Reading with Larkspur

I mailed off achievement test scores for three of my kids today, along with my letter of intent to homeschool four of them in the upcoming school year.  That’s always such a good feeling of accomplishment, especially if I get it all in the mail before the mandated deadline.  I rarely write about the knitty gritty of homeschooling at our house, but I have in the past.  I wrote a post about the way we homeschool about two years ago, and reading it this evening I see that it’s outdated in some ways already (I haven’t used a spreadsheet in over a year.)  That’s the nature of homeschooling.  We are always changing and our plans likewise evolve.  The biggest challenge I have had outside of figuring out how to “get it all done” has been teaching reading, and specifically teaching Gabriel to read.  I wrote about that two years ago as well, when I detailed his first grade plan.  I truly underestimated just how challenging it would be to teach a child who speaks American English as a third language (Gabe was about seven years old when he joined our family.)  Two years later we are making progress, but it has been hard for him, and I have to confess, hard for me.  (I rely heavily on my knitting during our lessons.  Knitting while teaching helps me tremendously with patience.)

Larkspur is technically beginning first grade this year.  As far as academics go, that means that I will begin giving her regular math and reading lessons.  I realized as we dabbled in reading over the past year, that I needed something new that better meets both my needs and Larkspur’s in the reading department.  Lessons at our house happen around the kitchen table and are rarely completed without interruption.  I don’t have the time to devote to a plan such as the one that I used with Gabriel at this level.  I also don’t have the mental staying power.  I realized a couple of months ago that what I wanted and needed was a scripted reading program, and one that wouldn’t require a bunch of planning and preparing on my part.  I also knew that if it didn’t appeal to me, that I wouldn’t use it.  (I can’t handle bright and obnoxious.)  A close friend had been telling me about  a programshe was using to teach spelling and reading to her daughter, and the more she talked about it, the more I thought it might work for us.  I called the support line at All About Learning with about a million questions about both All About Spelling and All About Reading before I ordered their programs, and was very pleased with the help I received.  The poor guy must have been stuck on the phone with me for half an hour or more as I described my kids’ extra special needs.   I decided to try both All About Reading and All About Spelling and have been using them for over a month now, which is more than enough time for me to be able to tell if a program is going to work for us.  I plan to use All About Spelling later this year with Larkspur when she begins to write more, and I’m using it with Gabriel who struggles with spelling (American English has nearly four times the vowel sounds as Liberian English and that is a big deal.)

I am using All About Reading  with Larkspur now (Gabe is beyond this beginning reading program at this point.) She is enjoying it,  and is making progress.  Right now it takes us about two days of lesson time to get through one lesson, and that is a great pace for her attention span.  She absolutely loves the readers that are part of the program. In the past couple of weeks, she has pulled her reader from the shelf and chosen to read on her own on lots of occasions.  She reads and rereads the stories.  That is a big deal.  She hasn’t been motivated to do that with other readers.  I think the thoughtful illustrations are a big part of the appeal.  They make her feel like she is reading real stories, despite their simplicity.

(and a little sidenote–I made these shorts for Lark a couple of weeks ago by modifying my quick and easy standby pattern from Carefree Clothes for Girls.)

(and another note:  Lark finished knitting her hat-well, I finished the last few rounds for her-and she must have decided to keep it because she is proudly wearing it regularly despite the fact that our temperature has been in the 90s.)


Both All about Reading and All About Spelling are multi sensory programs that rely on flash cards for quick review, and also magnetic letter tiles that are used in a way similar to how we use our moveable alphabet.  I store everything in an old shoe polish box.

Beatrix is proving to be an early learner and while I typically don’t start at her age (she will be four in November) she wants reading lessons too.  I think this is how it goes when you have a house full of children.  The younger children naturally want to do what the older ones are doing.

She is satisfied with working on her letter sounds using Montessori style sandpaper letters that I made myself many years ago using templates from this book.  (We are still following the same simple preschool plans too.)

I am so glad that I decided to try All About Reading with Larkspur.  I feel like I am really accomplishing my goals with her, and she is pleased as well.  She keeps asking when she will be able to get her own library card since she is reading now.   I am also very excited about the possibility of All About Spelling being the key to unlocking the English language for Gabriel so that he starts making more progress with reading along with spelling.

I joined the All About Learning affiliate program because their materials are really working for us and I figure if I am going to talk about something anyway, I may as well sign on for the possibility of making a little money.  I added their button to my sidebar as well, but that may not last.  It’s a little bright.

p.s.  Keats took most of the photos in this post–the ones that I am in.


  1. Ginny, we use All About Spelling too. We started with it last year and finally made tremendous strides in my eldest son’s reading. My younger son is now doing level one and is loving it as well. I can’t say enough about the program! It’s truly fantastic for our wiggly boys who have problems focusing :-). The preschool program uses a puppet, Ziggy, and our youngest son loved using it last year. I may start our almost four year old daughter on this one since she, like your Beatrix, wants to “do school” with the older kids. Thanks for the review. I always have the upmost respect for the educational materials you select!

  2. Dear Ginny,
    Love the post I have a special needs learner and this might be just what she needs.
    Funny we ordered the spelling programe just this week and I will use it for our older child who is an avid reader but has difficulty spelling.

    Just a question did you buy the interactive kit or use other resources.
    I like you made sandpaper letters from that book and we have small laminated letters that have red vowels, again Montessori.
    I don’t want to spend extra money I don’t need to.


  3. well done keats! LOVE seeing you in photos! and larkspurs hat, wonderful! good luck with the curiculum!

  4. Thank you for sharing this! We are deciding on a curriculum for our oldest who is preschool age, I am going to get the pre-reading program for this fall. On a total side note, where did you get the shirt you are wearing, it sound silly but I want one! Thank you for all of the inspiration 🙂

  5. It is always interesting to read about the many and varied ways that children learn to read. I did not follow a programme for my eldest at all, he is an avid reader now. I will have to wait a year or so see what method my youngest needs. Thank you for sharing.

  6. It’s great that you found a program that will serve multiple purposes. Hurray for learning! 🙂

  7. Your post is so timely for me. Ginny I am currently debating over getting the All About Spelling program for my 3rd grader. She attends a small Catholic school and is a great reader. Her spelling however is not good. I myself was/am the same way as I love to read but struggle with spelling. I do not want her to have this same challenge and really want to “nip it in the bud”. However, I worry that it will be too much schooling for her though – gosh I should have started this over the summer.

    • We are currently in level 2 of All about Spelling with our 10 yo. I don’t it would be too much if you did it 3 times a week. The lessons are not hard and move very quickly.

  8. Thank you for sharing.

  9. A wonderful review, Ginny. Thank you for sharing it with us. I don’t know yet what I am going to do with my youngest (she’s three) and these are great jumping off points!

  10. Ginny, the links in your post to All About Reading aren’t working properly. I am eager to click through since my 8 year old is struggling in that department.

    You look so lovely sitting with your children in these photos!

    • Thanks for letting me know Kendra! They should work now. Evidently copying and pasting isn’t my special talent 🙂

  11. We have been using All About Spelling with my oldest (now 9) and have LOVED everything about it!! I love that it is so easy for me and him, we need the book, a pencil, notebook and the review box and we’re set. Thank you for posting about the All About Reading, we haven’t had a chance to try it yet.

  12. Thanks so much for the review. We have struggled so much with reading in this house. My eldest was a late reader (which is fine) and is now an excellent and avid reader. My second child is really struggling. I tried to learn the “Spalding” method, which is great, but not scripted. And as you mentioned, I just don’t have the time with a 13yo, a 10yo and a 3 yo to devise a multisensory lesson plan and implement it everyday. This looks like it’s very much like the idea (Spalding worked with Orton).

    I don’t see the affiliate link on your sidebar?

    • My affiliate button is the last thing in my sidebar on the right. But the links in this post are affiliate links too, so whichever you use will work. (thank you!) And yes, this program is Orton-Gillingham based, which is what I needed for Gabe.

  13. i grew up in a family of 6 children, all homeschooled, and everything looked so familiar in this post. i mostly remember peaceful days of reading, reading, reading.
    but you are a much better knitter than i– i drop stitches or forget where i am if i try to multi-task!

  14. Congratulations Larkspur on both your new reading skills and your beautiful hat! May these become skills you enjoy for a lifetime.

  15. Thanks Ginny! I will echo the comment below, but I think this would be perfect for working with my dyslexic oldest! Now that we moved to bumble there really aren’t many local dyslexic tutors around and I have been wondering what I was going to be able to do to hep her. I think it would be great to get Bella and Kayla started together in level 1 and see how it goes. Much appreciated mama.


    • Lisa, I think that the reading program is perfect for little ones. The Spelling program has seven levels, and would probably be great for your oldest. I am starting at the beginning with Gabe, and probably will end up using this with Keats too.

    • Bumble. Ha! 🙂

  16. Thanks for the detailed review! I’ve been considering All About Spelling for my 14yos. He’s dyslexic but is now reading fine, but can’t spell to save his life 🙂 In your opinion, would he find AAS babyish?

    • I don’t think it’s too babyish. I think they actually had both early learners and struggling older learners in mind when they designed the program. I am starting with level one for Gabe and he is ten years old. I am hoping to use this with Keats as well. If you called All About Learning, which I really recommend (they have people working the phones that really seem to know the program) I am sure you could get good advice about where to start him. I was told level one though to make sure there aren’t any holes, and to just move through at the child’s pace.

      • Thank you so much Ginny! I’ll do just what you suggest and give them a call.

        p.s. Tell Larkspur that my 11yod and I (both knitters) think her hat is just beautiful! We don’t blame her one bit for not wanting to take it off 🙂

  17. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve wanted so badly to do Ruth Beechick’s 3 R’s with the kids, but unfortunately, I’m not organized enough to pull it off. I’m afraid I’m going to be one of those “needs a curriculum” types, as much as I’d like to think I’m not. I just looked through All About Reading’s programs and based on the previews, they look wonderful.

    What level are you doing with Lark?

    (P.S. Love that tea cup.)

    • I’m doing level one All About Reading with Larkspur. It was suggested to me that I wait to start the All About Spelling with her until she has been reading for a little while.

  18. What a great review of a program! We are in the early stages of learning to read, and I just don’t even know where to start. I think I will have to look into this program though, it seems like it is working well for you!

I love to hear from you!