As an adult, reading is easy. I read words all around me at a glance without even thinking about it. For young children, however, letters can seem like a huge, confusing jumble. The Dyslexia Toolkit from PDX Reading Specialist is an easy-to-use reading curriculum that can help kids navigate the jumble!
Using the Dyslexia Toolkit Level 1
Jade, age 6, is currently doing Grade 1 and learning to read. She doesn’t have dyslexia; she has “I Quit” syndrome. Reading has been a struggle for her because she’s decided that “it’s too hard.” This is an attitude I’ve been trying to help her overcome in many areas of her life.
The Dyslexia Toolkit Level 1 from PDX Reading Specialist caught my attention because it provides a solid foundation of phonological awareness and alphabet knowledge for children. Jade has no problem with learning her alphabet letters, but she’s struggled with attaching the right sounds to the right letters.
Reading is much like building a house, and the foundation of the reading house is Phonological Awareness & Alphabet Knowledge. ~ PDX Reading Specialist
As soon as I opened the Dyslexia Toolkit Level 1, all the girls were interested. I could see why—it’s a box full of colourful cards, games, and toys, including an adorable panda puppet and a blue slinky. It all looked so fun and interesting that Jade forgot reading is hard!
I thought I’d be spending one-on-one time with Jade doing her reading curriculum. Instead, everyone wanted to be involved, from 11-year-old Sunshine down to 3-year-old Pearl. We let them play a few of the group games, like Rhyming Bingo, and told them to go read a book after that so Jade could do some of the other activities on her own.
What You’ll Find in the Dyslexia Toolkit
- information about dyslexia and how the brain learns to read
- easy-to-use instruction manual
- 396 picture cards
- 50+ game boards w/ playing pieces
- fun anytime, anywhere activities
- bags for easy organization and storage
As a busy homeschool mom teaching multiple kids, I really like how user-friendly and organized this reading curriculum is. Using the colour coding system, I was able to quickly organize the materials in the labelled, plastic bags provided. Getting started was as easy as opening the instruction manual.
The instruction manual includes a page about the kit, suggestions for how to begin, and information on how we learn to read. There’s information about dyslexia, including common symptoms for kids in preschool to kindergarten and in first to third grades.
Teaching Phonological Awareness
Phonological awareness is the awareness of the sound structure in words. This is about listening to different sounds and blending them together to make words. The instruction manual includes the developmental steps of phonological awareness and an assessment to do with your child.
“Anytime, anywhere activities” are fun, easy games you can do with your child. For kids like Jade, who think something is too hard, this is a sneaky way to help them learn while having fun. These include using stuffies, the slinky or “magic spring,” sidewalk chalk and other toys to teach sound concepts. There are also ideas for word games like silly rhymes or I Spy.
Teaching Alphabet Knowledge
Learning the alphabet is more than just memorizing ABCs. Pearl already knows her alphabet—sort of. She can sing her ABCs, but she hasn’t put the sounds to the letters yet. This can be tricky, especially for vowels that have more than one sound and letters that make different sounds when paired with other letters.
Like the previous section, this section of the instruction manual includes tips for teaching alphabet knowledge as well as an assessment and “anytime, anywhere activities.” I’ve used some of these letter activities in the past with the girls. The hands-on, active ideas really help them learn the alphabet (instead of just sitting in a seat with a pencil and paper). I liked the way that the Dyslexia Toolkit incorporated these activities into a bigger reading strategy.
Reading Curriculum Activities
The bulk of the Dyslexia Toolkit Level 1 is devoted to the reading curriculum activities. As children work through these activities, they move through the six development steps of phonological awareness:
- word awareness and alliteration
- rhyme awareness
- syllable awareness
- isolating sounds
- phoneme blending and segmenting
- phoneme manipulation
I’ve been using this reading curriculum primarily with 6-year-old Jade, but 3-year-old Pearl often joins her. It has been interesting to me to observe their different stages of awareness around letters. For example, Jade caught onto syllable awareness quite quickly, while Pearl just had fun clapping her hands, without connecting that in any way to the word she was saying.
Each section of the toolkit is color-coded so you can easily find the related manipulatives in the kit. There are also more “anytime, anywhere activities” that you can use to integrate learning into your daily activities, without having to get out the kit! (This is a big reason I chose to homeschool—learning doesn’t have to happen at set times but can take place while you’re driving, eating supper, grocery shopping, etc!).
Some of the games in the box that Jade really likes include:
- rhyming bingo
- roll and rhyme (mini board game)
- syllable hop (mini board game)
- sorting sounds
- magic spring stretch
If you’re a lesson planner, you can easily put some of the activities together into daily lesson plans. I’ve used it on a more casual basis, just pulling out the kit and doing a game or two per day. If Jade is having fun and super into it, we might play a game several times or do several games. If she’s more interested in playing outside or other activities, then we’ll just do one game and move on.
More about the Dyslexia Toolkit
The Level 1 toolkit is designed for children ages 4-8. Jade falls right into the middle of that spectrum and this reading curriculum has been perfect for her.
Pearl has done some of the activities with us, but a few others have been over her head. I think this will be great for her next year, when she’s just a little bit older, and I can use it to give her a solid start to learning to read.
If your child is older than age 8, the Dyslexia Toolkit Level 2 is now available for pre-sale!
This toolkit can be used by either teachers or parents. I’ve often found that materials created for the school classroom don’t work well at home, but this reading curriculum is the exception. I can see how a teacher could use it in the classroom, but it has also been easy to use with one student at home.
PDX Reading Specialists recognize that “parents are a child’s first (and often, best!) teacher. Therefore, we created this toolkit, so that a parent can support their child’s learning.” YES!
I’ve done the activities in this toolkit with Jade. Most of the activities are easy enough that, once she’s learned them, Jade could probably do them with her sisters without my help. I’ve been trying to keep the materials in the box from getting lost or broken (certain “magic springs” and cute puppets have been very attractive to little people), so I haven’t let Jade get it out on her own.
Buy Your Own Dyslexia Toolkit
Get $25 off the Dyslexia Toolkit Level 1 with coupon code READ25 at checkout (expires 9/30/19).
The first 150 people who purchase a Dyslexia Toolkit Level 1 will receive a free Student Workbook: Alphabet Knowledge that goes along with the toolkit (no code required)! This 152 page workbook is priced at $12.
Enter to Win a Dyslexia Toolkit!
One winner will get both Level 1 (what you got) plus the soon to be released Level 2. This is a $498 value!
Does your child have dyslexia or other reading difficulties? Do you think this toolkit would help him or her?