Jul 25, 2013

MonkiSee Review

I am so excited to tell you about this program.  Intellectual Baby is a company that has grown so much in recent years and I finally took the plunge to see what their reading kit is all about.  See why I chose to buy it now in this post.  Now it's time to get down to business.  :)

First of all, I LOVE the flashcards.  This reading kit comes with 200 solid, glossy cardstock, full-color flashcards.  One side shows the word clearly in large, non-serif font using lower-case letters.  The other side shows a full color picture to demonstrate the word, as well as a small grey word for parent's reference, as shown in the video.  I love these flashcards so much that henceforth, whenever anyone asks me how to teach a tiny child to read without any screen time, I will tell them to read Glenn Doman's "How to Teach Your Baby to Read", as before, AND to purchase these flashcards to save them from a lot of work.  In fact, the cost of making the cards if you're going to print out pictures on the other side would be more than buying them from MonkiSee, so unless you want to clip pictures from magazines from the thrift store and you've got more time than money, this is the way to go.  Alone the flashcards from the kit are $85, or $17 for each set of 40.  I am so glad that this resource is available for parents now.  My baby Ruth, (13m) especially loves the cards and I enjoy being able to show her words during our downtime, like in the car, and even while I nurse her.  I love watching her eyes light up when I pull them out.



Second, the books.  The first thing my husband said when he saw them was, "Wow, these are really high quality".  He was impressed by the classy layout of the pages that show the words isolated from the pictures, as well as the idea of using pictures of the leading puppets, Howie and Skip, on a colored background.  He commented on how simple and intuitive they are, and how effective that kind of simplicity can be.  I agree.  Patrick was especially delighted to read the books because Skip is his favorite character out there.  Alone the books retail at $12 each, or $24 total.



All of this talk about the physical aspect of the program, when the DVDs are the best part, especially if you are looking to buy a reading program for the first time.  The physical materials drew me to the program because I needed them and I already have Your Baby Can Read and Little Reader, so I didn't NEED the videos.  But each of these companies that I love, each showing they have been influenced by Glenn Doman in their own way, are unique.  They have their own special way of approaching the material, and it's nice to have variety.  Rest assured that I love the DVDs.  So let's talk about them.

Volume 1, Baby's First Words:

This is the first MonkiSee DVD I purchased several years ago.  If anyone else is in the same boat, I am happy to report that it has been updated.  While I loved the poetry and puppets in the first version, as well as how beautifully words were defined and illustrated in video and song, it wasn't my favorite for teaching actual reading.  The reason for that is because each word was only shown once.  They showed the word "Baby", then showed what it means for up to a minute without seeing the word again.  They only read "Baby" once during the entire film.  As a result, we watched the full video occasionally, but mostly used it for the slide-show clip that shows.  Again, this DVD has now been updated.  Now you get to see the word "Baby" several times while they define it, and so on with every word in the film.  I am thrilled with this change.  Hey, the original Signing Time videos were redone after the company grew.  I believe in second chances.  It's part of growing up.  :)

Volume 2, All About Colors:

In this volume Skip bemoans that he while he would love to paint a rainbow, he doesn't know the colors, so his big brother Howie helps him.  In addition to the basic rainbow colors and brown, black, white, grey and pink, Skip also learns indigo, silver, gold.  My favorite part of all of the MonkiSee videos is Krista's rich use of poetry.  I am amazed at her ability to pen little poems and ditties for such a variety of subjects, as her spectrum of videos have shown us.  It's cute poem after cute poem all the way through all of them.  For example, a PART of the color red shows her children eating licorice while we hear, "Licorice is red, licorice is sweet.  Licorice is my favorite treat".  Or while we see beautiful flowers in the breeze we hear "Purple flowers, dainty and fair, make me want to stop and stare".  Krista told me that she loves to read books with poetry to her children and it naturally extended into their videos.  I suppose I should read more books with poetry!  All of the videos are rich with them.

Volume 3, All about Shapes:

Skip gets a box of shaped cookies from his grandma that he shares with his brother Howie and Olivia as they teach him how to identify all of the different shapes.  Skip learns circle, square, triangle, rectangle, oval, diamond, heart, hexagon, pentagon, octagon, star, and crescent.  One thing I love about these videos are the little references they make to the benefits of reading.  For example, "These old books are rectangles that sit on the shelf.  I can read one of these books by myself."  There are also lots of interesting facts squeezed in, like "This bolt head is a hexagon with six sides around.  They are stronger than nails, pound for pound."  The video ends with an original song, "Shapes are Everywhere", a review of colors and shapes combined, and a slightly awkward scene where Howie and Skip politely say goodbye because they need to get rid of us before they can eat their cookies.  haha.

Volume 4, Around the House:

Let's face it, this one is my favorite.  Bar none.  Why?  There are three original songs, "Around the House", "Door Song", and my favorite, "Tricycle Song".  These songs are really cute.  This is the perfect time to introduce DaVida.  The four oldest Guerrero daughters have started their own guitar band and it's been fun for me to watch them grow as their talents have increased.  I love seeing family bands and singing groups, partially because that is my dream for my family some day.  I would love to help my children do that, if they are willing.  Let's just say that I have a soft spot for homeschooling families that draw closer together through their music.  Their talents are beautifully showcased in this volume.  My four-year-old told me she wants to learn how to play the guitar after watching this movie.

Action Words:

So, if I'm allowed to have a favorite, I'm also allowed to have one that isn't my favorite, and this is it.  My kids love it.  It's one of those movies that the kids love and the parents put up with because the kids love it.  The film is centered around an action song.  It's very repetitious.  It's a good exercise film for them.  They love to do the actions.  So in one room we have little kids laughing and interacting with the film, while mom is rolling her eyes in the other room as the song gets drawn out a little longer as each new set of action words gets plugged into the song.  Then again, one time I came in and did the whole song with the kids.  When you actually do the actions while you listen, I guess the song isn't so bad.  Olivia's enthusiasm is really cute.  The rich vocabulary and poetry is present like in all of the videos.  I can like a movie (I really do like it) without it being my favorite.  Besides, even the Hokey Pokey can get old if you're not standing in the circle.

Each of these five videos are $20 each a la carte.

MonkiSee Music DVD:

This is a special DVD they recently put together that has the music of the videos in one collection with follow-along words so you can sing them karaoke style.

MemoFlix Video Flash Cards:

These are such a rich resource!  If you have read "How to Give Your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge", you will understand the value of exposing your children to "bits of intelligence", otherwise known as flashcards.  But they aren't just flashcards, they are "bits" shown in categories that help babies to make connections.  It's nice for them to know that blenders, waffle makers, and microwaves are all kitchen appliances.  That bricks and concrete are both building materials.  That acrobat and abacus both start with A.  There are hundreds and hundreds of these words, divided into categories, and organized in a user-friendly menu so you can find what you are looking for.  I LOVE the MemoFlix videos.  So much time was put into making these.  They're better than flashcards at home too, because there are often sound clips shown with the pictures, so you can hear what sound a snake makes while you see the picture after the word, and so forth.  Volume one is full of categories like "Mammals I" and "Christmas".  By "full", I mean three pages to dig through and choose from.  There's a lot of content here!  Volume two is for the letters.  See a rich variety of words for each letter.  Volume three is for consonant blends, including "ch", "ph" and "sh", as well as "kn", "wh", "sw", and common combinations like "st" and "cr".  Volume four is for word families.  This is for words that end the same, such as "ore", "ug", "ack", and so forth.

Guide to Teaching Your Baby to Read:

I already touched on how this film helped me teach my oldest, Peter, to read in my first MonkiSee post.  In short, there are a lot of books out there (not just Glenn Doman's book, there are older ones like Winifred Stoner's Natural Education, and newer ones like Timothy Kailing's Native Reading) to help you teach your baby how to read.  If you didn't want to use a pre-made program and just want to do it on your own, or you simply want to understand why and how it works, I would refer you to one of these books.  But if reading isn't your thing and you would rather "wait for the movie", this is it.  Krista does a great job.  She has a lot of experience and she brings her own tips and tricks of the trade to the table.

The MemoFlix and Guide DVDs are $50 on their own.

All of these are really worth the money individually, so to get everything I've reviewed thus far for $140 is a real bargain in the "Baby Reading Kit Plus".  You can add their two newest DVDs, "Animals at the Farm", and "ABC Roundup", as well as two more sets of flashcards if you get their complete reading kit, which is $185.

Animals at the Farm:

This was bar-none my 2-year-old Patrick's favorite Christmas present last year.  This video is especially filled with interesting facts about animals.  Howie has been reading and he's eager to share what he's learning.  Cats can run up to 30 miles an hour.  Ornithology is the study of birds.  Donkeys have incredible memories.  I'm kicking myself for not taking advantage of a special opportunity that was available for this film- MonkiSee fans submitted high quality videos of their children either on a farm, or dressed up as or acting like a variety of farm animals.  My parents have a farm 20 minutes away and I never got around to it.  :(  But rumor has it that they will be making an ocean animals movie in the future with the same opportunity, so if you want to potentially jump on this kind of an opportunity in the future, it may be there if you subscribe to her newsletter.

ABC Roundup:

The first time I watched this video, I thought it was really cute and well done.  That was about it.  Then our family signed up for Netflix and I finally had an opportunity to watch "Leapfrog Phonics Farm".  Now I'm not out to get Leapfrog because I thought it was cute, overall.  But watching that film made me realize how spoiled I've become with the high-quality programming we have chosen, and what I have come to expect from an educational children's film.  There's good, better, and best.  I only mention leapfrog by name because it is a very popular series that is widely acclaimed for it's educational value.  I will call it "good".  But I couldn't help but compare them since they were two new alphabet videos for us watched in the same week.  Leapfrog shows us a funny "Noisy Newt".  First of all, newts aren't noisy, but it does show us the sound an "N" makes.  In ABC roundup, we see three examples, one of which is a real video clip with a Nuthatch bird (new vocabulary for Mommy, I admit), complete with the bird call, as we hear "'N' is for the Nuthatch, nibbling nervously.  He grabs a chunk for his lunch, and then the Nuthatch flees."  ABC roundup explains the three different sounds an "X" makes, and how "K" is silent in "KN", among other phonetic variations.  My children love ABC Roundup, and they giggle every time they see the Monkeys going ballistic trying to catch floating letters.  I love the original music, and as always, the poetry and rich vocabulary introduced to my children.  I will call ABC Roundup "best".  What makes the video all the more endearing is knowing that it was primarily made by one homeschooling family.  What an amazing family project!




Full Disclaimer:  I purchased the reading kit at a discount as they took into account some of my previous purchases through the years.  It was a purchase I chose to make because I needed the cards and I wanted to give MonkiSee a full review on this blog of my own accord.  I was also given a free copy of ABC Roundup and the two new flashcard sets to review.  I was not otherwise compensated for my review, and my opinions are fully my own.  :)

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Tamsyn, great blog, I have a lot to read up on! I hadn't heard about MonkiSee before but will take a look now.

I also wasn't too impressed with the LeapFrog Phonics Farm DVD. LeapFrog does have another DVD which I would recommend for learning the letter sounds, LeapFrog Letter Factory.

I would also recommend the Wee Sing & Learn ABC iPad App for learning the letters.

Best,
Omkar

Tamsyn Spackman said...

Thank you for the suggestions! I too have heard good things about the LeapFrog Letter Factory. In fact, my neighbor "accidentally" taught her son to read with it, and he's as sharp as a whistle. I'll have to check it out. I guess the best things aren't on Netflix. :)

Krista G. said...

Thank you for such a wonderful review, Tamsyn. :) Blessings!

Kaili said...

Hey that's brilliant! Very helpful. Thanks for sharing these tips.

Tamsyn Spackman said...

pushplaylearning 44 weeks ago: Loved reading about your children's reading development. I know with my kids each one was different, and I have gotten better teaching to their individual needs each time. Great job!

Brandy Lehmann said...

Examing tips on using best mobile trackers.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...