Tag Archives: literacy

Product review: Meet the Sight Words by Preschool Prep

Recently I’ve been working on introducing sight words to G.

Sight words, also known as high frequency words, are words that occur frequently in print material. Some examples are “the”, “of”, “she”. In order to be able to read effectively, it is recommended that children memorize a list of sight words, so they will be able to recognize them instantly without having to decode them. There are several compiled lists of sight words – the Dolch list being the most well-known among several others.

Some of the common methods used to teach sight words include using flashcards or simple readers. I’ve tried the above, but found that the simplest and most effective method was to use DVDs (yes, I’m a lazy busy mum who is not adverse to letting the kids watch a bit of tv).

The DVDs that I use are from the Meet the Sight Words series by Preschool Prep Company.


In this set of 3 DVDs, sight words are presented using colourful, animated characters. There is lots of repetition involved, and a short story at the end of each DVD where the sight words are used. When playing the DVD, we are able to choose between playing selective lessons or the whole DVD.

In total, 47 sight words are taught in the 3 DVDs, covering the top 30 words in the Dolch list. Here is the word list:

DVD 1: A, and, for, have, he, I, in, is, it, of, play, said, that, the, to, you
DVD 2: are, as, but, go, had, here, his, like, my, on, see, she, they, was, we & with
DVD 3: all, at, be, by, from, her, him, look, one, on, some, there, this, up & word

A screen shot

A screen shot

Previews of the videos are also available on the Preschool Prep website

G’s and C’s review
I’ve had this series since C was 2. Although she has outgrown it now, she still enjoys watching it with G. Meet the Sight Words is one of G’s favourites at the moment. G requests for specific discs by the sight word shown on the cover – “it”, “on” and “by”. He loves to act out the actions,  and can easily recognise about 90% of the sight words after watching the DVDs four to five times. He was so proud of himself when he pointed out the sight words in random posters and books.

My review
When I first bought the DVDs way back in 2008, I was doubtful of its claims that it could help the little ones master the sight words. In fact, the first time I watched it with C, I was literally bored to tears because there was so much repetition! But I was very pleasantly surprised at how well C and G took to the DVDs, and the speed at which they picked up the words (due to the repetition). And the best part? I could leave them to watch the DVDs for 20 minutes while I completed my chores. Meet the Sight Words really works!

I highly recommend getting this set of DVDs – it really does make teaching sight words so much easier!

Note: Knowing sight words is just a small part of the journey to literacy, as is letter recognition and phonemic awareness.  Reading is still very much a part of our daily routine 🙂

How do you introduce sight words?


Book review: Oh Dear! by Rod Campbell

Oh Dear! by Rod Campbell

Oh Dear! by Rod Campbell

I came across the book Oh Dear! while browsing at the bookstore. Written by Rod Campbell, the author of the classic children’s book Dear Zoo, it follows the same formula of bringing us on a hunt. However, instead of searching for the ideal pet (in Dear Zoo), we are now on the hunt for eggs.

In the story, Buster, the little boy, is tasked to find some eggs for his grandmother. However, he has forgotten where they should be found, and so the search begins….

So he went to the barn

So he went to the barn…

Buster shows the way around the farm, and on each page, there are flaps that open to reveal the animal found there.

He asks the sheep

..and he asks the sheep

Of course, there is a happy ending, when Buster finally remembers where the eggs should be found. There is also an additional bonus flap to open in order to reveal the eggs.



G’s review
G loves lift-the-flap books, and he loved reading Dear Zoo. So when he was introduced to Oh Dear!, it was not surprising that he took to the book almost immediately. He enjoyed identifying each animal, and imitating the sound each animal made. Of course, the repetition of the phrases, “No eggs here! Oh dear!” in the book had him echoing in no time.

G asked to be read to three times, then he proceeded to bring it to a corner to read it by himself (it’s amusing to hear him mooing, then going “oh dear!”)

My review
It’s a good introduction to farm animals and where they can be found on a farm (barn – cow, stable – horses, etc). The repeated phrases also encouraged G to point out the words and read along. There was one part where I had some issues – at one point Buster asked the duck for eggs. Of course, ducks lay eggs, but I suppose Grandma was looking for chicken eggs (ok, I’m nit-picking here).

Overall, a good book for young toddlers. If your child enjoyed Dear Zoo like G did, I’m sure they will find Oh Dear! equally interesting.

Have you read any books by Rod Campbell?

Book review: How Many Bugs in a Box? by David A.Carter


Here’s the book that started the Bugs phenomenon!

As I’ve mentioned in earlier reviews, I’ve a soft spot for pop-up books. So when I came across How Many Bugs in a Box? A pop-up counting book by David A. Carter, I couldn’t resist ordering it.

The blurb on the book’s back cover mentioned a bug phenomenon, but frankly speaking, I had no idea that this was such a popular book prior to reading the reviews. When I opened the book, I understood why 🙂

The content of the book was simple -readers get to count bugs from one to ten. I’m not a big bug person, but take a look at the drawings of the super cute bugs:


What do you think you’ll find?


Bug doing weight-lifting?

Who would have expected to find a weight-lifting tough bug?


A striped box this time…

Bugs of all varieties are found in the book. From the mundane pretty bugs…

…to imaginary frog-bugs!

C’s review
C loved opening the flaps and exploring how the book was constructed. Being older, she was also able to appreciate the humour in the names of some of the imaginary bugs (noodle bugs anyone?)

G’s review
It’s stated that the book is meant for 3years and above, due to small parts (from the pop-ups), but G enjoyed it under supervision. He was thrilled that we allowed him to open the flaps and touch the bugs, and kept going “more,more” even after we finished reading. His favourite part was the frog-bugs. 🙂

My review
It’s a relatively simple book, with cute illustrations that will be appreciated by  young and the young-at-heart.  Toddlers learn about counting, adjectives, and bugs. Older kids will appreciate the humourously named bugs (C drew an imaginary bug after reading the book – a guitar bug). On the downside, I would have preferred a board book version with sturdier flaps.

Overall, I would still recommend How Many Bugs in a Box? A pop-up counting book. Both kids and myself enjoyed reading it!

Have you read any of the bug books?

A visit from the book fairy

C has been reading independently for some time now, and its not unusual to find her sitting down with one of the many picture books from her bookshelf. However, I’ve had trouble persuading her to pick up a chapter book out of her own accord.

It’s not that she has difficulty reading – her assignments from enrichment class include chapter books from the Katie Woo series, which she has no trouble completing. Aside from doing her homework, there was no motivation to read “thick books with few pictures”.

In order to spark her interest in chapter books, I tried introducing different books without much success. This included titles from several popular children’s series:

  • Arthur (I borrowed the DVDs, and the computer game too)
  • Geronimo Stilton (all the rage among the younger crowd… but apparently not for C)
  • Rainbow Fairies (somehow she didn’t find the books attractive enough).
  • Secret Kingdom (she started reading but didn’t have the motivation to complete it).

Although she didn’t complete the Secret Kingdom book, it gave me a good idea of what got her interest: (1) the cover had glittery stars (yes, that helped!) and (2) the mention of a token given in the book.

She had asked about the token – how it looked like, how it appeared. Somehow, she got the impression that it appeared magically at the end of the book. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was in fact a coupon to be cut out. Instead, I told her that the tokens were given by the book fairy, and yes, they appeared if she read the book. She seemed rather taken with this idea.

Last week, I tried another chapter book. This time, I introduced her to one of my favourite authors from my own childhood – Enid Blyton. I made sure to find a book that had a glittery cover , and told her that the book fairy would give her a token at the end of the book. The fairy would know if she really read the book or if she simply flipped through it – mummy would help the fairy check.


The New Adventures of the Wishing-chair was the chosen book. You can’t see the sparkles here, but the actual book had a really pretty, glittery cover page. It’s part of the early reader series, so there were not too many words on a page, and fonts were bigger.

C dove into it with gusto, finishing the book in three days (it was not a difficult book to read, she only spent about five to ten minutes a day on it). Here’s the token that “magically appeared” a day after she completed the book:

Book Token

She was elated to get the token (she claims that it was a present from Jack, Jessica and Wishler from the book, and the book fairy just helped to pass it to her). When asked if she liked the book, she replied that she did, and asked to read a second book! 🙂

Although the method used was not the conventional “read with the child, they will grow to love reading” way, it got C started. Perhaps she is reading the books for the tokens now, but I hope that she will grow to love chapter books in time. For the sake of my pocket, I’ve explained that there are only certain special books that contain tokens, so she has to read more in order to find them.

I’ve got her a little wooden box to keep her book fairy tokens. Hopefully she will get to fill it up soon. I can’t wait to share some of my favourite childhood books with her (Roald Dahl, Nancy Drew, Malory Towers etc) once she is ready. 🙂

Have you used alternative ways to get your child to read?

Project: Alphabet box

What do you do with an empty chocolate box?

Empty chocolate box

Empty chocolate box

I was looking at the empty chocolate box (disclaimer: I did not eat all of it!), thinking of ways to recycle it, when a friend commented that he used to play a game with his son to get him to do homework. Bingo! (pun not intended)

Before the modification

Before the modification

Modification of the box was simple. I pasted plain letter stickers – one on each compartment. There were more than 26, so I pasted coloured stars on the remaining empty spaces.

box with alphabet

Modification complete!

Using the box – Games I play with G
1- Match the letters (upper/lower cases) – I used his magnetic letters here.

Match the corresponding upper or lower case letters

Match the corresponding upper or lower case letters

2- Match the objects to its beginning letter (I used 3D erasers and other small objects that would fit into the compartments).

naming objects

Sorting objects by name

3- Roll a ball and practice phonics sounds.

Using the box with C
With C, I use the box as a fun way for her to do work (bingo-style)
1- Roll a ball. Name and spell 5 words that start with that letter. If it lands on a colour, she has to name 5 objects of that colour (Vocabulary/spelling)

2- Roll it twice, and name 5 words that contain the 2 letters (if it lands on a colour and letter: name objects of that colour starting with that letter)

3 – Alternatively, prepare a list of 26 spelling words/maths questions/chores – and select by rolling a ball.

There are multiple possibilities! C enjoys rolling the ball to find out what she has to do. She doesn’t realise that her mother is sneaking work into the game 😉

How would you use an empty chocolate box?