Brighter Child:Seqncing./Memory (Pre) Paperback – May 1 2006
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I had really high hopes for this workbook. I expected it to contain lots of sequencing scenarios and patterns and some memory exercises. Instead, it's just a collection of less-than-mediocre exercises with very little connecting them to one another. What's not to like? Let's start at the beginning.
The very first exercise asks preschoolers to "Draw a line to match each number 1 to one thing." There are 3 of these [straight vertical line] ones on the left, and 4 object groups on the right. One has 3, the others each have one. The layout of it is awkward and confusing and doesn't seem to be very well focused. And it only gets worse from here.
The second exercise expects a preschooler (age 3 or so) to draw an oven mitt and a sock. Most books on BASIC shape drawing are aimed at ages 4 and up, and yet they believe a preschooler can draw an oven mitt with no pre-requisites? Really? Are they trying to frustrate children?
Things get moderately tolerable (for the 3 pages of actual Sequencing), but several lessons later, we arrive at the section on Ordinal Numbers. This section, with no preparation for the child (aka Student), shows a line of people/objects and tells the child to identify and mark the "first" or "third" or "fifth", etc. item. No indication is given for which side should be the starting side for counting; one is left to assume. Each time, the marking method and space vary. Sometimes the child is expected to circle, sometimes to X, others to draw a line under a person (who is dragging a doll, confusing the image/numbering), and even to draw a hat on a character. A 3yo may be able to do this sort of work, but it seems absurd to have no preparatory skills or directionals for this.
The next atrocity is "One-to-One Correspondence". The first lesson looks like a tracing lesson, as all answers are provided with a vertical dotted line. The second requires the child to draw the missing objects and then the line for correspondence. Despite that the child will have possibly NO IDEA what is expected unless explicitly defined in detail by an adult, who will hopefully know what One to One correspondence is.
A tolerable couple of pages on "More and Fewer" follow. These are followed by 2 exercises in the same category which are well out of the Zone of Proximal Development for most preschoolers. Too complicated, too detailed, not sufficiently rigidly defined.
Then we come to patterns. Again, these start out well enough. The first page the child is expected to complete a drawing of a basic shape (not to circle from a list of options, mind you, but to free-form draw) of the anticipated next item in the pattern. The next page has party hats, presents, and cake for the child to draw.
After that it gets slightly more tolerable for 4 or 5 pages, but don't worry, those are obliterated by the next one. Both of us parents are college educated adults, and even we weren't sure what some of the answers were that they wanted to complete a pattern of letters. For example, "f f e e __". Did they want "d"? Did they want "f"? It's not clear. We had to check the back of the book, where they felt a need to include the answers. Why should there be a NEED for an answers section on a preschool workbook, unless it is perhaps for some sort of picture find?
Two pages later, in a section on "Go-Togethers", there are 3 exercises to complete. The second exercise matches a stool with a chair (and not a window). The third exercise matches a scarf with a coat, not a house. But the first one shows a foot and gives a choice between a hand and a shoe. Well, based on the stool-chair and scarf-coat connection (function of the item), one might expect the hand to be the answer. And yet it's the shoe. If one hadn't looked at the other two exercises, the shoe might be the more obvious choice, however after viewing them, the hand seems the more sensible option. The lesson is made too vague and leaves too much room for interpretation.
We then get 4 to 7 pages of moderately okay Same and Different exercises. And then we get this abomination: A short, wide rectangle, a tall square, a tall circle with a cutout missing, and tall, narrow rectangle. Well, one might think the circle with the cutout is the obvious choice, but what if the child rated it on the height? The first rectangle is the only one that deviates in height (and doesn't match even when turned 90 degrees). Is this nit-picky? Yes, but if the idea is to give children clearcut examples for learning, then this is failing.
The next section on Classifying is mostly okay, though it does (again, nit-picky on this one) ask preschoolers to color all the stars of a sky picture. They put moons, stars, and diamonds in the sky. And I don't know about your kid, but mine loves Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (you know...like a DIAMOND in the sky). I think it's unnecessary and confusing for the lesson for them to have included diamonds in this exercise.
A few pages later is one of the worst in the book. "Directions: Find some pencils, pens, straws, toothpicks, paper clips, and crayons. Count them." Space is then provided for the kids to theoretically write in the number of each. Then there is a box for the second half of the page, labeled: "Draw a picture of each thing you found." What is this, busy work? How ridiculous can you be? That's a minimum of 6 things for a preschooler to draw, which alone is asking a lot. What kind of expectations do the editors have of 3yo children?
A couple of pages later, we get into some good pages entitled "Observation". They are silhouettes that the kids have to match with the appropriate picture. It's actually well done, surprisingly, given the rest of the workbook. The 3rd Observation, though, is a hidden picture page. Most hidden pictures of this level of difficulty are in books for kids ages 5+. Not age appropriate.
The next page is even worse. A color image of a farm scene is displayed at the top half of the page. A correlating outline drawing of the same scene is at the bottom. Preschoolers are instructed thus: "Ten things in picture 1 are missing from picture 2. Draw them in picture 2. Then color the picture." Of the items missing, 2 are complicated images of ducklings, one is a convoluted flower, another is a bird in the sky in a hard-to-copy fashion. I know adults who would have a panic attack if asked to do this. And then to COLOR the whole thing afterward? Again with the busy work? These pictures are TINY. Kids don't have that level of fine motor control at age 3. Most don't have it by age 4. This is unrealistic to expect.
See the NEXT page. "Thinking Skills" is the heading. "Draw an X on the object in each row that does not belong. Color the ones that belong together." Okay, fair enough, right? I can tell my child the coloring bit is optional. But what do I tell him for issues like this? A group of 4 items includes a Sun, Rain Cloud, Snowman with snow falling, and Umbrella. Which is the odd man out here? Every group I considered kept the rain cloud. I thought about ditching the umbrella, because it's not a weather instance. But the snowman didn't seem to fit well either. Then I thought perhaps the sun, because it's not related to precipitation directly. We had to check the back of the workbook to find out they chose the snowman--with no explanation provided as to why.
I can somewhat tolerate the next page of Thinking Skills which asks what things don't belong in a beach scene. But the page after that instructs 3yos to "Draw the missing part of each object." Kite? Okay. Umbrella? Sure. Place setting of a plate, fork, knife, and OJ glass...too subtle. Is it the spoon? Is it the food? Too ambiguous. Flowers? Maybe. Car wheels, sure. Fish tail, yeah. Helicopter propeller? Possibly. But the flag missing on the mail box? No way!
The next page randomly includes two small dot to dots with lower case letters. Assuming your 3yo knows lower case letters, she is then expected to sort out what it is she drew, and then to connect each "small picture to the dot-to-dot where it belongs." I've seen the way my 3yo does dot-to-dots so far...he usually can't tell what he's drawn.
Next is the Critical Thinking section where the child is asked to color and cut out "cards" to organize and make into a book in a certain order. Some of these are feasible (i.e. growth cycle of a butterfly; size of bunny rabbits). The 3rd one, however, is ordering the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Maybe it's nit-picky, but it does necessitate familiarity with the story to complete. The next one is decent, growth of a flower.
And then we get to the 4 seasons. There are 4 pictures of the same tree, labeled with the names of the seasons, and having no leaves. The directions say, "Let your child draw and color details on the trees below according to each season of the year. Then have him or her cut the cards apart and put them in correct order. Fasten them together to make a book." First problem? Knowing what to draw. Second problem? Ordering. There is no correct starting or ending point.
The next page is okay, and the final page is "Following Directions: Shapes and Colors". The child is to use a code bank that provides 7 directions for coloring shapes less than a square centimeter in size. All squares, circles, triangles, semicircles, stars, hearts, and diamonds (which look like squares with a 45 degree rotation). Kids couldn't possibly complete this with a crayon, the tool of choice for preschoolers, because all the spots are too tiny!
What follows then is 10 pages of answers for all the problems in the workbook.
I have dozens of workbooks for preschoolers in my home. I'm very selective about what I buy and review them carefully, but based on others' reviews, I got this one through Amazon without being able to really scan it personally. Now I regret that. Do not waste your money on this absolute bit of garbage.
Brighter Child® Sequencing and Memory has the biggest variety of activities compared to the other workbooks that my son has completed to date. Subjects covered:
first, next, last
more and fewer
same and different
There are actually a few other things covered in this book, as well. I loved the exercises concerning classifying and critical thinking the most. I thought those pages in particular -- which take up at least half the book -- were a great intro to science. There are even some cards to cut out for sequencing practice.
So far, the only other one from this series that I could recommend is Brighter Child® Learning Activities, Preschool.
This book is full of bright colors and is really keeping my 4 1/2 year old interested. Having done books like these almost daily since she turned 3, this was just a tad on the easy side, but that has benefits too. My daughter can read most of the instructions by herself which is making her feel proud and independent.
I recommend doing the book in order as it starts out pretty easy and increases in difficulty.
We use this book for about 30 minutes per day and it will probably be done in about a week.
In the back there are activity pages to cut and color which will be a big hit since my daughter love to cut and do project-type activities.
This is one of the best priced books I have seen and with the vibrant colors, activities and educational value, I would definitely recommend this book for your 3-5 year old.