Tuesday, May 12, 2015

WordsBright - S is for Smiling Sunrise {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

If you are a parent, teacher or daycare worker of young children, you've probably read a lot of alphabet books.  If you're looking for a more unique alphabet book, S is for Smiling Sunrise from WordsBright is one you might want to check out.  It's so much more than just a book.  In fact, I'll explain how I think this book, along with the Teacher's Guide, could be used as the foundation for a Preschool curriculum.  This, coming from a relaxed homeschooler who rarely recommends programs for preschoolers!

S is for Smiling Sunrise was written by Vick Wadhwa for his own child when she was two years old.  It is a delightful hardback book with colorful illustrations, obviously geared towards toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary students.  I say it can be used with elementary students too, because it is not your typical 'A is for Apple, B is for Bear, C is for Car' book.  Each letter is represented by a word, perhaps two words (D is for Dawn and Day) and a short rhyme that is meat to express the values of goodness, beauty and wonder to children and adults alike.

I read this to Eleanor (2) and Emory (5) and both of them got different things out of it.  Emory liked the rhymes and guessing what each illustration would be about before I read it to him.  Eleanor loves the traditional alphabet song, so she recognizes the names of some letters and she adored looking at the pictures!  Well, she argued with "I is for Infant."  She has a baby sister, and that was a picture of a BABY!  Even though she argued, this is great for vocabulary development.  She likes the book, and will choose it off her shelf for me to read.

On the WordsBright website, there is a free S is for Smiling Sunrise song, which is essentially the book sang along to to music.  (Please note that we received a physical CD to facilitate this review, but it's only available as a digital download.)  Here is Eleanor one morning, in all her silly glory, listening intently to one of her new favorite songs, which she now likes to dance and sway to!  It's simple, but she enjoys it.

In addition to the actual book and the song, there are also two free teaching guides.  You can download both guides on the website.  The Pre-K Guide is for parents, preschool teachers and caregivers which gives some general guidelines for using the book in an exploratory manner.

The K-3 Teaching Guide goes much more in-depth.  It starts with some general suggestions/questions to ask before or after reading the book.  Then for each letter there are four sections:  Concepts, Questions, Vocabulary, and Activities.  You can use most of the suggestions throughout the week in a conversational manner, but the Activities will give you plenty of ideas for art projects, nature study, field trips and other interactive and hands-on fun.  Some examples include visiting an art museum (A is for Art), identifying and examing flowers (F is for Flowers), or observing the moon with a telescope (M is for Moon).

I don't typically recommend "curriculum" for the preschool years, but with this book and the teaching guide, you could create a deceptively simple and engaging outline for the preschool years.  The nature of the activities allows it to be extended to elementary level too, because they encourage the child to study and appreciate the world around them, which children of all ages can do at their own level.

To find out more, check out the WordsBright website, find author Vick Wadhwa on Facebook, and of course be sure to read more crew reviews.

Wordsbright Review

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