In Campfire Curriculums™ style, we have incorporated every kind of learning, personality, and fun into our units! From optional mazes to Nerf® Gun challenges to music to baking… we’ve got you covered for those who want it (all optional). But what goes even deeper than the fun? Let’s take a look…
The 100% open-and-go Campfire Curriculums’™ Phonics Program is founded on research- and evidence-based methodologies (such as Orton-Gillingham, proven speech pathology implementations, and more), ideal for any age and any skill level. It is also ideal for those with dyslexia. We also include a Campfire Curriculums™ teaching twist, for the best of everything. Read on, for the details…
Our process was specifically created to incorporate a multi-sensory teaching, setting the right foundation for all future reading, decoding, phonics skills, language arts, and comprehension. It provides for a combined spiral and mastery methodology. It is also designed to prevent the struggles which frequently arise in higher education when children suddenly seem to encounter difficulties with reading as newer concepts are introduced. We do not want children to cap out or struggle in their abilities, as is seen too often. We have uniquely utilized different proven methodologies (including, but not stopping with, a heavy emphasis on Orton-Gillingham). We do this while also including our own experiences to strengthen and cater to different regions of the child’s brain at once. We are weaving a unique fabric throughout ALL of the evidenced-based methods and our own. We believe in merging the evidence together into a whole brain, whole body, and whole person approach (not separating and segregating it).
Tying a Shoe – It matters
When teaching a child to tie his shoe, the parent does something amazing, often without realizing it. Using simple methods, the parent instinctively teaches the child to tie his shoe by utilizing different senses and parts of the brain at once. The parent:
- Explains with words
- Shows by example
- Encourages with visualization
- Allows opportunity for kinesthetic motion
- Tries again, with right amount of repetition
- Avoids over-taxing the child
- Often include a little musical doodle or rhyme of some kind
To an outside observer (and sometimes even to the adult doing the teaching), it seems as if something very basic is taking place: “explaining to the child how to tie his shoe.” The adult doesn’t often realize how these simple methods used in conjunction are creating unique bridges in different parts of the child’s brain (allowing different regions of the brain to be triggered at once). It’s not so simple, after all.
No one attempts to successfully teach a child how to tie his shoe with words or written direction alone. No one attempts to successfully teach the skill by visualization alone (without any words at all). Few would attempt to do this without some kind of riddle or repetition, etc.
IIf you tried one approach without the other, chances of the child’s success begin to lessen. He might get the mechanics wrong or fumble through the process. He might not move his fingers naturally or move slower than usual. Even worse, the child may learn to tie his shoe, but would do so incorrectly. Sure, he gets the job done and the shoe ends up tied in some fashion, but his fingers never quite move fluidly or know the proper form. The parent either doesn’t notice or doesn’t grasp where things are going wrong, so they let it be. No big deal; the knot was tied, right? Except, later in life, the struggles become more evident when the child encounters issues tying the string on a curtain, sweatpants or swim trunks… or a cushion to the back of a chair… or perhaps when he advances into something more intense that requires more advanced conceptualization of knots.
This same is true for phonics.
Research- and Evidence-Based Phonics Approaches
In research- and evidence-based phonics approaches, there are well-known and proven processes which have a high focus on one of the following:
- Instructional strategies and phonological processing (Ie: Orton-Gillingham)
- Cognitive skills and language comprehension
- Speech pathology and kinesthetic learning (Ie: many high-priced tutoring, psychology-based, or specialty programs throughout the country)
- Memorization or repetition
Some of the curricula or programs which utilize these evidence-based approaches strive to enhance one or two of the following areas, accordingly:
- Phonemic and auditory awareness for weeks before entering further phonics concepts
- Oral-motor movements or “feeling” the sound in your throat (etc.), especially in speech pathology, and via specialists and psychologists, etc.
- Decodable rules
- Multi-sensory interaction, etc…
Any one of these is wonderful! However…
Many are unaware that each program still teaches students to read and process via a specific part of their brain or body. Therefore, a different cognitive processing or approach can be inherently encouraged or emphasized within each program (it varies, depending). This is why you might hear of programs which work for some students but not for others.
When the proper regions of your child’s brain are not targeted and strengthened at the right moments, you may see struggling readers even into high school and beyond. You may also have a harder time helping to correct struggles an older child is encountering. Given that each child’s processing is different, this can pose a problem.
Over the past 20+ years, we have read the research, referenced the studies, seen or used many of the programs based on such approaches, received certified-level instruction, implemented it with students, and tweaked them all based on our own experiences. Each program, though wonderful, seemed to be missing a piece that another program included (and vice versa). It’s like marshmallows and chocolate (both delicious) hanging out in their own corners of the room, waiting on someone to bring the Graham Crackers and merge it all together.
Insert, Campfire Curriculums™…
The Campfire Curriculums’™ Phonics Method will start with a clear, researched foundation utilizing evidence-based approaches, and then it will build the bridge between them all, providing an equal balance and focus in all areas of the brain. It doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t have to look fancy. In fact, to a common observer, it may seem as simple as watching someone teach a child to tie his shoe. However, disguised underneath this simplicity, the Campfire Curriculums’ Phonics Program is beautifully orchestrated with multiple strategies to ensure a better chance of success for your child, in a way that no other program does it.
Campfire Curriculums™… bringing the Graham Crackers® to the S’mores party of phonics.
PHONICS AROUND THE CAMPFIRE
This unit is ideal for 4 – 7 years of age (though there is no age requirement or restriction). It strategically teaches beginning mastery of phonemic awareness, letters and sounds, digraphs (CH, TH, SH, etc.), and reading preparedness…
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LESSON COUNT: ~45 open-and-go lessons
This unit begins with a full week of phonemic awareness foundational skills. As these are foundational concepts that work on cognitive function, bridging different areas of the brain, they will be included in every unit before the regular lessons begin.
Regular Lesson focus:
- Learning letters and sounds of the entire alphabet
- Implementation and beginning mastery of phonemes (smallest, distinct units of sound in the English language)
- Graphemes (written symbols that represent the phoneme)
- Mastering beginning/middle/ending sounds
- Introduction to digraphs
- Learning unusual letter sounds (variations of the letters, IE: G can say /j/.
- Syllable count, rhyming, etc.
- Creating new words by changing initial/medial/ending phonemes (increases fluency and decoding skills in future reading)
- High focus on classics, literature and poetry or rhyme implementation
Review & Grow lessons:
These lessons will occur approximately every 5th day and include review as well as an additional focus in phonemic and phonological awareness, development and connection of different parts of the brain. They also work on orthographic processing, inclusion of symbol and concept imagery, adaptation of auditory activities, blending procedures, emergency communication, life skills, and more.
Some students can do a lesson a day, where others may wish to take up to a week. Each day is set up for a 20-minute window of learning.
Some may wish to do the unit twice in a school year, spiraling back around. There is no right or wrong. Follow your student’s lead and our assessments within the unit.
SYW* Pages & Extensions Pack
For younger students, there are fun songs, videos, small incorporations of animal science (SYW), geography (SYW), classic literature and poetry, fun activities and optional crafts, beautiful graphics, game playing, bonding, and more!
*SYW stands for “Skip if You Want,” meaning the pages occur occasionally at the end of a lesson (randomly) and are completely optional for additional fun and learning.
Is this unit for you?
- If your child is kindergarten age/skill or younger (approximately 4 – 7 years old), you should start with Phonics around the Campfire. This is true even if they know their basic letters and sounds or a few CVC words. While much of the unit may seem like review, it also teaches digraphs, difference between vowels and consonants, and phonemic awareness at their development level. This ensures a good foundation for the pace at which our next unit flows. For this age group, it would be best to start here before heading into Reading around the Campfire #1.
- If your child has truly mastered their “letters and sounds,” can tell you the sounds of the most common digraphs (CH, TH, SH, etc..), knows the difference between vowels and consonants, AND can demonstrate a good foundation of phonemic awareness, they may begin with Reading around the Campfire #1.
- NOTE: The pre-lessons in Reading around the Campfire #1 (provided for free in the Sample) are to be used as the assessment to determine phonemic readiness.
READING AROUND THE CAMPFIRE #1
This unit is where every student from 1st – 12th grade needs to begin, regardless of age. This includes students that:
-Know their letters and sounds but do not yet know how to read -or-
-Are a beginning reader (CVC words) -or-
-Are an older student but a struggling reader
This unit takes you from basic blending and non-reading in bracket #1 to reading multiple letter and multisyllabic words with fluency and a very strong beginning foundation by the end. It is for ALL ages.
*More details at bottom
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LESSON COUNT: 10 brackets made of 3 parts each
Phonemic Pre-unit Lessons:
This unit begins with three lessons of phonemic awareness and skills, as in the Phonics around the Campfire unit. These are foundational concepts that work on cognitive function and bridging different areas of the brain, so these lesson types will be included in every unit.
Regular Lesson Focus:
This is the unit that can set or reset your student’s foundation for future success. This unit will build upon the former Phonics around the Campfire (or any other prior instruction) with:
- Immediate implementation of blending ladders, auditory processing, and CVC words
- Further review of phonemes, graphemes, and phonological awareness
- Phonogram identification and variations
- Initial blends and clusters (CCVC, CCCVC)
- Final blends and clusters (CVCC, CVVCC, CVCCC)
- Inflectional endings and 3-letter clusters (-ING, -INK, -S, -ES)
- Words with combined digraphs and blends
- When -Y steals I or E
- Open and closed syllables
- Rabbit Syllable Division (VC*CV)
- Tiger vs. Camel Syllable Division (V*CV, VC*V)
- 1st Job of Silent E
- R-controlled (bossy R) words
- High frequency sight words
- Double consonant rules
- Schwa sounds
- High emphasis on strategic decoding skills
- High emphasis on oral motor processing
- Multi-letter phonograms
- Reading Compound words
- Reading multisyllabic words
- Creating new words by changing or replacing initial/medial/ending phonemes (increases fluency and decoding skills when reading)
- Orthographic processing
- Phonological processing
- Reading comprehension
- High focus on classics, poetry, and literature,
For all students, there are also optional songs, videos, partner reading, fun and optional activities (applicable to a wide age range), beautiful graphics, fun challenges, multi sensory approaches, game playing, bonding, and more!
Is this unit for you?
If your child is between the ages of a standard 1st – 12th grade student (or advanced kindergarten student who has a very good grasp on phonemic awareness, letters, sounds, vowels, and digraphs), he or she should start with Reading around the Campfire #1. This is true, regardless of age, even if the student knows some of the material or finds himself moving quickly throughout the unit. It is very important to start here, as the foundational concepts taught in this unit can ensure future success in follow-up units. It is at this level where many struggling readers had their foundation crumble (and they need to re-learn different ways to connect regions of the brain) or where many new readers do not develop a strong foundation.
The problem many new readers have is not developing a strong foundation before building the walls (trying to advance without repairing the gap in former years of instruction). This program teaches them to do both.
In addition to teaching phonics skills with systematic and evidence-based methods, these units also lead your child to mastering phonemic awareness while strengthening many regions of his or her brain. Students thrive when they learn to connect dots uniquely, allowing future instruction to have the most impact.
POSSIBLE FUTURE INSTALLMENTS
The program is complete, as-is. This is, however, a teaching concept that could theoretically continue on indefinitely, so we may continue to release more for the enthusiasts! What would that look like?
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- AN ANALOGY TO EXPLAIN:
Imagine there is a massive book that teaches you how to cook. It is thorough and complete, filled with recipes, details, and skilled tips from professionals in culinary institutes throughout the world. If you want to learn to be a great cook, that’s all you need. The end.
Now… could the same company create MORE recipe books, tips-and-tricks books, Italian-specific skill books, French cuisine books, or even baking-specific books that dive deeper into flaky crusts, etc.? Of course! It is a never-ending field of learning! But just because they MIGHT release a “French Tips and Tricks” book in the future does not mean the “How to Be an Excellent Cook” book already released is incomplete. Future releases are only being considered, as they could cover multiple years’ worth of content (think: all the way to Greek or Latin roots etc.). This could, realistically, never end. So while we may release these, they are not necessary.
You can easily transition from Campfire’s Phonics program straight to the tiered language arts within our regular units!