Sunday, 4 March 2012

'My Phonics Kit' (Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper) review

Being the middle child/Madhouse Mini-Tester, I sometimes feel a bit sorry for Juliette because she misses out on a lot of the review opps. The pre-schooler stuff is for Pierre, the tween/teen stuff is for Sophie and there isn't much specifically for the ages in between. Well, she was over the moon when we received a 'My Phonics Kit' from Oxford University Press which targets ages 5-6. 

Now, most of you know that we live in a bilingual household and that, from birth, all three of the Madhouse kids have been spoken to in English by me and in French by their dad. They are all totally bilingual orally but, to avoid confusing them while they are learning to read and write in French at school, I back off on the written English until they are totally fluent in their main language (which is French, while we're living in France). I don't want them to totally mix up, for example, the pronunciation of "chat" in English and "le chat" in French when reading. Juliette, who has just turned 7, is getting really good at reading in French now so I wanted to start introducing more reading in English, and the My Phonics Kit is ideal for this.

Juliette excitedly unpacked it all and discovered the contents. She was immediately attracted to the workbooks, even without knowing the characters of Biff, Chip and Kipper that most UK-schooled children would recognise from class. The exercises are very similar to the ones she has in her French reading activity book so she loved the challenge of completing familiar exercises in a different language. The kit is designed to support parents whose children are in Year 1 and will be undertaking the first national phonics reading check this summer. It has been created by the educational experts who write the Oxford Reading Tree phonics books ( that are used in over 80% of UK primary schools) so it is totally in line with how children learn to read in school and gives parents as much guidance as possible in supporting their children with reading activities at home. It's absolutely perfect for home-schoolers, those who need extra reading support or bilingual households like ours.

There are some great motivational tools too. Juliette loves the Sticker Reward Chart and happily wrote her name and drew her portrait at the top. She gets extremely smiley when she is told to add a sticker to the page or the reward chart at the end of certain activities. It reminded me of the thrill of getting a gold star when I was at school !

The kit also includes a CD-ROM with eBooks and extra phonics support, which we haven't really discovered yet because Juliette jumped straight into the activity books. 

The activity books are educational but fun, as you can see from the look on Juliette's face !

'My Phonics Kit' is the latest addition to the wide range of Oxford University Press phonics resources for parents, which includes the free eBooks and advice on, the ‘Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper’ books available on the high-street and the ‘Songbirds Phonics’ series by the Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson.

I'm sure many parents will be stressed out and feel out of their depth in the run up to the Reading Check in June so if you want to understand how best to help your child, the 'My Phonics Kit' is ideal as it's so comprehensive. Given just how much you get in the kit, I think it's really good value at £9.99.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £9.99

Other reviews you may be interested in :


  1. Sounds great and will be perfect for my niece when she's older :)

  2. This looks great, my daughter has lots of the biff and chip books and loves them so this would be a great addition

  3. This looks great, wished it had been around for one of my older children. He's profoundly dyslexic, but is now a fully qualified mechanic - every so proud of him as I am of all my children.
    But Biff, Chip & Kipper have kept us entertained for years.
    But your daughter looks mightily impressed with them. x

  4. I think this is a great kid. I reviewed it with my oldest. x

  5. we have the set of kipper reading books which are fab, going to have a look at getting this,never know where to start with teaching letters & phonics so the workbooks look like a perfect start :)

  6. I find a lot of Phonics songs on you tube are good at helping my little girl

  7. my daughter has lots of the biff and chip books

  8. Juliette looks so cute!!
    It will be the other way around here in my London house - whereby the kids would have to learn to write and ead French at some point (son is starting reception, English school, in Sept and daughter is at nursery). I like the fact that first you wait until they are completely fluent in one language before you start pushing for the other language.

  9. This sounds amazing! My daughter's school learn through Biff, Chip, Kipper etc. so this would be a great way of reinforcing that at home, without it feeling like "homework". Thanks for the great review.

  10. I am a qualified Primary School teacher but stopped teaching in 2004 to have a family! (i've got four little ones now!). Anyway, I taught Year 1 (5-6 year olds) and we used the Oxford Reading Tree books and resources for teaching phonic at our school. I must admit it is a fantastic range and the children, parents and staff all loved it!!! We had copies of the children's home reading books in large format and used them as teaching aids during the Literacy Hour. Ooooh I do miss my teaching - I gained so much from seeing the children in my class progress throughout the year! The Oxford Reading Tree books and resources definitely helped them with their reading, writing and spelling skills. I am glad it was a success for you too!