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High-Frequency Words Games Level B / Phonics Games Level C / High-Frequency Words Stories and Activities Level B / Draw Then Write Gr. 1-3 Review by Carrie Wilbur

Evan-Moor Educational Publishers
18 Lower Ragsdale Drive
Monterey, CA 93940-5746

Evan-Moor is a respected publisher in the field of education. Many homeschool families have owned at least one of their products. In this grouping appears a variety of materials which seem to be arranged for use, if not together than in succession. There is enough variety within the materials that we'll look at the High Frequency Words and Draw Then Write books separately, but at the games books together.

High Frequency Words: Level B, Stories and Activities

This book includes fifteen units, each with a pretest. The pretests are designed to give a heads-up to the instructor as to which words the student likely needs to work with. Each unit includes pages titled Learn New Words - introduction to the high-frequency words addressed in the unit, Practice New Words - varied format activities supplying practice with that unit's words, Read Naming Words - a picture dictionary introduces 2-4 additional nouns key to reading the story that follows, Story - the unit's final activity with carefully arranged vocabulary using only words that the student has already learned. Also included is a Word Slider to be used at any time during the lesson - a fun tool to further incorporate high-frequency word use throughout a student's day. There are three cumulative tests provided, one appearing each fifth unit. A certificate of completion appears at the end of the book. Copyright licensing is per classroom, not to be used for more than one room - a feature common to all four books.

If your child requires a little extra practice with sight reading and enjoys a workbook format, this book is a good choice. If your child requires a little hand-holding or parallel work time to get through his or her seat work, this book can be easily accomplished with your help. I particularly appreciate that the graphic layout is clean and does not include color - it has been my experience that colorful presentation and cluttered pages act as a significant distraction to beginning readers of any age. The sight words have been taken primarily from the Dolch Basic Sight Vocabulary list and Fry's Instant Sight Words. This is important as it demonstrates a systematic and studied approach to the learning process, something by which a good curriculum will be known.

High Frequency Words: Level B, Games Centers for up to Six Players
Phonics Games: Level C, Centers for up to Six Players

The High Frequency Words booklet includes seven separate games, Word-list Sliders, uses the Dolch Basic Sight Vocabulary for grade one, Dolch nouns, and Fry's Instant Sight Words, first 100. The Phonics Games booklet includes seven different games, covers short and long vowel sounds, long vowel digraphs, initial consonant blends and digraphs, R-controlled words, and one to three syllable words. The written practice pages in both are in black, white, and grey-scale, convenient for promoting focus on writing skills.

These two booklets do a good job of covering exactly what they say they do. I believe the format is more suited to a classroom or co-op setting - for multiple children of similar age or skill level. The games require a laminator to set up the games and protect the paper. In contrast to the High Frequency Words workbook, the games booklets are very colorful and bright, nicely designed for their purpose.

Draw Then Write 1-3

This workbook begins with a student following directions to draw a picture. On that same page, the student will fill in words to complete sentences about the picture he or she has just drawn. The next level includes the drawing step but then moves on to the student answering questions about the drawing in preparation to write sentences about the drawing. The most difficult level begins also with drawing - in a new context. Then the student writes a paragraph about the new picture, following the prompt provided. This paragraph may then be developed into a full story.

In all, thirty-one familiar topics are provided, from animals to clowns to a variety of vehicles. The directions are clear, the fonts simple and uncluttered. If you have a student who is struggling with the mechanics of writing, this presentation could easily lead that child through enough non-threatening practice that he or she could develop the needed hand strength and processing skills almost without noticing.

It is worth noting that often when a child is struggling with basic language skills, parents and/or teachers can end up thoroughly frustrated. The success of any of these books depends entirely on your willingness to sit in a calm and supportive manner with the child through the process of learning new and perhaps difficult (for that child) skills. Evan-Moor has a long history of putting together solidly based materials that are child friendly. These books and games continue in that tradition.

Product Review by Carrie Wilbur, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2009