Category Archives: Reviews

Review of Reading Magic by Mem Fox

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Years ago I had the pleasure of reading Mem Fox’s book   Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever I recently came across a website featuring a speech she made, and it inspired me to read it again.  This short book is very encouraging, and I took many notes which I will share here.

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Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever

“The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading…  It’s the relationship winding between all three, bringing them together in easy harmony.”

Experts say children need to hear 1,000 stories read aloud before they begin to learn to read for themselves.  We should read a minimum of 3 stories a day: one favorite, one familiar and one new.

Because words are essential in building the thought connections in the brain, the more
language a child experiences – through books and through conversation with other, not passively from television – the more advantaged socially, educationally, and in every way that child will be for the rest of his or her life.  Conversely, the fewer words a child experiences, learns and uses before school, the more stunted that child’s brain will be.

Getting the Most Out of It

When reading we can  enrich the experience and add value by playing games with the books with the books we are reading.  Entertainment is the teacher.  Subtlety is the key.  The best games are made up on the spot.

Favorite books cannot be read aloud too often.  Repetition and seeing the text helps children learn to read and become familiar with the text.

You can point out words that are the same in the book and have the children find them.  Games with books always begin with a whole story that becomes familiar.  The best method to learn to read is stories-to-words-to-letters method.  The stories-first approach teaches kids to read with a joyful attitude toward learning to read.

Trying to write is one of the fastest ways children teach themselves to read.  Surprisingly, most children think they can write, but they don’t thing they can read.  Memorizing books and “reading” them is a huge step in learning to read.

Nursery rhymes and songs help children learn language, making them better readers.  The words in their head begin to drift into their daily speech, and all at once we have an articulate child.

Stay away from school readers.  They are terrible because they don’t use book language and they extremely boring.

There are 3 keys to learning to read.  You must know print, know the language of books and have general knowledge.  Reading aloud to children provides lots of general knowledge, which makes learning to read easier.

Good readers skim over familiar words.  Beginning readers need to be able to skim to gain confidence in their reading.  This can be accomplished with rhymes and songs with lots of words that are easy to read and that a child may know in advance.  Setting children up to succeed makes them think of themselves as readers.  Repetitive stories give them instant
“skimming” success and build their confidence.

The faster we the better we retain in our memory what we have read so far helping us figure out what’s to come.

Slow reading leads to forgetting what we have already read.  Poor readers need to be read to more often and asked what they’ve understood, rather than having them read aloud.  Giving kids lists of words doesn’t make sense either, because  many words are figured out in the context if a sentence or story.

Good readers rarely sound words out.  Instead they use their general knowledge and what they know about language to help them get the word right.  Good readers use the three secrets of
simultaneously, rapidly, and efficiently, whereas poor readers use only phonics and even that they use slowly.  Sounding out words is boring and frustrating – possible making them worse readers.

The goal of learning to read is to read and enjoy reading, therefore, we should tell children the words they don’t know so they can continue reading the story.

It is better to read marvelous literature aloud to struggling readers than asking them to read aloud to us.  The more a child hears a story, the easier it will be for the child to read it.

Kids need to be around books and readers to be interested in reading.  Do not discount the importance of fairy tales.  Fairy tales require an attentive mind.  Their lack of pictures causes children to use their imaginations more.

Einstein was once asked by a mother what she could do to make her son more intelligent.  He replied, “Read him fairy stories.”  To which she asked, “And then what?”  To which Einstein replied, “Read him some more.”

Well that wraps up the notes I took on Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever.  It is a short and fast enjoyable read.  There are many great points in it.  I hope you got some good tips here.

To find out more about teaching your child to read, visit www.monkisee.com.

Review of Speekee – Teach Your Child Spanish Program

I am really excited about the review today for the Speekee Program.  I have been trying to teach my youngest children, ages 5 and 7, some Spanish, so we have been looking for good resources to help us along.  We were given a trial to Speekee TV, which consists of 10 episodes to choose from.  You can also purchase Speekee on DVD.  We have been using Speekee for the last 7 weeks and my children have really enjoyed it.  At first glance, Speekee, the main character, may look a little scary or strange, but within a few moments of watching Speekee, you will love her.  Speekee is a soft spoken, gentle-natured character that made learning Spanish fun for my children.

The first thing we noticed was that the music is great!  The songs are upbeat and very catchy.  The first day that we watched Speekee I overheard my 5 year old daughter singing it while she was in the kitchen.  That was a sweet and special moment for me.  It is really important that children engage the programs we choose, or else they will not be open to learning.  I encouraged my kids to repeat what was being said and to answer any questions.  This really helped us conversationally.  My daughter quickly learned to reply in Spanish when asked her name, among other things.

Speekee is a complete immersion program, but you can choose to keep the subtitles on.  We did keep these on and I think it really helped us to understand what was being said and how to say it ourselves.  The font on the subtitles is very small, so it is not distracting, but we were able to read what was being said in English and in Spanish.  You do have the option of removing the subtitles if you want a complete Spanish immersion experience.

I had read other good reviews of Speekee and am really grateful to use the program.  We definitely give it two thumbs up and will recommend this as a great way to learn Spanish.  If you want to try Speekee you can visit www.speekee.co.uk and sign up for a free 2 week trial offer to Speekee TV.  I recommend you check that out.

I have a bit of video I was able to capture of my kids enjoying Speekee.  You can see that below.  My daughter really enjoyed singing along, and my older kids, who could hear it playing were singing the songs as well.  A CD of the Speekee music would be great to own.

To find out more visit www.Speekee.co.uk.

MonkiSee Review of New Around the House DVD

The following review is for the new MonkiSee DVD Around the House.

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I recently had the opportunity to evaluate the new MonkiSee DVD “Around The House” and I want to thank Krista, the founder of MonkiSee for such a possibility.

Since our first language is not English I am always looking for new  educational videos that would contribute to improving my dd’s language skills.  I must say that she liked the MonkiSee dvd more than Your Baby Can Read. I like it too, because it meets my requirements for children’s DVDs.  I liked that she did not sit still while watching it without sound and movement on the couch, but because Gabriella and Olivia (some children in the video) dragged her into the story she beautifully communicated and repeated words.

In this 30 minute DVD, babies and young children learn 25 familiar words, which include animals, food and general things in the house such as fridge, stove and window.

We liked Gabriella and Olivia very much. And the others? I have to say, Krista, you have a beautiful and talented family!

For the foreign market such dvds are a great asset because videos are suitable for toddlers as well as for small school children starting with English and learning to read. I think that in our household this is going to be used for a long time – at least until she learns how to read.

I personally would like if the lyrics to the song were seen on the screen so that children can read the words as well and maybe their parents  who do not speak English can sing along.  I really like the idea of adding video of other children to the story . Next time will send a video of our little monkey!

All MonkiSee products can be found at www.monkisee.com.

I am adding video of my dd enjoying MonkiSee.

Book Review – Maisy Big, Maisy Small

If you haven’t ever read a Maisy book to your toddler, you should.  They are just delightful books.  Lucy Cousins writes and illustrates in a simple way that children really enjoy.  Her illustrations are always bold and bright.  The stories are engaging for young children, as Maisy encounters the same things they do.

In Maisy Big, Maisy Small, A Maisy Book of Opposites, children get to see Maisy in a while new way, while learning the meaning of opposites.  For example, Maisy fluffy, Maisy spiky.  The book teaches your child 50 words, which include their opposites.  The font size is rather large, making this a great book to teach word recognition to your little one.

My daughter and I read this book together a few times.  Imagine my surprise when a few days later she sat down and read the whole book to herself.  I was thrilled. I did capture it on video and will post it in a few days.

If I could create my own line of children’s books, I would choose to do them in the same style as Lucy Cousins.  Her books are just delightful.

Book Review – Many Moons

I recently had the opportunity to read the book Many Moons.  I think it was published back in 1943.  I may have read it as a child; the story seemed familiar.  It is my opinion that some of the best children’s books ever written were published before 1970.  In my experience, when I read some really great children’s books, the copyright date tends to be for before the 1970’s.

I really enjoyed this story and would definitely read it again.  I checked it out from the library and will keep an eye out for it in the future.  It is a simple story about how children perceive things.  Often times we adults think we know a child’s thoughts.  This book gives parents a glimpse into the mind of a child.
The story is about a princess who is feeling ill.  In order to feel better she asks her father, the king, to get her the moon.  All of his advisors tell him all the reasons why this is impossible.  The king cares for none of these reasons, all he wants is for his daughter to feel better. When the jester comes to console the king he comes up with an idea that even the wisest of the kings men couldn’t think of.
Although the story is old, it will still delight today’s child.

Your Child Can Read

Here is a blog post from Paige regarding the Monki See Monki Doo reading kit.

Okay, before I can even do this review I have to admit to a bit of a mom jealousy of mine! I have this really good online friend of mine. We went through our pregnancies together and her little boy was born exactly a week after mine. Developmentally they were pretty much the same until recently, then her little boy just took off leaps and bounds ahead of mine. He is talking more, knows all his colors, and he even knows all of the sounds of the letters of the alphabet! Yup, it made me a little jealous, even though I KNOW that babies learn at their own pace…not to judge your little one next to someone else’s baby…blah blah blah! Still, I did! So that’s when I started researching all of the baby developmental programs that I could. When I happened across Intellectual Baby I was very intrigued. They agreed to send me the starter reading kit which includes a Monki See video and all four sets of Monki See Flash Cards.
My little man is absolutely IN LOVE with his Monki See video! He can literally sit in his chair and watch it over and over again! It takes a lot to holds my little mans attention for that long! The video is very entertaining, with lots of colors, animals, and other children in the video. Here is a pic of little man absolutely loving his video and this was taken the second time the video was played! (please ignore the dust bunnies under my entertainment center-I didn’t notice them till the picture was taken lol)
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Every morning over my little mans oatmeal we go through the flashcards and they also hold my little mans attention. He is beginning to point out certain shapes, colors, and items that he knows. I have seriously noticed his vocabulary expanding as well! Its not just me either but my mom took him out for the day yesterday and came home to report back to me that he was saying all kinds of new words! I can definitely attest to the fact that this program fromIntellectual Baby works and really opens up your child to learning all sorts of new things!! 

Intellectual Baby is offering my readers 25% off of everything in their store except the reading kits since they are already incredibly discounted! Just enter 25%Madness into the promotional code area when checking out!

 
Here is a link to Paige’s blog Nurse Mommy