Monday, February 7, 2011

Write, Slide and Learn: Phonics

Edited by Kate Cuthbert

Thumbs up.

This is a really neat book with a variety of phonics activities.  The range of activities is quite large, with just a few pages at each level, so this could be a deterrent for some users.

Perhaps the most useful lessons are found in the first few pages.  The book begins with a really nice section on choosing the correct short vowel to match the pictures.  Since many kids have trouble hearing the difference between some short vowel sounds, particularly, a, e, and i, these lessons give fun reinforcement when first learning those distinctions.

There is a section on long vowel sounds with a silent e.  This section could be used to introduce the "first vowel says its name, second vowel is silent" rule. 

After that, the progression of the book becomes slightly more arbitrary.  The lessons continue with an extensive long vowel section, less suitable for a beginning reader, then back to some consonant practice that a beginner could do.

The long vowel sections could be useful for those practicing spelling lessons with various long vowel combinations or for review of the above.  It includes a few pages of practice for each of the long vowel sounds in which the child chooses which vowel combination is the correct one for a given picture.  For instance, on the long o page, the student must choose between o, oa, ow, and o+e, to complete the words  "n__s__"  or  "t__ __d"  and there is a corresponding photo for each.

The book includes lessons on choosing whether the vowel sound is long or short; ending and beginning consonants, and general consonants; ending and beginning blends; digraphs; and review pages.

The book is a write on/wipe off style book that is actually easy for the kids to wipe off.  That is a big plus for me, since it seems like so many reusable books of this sort take a parent to do the wiping.  It comes with its own marker.  It has an enclosed spiral binding, in which my daughter kept handy a paper towel for wiping the pages clean.

The lessons are of two sorts, every other page is a practice page of four rows with four pictures in each, and a place below to fill in the correct letter or letter combo.  There is a neat sliding mechanism that allows the child to check each row after filling in the answers.  As the child pulls the slide, the pictures are hidden and are replaced with the correct entire word, and below it the particular letter or letter combo that the child ought to have filled in.

The alternate pages have just a few colorful photos and blanks, which reinforce the lesson.  These pages have no answers included.

The pages and binding seem durable.  The photos throughout are engaging and colorful.  Most pictures are easily identifiable, but a few were difficult for my preschooler to determine.  I'm sure an older user could more readily identify the photos.  The book was originally published in Australia, so there are occasional words that have different English usages in American English, such as a light "globe" instead of "bulb".

Over all the book is very nice.  It could make a nice addition to a homeschool collection, or a summer review or a classroom learner.

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