Friday, September 17, 2010

Vocabulary Cartoons

SAT vocabulary is somewhere on the to-do list of every homeschool parent.  New Monic Books has come up with a product to help you cross that item off you list.

Vocabulary Cartoons, SAT Word Power ($12.95 ISBN 9780965242233) is the book I looked at for this review.  It is a 300+ page book of vocabulary fun. Fun?  Yes, fun!

The book is divided into 29 sections.  Each section has 10 words in it, for a total of 290 words.  The 290 words are introduced in alphabetical order which makes looking up a word very easy.  And after every 10 words there is a review page with matching and fill-in-the-blank questions to see what you remember.

Each word gets one page and on that page is
- the word
- the pronunciation
- the part of speech
- the definition

Okay, sounds like a regular old vocabulary book at this point.  But then there is the
- the Link
- the cartoon
- the caption
- the examples

Here is one of the pictures in the book.
The caption for this cartoon is "There is a DEARTH of EARTH in the middle of the ocean."

The Link for this word is earth.  So when I think of dearth, I should think of earth, and this picture or phrase should pop up into my head.

I like this book because the mnemonic devices are sound.  When I was in the 4th grade my teacher used a mnemonic book to teach us the presidents.  I remember Washington was a person washing a ton weight.  And that's it. I cannot recall any of the other pictures and I didn't really learn that list of presidents (other than to regurgitate it for the test) until I taught my kids the list to the tune of "Ten Little Indians"  But, I digress.  The point is, that picture did not tie into the subject matter at all.  But in this book, it does.  There really is a dearth of earth in the middle of the ocean.  Fossils really are docile. A broken down truck would make someone truculent.  But I really doubt Washington ever washed a ton weight.

But as you know, it doesn't just matter that Mom likes a product.  So the book went to Flower, 10, first.  She read the first ten words before bed, and the next afternoon out of the blue I quizzed her using the review page.  She not only remembered the words/definitions, but she could describe each picture and its caption.  I know those words belong to her now.

Dragonette, 13, got the book next.  She has a huge vocabulary, but there were plenty of words she did not know.  And some of the words that she did know had alternate definitions listed in the book that she did not know (fleece = to swindle).  I sent her to try things out.

In typical Dragonette fashion, she sat down and read the book in one evening.  This was perhaps not the best use of this book. :o)  She retained only few words (although she stated she was busy plugging those few new words into her writings).  So I sent her back to read one section a day.  The results for this surprised me.  She could easily recall the definitions and describe the pictures, but she struggled with the Link word and the caption of the picture.  I guess this is a good example of how different learners use this book.

At our house, we have a nice mix of visual and auditory learners and many products do not work well for all of us.  This book does! There are so many things to latch on for each word, a person's brain can choose which device works best for each word.

About the only con I can come with for this book, is that it is not a full vocabulary program.  If you need a lot of review for words, you would need to add in extra practice.

New Monic Books also sells Vocabulary Cartoons, Elementary Edition and Vocabulary Cartoons II, SAT Word Power.  I am looking forward using these too.

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