Monday, September 6, 2010

What to Look For When Buying a Workbook

Workbooks can be so helpful when teaching your child at home, whether you homeschool or not. They help reinforce learned concepts and teach new ones. They can save on the costs of printer paper and printer ink {or copy paper and copies}, and are often fun and colorful to keep your child's attention. But, let me tell you not all workbooks are the same.

Workbooks can be purchased at nearly every retail outlet around. Walmart and the Dollar Tree are a given, but they are sold at my local grocery store and even Hobby Lobby. And, of course at the local educational stores and school supply stores, and we havent even begun to discuss the online outlets. They come as part of curriculum sets, or as stand alone supplements. Some are nothing more then glorified coloring books with a famous cartoon character on the front to catch your child's eye, and suck you in with the word LEARN on the front.

I like to buy my workbooks at the Dollar Tree. Yep I'm cheap-I prefer that word to poor ha ha, but whatever word you use the bottom line is my driving factor. But, even though it only costs me 1.00, I prefer to spend that dollar wisely. I have been know (as recently as last night in fact) to sit on the floor in front of the workbook section digging through the boxes of workbooks available for sale.

And this is why:

One trip to the Dollar Tree, Mustang chose her own prize. She chose to bring home a workbook that caught her eye with pretty pictures on the front. The workbook was classified as Pre-K.

The first exercise was to trace words. This was a fun task and seemed very age-and level appropriate.

Following a crossword puzzle, we jump to beginning and ending sounds-complete with writing your own letters. The page following this activity has the child to draw a line to {rather then write} the ending sound to a word-does this seem backwards to anyone else?

After a page of missing words and then a rhyming match game, we come to page 22 & 23. Now remember, beginning and ending sounds were just ten pages back and now the child is being asked to figure out which word is missing from the sentence and write that word on the correct blank. On page 23, the task is to rearrange words to write a sentence! Nothing like a bit of 1st or 2nd grade grammar in Preschool!

And if you are not cracking up enough, yet, check out pages 24 & the items that starts with the letter c, f, etc. TOTALLY out of order lol!! But, hey, it includes stickers.

This is not an isolated workbook. I pass up so many workbooks that are just a mish mash of random worksheets thrown together without thought. Math workbooks tend to be the worst. I love the ones that claim to be teaching shapes and then want the student to count all 12 of the circles and then write on a line that there are 12 circles-um they dont know what a circle is, I doubt they know how to count to 12 and write that on the line mmmmk?

I did recently find a set that I am loving. I found a handful of these Beaver Books and brought them home for Mustang. Last night I went back and bought enough for both Charger and Mini Cooper. I plan to use the same books for them, they are that good.

This Phonics book is for Prek-Kindergarten.

It offers practice of the uppercase letter, then the lowercase letter. Below, it lists 6 words that start with the letter. So, Mustang fills in the missing letter and then traces the remaining letters in the word. She also learns vocabulary and words that start with the letter of the day.

At the bottom of the page, it lists the above items and says to color each one a different color. I color the the color word so she knows what the color word says and then she matches the word in the sentence with the word above. She learns both her phonics sounds and some sight words at the same time. Excellent book. They offer a line of workbooks up through 3rd grade. I cant get all the books at the Dollar Tree but I will be looking for them, I was able to get the next 2 books and a math book.

This is just a couple examples of both the great and the not so great on the market. Look for workbooks that make sense. Ones that are geared toward the age of your child, and activities that incorporate a good balance of skills they have mastered with new concepts. Try not to overwhelm your child with too many new things at once. And look at the order of concepts taught. Just because they are a each good individual worksheets does not mean that they make a cohesive workbook.

The website offers sneak peaks at various workbooks that are available online, and some great worksheets if you just want one or two. I use their products a lot!

What about you? Do you have a workbook suggestion or pet peeve? Am I the only one who digs through all 200 workbooks to find the best one? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

God Bless!


Anonymous said...

I like workbooks to add spice. I do know what you mean on the mish mash books though. Thanks for sharing.

Jenna B. said...

I am a dollar tree workbook fanatic! They are always such beautiful workbooks, they are always homeschool approved and the characters always hold my 3 year old's interest. Cannot beat the $$ tree for workbooks!

phasejumper said...

Great tips!