Wednesday, October 23, 2013

School Zone or not?

Those of you who caught my (probably many posts) on our curriculum this year know that I was unable to find our usual big Mead workbook for Preschool. It's a book I had used for both the Cracker Jack's and was disappointed to not find it in the stores this year. Yes, Mead still sells them and you can buy them online but at the time I was in a time crunch. School Zone books were widely available and though I wasn't sure about the layout of them I decided to buy first one and then another that was a "combo" set and try them out, after all if I didn't like them then I could just order the Mead book online.
* Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review nor was I supplied these materials free of cost. The opinions here are my own from our experience thus far with these books.

The Pros:
There are good number of pages per each skill and letter in both books. More than what I remember Mead having. Each letter has four pages dedicated to it in the Big book and a page or two in the Combo book. These are coloring pages, tracing pages, find the letter pages, and more. It's not just about tracing the letters it's also about recognizing them when your child sees them.

This is from the Combo book.
At the end of every five letters or so there's a nice review that's a couple of pages long as well as at the end of the alphabet. This works out well for us because Peanut needs lots of review and this way when I look in her book I know which weeks will be review weeks or if I would like to do those couple of pages over the weekend with her. Really it depends on how fun the pages look.

Two of the pages to review the alphabet.
 The pages for numbers and other concepts such as bigger or smaller and "how would you feel" are bright and colorful and really grab the child's attention. There's also a review after several numbers. Peanut really likes the number pages.

The other concepts are nicely presented as well. No page in any of this book should take more than a few minutes time which is ideal for keeping a preschooler's attention. We haven't done many of these yet but at the rate she's eating the other pages up lately we just might finish faster than I thought that we would.

These are also very well priced coming in around $10 US each. We haven't used the disk except for once as Peanut prefers her Sesame Street disk and her Caillou's disks much better. We'll try it again in a week or so but really I bought the book for extra practice because it had more tracing for her letters.

The Cons:
These workbooks are not as well laid out in my opinion as the Mead workbooks. I tend to have to flip through them a lot to find what I'm looking for. Those color strips up at the top are not a color coding for topics. 

There is no real science or social studies section which I dearly miss from our beloved Mead workbooks. 

And, these don't "feel" as complete as the Mead workbooks. Though I cannot exactly place why it is so they just "feel" less complete.

All in all I am pretty satisfied with the books however. Peanut absolutely LOVES these books and is more than willing to do at least three pages each day. Now that I've gotten more comfortable with them she will often breeze through a couple of days lesson plans with these books if she's in the mood. There are also days that she'll spot something in one of them and ask to do it even if it's not on her lesson plan for that day OR if her favorite cartoon may be coming on. On an average day with three of the pages from the books scheduled along with a couple other activities she's done with her "book work" in less than an hour and doesn't need to get the wiggles out until she's done. This is a major bonus for us and the large pictures and bright colors really help with her vision issues.

I was planning on moving her officially onto Kindergarten work before the official start of Spring but just barely. At the rate she's learning and the pace she's setting for herself we may just be done within a few weeks either side of Christmas. This means I'll have to decided if we should go back to the tried and true Mead book to go along with her other curriculum or if we should get the School Zone Big Kindergarten book. If she does indeed move through this quicker than I had anticipated and retains the information then chances are that I will be purchasing more School Zone materials in the future.

You can check out what School Zone has available for the elementary school levels here or check out Mead's here both are very similar on pricing. We used Mead for over 7 years here and loved it, but we're liking School Zone right now.

Come see us again tomorrow to see how you can use television for science in early elementary grades without worry.

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