Thursday, July 15, 2010

Product Review: Scholastic Storybook Treasures

My father has been legally deaf my entire life, but because his true hearing loss was something that gradually got worse over time, I was able to talk to talk to him as a child. Due to that, I never learned anything more than a few basic signs and the alphabet in American Sign Language. Now, my father has almost complete hearing loss and I find it can be difficult at times to communicate with him, especially for my children. It is important to me that my children learn ASL, but it can be difficult to find materials designed for their ages.

On July 27, Scholastic Storybook Treasures will launch a new line of storybooks-on-DVD, the American Sign Language series. The first two DVDs are "Goodnight Moon...and more great bedtime stories" and "A Pocket for Corduroy... and more stories about friendship." Each DVD contains 3 best-selling children stories along with an expertly signed adaptation. While the story is being read aloud, there is a person signing along and the words are shown on the screen. The DVDs are designed for children in the 3-9 years age range and while not designed to fully teach sign language, they are great for learning and reinforcing vocabulary. Also, the child can see just how important facial expressions are when using sign language, by watching the signers as they tell the story.

Not only is sign language a great marketable skill, children that learn sign language at an early age can increase their IQ scores by an average of 12 points and it is great for enhancing fine motor skills. Learning another language is easiest in the preschool years and helps to make learning additional languages easier later in life. Teaching sign language also enhances communication, vocabulary, language skills, reading readiness and sight word retention.

The DVDs are about 30 minutes long and retail for $12.95 each. If you like the first two, be sure to keep an eye out for the third DVD coming out on August 24, "Five Little Monkees...and more great children's stories."

***My opinion***
I really liked these DVDs for all of my children. The 2 and 3 year olds loved listening to the story and I liked that they were being exposed to sign language and written language as well. My older two, ages 7 and 9, felt a little too old for the stories themselves, but loved the sign language vocabulary lessons that are available as extras on the DVDs. The lessons also include comprehension activities that go along with them. On the downside is that I am not a big fan of sitting the kids in front of the DVD to educate them, especially for something like story time, however, if they are going to watch tv (and sometimes that is necessary), I want them watching something that is enjoyable as well as educational. So would I buy them? I would because I love that they are introducing my children to more sign language vocabulary than I could do on my own and I like that they can see there are other deaf people in the world, not just their Papa. The DVD's are well-made and great when mom or dad need to do something else, such as make an important phone call, work with another child, make lunch, etc.

I received the above-mentioned products for free to review. No monetary compensation was received and my opinions were not influenced by anyone.

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