Review: The Magic Stories

As I've written many times this year, I'm always on the hunt for innocent, enjoyable, appropriate reading for my 5-year-old advanced reader.  The Magic Stories from Allsaid & Dunn, LLC, publishers of The Reading Game and authors of the Wordly Wise series, fit the bill.

Six cute stories accompanied by a vocabulary deck and reading extension activities arrived as PDFs and are easily printed and bound as desired.  I chose to simply hole punch the pages and place them in Mister Man's school binder.

Each of the six stories--

1.  The Magic Hole
2.  The Magic Ax
3.  The Magic Joke
4.  The Magic Hot Dog
5.  The Magic Boots
6.  The Magic Box

--is charming and funny.

Mister Man laughed out loud reading each one.  And when any time elapsed between opportunity to read the next book in the series, he would ask repeatedly, "When can I read a magic story again?  Where is my binder?  Can I read without you right now?"

For this review, I tried out all of the components to see how they worked.  Mister Man didn't need most of them because he is reading beyond this level, but he got a kick out of playing with them.

First there is the deck of vocabulary cards.  These are 40 potentially tricky words (called the "Naughty Forty") for the student to practice reading in isolation and in a sentence that helps with context for helping the student's reading fluency.  Simply print these on cardstock (4 sheets of 10 words each), cut them, and practice reading.

Then there are the reading exercises.

The exercises for each story include 5 components:
1.  Story Maze
2.  Finish the Sentence
3.  Imagine! or Real & Imaginary
4.  Write the Story or Finish the Story
5.  Running Record
6.  Pre/post reading Naughty Forty mastery check list

The Story Mazes are Mister Man's favorites.

Responding true or false to each prompt leads the student through the story to remember the basic plot.  Mister Man cracked up at the false statements and cheered when he made his way through the maze.

Next is the Finish the Sentence Activity.  This gives the student more in depth review of the story events.  As Mister Man is definitely still 5 years old, his handwriting skills are not on par with a 2nd/3rd grade writing prompt.  We did this section together orally.  The sentence prompts are clear because Mister Man had no problem completing any of them.

After that appears one of two possible activities: either Imagine or Real and Imaginary.

These are activities that both help the student understand imagination and encourage creative thought.  As my Mister Man is somewhat literal, he had a blast differentiating between what is real and what is not, but he struggled with creating his own fiction.  However, we'd sit down together and, eyeball-to-eyeball, take turns talking out the things we could imagine.  These were solid stretching exercises for him.

The Write the Story exercises were basically too much for my small, literal boy.  Exercise 3 was challenging enough for him, so we didn't do Exercise 4.   But I like these prompts, and I have them saved for rainy days for my upper elementary writers.  
Next in each exercise set comes the Running Record.  It is a little reading test for the parent to see how fluently and accurately the student is reading.

Mister Man thinks these are hilarious, and he scores perfect scores on them every time, which tells me that he's reading on a higher level than I thought, but I have two readers coming up who will be ready to use these stories and activities in the next year and the one after that for whom these Running Records will be invaluable.  By printing several copies and administering them before reading the corresponding story, after the story, and after a review or two, these kids I have that struggle with learning to read will get to see how they progress.  With 2-4 different "tests" with increasing scores, they will have the proof they need to see they are learning and growing . . . the fear they are not plagues them very much even now as the most beginning of beginning readers . . . and it is one I want to assuage in every possible way.

And lastly there is a sight word assessment checklist.  Mister Man aced these before he ever read the books, but he occasionally learned a new word.  My upcoming readers who learn best with extensive exposure and review will really benefit from the flashcards and pre/post-reading assessments.  (I know this because I'm using Allsaid & Dunn's The Reading Game, and the flashcard system is opening up reading to these kids in ways I barely dreamed of before.)
Overall, I'm delighted with these stories and activities.  Mister Man received 6 new stories to read and re-read, my upper elementary writers received fun new creative writing prompts, and I received a teaching-reading-fluency program for my upcoming readers that I'll be able to print again and again as we need them.

**11/4/17 UPDATE**
The pre/post reading assessment sheets had some words that did not match the Naughty Forty word lists/cards.  Allsaid & Dunn has fixed this by putting the correct lists under "Free Resources" on The Magic Stories Website.  In addition, instructions for how to use The Magic Stories have been added to the same "Free Resources" section of the website.

Readers are offered 25% off their purchase of The Magic Stories by using coupon code:  raisingreaders

To read what other crew members have to say about Allsaid & Dunn's The Magic Stories click here or on the banner below.


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