The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Lovely Lily and Fat Freddy's Afraid to Fall Review by Donna Campos

Speak with Me "L" and Speak with Me "F"
Angela Holzer, M.A.
Speak With Me Books, an Entity of "Good Sound Publishing"
1017 East 75 South
Bountiful, UT 84010

Lovely Lily and Fat Freddy's Afraid to Fall are two new books in the Speak With Me series of children's books designed for speech development. Lovely Lily was illustrated by Angela Hansen, and Fat Freddy's Afraid to Fall was illustrated by Barclay Tucker. Each is a glossy softcover book; the "L" book has 36 full-color pages, and the "F" book has 32 full-color pages. The first three pages of each book include speech instruction for the parent to use when working with the child, under these headings: Teach the Sound, Speak With Me, and Read the Story. The inside front covers include an explanation of the series, while the inside back cover contains a Practice Worksheet for "L" words and "F" words, appropriate for each book. The back cover practice sheet includes twelve pictures and words for beginning, middle, and ending sounds of each respective letter.

Each book focuses on targeting and teaching the represented sound. An informational Sound Development Chart designed by Speak With Me books is included with each purchase, and more details are available on the website. Each book measures 6 inches wide and 9 inches tall and has a softcover book binding without staples, with titles on the spine. No additional materials are required, and the inside back cover worksheet may be photocopied for school or homework use.

Lovely Lily covers the /l/sound and includes simple phrases "I like . . . " and "I love . . . ," while practicing the /l/ sound. The instructional page lists an age range for development as 3-6.5 years and mastery as 5-7 years of age. It also includes details of how to say the /l/ sound and helpful tips. Speak With Me instruction offers more instructions specific to this sound, with example words to work on the sound at various positions in the word. Scripted help for teaching, modeling, and prompting the child in a speech session or for practicing at home is included as well, under the heading Read the Story.

Lily's story is very imaginative, with wizards, leopards, and ladybugs in pajamas all presented in humorous ways with incredible illustrations. The story line takes the reader on a journey into the imagination of a little girl with plenty of use of the /l/ sound along the way. It also provides an opportunity for discussion about the things children like or love.

Fat Freddy's Afraid to Fall includes practice for the /f/ sound and simple concepts of down, on, in, and under. The Teach the Sound instruction lists the age range for development as 2-3 years and mastery as 2.5-4 years of age. It explains how to say the /f/ sound in terms of lip placement and voicing, and a tip is included for helping children make the sound. Step-by-step instructions for sitting down with your child are provided in the Speak With Me section, complete with face-to-face breakdowns for beginning, middle, and ending sounds. Steps for teaching, modeling, and prompting are provided, as well as a sample dialogue to make the sound with your child in the Read the Story portion of the instruction pages. The story itself is a little odd, amusing enough for the age group, but as a parent reading the story I get the feeling the author is forcing the letter sounds for the point of the book rather than really writing a good story. Fat Freddy is a frog afraid to jump from a wall, so he stacks items into a tower to climb onto, all so that he can reach his favorite food. Overall, the book does the job of providing practice for the sounds though, which is the goal.

Lovely Lily and Fat Freddy's Afraid to Fall books provide ample opportunity for making the referenced sounds, and we really appreciate the tips for use in physically making the sounds with children. As parents who are not speech therapists, the included tips were incredibly helpful as we prompted our children, and they provide a bit of education for parents learning the details of the speech process. These books will be ideal for use in speech therapy and as parents support the goals of speech therapy from home. They will also be helpful for the simple practice of sounds, focus on quality speech, and encouraging best possible speech sounds from children right from home.

The instructions are encouraging and even include word-for-word positive praise examples for use with your children as you work. Parents will become proactive in the speech therapy process for their children when using the Speak With Me books, as the series includes six books. Repetition is used in both books and offers plenty of opportunity for sound production, practice, and better clarity. It is also a very sly way to keep children following along as the phrases are repeated and build expectation as to what will come after each phrase.

Illustrations for both books are incredibly colorful, fun to view, and a great deal of fun to discuss, which provides more opportunity for sound production with your children! Both books include the practice worksheet at the back of the book, and although permission is included for photocopying, it will be very tough to successfully photocopy the practice pages. Bending the book into a flat position is just not easy to do, and we wish the company had provided the worksheet pages in a PDF format on their website for much easier printability.

The Speak With Me series is an excellent addition to the literature world, particularly as an item for speech support. We use the books with children older than the age range listed for development and mastery, which also provides opportunity for discussion of spelling of sounds, particularly with the /f/ sound and the use of "ph" in the story. We previously reviewed Sammy Learns to Talk, the first book in the series, and even our youngest child, 22 months old at the time, was attempting to make the sounds along with us as we read. Now at the ages of 10, 4, and 2, all of our children are enjoying these books and working on speech patterns as we read.

The instruction for parents is excellent. I wish I had known these pointers when we were knee deep in speech therapy sessions and at a loss for how to offer support from home. As a regular family book for enjoyment, the stories will be loved, but the additional exposure to phrases, positional words, and the benefit of sounds practice will never be realized by most children, even as they practice their speech!

Some families may not appreciate the talking animals, wizards, or other imaginary aspects of the story lines, but the illustrations are wonderfully playful and include vibrant color and expressive faces that most will enjoy tremendously. Additional Activity ideas are included on the website for use with the included Worksheet, assisting parent teachers as they expand on the reading of the book.

The price of $8.99 per title is reasonable for a book with speech benefit and helpful instructions for parents, but the set of six is available for even less per book. Each book includes a Speak With Me symbol accenting the particular letter in the given book, making it easy to focus on a particular letter sound when choosing books. These are fun books with adorable characters, great focus on speech therapy skills, and the benefit of a simple worksheet I can use to expand on the reading with educational support.

Either or both of these books will be an excellent addition to every home library for sound skills, regardless of speech ability. This is a well-rounded book providing parental speech therapy training, all in wonderfully short stories presented with beautiful illustrations. The additional inclusion of the Practice Worksheet makes them a must have for every speech therapist and any family with a desire to encourage proper speech patterns from an early age and in a fun and inviting way. Enjoy the books in the Speak With Me series with your children, whether or not they have speech difficulty; they will enjoy the story and practice sounds happily as you read together.

Product review by Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010