Saturday, January 10, 2015

Product Review: Spectrum Workbooks

I was contacted by a rep of the Carson-Dellosa Publishing group & asked to review some of the Spectrum workbooks. I was already familiar with these workbooks because we have used a few of them in the past but it has been many years and I knew they had been updated, so I said "sure thing".

I received the books sooner than I thought and we quickly dug into them. My kids appreciated doing something different for a little while.  

These books make for a great supplement to what you are already doing. As a homeschooler we often see holes in what our kids are learning & these workbooks can help fill some of those holes and provide extra practice. I also found these books to be great for when I am working and need them to be busy doing something. They kept them busy & were also improving skills. Win-win!

For Sam I had a Phonics 1st grade workbook. It was simple, colorful, but not too busy. I like that because with his ADHD, he is easily distracted so I usually use black & white worksheets for him. But the pages were simple & clean so he didn't seem to have a problem and he enjoyed the work. The pages were not overwhelming which is important also for him. If he looks at it and thinks he can't do it then we get no where. For those still struggling with phonics, this is a great way to supplement the phonics lessons you already have going. When you work on learning the short /a/ sound you have several pages to reinforce what you just taught.

For Gracie, I had several books. Writing, Spelling, and Vocabulary. She loves writing, so I got that one to see if it would help her or if it was boring. She is horrible at Spelling so I wanted to see if she improved in her spelling better than what we were already using. Vocabulary is not an area of weakness for her so I wanted to see how easy it was for her.

She enjoyed the Writing workbook. The activities were fun & she enjoyed the writing assignments in it. Did she improve her writing skills? I'm not completely sure yet as we haven't used the books long enough for me to tell. But she was writing something everyday and enjoyed it, so that is a plus for me. But once again, I would only use these as a supplement to the main writing program, but it makes for some good practice.

Gracie also used the Vocabulary book.  I felt that this was a little too easy for her. The level of words were not challenging enough for her. In the back of the book is a section on test taking. We haven't tried any of that, but we might. In Texas, our kids do not have to do standardized testing so often they don't learn those skills. Personally, when I am sitting next to my child as they are learning something new I don't find it necessary to give them a test. I already know if they have mastered the concept or not.  But, when they get to High School it is a different story.

The last book Gracie used was Spelling. She isn't a good speller so I wanted to see if this helped improve that. Like I said earlier we haven't used them very long so I can't really say yet, but I do like the way the lessons are set up. One lesson a week, 4 pages per lesson, the same list of words are focused on so she got decent practice on the words. I also like that she didn't just learn to spell them, but she had to know how to use them & what they meant. Who cares if you know how to spell precarious if you don't know what it means or how to use the word.
Zach used the Science book. He didn't like it, mainly because we do not follow the Big Bang or Evolution theories and that is what was in the lessons.  He just couldn't get past that. The format was simple though. Read the passage & answer the questions. It was simple & not too in-depth if you are looking for extra Science work.  But like I said, the evolution idea's really were a problem for him and so he only did a couple of the lessons.

In conclusion, I would use these workbooks to help supplement. I like the way they are set up. They are easy to use, answers are in the back (you may want to pull those out if your child has a tendency to peek) & I can just hand them to them & let them work through them. Rarely did I need to explain how to do the lesson. They were able to work independently, which as a working at home mom that is really helpful.
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Check out their website to see all the grades & subjects they offer.  They have a great variety of resources & teaching aids that are helpful to not just homeschool moms, but public school moms who just want to add a little extra learning at home.