**WARNING: LOTS OF GUSHING, AND WELL DESERVED PRAISE AND ADORATION TO FOLLOW**
Where does one start with "I See Sam"??? How about the part where I read the instructions the first night I got my "I See Sam" box, tried it with my son the next morning, then immediately shot an email off to the vendor because I NEEDED this for my daughter ASAP, and am getting ready to buy the next set for my son?
Yes, I'm THAT impressed. After trying so many curriculums, book sets, methods, apps, online programs, you name it!, I have finally found a "go to" product. I have had lots of things that I like being offered in various programs for different reasons, but I feel like "I See Sam," a part of theReading for All Learners "Little Books" program, combines them all into one cost effective curriculum that's easy to use.
In preparing for this vendor, crew members were asked to have their child take a placement test to see what set of books would be appropriate for their child. After some thought, I decided that I should try the product with my oldest son because his reading had become stagnant over time, and I wasn't sure what to do to get him moving forward again. So, I followed the assessment instructions found here, and remembered really quickly why I chose him for this product! He was making silly mistakes throughout the assessment, and I knew he knew better! After some time as the assessment progressed, I realized that these mistakes were why I needed to use this product with him and I requested Box Sets 3 & 4. While he tested fine for Set 3, the assessment for Set 4 was giving him a lot of trouble. I'm so glad that he got placed where he was! Initially I didn't understand why I would need him to read through a set that he had already "mastered," but it was clear that the Academic Success for All Learners people know what they're talking about :-D.
The books challenged my oldest while not being overwhelming, he looked forward to them everyday, loved the story, studied the pictures, enjoyed talking about them, and was THRILLED to see his reading advance!
Here is Set 3 "our yellow books":
And Set 4 "our green books" (Original names for us to use, I know, but I do enjoy the colors on the outside, and that the pictures inside are fun, but are black and white so they're not distracting):
How do they books work? Why am I so sold on this for reading??? EASY:
Once you've had your child take the assessment and get the set that fits them best (be honest, when it says they can only make "x" amount of mistakes just go with it, even if you think/know your kid knows that or can do better), you'll get a box with up to 27 books and a teachers/parent guide telling you HOW to use the books, along with a cute chart for your child to track the books they've completed.... my son got to a point where he was planning how he was going to color in the shape with the number book he read in it... I didn't realize how big that would be for him to visually see where he was at.
In the guide there is a copy of a full book that is diagramed to show you what you'll encounter as you go through the series. What stuck out to me as I was reading through the instructions was that each book starts with a section that reviews sounds specific to the book that you're reading that your child should already know (and that they must know before they move on), then it adds new sounds for them to master before moving on, then it provides words and new words that the child must know. I hope that's not confusing! (Look at it here!) The process is simple, and what happens is that your child has all the skills in hand, once they've finished with these pages, to successfully read the book! It's B E A U T I F U L!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are no surprise words hidden here. I've enjoyed other series of beginning readers that build on basic phonics and are not throwing out words like "said" etc that the child has no basis for knowing what it is! (*cough* I learned that lesson early on thanks to another homeschooling mom :-D). So, your child starts reading, and then at the bottom of the page there are prompts for questions to ask your child to help their comprehension, as well as a little smiley face to remind you to praise your child... and, in the guide, it lets you know that specific praise is vital. This was a BIG help for me.... it's easy to say "good job" it's hard to remember to do it frequently or point out "you're doing a great job figuring out the word "x".
The other thing that I think is unique to this system of learning is how they advise you to go over words. They have you go about teaching your child "the slow way" and "the fast way" of sounding out a word. By doing this, you aren't teaching your child any irregular words.... for instance, "the" is sounded out the slow way letter by letter "t" "h" "e" and the fast way it says "the." While I appreciate sight words, there's something liberating about your child still being able to use their original phonics knowledge... it helped my children gain more confidence by not discounting what they already know. There is even specific guidelines for how to say these sentences as you go through these steps (my kids are sleeping, maybe I can type those up for you later!) The books run in sequence, each one building on the next, and you have a progressing happy reader on your hands!
Everything is laid out before you, you can't fail with this program! After passing through the "slow way/fast way" a couple of times with my oldest who was making silly mistakes, he QUICKLY learned that if he wanted to continue on without stopping to do this on words he already knew that he was going to have to put forth a better effort.... and he did! He completely despises having to stop to review words (which you're instructed to do each time they get a word wrong i.e. "this word is 'Sam' we sound out this word the slow way "s" "a" "m" and the fast way it's "Sam"). It's SO clever!! This system does not have any down side in my eyes. My son finished out set 3, started set 4 (which is pushing him in a great way and building AMAZINGLY well on the skills that he already solidified in the previous set). He loves all the stories and it was a happy surprise that set 4 has multiple stories in each book! Additionally, there are assessments along the way, and it's great to see how far he's coming. He notices his progress and enjoyed that bump in the right direction! Have I mentioned how much I love these books?? Here's a video for you too:
Now, while I wasn't technically given sets 1 and 2 to review, I can't not say something about them!!! My daughter is my super dyslexic, we didn't even know if she could learn how to read because it's so frustrating for her even though she really wants to, kid. SHE'S READING!!! I could cry! Not only is she reading, but since she has learned how to read she spends more time figuring other things out because this has opened such a big, heavy, door for her that she's felt has been locked for so long! It's been amazing, and I am a life long I See Sam user. I'll be purchasing sets 5 and 6 in April, and I look forward to walking all of my children through these books. I've yet to see my husband really truly be impressed with a program.... her progress left him SPEECHLESS. The Sam hand puppet is even a member of our home... he's cute and fun for even my little guys. The name "Academic Success for All Learners" is definitely one that describes this company! I am so grateful and feeling so blessed to have been able to review this program. The results that I saw with this program have been priceless and almost instantaneous! I can recommend this program to ANYONE and feel great about it. These books are a welcomed addition to any home with readers who are at or trying to be reading at a K to almost 4th grade level.
If your curious to see the scope and sequence of the books you can find it here. As for price? Each set (of up to 27 books) is $30 and can be purchased through www.iseesam.com. Would I pay a bunch more for these books... you bet!... am I glad I don't have to, absolutely! The low cost, especially when factored into how many times these will be used over and over with all of my children, makes this homeschool mom very happy!
If you'd like to see what other crew members are saying about I See Sam please go here.
*As a member of the 2012 TOS Homeschool Crew I was provided a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review of its content. I have not received any other compensation for the opinions stated here, and they were not promised a positive review.*
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