Monday, February 28, 2011

TOS Review - I See Sam

For the past several months we have been reviewing, I See Sam, early reader books as part of the TOS Crew. 

 I See Sam is a series of readers that span eight levels. We received the first four levels for review, as well as the flashcards, (purchase for $15 or downloaded for free and you print out on your own card stock). Each level contains up to 27 Little Books that work on different decoding skills, building on those skills as you work your way through each progressive level. Recommended age for all eight levels is K - 3.6.

 Level 1 readers

Each reader starts with a Sound Practice as well as an introduction to New Sounds, where your student goes over sounds they will encounter in that particular reader.  The words used in each reader are also introduced and mastery of each of these components is desired before moving on and actually reading the Little Book. Once your student can read the sounds and words with fluency, you start the new reader.  Fluency is key with this program. Your child is to read through the story two times before moving on, to ensure fluency and mastery.  If your child makes two mistakes in a reader, you read the book again until mastery is achieved. Every fifth or sixth book has a "Looking Back" section that reviews sounds and words your student has already encountered in the earlier books. Again, mastery is key. If your child is making mistakes with this review session, you back it up and go over these areas again before moving on.

Achievement is rewarded by a progress chart and lots of praises from you! The best reward though is watching your child's face as they discover that they are reading. :)

The Level 1, at the K level starts very basic.  There are only a few words on each page along with black and white drawings to show what the words mean.  Down at the bottom of the pages there will be cues for the parent to either ask the child a question about the picture (enforcing the words they just read) or a reminder to praise them for their hard work.

You can see a flash demonstration of one of the Level 1 readers here.  You'll be able to flip through the pages to see exactly what is in one of these readers. The layout, pictures and interactions between student and teacher.

 This program has been developed through years of research and utilizes these five essential areas that researchers have proven leads to reading success:

  • Phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension

How we used I See Sam in our homeschool

I used this program with my 7 year old who is still learning to read. He found the readers to be easy, which is not meant as a negative. He was able to read them, which gave him a tremendous boost in his confidence, the thing that I feel has been holding him back from blossoming in reading so far.  Each book is small and simple enough that he feels like he is accomplishing something huge, reading a whole book! 

There were things I liked and didn't like about I See Sam:


  •  Simple program with out a lot of flash (that's a pro to me). Not a lot of clutter to distract your learner.
  •  Very easy to use with zero teacher prep involved. You literally pick up the reader and go. For busy homeschool moms, this is a plus.  
  • relatively inexpensive compared to other reading programs.
  • The stories are nonsensical. There is no point to them, which bugs me personally.
  • Often times there are tongue twisters, which can trip up an early reader.
  • The stories are not written in the way anyone talks in real life, which is another pet peeve of mine in early readers.
Would I recommend this product? If you're looking for a solid, no frills early reader program that utilizes graduated readers, yes, I would recommend I See Sam.  I think that my cons to this program are my personal opinions for my own tastes but the fact that my son, who is the one learning to read, enjoyed them and wants to continue reading them, is a deciding factor for me in recommending this program.  I don't think it would have been a good fit for his older three sisters for the same reasons why I didn't care for the readers, which is why I mentioned it. But for my guy, this was actually a pretty good fit.

There are a few ways to purchase I See Sam.  There are different bundles you can purchase, check here for types and prices or you can buy each individual level for $30 each (there will be up to 27 books in each level).

Make sure you check out  Academic Success for All Learners site for video's and guidance on using this product and to check out some of their other products.

To see what others on TOS crew thought of I See Sam, click here.

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.


Rodna Allman said...

We really enjoy this program. I am glad it worked for you son.
Your blog is so pretty. I think this is the first time I've been to it.

Debra said...

Oh, I laughed aloud at your cons... these are all things that resonate with me. But my boys sound a lot like your son, and the nonsensical nature would not bug them in the least.

These reviews are totally convincing me that I need this product. Your zero teacher prep comments were particularly helpful :)

Christina said...

Thanks for your link to the free downloads. I think that I may have to try these books with my dd...the BOB books are getting a little stale.