Thursday, September 13, 2007

Product Review: School Zone

Summer is an amazing time to spend with your kids. The weather here is beautiful and there are plenty of things to do.

There comes a time, though, when it seems you've done it all. Seen it all. A "million" times.

It's the end of summer. Usually for us it strikes around three weeks before schools starts. You see other mothers at the store, throw them a knowing glance as one of the kids acts out, and you mouth to her, "It's time for school to start." She nods and smiles. You go on your way, just hoping to get through the day so you can do it all again tomorrow: the kids fighting, arguing, nit-picking, nagging - oh the nagging - I could write a whole article on the End of Summer Nagging.

Then one day, mid-August, the doorbell rang. All I could think was, "What are they selling." No, I don't need a new roof. No, I don't need new siding. No, I'm not interested in completing a survey. No. No. No.

Instead, it was the mailman. With a box from School Zone. For me - um, I mean for the kids.

We tore into the box.

3D Magnetic Teacher - Kindergarten.

Start to Read - Level 1.

Like manna from heaven, the kids took to it immediately.

The 3D Magnetic Teacher is a tin with oodles of activity cards and magnets. There's a place for every magnet, so you'll know if any are missing. The cards are designed with multiple activites on each, allowing you to both adjust the card to your child's ability and grow with your child. And there are magnets! Almost as good as scotch tape. Or Post-its. Or tissues.

The Start to Read kit is chock full of early reader adventures: two storybooks, two audio cds, two journal books, 32 comprehension pages, three stencil sheets, two sticker shees, as well as a pencil, dry-erase marker, and eraser. The audio cds contain a read-a-long of the stories and sing alongs. There are also companion sing-a-long songbooks. It's all packaged in a well constructed "book" - one that will stand up to the rigors of kid-use.

We were given the Kindergarten/Level 1 option, and while it was "young" for my seven year old (I knew it would be), my five and three year old love it. I love that it keeps them busy - and it educates them. The magnet tin is a perfect size to take out-and-about.

As for the cds, it's only a matter of time before the conclusion is drawn that we could listen to them in The Car! I take that back, one time, my seven year old mentioned that maybe they (the younger two) would like to listen to them in The Car! but I said "not right now."

There are several things I love about these products:

  • They grow with your child and are made for a range of ability within an age group. My three year old loves to make matches with the magnetic letters. My five year old enjoys doing the activity pages. My seven year old, well, she likes to 'help' the other two.

  • Though rewarding and fulfilling to work with my child on these, I don't have to. There's room for them to work alone as well.

  • The Start to Read set of books is on a spiral -it can be laid nearly flat, and the kids can easily flip the pockets/pages to get to what they want.

  • The pockets holding the books/cds are very heavy duty and will put up with alot of use.

  • Talk about bang for your buck - the Magnetic tin retails for $15.99 and the Start to Read kit retails for $17.99 - think of all the other ways you've blown $20. And this is less.

School Zone offers products from Baby to Sixth Grade. Not only good for your child, they'd make a great gift. Two thumbs up.

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