Monday, January 10, 2011

Review: Funnix Reading Lessons

February 1, 2011 EDIT: From now until February 16th, you can once again download Funnix Beginning Reading for free. Take advantage of this offer because when it is over, the price will increase to $38.

After my last post about beginning to research reading systems, my friend Jane recommended Funnix as a free alternative for teaching Charlotte to read. Since I prefer free resources to those that cost money, I downloaded and installed it to see if it would work for Charlotte. She can already recognize all of the letters (90% of the time) and knows at least one phonetic sound for each letter so I think she is ready. We did play the Alphabet Game (also free from Funnix) before we started though to make sure she was ready.

Initially, I had some trouble installing the Funnix software. I kept getting an error message regarding which drive I was trying to install the software on. Finally, after re-downloading it, I was able to install it. I will warn you though, it took me over an hour to download each segment of the reading learning system, and that was on a FIOS connection. Don't try to do this right before you want to start the lessons; plan ahead on this one. So far, this is my only complaint about the reading system.

The PDF workbooks are also included so you are getting almost the complete Funnix system, which normally costs $249 plus shipping. As far as I can tell the Mastery Tests Assessment Packet is the only thing not included. The testing packet is normally $20 plus shipping (at this link). There are no special codes required and it appears they are offering the Funnix system for free during the entire month of January. Also, the software won't expire, so once you have it, you have it forever.

Back to the workbooks... there is a teacher's manual and a student manual. I didn't feel the need to print the teacher's book, but the student manual must be printed. It is 123 pages so you will be making an investment of paper and ink. I'd recommend printing the pages out as you use them. There is only one worksheet per lesson and Teacher Susie (the voice in the video) guides them through how to do it.

Funnix is not a program that you can just sit your child in front of and walk away. It is meant for the parent or teacher to work through with them to ensure they are actually answering Teacher Susie correctly. The lessons are highly interactive through both verbal and physical responses, which works well for my active 3 year old.

You can learn about the types of reading prompts they use and the research behind their choices on the Prompts That Work page. And the Research tab goes into even more detail. As a former Language Arts teacher I should probably be more interested in this part than I actually am, but I'm just going to follow Jane's example and try to throw stuff at Charlotte and see what sticks. Starting with the free stuff of course!

After playing the Alphabet Game assessment, we completed Lesson 1 this morning. Charlotte finished the lesson in about 15 minutes or so. I did repeat a couple of exercises because we got distracted by a crying Mary, but it only helped reinforce the exercise. Nothing in the lesson bored her. I'd prefer to share more of our experience with later lessons before I post the review, but since the Funnix system is only free for a couple more weeks, I don't want any one to miss out on downloading it and trying it.

So far, Funnix looks promising. I'll try to post more thoughts as we get further into the lessons and I see how Charlotte is responding.

If you know of any other free reading instruction resources, please link them up in the comments.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored review. The Funnix software if free to everyone until January 31 (per the Funnix site). I am sharing this as a helpful resource to others who want to teach their child to read.


  1. Hi Jennifer - I have been looking into reading programs for on the computer for my 5 yera old son. He knows the alphebet well and most of thier sounds well. he wanst to learn more, but keeps asking me for a "class" instead of our workbooks. Funnix keeps coming up. It's not free anymore, but is only $25. How have you been liking it since Jan? Thanks for your thoughts. Brinley, HS mom of Sebastian, 5 and Kai, 2.

  2. Hi Brinley.
    Thanks for visiting and asking. My 4 year old likes it and after a few lessons she was mostly able to operate the software herself. I'm not too keen on that though because I like to make sure she is actually repeating the sounds properly.

    One thing that has been funny to hear is the way she sounds out words now. She'll, for fun, try to play teacher and ask me to say all sorts of random words broken down by their syllables.

    We've been pretty laid back with the Funnix lessons though because she was only 3 1/2 when I got the free version. It came with no technical support and when I replaced my laptop, I had to buy something to allow me to use my old hard drive to access the program. I imagine, that, had I paid for Funnix, they would have let me download it again.

    I don't think $25 is too much to pay for this program. Many other programs out there are much more expensive.

  3. Hi, Jennifer!

    Thanks for your post. I have been using the Funnix reading and math program since the beginning of the school year (Mid August 2011). My five year old is doing awesome with it. I am using it as a homeschool program. We are on lesson 41 on reading. I am impressed how far my daughter has gone with reading. She is now able to read my son's second grade spelling words. The math program is awesome too. I agree with you - parents need to sit with the child in front of the computer to make sure that the child is on task and answering the questions correctly. I don't mind. My daughter is going to be so far ahead of her peers come next school year. This program gives a solid foundation for both reading and math. I'm very satisfied with the program. I paid under $100 for everything (reading and math discs, shipping and all of the workbooks). Not too bad for the great results my daughter has had with this program.



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