Many of our customers are those who once learned to read with Sound Town and have returned to our fundamentally sound, memorable program to teach their own children to read.

Sound Town’s History

Today, Sound Town Phonics is a maker of fun, effective phonics-based educational materials designed to simply teach children to read, but it began when my fourth child was an infant, and our family moved.

Rather than seek out new schools for my older children, I decided to educate them at home. As an artist, I was excited about making the materials for their lessons, and as a trained teacher, I had distinct ideas on how they should be educated. Phonics was a must, and I especially wanted my children to develop a love of learning.

I began imagining a perfect program that incorporated the very best of what I found in the different reading programs available.

 

 

The Beginning of an Idea

I had seen little houses on a chart, each displaying a phoneme letter group. It looked like a good idea. However, when I got to the “ee” – the double e phoneme, how could I put it on a house when it fit so well on a teepee? From that point on, Sound Town took shape.

The “oo,” of course, had to go on a schoolhouse. And since it actually makes two sounds, it also went on the library next door, where the cook was running outside with a book under his arm.

The “or” was written on the horse’s saddlebag, and he was pulling two “ar” carts – one with a star on the side and the other one carrying carrots. And so it went, until an entire western prairie town was created.

Each character image had a corresponding jingle, which further activated the right side of the brain. This created an even more memorable element to the left-brain activity of “little black & white letters floating around on a page.” My friend, Victoria Grenier, a trained Montessori teacher and an expert in early childhood development was especially helpful in advising me on how to lay out the lessons in the precise order and arrangement most effective for a child’s developing brain.

 

More People Join Our Town

As the Sound Town products began to expand, another dear friend of ours, Deborah Mack, joined our team. She had been using Sound Town in her own first and second grade classrooms and had creative ideas on how to implement many of the lessons in a classroom. Her help with Sound Town for many years has been an inspiration and a wonderful asset to the program.

When we began working on the audio CDs, Deborah Mack wrote and performed the beautiful accompanying music and performed the voice of the Sound Town Musician, the narrator on the CD. Our own children performed the other characters in Sound Town. My oldest daughter played Audrey and Deborah’s oldest son played Joseph, the main characters in the story.

Victoria’s oldest daughter performed many of the lively characters Audrey and Joseph met as they traveled through Sound Town looking for the key. When they finally found the key, they discovered that the ‘key to reading’ is putting the sounds together to make words.

 

Developing a Complete Program

In the beginning years, Sound Town was mostly a phonics lesson designed to supplement other reading programs. It did not yet offer enough materials to teach all of the beginning steps in reading.

Later, as the need arose and time permitted, we added more lessons to provide a complete program so parents and teachers could have everything they needed to teach the basic steps to reading. We based our initial lessons on the Montessori language method.

Therefore, the first three stations are materials that can be used not only in homeschools, regular preschools and elementary classrooms; they can also supplement the lessons in any Montessori classroom. And many of the Montessori schools find our 4th station, the Sound Town Station, to be very helpful in teaching their students the more complicated letter combinations, as well.

The Sound Town materials systematically cover the basics steps to reading. Parents who wish to homeschool their children can be confident that the basic learning steps to reading are covered.

 

Sound Town As It Is Today

Eventually, Sound Town grew into a complete reading program divided into four units called stations. The stations include lessons for each of the main stages of learning to read.

Sound Town Phonics is a big program about a booming little town that has seen more than one generation of children grow up into excellent readers. They have discovered the secret of Sound Town and are passing it on to their children, all the while, charting their own boomtown of adventure.

And I am as convinced now, as I was in the beginning, that learning to read can be a joy and a success, without being a “bust!”

 

 

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