I love trying new products to teach reading! So when I was asked to review The Magic Stories from Allsaid & Dunn, LLC, publishers of The Reading Game and authors of the Wordly Wise series, I was thrilled!
What Are The Magic Stories?
This set contains six stories, and activities to accompany each. Each story is about twenty pages in length. They all contains simple black and white photos, like this one:
The stories reminded me of a cross between a fairy tale and a fable. There’s a magical element to them, and the magic is used to help the characters learn an important lesson or see another way to solve a problem. By the end of each story, there’s a clear moral.
Each story has a list of 40 “Naughty Words.” These are the most difficult to read words from the text. You’ll find a list of the words at the end of each story.
In the downloadable activities, you’ll also find printable flashcards with the word. Here, the word is accompanied by a sentence showing the word in context. These are called the “Deck” for the story.
In addition to the Deck, each story has the following exercises, meant to be completed after reading:
- A maze, where readers have to decide if each sentence along the path is true or false.
- “Finish the Sentence” asking readers to complete each sentence in their own words.
- “Real and Imaginary” exploring the elements in the story that were real and those that could not really happen.
- “Write the Story” with a couple of writing prompts readers can choose from. Then they write on a separate sheet of paper.
- A 100 word snippet of the story for a Running Record.
- An assessment for the 40 “Naughty” words.
How We Used These Stories
I used these stories with my second and third graders. They’re still working on reading fluency, so the length of the stories were a little long. We took it a bit slowly.
Before reading, we looked at the Deck with the “Naughty” words. Sometimes we played games with the printed cards. We:
- Hid the cards around the room and whoever found them had to read the word and sentence aloud
- Arranged the cards alphabetically and then read through them
- Put them on the ground in random order and tried to throw a small ball on the word I called
- Spread them out and drove a toy car to the word I called
After becoming familiar with each word, it was time to read. Sometimes I had the kids just read a couple of pages each day. Other days we alternated reading, so I read a page aloud and then one of them read.
Usually they became really interested in the story about halfway through, and then they wanted to keep reading until they learned how it ended.
Once we read, I printed off the maze and we worked through it together. I like how this maze tests comprehension, and encourages self-monitoring. If students make a wrong turn completing the maze, they’re to make a check in one of the boxes at the top. If they fill in all the boxes, they’re supposed to go back and reread the story.
I had my kids do the finish the sentence worksheet and the real or imaginary one orally. There’s a lot of writing in the activities, and we’re still working on writing endurance. These were easy activity to change the format of.
Then, I read the options for the writing prompts. My kids each picked one (sometimes the same, sometimes different) and started writing. I picked one too, and wrote with them. When we were done, we all read our work aloud.
Next came the Running Record. When I learned how to do these in college, we did them with a cold read. Which means this part should be done first, before students read the story and practice the words. But, I didn’t realize at first there was a Running Record, so my kids did a hot read instead.
What’s a Running Record?
With my experience in education, I was already familiar with how to administer a Running Record. However, I don’t recall seeing any directions in the downloadable materials for this product. Directions for this par was even missing from the “Instructions” tab on the vendor’s website. This could be a problem for home educators who aren’t sure how to use this resource.
Basically, a Running Record gives you a snapshot of how your child is reading in terms of fluency. Here’s how I used this component:
- Print out two copies of the Running Record sheet for each child
- Hand the child one copy and keep one for myself (I also had a pen)
- As the student reads, listen carefully to each word. If the word is read correctly, put a check mark on top. If not, write the mistake down.
- When the child is done reading, calculate the number of miscues (mistakes) and subtract those from the total number of words read (100 in this case).
- Calculate the accuracy (100-errors)
- Analyze the miscues and see if there is a pattern
- Provide additional instruction as needed
For instance, if you notice your child is missing the words with a particular vowel pattern, you know you’ll need to provide additional instruction on that pattern.
Since Running Records are quick to administer, they’re an easy tool to use to gauge reading progress.
My Thoughts on The Magic Stories
My kids and I enjoyed the stories. They were engaging to read and listen to. Playing games with the flashcards and the writing prompts were the favorite exercises for my kids.
We will continue working through the stories we haven’t yet finished.
I do think more instructions on how to use this product (especially for the resources) would be beneficial.
To see what other families thought of The Magic Stories, click on the banner below: