Friday, March 30, 2012

I See Sam (Reading

Youngest received yet another package as part of my TOS Crew Reviews this year. This time it was a reading program from Academic Success for all Learners. Crew members were given 2 sets of books from the "Little Book Series"  in the appropriate range for their child's level of reading. (Be sure to check out the TOS Crew blog. You will get to read insights from others who received other levels/colors of little books).

Littlest has been learning his letter sounds, so starting at the very beginning was obviously "A very good place to start". Book one in set one (The red books) introduces a few sounds, and a few words. The "Instructor Guidelines" booklet gives simple guidelines for teaching the sounds and the words. Once the child can correctly visually discriminate which sound goes with which letter, and repeat the sounds correctly you move on to the second page. This page has a few words to learn. Following the same simple directions, the words are sounded out (Read the slow way) and then spoken (Read the fast way). Keeping the sessions as short and encouraging as necessary, continue until the sounds and the words can be read with no mistakes. Then... move on to the text. :) 
I didn't take a picture of the first couple of pages, but they each only have one word on them... "See" once as a statement See. and once as a question See?  We talked about how your voice goes UP when you see a question mark, and stays flat or goes down when you see a period. But what makes the "Story" at this point are the illustrations. The characters are very cute, and the line drawings certainly evoke emotion. Further along in the book we reach this page, where the rat (A cute rat, but a rat none-the-less) is excitedly pulling on his friend Sam's mane...
Very simple, but it gets the point across in an engaging manner (Youngest really studied the pictures, and in later stories he started asking ME questions about what was going on and why...)  and youngest was able to achieve success right away. The pace is somewhat slow, but again, the pictures enhance the story-line. In the video further down he is reading from book 7, where a few more sounds have been added in, and he has to visually discriminate between similar words with common elements (Sis, Mit, Mat and Sam for example). (He also gets distracted at one point by the pictures and takes his time getting to the second word on the page... ;) )
One of the incentives that is incorporated is a chart for each set that is filled in as each book is completed with no errors. The Series 1 chart has numbered flowers to color or otherwise fill in. I had some rainbow smiley-face stickers that were just the right size, so we've been using them. He loves it!

Once we're through the red set of books, we'll move on to the orange set. At this point, I have to say that I am very impressed with these simple little books. They are consummate in their simplicity. The decades of work that went into creating them? Well the proof is in the pudding. I have a little man who has known *most* of his letter names for awhile, is just starting to work on sounds, but now, thanks to "I See Sam," he is also successfully reading a handful of words, and charming stories all on his own. These books seem to have "lit his fire" so to speak. (Today I caught him trying to sound out the words on the buttons on the dishwasher.... "Mom, what does "W" "aaaaa" "sssss" "h" say?)

Here is a little (4:45 minute) video of youngest reading his latest book.

Nitty Gritty~
Age~ K- 3.8 grade reading level
Series~ 8 color-coded sets of books~ up to 27 books in each set, with a total of 141 books in the series
Price~ $30 per set if purchased individually, and a variety of "multi-set" options that can be viewed on the website. 
You Tube
Website/Store where you can browse around, and even check out some Free Resources including  a free sample book.

Again, given that we aren't even really truly "Kindergarten" age (OK, so, I guess technically youngest would be considered K4), I am very impressed with how well these are going over with my little guy. Because the "Progress" is so incremental, it encourages success right away. We started going through two of the books each week. Now the process has slowed down a little as the words have become a little more work, and we are only going through about one new book per week. Not too shabby, all in all! I'm pretty impressed! :)

As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where to spend your homeschool budget. If you have any questions about how we used these books, please leave a comment and I'd be happy to do my best to answer.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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