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I picked up some packs of learning books by letts when I saw them on offer at the book people. I got a set for each of my boys to sit and work through. I got new ones more to encourage my little one to join in a bit more as my eldest has got a lot of books and he will attempt them all no matter how good the quality as he is that sort of child. My youngest is less fond of sitting working but I still like to encourage him if I can. I can't remember what I paid for a set of 4 books covering early maths and literacy skills, but this one book alone is currently £3.87 on amazon.
The principle of the book is fairly interesting, and from what we have done of the books so far, this follows on from the pre-school series as it is has the same characters and magical setting. The book works as well as a stand alone for a child as well as being part of a set.
It starts with a little description of the background to the book which features a wizard called Whimstaff who lives in a cave with a goblin called Pointy, a red dragon called Miss Snufflebeam, and two pet frogs, Mugly and Bugly. It gives a bit of build up to the fact that the child is to be the Wizard's apprentice, and as your child works through the activities in the book, they are awarded with gold star stickers to attach to a certificate at the back of the book.
This book is aimed at 5-6 year olds in Key Stage One. My eldest son is 5, and will be 6 in a few months. He is in the foundation stage at his school and doesn't really start year one till September. He is quite advanced for his age in terms of his reading and writing, working at the same level as children in year one, and he finds this book quite easy to work through. The activities are all things that the child might have practised at school, like completing the alphabet, working out which consonant starts the word shown in a picture, recognising words that have the same ending such as -ll and -ng, and words with -sh and -ch sounds in them. All the pages are in colour and feature the funny magical characters, and my son can whizz through a double page spread of activities in perhaps ten minutes. I always sit with him as he works, reading the instructions with him so he is clear about what he is doing, and he tells me his answers as he is writing it down.
I have used a lot of this type of educational book with him over the past few years to try and re-inforce what he is doing in school, and it is paying off as he is ahead of his peers in terms of his reading and he has become a confident child. Because I have a few books, I recognise when one works well. Here the theme of magic helps to capture his imagination because he is a fan of Harry Potter and all things magic. It is something I know works well with my younger son too as they do things at school like pretend to make silly soup, and to do this, they can only put in things for example that start with a particular letter. This is something they like to try out at home, and this is on a similar vein with funny little pictures and these cute characters that seem to really get them involved.
Another thing that works well here is working towards the completed certificate when you work through all the activities. The stickers provided are really good quality and actually remain stuck to where you put it. There are also 20 gold star stickers provided, but you only need 14 for your certificate, and what child does not like to walk round proudly with a sticker they earned?
I find this book is one of the better ones on the market, both in terms of content being motivational and the quality of the paper and material covered. He can write in biro or even felt tip and it does not bleed through the page. It is only 28 pages long, but for only covering the one curriculum area of phonics, I think this is more than ample for one school year. There are similar themed books in maths and literacy activities aimed at both younger and older age groups, so if you find your child likes the characters, you can try and get them motivated in other curriculum areas. In my eyes, get your kids motivated when they are this age and try and keep them motivated, and that is a good start for them in their education. Practice makes perfect and all that.