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I Can Write: At Home Paperback – Illustrated, 19 Jul 2010
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A new series in the I Can... range that encourages very young children to develop first writing skills
About the Author
Simon Abbott lives with his family in Suffolk, UK, and has been illustrating children’s books, toys and games for over 10 years. His favourite subjects to draw are smiley snails and funky fish. When he hasn’t got a pencil his hand, Simon likes to run, and he has completed both the London and Barcelona Marathons. He also coaches his youngest son’s school football team, though they are still waiting for a win!
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The pages are bright and the images are bold so that they are easily identifiable and grab a child's attention. There are of 7 double page scenes ranging from a living room to a bathroom - and each scene has 5 words associated with the images (for example "clock" or "sink"). The words are clearly printed so that each individual letter can be seen and then traced on a dotted version below the main word. Once your child traces the word, they can then attempt writing it themselves.
I've seen this sort of book before and my eldest (now nearly six) enjoyed using them. I have a 4 year old daughter who is just starting to write and this is the sort of activity she finds fun and educational. The last few pages allow your child to freestyle and write what they want. Chances are they'll simply doodle - my little girl does! And there's nothing wrong with that - it's all part of the fun! These blank pages however are great for you to write any words you'd like them to try, their name for instance.
In nutshell: This isn't a very big book, but that's not necessarily a bad thing as you wouldn't want to intimidate your child or make the activity boring. There's enough words in here to get your child practising a range of familiar words of varying complexity, and the blank pages at the back enable you to introduce any words you might want them to learn and let them have a little play. The basic premise is simple but very effective - read the word, trace the word, then write it yourself. For the money this is a great little purchase and a nice alternative to a colouring book which can help support your child's education.
Anyway, this is in many ways the next logical step up from I Can Count which I felt was just about right for my little boy, and is probably a little bit beyond him at the moment. The concept is the same in that youngsters are encouraged to follow the dashed letters with a pen then go for broke and practice writing un-aided. It is no doubt a useful learning tool.
But learning to write is a lot more difficult than learning to count, and learning to write letters is a lot harder than learning to write numbers, and for this reason I think it's actually quite a big step from one book to the next.
However, the book is beautifully presented in gloriously glossy colour and I think it will see a lot of use in years to come. For these reasons, and despite the silly protruding pen packaging, I would still recommend this title.
As with the counting book there is a problem with the pouch that holds the pen, it prevents the book laying flat and is almost bound to be removed (by them if not by you). For the right age group I can imagine this would be a practical introduction to writing but it will be a few months at least before we start to use it round here.
Being a wipe-clean material, it can potentially be used again and again, and if the original pen gets lost then a normal dry-erase marker will be fine. It's only 8 pages, but that's plenty to keep a child of 4 or 5 occupied for a fair period of time, and since they can wipe it clean afterwards this isn't really a problem.
Where she's sometimes got annoyed at having to rub out or cross out letters before when she's asked if they were done right, she was much happier to try again to get it right when it only took a moment to fully rub out the letter, so this did improve the quality of the letters she wrote as a result.
The only potential problem is if they don't want to wipe out what they've done, at which point, just take a photo of it for posterity, then they'll let you wipe it out... and probably never bother to look at the photo either, but that's little surprise.
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