Mountainwood Talking Letters Phonics Course is very different than any other phonics course which I have reviewed. Instead of teaching letter names and sounds, this course assigns a character name to each letter. Each character has its own story that is approximately 30 seconds or so, in length. The story introduces your child to the character and the letter-sound. The philosophy behind the Mountainwood method is that if the child can relate to the story through something that is familiar to their world, they will more readily remember the letter sounds necessary to begin reading.
All of the letters are introduced using this method (although not in alphabetical order), as well as the combination sounds "ch," "th," "wh," "oo," and "ow." Since most print copy that we read is lowercase, only lowercase letters are used to prevent confusion in the beginning reader. Their school claims to have used this program to teach even preschoolers to read with great success since 1983.
The kit includes a video, a poster, flashcards, and a cover letter, which highlights effective teaching tips, two sheets of black and white pictures for making a different set of flashcards, a large white envelope, and two workbooks. The video introduces each character and tells its story. The woman doing the speaking has a wonderful voice which my son must have found to be quite soothing as he appeared to be mesmerized by it. Since he has Down Syndrome he usually has to watch a program more than once before he shows interest. He seemed to greatly enjoy this video upon first viewing. The poster simply shows all the letters in color with their character names written below. Each preprinted flashcard highlights the letter/character with the story printed on the back for easy review. It is recommended that you cover no more than four letters at a time until they are mastered before moving on. The video is set up so that you may stop and start anywhere throughout. It also has periodic reviews along the way. Sight words are not taught until your child is demonstrating understanding of all the letters and combination sounds, in addition to reading three-letter words. The envelope is provided so that you may present the workbooks as a "prize" when your child has completed the program.
As I said, the Mountainwood Talking Letters Phonics Course is decidedly different. If your child enjoys a good story, or you have tried others without much success, you may want to try this one. It is inexpensive, well presented, easy to teach, and the video is of good quality.