August 8, 2016

Marie's Words~ A Visual Vocabulary for All Ages {Product Review}

I am a sucker for using big words. My husband always laughs at me when I use them, but I can't help it! I love big words. When I was in school, I ALWAYS reached for my thesaurus so I could jazz up my papers. Who doesn't like words like superfluous, incandescent, pithy, and extraneous? They just feel good in my mouth. The challenge is remembering what they mean. You can read definitions all day long, but that doesn't mean you will retain it. This is especially true for those who are trying to broaden their vocabulary for tests. We all know about all those snazzy words they like to throw on ACT and SAT tests! Is there a way to memorize them easier than just repeating the definition to yourself over and over? Enter my review for Timberdoodle of Marie's Words: a VISUAL vocabulary flashcard set.

I first saw the Marie's Words cards at the 2016 GHC in Cincinnati, OH. I thought it looked cool as I was passing, but I didn't have a chance to really stop and check it out. Needless to say, when Timberdoodle contacted me about reviewing it, I jumped on the chance. I really wanted to check them out further and thought they would be a great addition to our home.

About Marie's Words

So what are Marie's Words? Marie's Words are the brain child of a high school junior who was preparing for the SAT. In order to assist in the memorization of the words, the student drew illustrations that represented what each word meant. And just like that, Marie's Words was born! The original illustrations communicate the meaning of 550 words used in literature and standardized testing. Not only do you learn the meaning, but also the correct pronunciations, definitions, synonyms and antonyms for each word. Each card also features a sentence in which the word is used properly. All of this is structured to SAT standards. The addition of the visual representation delivers a more complete way to learn and retain word meanings!

Marie's Words contain 550 cards that are in numerical (and alphabetical) order. Each card is also hole punched in the corner to make it easy to store them on key rings. Included with the cards is an instructional card which gives ideas on how to use the cards as flashcards or games. There are even more ideas on the Marie's Words website! The set of cards retails on Timberdoodle for $36.95 and is geared for ages 5+. They are also a component of the Timberdoodle 2016 4th Grade Curriculum Kit.

How Did We Use Marie's Words

When I saw these cards, I knew that they were going to be so easy to incorporate into our daily routine! I decided that we would try to learn two new words a week, so I began by picking a card at random. Over breakfast, I showed the boys the card. I read the word aloud and had them look at the picture and make a prediction of what the word meant. Next, I read the actual definition of the word, and used it in the sentence provided on the back on the card. I encouraged Little Britches to think of synonyms that would work for the word, and then read him the list on the back of the card. Before I put the card up, I had each boy repeat the word and its definition one more time.

I keep the cards pinned to the refrigerator's bulletin board. This allows it to be visible all day long and I can randomly call to each boy and ask for the word's definition. I ask Little Britches to take it one step farther each time, by having him use it in a sentence. After several days of this routine, I also ask Little Britches to come up with some antonyms for the word. After just 2 or 3 days, each boy can hear the word and usually tell me the definition...although sometimes Baby Britches asks to see the card. With the visual cue he always can remember the definition.

From this point on, we took turns picking cards from the deck and continued the routine. We always review the cards that have been selected thus far so that we don't forget them.

After we get a few more of these words under our belt, I think we will definitely start playing some of the games that are included on the little information card in the box. It has some great ideas for making the words more familiar.

Our Thoughts on Marie's Words

We all really like these cards. The boys even fight on who's turn it is to pull a new vocabulary card. I am very impressed with how quickly they are each learning the new words and I have seen Little Britches remember several of them when we are working on writing assignments. This gives him some very strong verbs and adjectives to add to his collection. I think I am most impressed with how well Baby Britches is retaining the information. He's only 6 and yet he is learning them as quickly as Little Britches, even though he doesn't have the broader knowledge of how to use them.

I also like how quickly Little Britches has picked up using the terms with proper verb tense all on his own! For example, when asked to use the word ABATE in a sentence, he changed the tense and said: "I looked out the window and noticed that the flood waters had abated drastically."

I am enjoying reviewing the words myself and there have been a couple that have been new(ish) to me, in that while I had heard them before, I didn't use them frequently, nor could I give a complete definition. Now I can too!

These have been so awesome for us, that I plan on incorporating them into our schooling next year. They will be one of the components in our morning baskets this year and I will encourage Little Britches to use them frequently in his writing assignments. I love the idea of keeping them on a key ring for easy access as we learn them.

I absolutely recommend Marie's Words to any family of students, whether homeschooling or not. These simple and fun vocabulary cards will help flavor your family's speech with fun new words and help your children with word meaning retention which will assist them when it comes time for standardized testing. Besides, they are just fun! I would totally buy them as a gift for any writer or word buff!

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