kids to see me learning at their side 🙂 For my little ones who aren’t really fans of daily handwriting and copywork (one is really just beginning) we have made it more fun with this catchy phrase we learned from one of the handbooks, “Froggy legs at the bottom of the painted part, with the log under.” This helps them to remember where thumb and fingers should go; a good pencil grip really does make a big difference!
We really are having so much fun with these cubes. This is such a wonderful way for our kids to learn reading in a way that is much more hands on! And while I was unsure about this in the beginning I especially love seeing how much these have helped both of my younger ones! These are definitely worth having in your homeschool! We will be enjoying these for many years to come, I am sure of it! Of course this is not something you can just take out of the box and begin using, but the time invested in studying and learning how best to use this program, it’s so worth it!