Reading Unlocked {Review}

Disclaimer: I received a FREE subscription to Reading Unlocked through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Reading Unlocked is an online platform for young students who are learning to read. The Simplified Phonics™ program works at your child’s pace to gently introduce them to phonics, writing, and spelling.

About Reading Unlocked

Reading Unlocked lessons take between 10-15 minutes per day. In that time, they cover rhyming words, letter sounds, sight words, spelling and writing practice and more. The lessons are short but full of different activities that kept my busy boy interested.

Lesson Walkthrough

Below I’ll walk you through a typical lesson. The components are similar, but the content itself becomes more difficult as you work through the program. The lessons are interactive and track your child’s progress. This allows for a customized lesson program for each student.

Rhyming Words

The lessons begin with rhyming words. This one asked, “Which word rhymes with bat?” The program then reads out each word and then allows the student to click on the word that rhymes with “bat”. Once you choose the correct word, the program moves to the next selection of words.

Letter/Blend Sounds

The lesson moves on to letter/blend sounds. Students are presented with several letter blends that they can say with the program. Parent-teachers can listen to be sure their students are correctly pronouncing the sounds and record which sounds were pronounced correctly in the next section.

Student Check-in

Directly after the letter/blend sounds section of the program is the student check-in. This is where the parent-teacher can indicate whether the student knows a particular sound and pronunciation. This check-in helps allow the program to customize to the student’s individual needs.


The next section presents a word using one of the letter blends that the student is familiar with. The program sounds out the word with the student several times and then has the student read the word independently. A picture of the word appears after the child has read the word. There are several words presented in this section.

Spelling with Blends

Following the phonics section, the student begins the spelling portion of the program. They are given a picture with several letters and blends above it. The student must drag and drop the correct letters in the boxes to spell the word. When each letter is placed correctly, the program sounds out that letter for the student as reinforcement.

Spelling and Writing

Following the spelling practice, the student is presented with a picture and the program says the word. The student then must write the word with the correct spelling on their own paper. There is an alphabet above each word to help students who may struggle with writing letters correctly. Students are encouraged to say the sounds of the letters as they write them. There are several words presented in this section.

Sentence Practice

The next section of the program is sentence practice. The student is given a word to say with the program. The program then reads a sentence to the student using that word. The student is then encouraged to create a sentence using the word and draw a picture of the sentence, writing the word underneath.

Word/Picture Matching

In this section, the student is given a list of words and pictures. The student must click on the picture in the same row as the word that describes the word. There are several pages of this activity.

Switching Letters

This activity asks the student to change the word presented “shot” into another word “short”. The student then drags and drops the correct letters to change the word. The program then asks the student to change the word again. “Change ‘short’ into ‘shirt'”. This repeats several times in this section.

Reading Practice

The student is then asked to read a section of words aloud. Once they have completed this section, they are presented with a section of building sentences to read.

The lesson ends with an interactive reading selection. In this selection, the parent-teacher reads the words in black and the student reads the words in red.

That is the culmination of a lesson in Reading Unlocked. There are many great features and activities that make this a comprehensive program for any student learning to read.

Our Experience

I began using Reading Unlocked with my 8-year-old student. He is actually a fairly good reader at this point, but he lacks confidence. He also struggles with spelling and writing, so I was excited to see how he would do with this program.

Overall, I would say that we very much liked the spelling and writing portions of this program. It is doing exactly as I had hoped and helping him gain confidence and skill in areas he was lacking.

That being said, we did struggle a bit with the program as a whole. In the beginning, you are able to choose American or British spelling defaults for your student. We chose American, but we found that many of the words and letter sounds were in a British accent.

This became more and more confusing to my son and I would often have to repeat a word or sound in order for him to understand what they were asking. In addition, many of the words presented were from a British vernacular and made it difficult to understand the correct answer that was requested.

I also came across a few pictures and poems that depicted frightening images and content. There is one word that has an accompanying picture of a large green monster-like creature holding a sword.

There were also a few poems that I felt would be difficult for younger students. One, in particular, contained a monster who was eating everyone. My 8-year-old son was not phased, but I know when my daughter was younger, this would have been very disturbing to her.

Having that knowledge, you would be able to skip those sections for younger students if they became an issue for you.

My Thoughts

Overall, we liked this program. It is comprehensive and has many activities that keep students engaged throughout the lessons.

I did see my son’s spelling and writing improve over the time that we used this program. We will be continuing to use it in our homeschool as long as I continue to see progress.

This program offers a free trial. I strongly suggest you try it out before you commit to it for a year. I do think this will be a great fit for many families. At a price of $24.99/month, it would be too expensive for us to use with all of our children.

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Read more reviews of Reading Unlocked here:

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