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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Can Do Cubes Review - A kinesthetic addition to phonics!

My youngest recently started learning to read so we were excited to review the Can Do Cubes from and their parent company, just2ducks LLC. Manipulatives help new concepts stick, and as soon as I looked over the website my mind started running wild with ideas of how to use them!

Can Do Cubes Review
The Can Do Cubes set and supplemental materials
Can Do Cubes Review

What are Can Do Cubes?

These wooden blocks are used for teaching synthetic phonics. They can also be used for spelling and handwriting! Synthetic phonics is an effective and frequently used method of teaching the alphabetic code. That probably sounds confusing unless you have studied it, but all you need to know is that the Can Do Cubes are a kinesthetic addition to any phonics teaching program.

Jolly Phonics by is one of these programs, but there are many others that the Can Do Cubes would work with! The Schoolhouse Review Crew recently reviewed Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar. You can find those reviews on the Review Crew website.

Can Do Cubes Review

We received the Can Do Cubes starter set.  It costs $95 (including shipping) and contains:
  • 1 tray of Stage 1 Cubes
  • 1 tray of Stage 2 Cubes
  • Handbooks for both stages - These are full of useful information!  They contain the teaching principles, ideas for using the cubes, charts, and tips about how children learn to read and spell.

Can Do Cubes Review
Can Do Cubes Review
Handbooks inside
  • Interactive DVD - Information about using the cubes and the teaching methods, a demo video of a teacher and student, videos of each sound in the Stage 1 set (very helpful, you hear the correct sound AND see her mouth as she pronounces it!)  These are made in the UK, but don't worry about the British accent, It didn't confuse us or sound different when listening to individual sounds.
  • Phonics Chart
  • Word Charts
  • CD with Teacher's Guide and Templates Book.  This is a workbook and guide that I printed out.  It is full of teacher instructions and practice pages for the student.
Can Do Cubes Review
Teacher's Guide and Template Book (file included on the CD)

Can Do Cubes Review
Stage 1 and Stage 2 cubes
The Stage 1 Cubes include 27 laser-engraved cubes that show one spelling for each of the 44 different sounds of the English language.  These are the phonograms that children learn first. You don't have to worry about not having enough letters to spell something, frequently used sounds are repeated on multiple blocks.

Can Do Cubes Review
The Stage 1 set includes Word Charts, Interactive DVD, 27 cubes, and a handbook.

The Stage 2 Cubes include 32 blocks that show spelling variations for the 44 sounds as well as uppercase letters and punctuation.  For instance, if a child wants to spell a word with /ā/ (long a), he could use the block engraved with ai, ay, a, ey, eigh, and ea.  There is also a set of linked cubes for a_e and similar, (which is neat because the blocks can turn to a different vowel when altering the word, changing bake to baking, etc.).

Can Do Cubes Review
The Stage 2 set includes a Phonics Chart, Template CD (which goes with both stages), 32 cubes, and a handbook.
Can Do Cubes Review

Bundles of each tray can be purchased for classroom settings, and there is another set with words for learning English grammar.

When you visit the website, be sure to look at the bottom of the web page.  The Can Do Cubes tab has more specific information through a link hidden at the bottom!

Can Do Cubes Review
Stage 1 Cubes

How did we use Can Do Cubes?

We are using All About Reading for my kindergartner and All About Spelling for my 3rd grader (these are depicted in some of my photos).  Some of my kids also use Words Their Way. This set of blocks fits perfectly with all of our phonics and spelling curricula!

My kindergartner was SO excited to use these blocks. The magnets on our tile board for her reading program are wonderful, but they fall down, and when two or more are in a row, they don't slide easily. The Can Do Cubes are chunky and easy for children to move around. She LOVES to read words that I make with the cubes.

Can Do Cubes Review

She is a confident reader and sounds things out in her head, so if she gets stuck and I ask her to point to each sound, she might get frustrated with me. Not so when using Can Do Cubes! Watch in the video below to see how we solved this and made sounding out words fun.

One game she likes is when I set out all the sounds for a word she has already learned how to read, and ask her to put the blocks in the correct order.  This helps her learn to segment words, and is a great skill to master before she begins a spelling program.  She's been trying to spell her own words with the blocks too!

Can Do Cubes Review

Children learn how to spell by hearing, and progress towards what adults do... we often recall correct spelling by seeing the word written multiple ways. My 3rd grader has now learned 4 ways to spell /ō/ (long o) in words. She places the /ō/ block in the correct spot in the word.  Because the /ō/ block contains oa, o, ow, oe, and ough, she can flip the block to see the variations and pick the correct one. Then she spells the word out loud and perhaps even copies it onto paper. Can Do Cubes are a fun, additional way to practice spelling.

Can Do Cubes Review

Can Do Cubes Review

The cubes are laser engraved in the font that most children learn to read and write with. Because they are wood some letters look lighter than others, but we have not found that to be an issue. We can still read them easily. I love the timeless feel to this wooden set, they will last a long time!

Can Do Cubes Review

The blocks are labeled with tiny numbers (Stage 1) or letters (Stage 2) that show where they belong in the storage trays.  There is a line across the block under each letter that shows where it should sit when written.

Can Do Cubes Review

I was actually hesitant to review this item when I first heard about it, but the more I explored the information presented to the Review Crew, the more excited I became about using them! Best of all, my kids LOVE to use them and I see progress and confidence when they do. Using blocks for phonics seems to have benefits over just using the magnet set that came with our curricula.

My children can't keep their hands off of these blocks. Every time I got the blocks out my kids said, "These are so fun!". I have to admit I enjoy playing with them too...

Can Do Cubes Review

The Can Do Cubes are meant to be used with a complete phonics program, and that is mentioned multiple times in the included materials.  I would agree, I have been so grateful for curriculum that is well thought out and prepared for me to use.  However, I would imagine that with the materials included in this set, and with a good set or two of readers, a confident and educated parent could get by with just this set for teaching reading and beginning handwriting.

These blocks are a great tool to prepare your pre-readers, and then to continue using alongside a synthetic phonics program.  The set is worth every penny!  What a great learning tool, I'm so glad has made them available in the U.S.A., and that we were able to use them!

Where to find Can Do Cubes and Jolly Literacy by just2ducks LLC:

Can Do Cubes

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