All parents are united by the driving need to give our kids the best start we can. That’s why I love Evan-Moor’s Smart Start Series. In the past, I reviewed Smart Start STEM, because I absolutely loved it.
Today, I am going to be reviewing Smart Start Read and Write Kindergarten. This resource is definitely not a complete reading or writing curriculum. It is more geared toward kids that need a bit of extra help.
Cayden is 5, and like many boys, he is learning to read pretty slowly. AJ, my almost 4-year-old girl, has picked up almost as much as Cayden when it comes to reading just by being included in Cayden’s lessons.
But, after just a few exercises in Smart Start Read and Write he has made some leaps in writing and phonological awareness, a crucial skill for reading and writing.
There are 5 units that focus on 3 letters each, so the book doesn’t cover the whole alphabet. Each unit includes a story, exercises for identifying the letter in the beginning and end of a word, practice for writing the letter, and review, for each individual letter. At the end of the unit is a review for the entire unit.
One neat feature is that Evan-Moor has provided audio of the stories via Sound Cloud. I like this because I can let Cayden practice following along with his finger without being right on top of him. This helps with directionality.
At the end of the book is a paper matching game. The pupil matches beginning sounds with end sounds. All my kids love to play this matching game, and it has really helped Cayden to learn to listen for the different sounds in a word.
The pages are brightly colored with engaging illustrations. The short exercises don’t demand more attention than littles can give. The exercises are all very similar which helps kids learn since they are predictable.
Each exercise includes short, simple sentences so the kids can practice some sight words and decoding CVC words.
Also, there is a place in each unit for the kids to practice ordering the included story, an important skill for comprehension.
The included stickers are a great motivator for many kids, but alas, my got them and turned them into earrings instead!
Something that may not be obvious is the fact that each group of 3 letters is chosen very strategically. The letters all make their sound in the same part of the mouth so it may be very difficult for kids to discern the difference. For example, the one unit is D, N, and T. All those letters are made by moving your tongue against your teeth. Studying these letters together will help kids learn to tell the difference based on feel and not just the sound.
The best part of the resource is that each type of skill (writing, phonological awareness, ordering) are all presented in such a way that they reinforce each other instead of being segmented into separate pages.
My only complaint is that the book does not cover all the letters so this is really for students that just need extra practice.
None of the letters of focus are vowels. I suspect they left out the vowels because they didn’t fit well into the sound groups, but that also means there is not practice in this book for listening to middle sounds. If your child needs help listening for the middle of words, this book is not for you.
Overall, Smart Start Read and Write is another fantastic, well thought out and thorough resource from Evan-Moor. This series is perfect for those kids who just need a little bit of extra help without being overwhelmed.
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