Once upon a time there was a mom named Courtney. She homeschooled her five children and loved *almost* every minute of it. She loved teaching history and nutrition, life skills, civics, government, art, and literature. She even enjoyed the occasional math and science lesson. What she did not like was teaching vocabulary. Repetition seemed to be the only way to help her children remember new words and sometimes even that wouldn’t work.
Ok all kidding aside, I LOVE these cards! The Target Vocabulary Picture Cards are absolutely ingenious. These brightly colored cards take common vocabulary words found in math class and sets them to illustrations that help show the child (and parent in some cases) what the word means. The Science Vocabulary Picture Cards use the same philosophy for commonly used science words.
I started introducing cards from the math and science sets when we would have our morning devotionals. It wasn’t long before the vocabulary words started making their way into our every day conversations. I would hear things like “MOM! Jack is using a cylinder like a sword!” and “SPENCER! Stop leaving your ice water out! The condensation will ruin the Mommy’s table!” You know they have mastered a vocabulary word when they start using it to tattle and boss each other around.
There are all sorts of ways to use these cards. In addition to “word of the day”, we would try to sort them into groups based on what they looked like and see if they had anything in common.
We would sort them based on science groups (aka geology, meteorology, botany)
I would hold up two cards and say “If a fibrous root is a root that winds around everywhere when it grows then a taproot grows …” then I would hear a chorus of “DOWN!!”
Sometimes I would just dump them on the floor and see what the kids would come up with.
My favorite way to use the cards is to introduce quick lessons. On the first day I pulled out the condensation card and had them guess what it meant based on the picture. Then I filled a glass with ice and water and had them touch the outside of the glass on the bottom where the water was and then the top where there was no water so they could feel the difference in temperature. We watched as the glass fogged up and I explained how the outside of the cup cooled the water in the air enough to turn it into water and cling to the outside of the glass. We talked about freezing and melting points and Lucy was quick to remind me that water expands six hundred times when it turns into steam (Matt taught them that lesson on a family campout).
Another time I pulled out a handful of the math cards for a lesson about angles. Yet another time we used the cards when we discussed circles.
These two card sets were the only one’s I reviewed but Lone Star Learning has some other amzaing products in math, science, and language arts that will be taking up residence in our home as soon as my budget allows. They have picture cards for Greek and Latin Roots, Antonyms, Homophones, Visual Verbs, Word of the Day, Measurement Benchmarks and more.
As amazing as this is, no product is perfect. I think in a traditional school room they probably work perfectly but use in the home adds a few challenges. In addition to the definition sheet, I would have liked to have the definitions written on the back of the card so that my children can just read them when they are playing without having to hunt for them. Since a homeschool is slightly different than a traditional school these cards get handled on a daily basis and while they are certainly sturdy enough for a teacher’s hand, I am going to have to laminate them if I don’t want them ripped by a two year old. Lone Star Learning does sell vinyl sleeves and definition slips to put them together and protect them, but that isn’t exactly what I would want for my home. I will probably just write the definitions on the back of each card and laminate them.
Now as for the nitty gritty, the picture cards worked wonderfully for Spencer, Emma and Lucy (ages 5, 8, and 10). The target grades are 3-8 but I would say that children of all ages could easily benefit from these cards. I enjoyed them a lot as well (NOW I can remember which is the Y-axis and which is the X-axis).
The Target Vocabulary Picture Cards (math) come in three different levels (I was able to review level 1) with 50-56 cards per set. Each level comes in two different sizes. The small size is $29.99 and the large is $34.99. There is also a Primary Word Set that includes a mixture of all three levels, contains more than 80 cards, costs $58.99 and only comes in the large size.
The Science Vocabulary Picture Cards has four levels that contain 40 cards each ($29.99 each) and comes in only the large size. The Early Grades K-2 set (again, more than 80 cards) includes primary words from each of the four science levels and is $58.99.
If you decide to purchase the vinyl sleeves, please remember that there are two different sizes and order accordingly, that being said, Lone Star Learning has excellent customer service in my experience so if you make a mistake I’m sure they will take care of you :)
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Prices are accurate as of the publication of this review and are subject to change}