Reading has always been my very favorite subject. I did well in it during my school years, and that love has carried over into my adult years. Naturally, I was thrilled to have two children who, at this point anyway, share my enthusiasm as well. They love to practice their emerging skills throughout the day, every day. So, when I was informed that I would have the opportunity to try out a reading resource, I knew that we would all be excited to see what it had to offer.
I See Sam has the subtitle Academic Success For All Learners. When I first received the package, I really didn't get the name. It sounded like the title of a movie that I once saw ;) THEN, we opened the box, and it was as if the heavens opened and all of the angels could be heard singing.
Well, perhaps I exaggerate, but, I really love books, and what I found was four sets of readers.
Now, I was enthusiastic, but honestly, I wasn't instantly hooked. I mean, a reader is a reader, isn't it?
So, I looked through my package a little more, and also came upon a big group of flashcards, assessment manuals, certificates to pass out when each level was completed, and charts to track reading progress. Okay, looking good so far.
I flipped through the instruction guide and found the directions regarding placing my children at their appropriate level- what readers to start them with. Want to know how? I knew you did!
In the assessment manual, there is a group of what are called the pre/post assessment tests. As the name suggests, these will serve two functions. Number one, to determine which reader set to begin your lessons with. Number two, upon completion of the set, you can use these to assure the student's mastery of the material.
Each test is actually a page out of one of the readers, and there are pages for each level. Beginning with the first level, your child will read the page. You are there only to listen and determine how fluently he/she reads the excerpt. You will not offer help or correct mistakes as the child reads. At the end of the page, mark down how many mistakes were made. Four or less are acceptable, and indicate that the child should try the next level. Five or more mistakes mean that the child does not have mastery yet, and will begin there, at level one. Each level will allow for fewer mistakes.
Using this system, we determined that our oldest would start with the second level readers, and our youngest would begin at level one. It was time to start our lessons!
Both children were enthusiastic students. We began with the pronunciation guide, which is included on the first page of every reader, and, as the name suggests, teaches correct pronunciation of the sounds with examples of words with those sounds right beside the letters. The guidelines within I See Sam tell us that we need to have mastery over two skills. Sounds of the letters, and the sounding out strategy, which involves first s-l-o-w-l-y saying the word, and then saying it again quickly. Then you will say the word together. Of course, as with anything, occasionally mistakes will be made. I See Sam has a preferred method of correcting these. In an encouraging voice, say the correct sound of the word. Then say it together. Then ask the child to say it alone. The goal is for the student to say all of the sounds correctly before moving to the next section.
Personally, I found this method to be rather instinctual for me anyway. I was encouraged to find that I was already going through those steps, so it felt natural. It is also suggested to the teacher that each story be read twice to ensure mastery. Honestly, sometimes we did, sometimes we didn't. As the parent, you know when you child grasps the concept or not.
Some more info about each reader...
As you flip through the readers, you'll find that on many pages at the bottom, are either a smiley face, or discussion questions. The smiley face is to remind you to praise your little learner as they read. As for me, I found that praising my kids as they read came automatically, but, it's there if you need the reminder. The questions asked can be answered by the child by merely looking at the page being read. Again, the intent here is to engage with your child.
As you come to the end of each little book, you'll see the coming attractions page. This page is included as a preview of sorts of the next book in the series. Actually, this is a good place for me to remind you that it's important to read each book in order, as the skills in each builds on the previous lessons.
Finally, there is the Looking Back page. This simply offers the opportunity to ensure mastery of the material.
Also available for purchase are flashcards that correlate with each set of books. This allows added practice of various sight words. My kids didn't need them a whole lot, but they loved using them regardless. These cards include colored rubber bands, allowing you to color code each set, so you know at a glance which set needs more practice, and which have been mastered.
For some added fun for the kids, each little book set has a tracking chart that allows the child to color a numbered picture as each reader of that number is read, thus charting their progress. And, at the end of each level is a certificate of completion.
Well now, there's the explanation and instruction part of it, now for the most important area- how did this go over with our family?
Love, love, love it!!! What a wonderful resource here. From start to finish, my kids enjoyed every moment. This is one of those products that honestly now, my kids could not and cannot get enough of. They have requested it every day. The stories include cute animal characters with names like Sam (naturally), Sis, Mit, Mat, and Ann. They get involved in many silly situations that appeal to a child's sense of humor. There were days when we went through six books at a time because the kids just did not want to stop. We're making our way through the last set, and I will be looking to acquire the last four sets in this series.
Whether you have a struggling reader or a little bookworm, I think you'll find that this is a product to try in your home school. Happy Reading!
*** I received a free set of I See Sam readers in exchange for my honest review of them, with no additional compensation.
I See Sam
Price: $30.00 per set of readers