The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews
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Reading for Detail (cards) Review by Dr. Anne Margaret WrightEdupress
W5527 State Road 106
Fort Atkinson, WI 53538-0800
Edupress is a delightfully creative company with many educational products homeschoolers would likely find very helpful. I reviewed the Reading for Detail cards, Critical Thinking Discovery Flip Center, and Writing Styles Photo Prompts cards. Reading for Detail ($8.99) is a set of 54 flashcard-type cards for 3.5 to 5.0 grade level. Each card has a brief paragraph at the top, followed by a who, what, where, and when question about the paragraph. The answers are printed discreetly on the back of the card so students can check their own answers or work with a partner or group. The paragraphs are short but fairly interesting, and the questions provide an excellent way for students to prepare for standardized testing by building critical thinking and reading comprehension skills.
What child doesn't love crayons? Critical Thinking Discovery Flip Center: Crayons ($4.99, with other topics also available) is a small flipbook for grades 2 and up that uses the common topic of crayons to help students practice critical thinking and writing skills. Each of the 24 pages gives the student a question to answer or a project to complete, such as asking the student to explain why crayons are shaped and covered as they are, or asking them to write down what colors they would use to express different moods and why, etc. This book follows Bloom's Taxonomy, encouraging students to progress through the levels of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
While I appreciated the value of all three products, my favorite was the Writing Styles Photo Prompts - Intermediate level ($9.99 and available in three levels). This set, geared for fourth grade and up, contains 32 cards with a colorful photo on the front and suggested topics for writing about the picture on the back. Topics are categorized as expository, descriptive, informative, or narrative; so the student can explore a variety of writing styles. The pictures of people, places, and things are bright, colorful, and interesting; and the writing topics are fresh and insightful. For example, on the back of a sweet picture of a little girl in Japan, the descriptive writing prompt says, "Pretend you are on vacation in Japan, and this little girl is your tour guide. What amazing places does she show you? Write sensory details about your trip, including what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch."
All three of these creative products would be great for homeschooling families who are working on writing and critical thinking skills. The ideas are clever and interesting for kids, and the quality of the instruction is excellent. I thought the prices were a tad too high, but the construction was very good and would certainly last through everyday use. The Photo Prompts could also be used to build vocabulary and rudimentary analysis for younger children, such as pointing out the clouds in a picture and discussing what they think might happen next. My young children really enjoyed talking about the pictures and telling stories about what they saw!
Product review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2007