Are you looking for a reading program that integrates outdoor learning, multisensory methods and an overarching story while providing a strong foundation in key reading skills such as phonological awareness, phonics, and writing?
Why compromise when it comes to a reading program?
Wild Reading integrates elements from Waldorf (story-based, main lesson type book made by children), Montessori (moveable alphabet), and nature-based learning methods and combines them with science-backed research on how children learn to read. This comprehensive program will help you teach your child to learn to read in a fun and gentle way.
Wild Reading takes beginning readers on a story-based journey following Matilda the Mouse and her adventures to the top of a marvelous mountain. Each week, the story highlights the week’s featured letter sound and is followed by engaging lessons and activities in phonological awareness skills, word families/phonics, sight words, and other key literacy skills throughout the week.
Skills are taught sequentially and are practiced through nature-based and/or hands-on reading and writing activities. Most of the activities are designed to offer families flexibility in the amount of outdoor instruction incorporated. A wide variety of enrichment activities covering a range of subjects including nature study, science, art, movement, and music. Providing choices in these areas enables families to tailor the program to their child’s interests and learning style. Recommended picture and nonfiction book lists provide additional choices for read alouds and further exploration of enrichment topics. Each week follows a familiar rhythm and weekly and daily schedules are provided.
Wild Reading is recommended for children ages 5–8 years old. Reading readiness depends on the child. For most children, this is usually around the age of 6 or 7.
Your child is ready for the entire Wild Reading program if:
- They are familiar with many letters and many of the sounds they make. They can write some or many letters.
- They know all their letters and sounds, but are not yet blending letters to make words.
- They are just beginning to blend together letters and sounds to make words.
- They can blend whole words, but are still struggling to consistently decode words and read fluently.
- Structured, developmentally appropriate, and incorporates the science of how children learn to read.
- 380+ pages plus printable resources.
- Outdoor- and nature-based activities are included each week.
- The original story of an adventurous mouse introduces each week’s letter sound.
- Phonemic awareness skills are integrated into activities and oral practice each week.
- Sight words and word families are introduced incrementally.
- Hands-on, multisensory reading and writing activities support a variety of learning styles without boring worksheets.
- Independent reading skills developed through reading decodable books.
- Listening and reading comprehension skills are practiced through discussions after reading each week’s chapter of the story.
- Read alouds from curated lists of books emphasizing nature and natural themes.
- Books including diverse characters are included and denoted with an asterisk.
- Enrichment activities related to the letter theme help integrate academic subjects without additional curriculum and incorporate your child’s interests.
- Daily checklists, weekly outlines of activities, and supply lists keep you organized.
- Many activities are flexible and can be done indoors or outdoors.
- Tips are provided on how to include older and younger siblings in the program.
Don’t worry if you are unsure of what some of these skills are or why they are important. I devoted a whole section in Wild Reading on how to teach reading and the science behind it!
Introduction of letter sounds through the story Tilda Trekker, Fairy Fred, and the Marvelous, Mighty, Majestic Mountain by Monica Bosworth
Tilda Trekker, Fairy Fred, and the Marvelous, Mighty, Majestic Mountain follows Matilda the mouse as she discovers the world beyond her home in a moldy mattress. She catches a glimpse of a majestic mountain and decides she must see the top! Each week you follow Matilda and later, her friend Fairy Fred, on their adventures up the mountain.
Their journey takes them through all 26 letters of the alphabet, ending with X (at the apeX of the mountain), and their return from the summit during the final two chapters.
Letter pages and word families
Each week your child will create pages featuring the week’s letter, sight word, and, if applicable, the word family/ies (word families are introduced after the letter A). They will also practice letter formation using multisensory methods.
You will be collecting the weekly letter sound, sight word, and word family pages that your child makes to create three books. You will construct them together with your child at the end of the year. They are an excellent way to showcase and document their work at the end of the year.
Word families as a developmental step before phonics
While children are developing phonological awareness skills, it is recommended that they are introduced to word families before progressing on to a full phonics approach. Teaching word families, according to Dr. David Kilpatrick, helps children begin reading while also honing their phonological awareness skills. This happens because word families scaffold their developing skills by using rime unit* patterns. (There is more information on the scientific basis for phonological awareness and reading development in the curriculum!)
This is why Wild Reading includes practice of essential phonological awareness skills along with instruction in word families and targeted sight words to ensure that beginning readers develop these foundational skills that help children become efficient readers.
*A rime unit is the part of a syllable that contains the vowel and all the consonants following it. For example, in the word “cat,” the onset is c and the rime unit is -at.
Kilpatrick, D. (2016). Equipped for Reading Success: A Comprehensive, Step by Step Program for Developing Phonemic Awareness and Fluent Word Recognition. Casey and Kirsch Publishers.
When we refer to sight words in Wild Reading, we are referring to a list of words that we want children to learn to read instantly because they are so common. These words can be phonetically regular or irregular. Each week children are introduced to 1–2 sight words. They make a sight word page for each word using pictures and simple sentences that are incorporated into a book at the end of the year. These pages help them create meaning and context for words that when isolated in this manner can be abstract.
As explained in more detail in the first chapters of Wild Reading, children do not memorize what words look like visually, instead they use the process of orthographic mapping to effortlessly learn and recall words instantly. If sight words are decodable, attention should be on sounding the words out. When introducing sight words that have letters that make unexpected sounds, such as the words “is” or “the,” we should call attention to the letters that do and do not make the sounds we expect. For example, the short I sound in the word “is” makes the expected short I sound but the letter S does not, it makes a /z/ sound. By drawing attention to the phonemes and letters in this way we assist a child’s orthographic mapping of these words which appropriately supports the brain to read these words automatically.
Language and Reading comprehension skills
Being able to sound out words effectively is essential, but in order to have good reading comprehension, a child needs to know what the words mean. Building a strong vocabulary is essential so that when children can read these words, they will know what they mean. Matilda’s story is full of a variety of vocabulary words. Definitions for advanced words are included at the end of every chapter, so you can discuss them with your child after you read.
Language and reading comprehension is also developed by asking questions about that week’s chapter of the story, both at the beginning and end of every week. These questions are based on key concepts and skills that are later necessary for independent reading, such as making predictions, retelling, making connections, inferences, and summarizing.
The spelling of short vowel words is incorporated into word family instruction, strategies for sounding or blending words, and in activities. Wild Reading encourages children to use their knowledge of letter sounds or phonemes when spelling words they do not know. This further assists and supports children’s phonological awareness development. Spelling words in this way helps children listen and think about the different sounds and the letters that make them at the word level. However, it is important to hold children accountable for spelling words with sounds that they have been taught.
The importance of multisensory reading activities
Multisensory instruction requires children to use more than one sense at a time. Using different senses such as seeing, hearing, touching, and movement in an activity gives children multiple ways to make connections in their brain about what they are learning. Wild Reading uses multisensory activities such as word building with the moveable alphabet, scavenger hunts, word sorts, skywriting, sand or salt tray writing and numerous other activities to engage the senses when learning new skills.
In addition, this program incorporates plenty of outdoor learning. Some activities are directly related to observing and learning more about nature while integrating reading and writing skills and some are focused more on honing a particular skill (such as word sorts).
The enrichment activities provided in Wild Reading loosely follow the letter theme introduced each week in the story chapter. They provide ways to integrate other subjects, skills, and some fun into the homeschool day, while reinforcing key literacy skills. Academic subjects covered by the activities include science, wilderness skills, math, art, music, language arts, and play-based activities. Feel free to dive into a particular activity or topic and extend it over multiple days or even weeks if your child is particularly engaged with it. Icons representing each academic area help you quickly identify which activities cover specific subject areas.
Below is a list of essential supplies used in the majority of the activities in Wild Reading. Each chapter contains a list of specific materials needed for that week. Additional materials such as paper and pencil are also needed and listed in the curriculum. Additional materials for individual enrichment activities are listed for each activity.
- Beeswax crayons are preferred. The block style crayon from Stockmar is best for the letter-page drawings. They are high quality and last forever! (If these are not in your budget, any peeled crayon can be broken in half.)
- Bob Books beginning reader series by Bobby Lynn Maslen
- Fun Tales books by Sarita Holzmann
- Binder ring
- Chalkboard: I have a 12 x 20 inch one that works well. You will use it for practicing writing, but it also makes a good writing surface when out in the yard or the woods.
- Moveable alphabet (DIY, wood, magnetic letters, or traditional Montessori style all work)
- Assorted nature guides for your area
- Playdough or clay
- Three folders for storing your book pages
- Salt tray or a DIY salt tray (small shallow box filled with salt
Many of these materials can be found on the Wild Math Amazon Store at: www.amazon.com/shop/wildmathcurriculum
You can see the Wild Reading’s full scope and sequence by clicking the link below.
Wild Reading is a digital curriculum. You will receive two files, the main curriculum (384 pages) and the printable resources (48 pages). You can print it at home, at a print shop (online or brick and mortar), or use it digitally (only printing the printable resources).
Shops such as Hardcopy HQ specialize in printing for homeschoolers and typically are much more affordable. The price was less than half that of the chain/big office type printers.
- Print the main curriculum double sided
- Print the printable resources single sided
You may also choose to print off one chapter each week (about 10-15 pages). This can be a great strategy to print at home but not overwork your printer!
The story and weekly plan are included in each chapter. While it looks lovely in color, black and white is the most economical way to print a document this size! You can always refer to the digital copy if you would like to see a section/picture in color. I have a few small businesses I recommend for printing in the FAQ section.
It has come to our attention that the book Series Fun Tales by Duane Bolin and Sarita Holzmann can be difficult to source or shipping can be excessive. It is shipped internationally by Sonlight.
I have found some downloadable decodable readers by Grade One Snapshots @gradeonesnapshots that are a suitable replacement. Some of the sight words may be slightly off of the schedule.
Links to Grade One Snap Shot books
Grade One Snapshots Decodable Readers Set 1