Monday, February 7, 2011

TOS Review: VocabAhead SAT Vocabulary

My husband set a challenge before me shortly before this book arrived.  Just because our 11-year-old son was struggling with spelling at his grade level, he said, that was no reason not to have a higher expectation of him when it came to vocabulary.

So when VocabAhead sent us SAT Vocabulary: Cartoons, Videos & MP3s, I decided to take up that gauntlet, and instead of going with the obvious choice and using this product with my 14-year-old, I decided to use it with the 11-year-old.

VocabAhead's SAT Vocabulary, available for $12.95 from,contains 300 words.  Each word is illustrated with a cartoon - most of which are perfect examples and great visuals for the word - to help increase retention.  For every 10 words, there is a "match the word to the definition" quiz (30 quizzes in all) to help check that the student is really learning the words.

But that's just the beginning.  VocabAhead offers a free download of the same material for your computer, where each word is presented with the cartoon and the definitions are presented using audio.  In my opinion, this is a definite plus over just the book.  I was a little concerned that the book did not contain the pronunciations for the words.  The mp3s fix this problem.

So far, we love it.  There are a couple of cartoons or examples that some parents might find slightly questionable.  For instance, the word ogle says "Bob ogled Mary as he stood next to her.  Yes, yes, he did.  That's what men do."
WHAT???  (okay, keep your pants on!  not finished yet)  Yes, if that were all it said, I'd be pretty upset that this is what my child is learning.  But it continues!
"Well, some men do.  Well, Bob does."  (continues after that)

I can see where some parents would have an issue with this, but as with any other teaching material, I think it's important that we pay attention to what our kids are using and, sometimes, instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, take the opportunity to discuss the things we find questionable or objectionable with them.  In this case, particularly because this book is meant for high school age children, I think discussion is the way to go.  Especially since the word ogle is on the SAT vocabulary list.  But that's a whole other post!

In general, though, the book and download approach seems to be working very well for us.  I've challenged my 11-year-old to not only learn the words, but to do his best to use a few of them in his everyday conversation.  Not only has he done this, but he's used them appropriately, showing that he's learning them well.

VocabAhead offers lots of other products, and tons of support via their website.  Their Study Room offers videos, quizzes, flash cards and more.  Definitely a resource worth every penny!

Check out what my other crew members thought about VocabAhead here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a complimentary copy of VocabAhead's SAT Vocabulary book, videos and MP3s in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased review. No other compensation was received.

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