English is known to be one of the trickiest languages to learn. Even though our children have the advantage of learning English as their first language, they can still find grammar, pronunciation, and phonics rules confusing and difficult to grasp, particularly when they are learning to read.
Jennifer Fixman of www.edutunes.com has come up with a clever solution for teaching young readers the more advanced concepts of phonics. Advanced Phonics with Miss Jenny contains 25 catchy songs covering everything from plurals to irregular spellings. The accompanying coloring book also includes lyrics to the songs, making phonics less of a task for the child and more of an interesting and exciting activity.
I reviewed Ms. Fixman's first CD and book (Phonics Time CD-Book Set: Learn to Read as You Sing with Miss Jenny and Friends) and wasn't especially convinced that its approach to early phonics was the best choice for my students. But I was really impressed by what is covered in Advanced Phonics With Miss Jenny. Songs include "Ed Says Ed, D, T," "Past Tense Tricks," "Double Consonants," "Silent Letters," and "Prefixes and Suffixes." The concepts are explained well. For example, the chorus lyrics for "Prefixes and Suffixes" are:
If you have a base word and you happen to find
Something in front or something behind,
A prefix begins; a suffix ends,
And that is the basic rule, my friends.
As in the first review, I was highly disappointed with the quality of the voice used to record the songs. My husband entered the room where I was listening to the CD and said, "It's like Schoolhouse Rock gone very, very wrong." My teenager said, "Could you turn that off? It's really bad." But my kindergartener, presumably the target audience, loves the CDs and asks to listen to them regularly. I just wish the producers had found a better voice with which to record the catchy tunes.
The time my young readers spent listening to Advance Phonics with Miss Jenny was positive and reinforced what they were learning already. I just wouldn't consider it the centerpiece of our phonics and reading curriculum.