Monday, February 28, 2011

How Miss O learned to read...

Miss O, my 4 (and a half) year old has been wanting to learn to read for a long, long time. She pretty much begged me to do reading lessons with her from the phonics books I had used on Little Bean. But when it came down to it, we had lots of tears and discouragement on her part because she just couldn't figure out phonics. She couldn't blend well. She couldn't memorize letter combinations and got confused when the same letter made multiple sounds. So, much to her dismay, I refused to do reading lessons with her anymore.

When, as part of the The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I was sent Sets 1 through 4 of the I See Sam reading program, I was hesitant to try it with Miss O. Phonics hadn't worked for her in the past, and I was worried introducing another program would be just as disheartening for all of us. But, when the big, old package came in the mail, she was so thrilled that it was a product "for her". Since she is still on the young side, most of my review products have been for Little Bean, you see. She begged me to let her get started with the readers. So, I did.

Thank the Lord, these readers were perfect for Miss O.

Here's a run down of what these readers entail:

The I See Sam readers are a full reading program with 8 levels which will take the child from no reading to a 3.6 grade level in reading.

They are very, very light on phonics, which is different from the previous curriculum I have tried with her.

Each reader starts with a list of new words and new sounds to go over with your student. Usually there are anywhere from 1 to 5 new words or sounds in a book. Next, your student will read through a list of previously learned words and sounds. They need to be able to read all the new words and sounds before moving on to the story.

Next, the reader will have a story. The stories introduce characters who are seen throughout the whole series of books. Miss O has certain ones who are her favorites. The child can pass the book and move on to the next when they can read through the entire story making only 2 mistakes or less. This usually takes Miss O 4 reads to do. I have her read each book at least 2 times a day. So she can pass a book in 1 to 2 days depending on how much reading she feels like doing and on the difficulty of the book.

On the final pages of the stories, sometimes there is a Looking Back section, which is like a built in review and assessment for the child. This has 5 or so sentences using previously learned words for the student to read. They are allowed 1 mistake on this page in order to pass the book. I do not count self-correcting mistakes as real mistakes. I take it as a good sign that she is self-correcting. Also on the last pages are the Coming Attractions, which are a glimpse of what words or sounds she will learn in the next book.

In addition, on the bottom of each page is a smiling face reminding the teacher to praise their child for reading so well. This was really helpful for me, because sometimes I'm so focused on listening to her read that I forget to encourage her. Also interspersed in small print on some of the pages are comprehension questions you can ask to engage the student more in the story and expand on the somewhat limited text. That has helped to increase enjoyment of the readers for Miss O quite a bit. Also with the program are charts that have a picture for each book (the books are numbered) and the child can color in the picture to show their progress as they pass the books.

My set also came with flashcards of all the words and sounds learned. Sometimes we incorporate these into the lessons by reviewing with them rather than within the book. Since we have been packed up lately with our by move, we have been only relying on the books and haven't used the flashcards. It has worked out just fine to do it that way, but the flashcards are nice for review too.

I really can't say enough good things about this series. The stories and illustrations are really pretty delightful given the limited vocabulary they are able to work with. Miss O has, for the most part, really enjoyed learning to read, and she is retaining everything she learns from these books. I plan to take her through the first 4 sets that were sent to me, and if she still needs more reading instruction beyond that, I will continue on and purchase the following sets as well. Right now she is on the 4th book in the 2nd set. That means she has passed a whopping 30 books so far!!

Academic Success for All Learners sells each set of books for $30 a set. Each set can contain up to 27 books. A Deluxe Reader Gift Set includes Sets 1 through 4, as well as other goodies like the corresponding flashcards, a Sam the Lion puppet, shelf organizers to hold the books (wish I had some of those!!), and a coloring book, and sells for $160. The Read to Succeed Gift Set includes Sets 1 and 2, support materials, and an instructor guide (you will want this), and costs $70. Flashcards can also be purchased (Sets 1 to 4) for $15 dollars. Check out the website for the different packages available for purchase.

If you've gotten this far in my review, you must really be interested in this program. If that's the case, you will want to visit their YouTube channel. They have lesson demos done by a classroom teacher that show you exactly how this program will work with your student. Their website also has a free section in which you can download the flashcards for all the sets, sample books, and completion certificates, all for free.

If you do purchase the I See Sam books, come on back and let me know how it goes for you and your child. These have worked out great for Miss O. I hope they will be just as pleasing for some of my readers as well.

Note: I was sent this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I am not obligated to give a positive review.

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Annette W. said...

I'm not sure if phonics is working for M or not. She gets CVC words, but has a harder time with blends. But I'm not in a hurry either....we'll see what the next year brings, though she won't be in K until 2012.

Very Blessed Mamma said...

We really love this program too! I am so glad that others are enjoying it as well.

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