November 1, 2017

Strengthen Reading Skills with The Magic Stories! {Product Review}

Strengthen Reading Skills with The Magic Stories {A Review}
We recently were given The Magic Stories to review with my youngest son (age 7). These stories were created to be a supplemental reading program to build confidence in reading and develop strong comprehension and writing skills. Although they are geared for a 2nd/3rd grade reading level, they are good for any child in the elementary years who would benefit from beautifully written stories with coordinating creative writing and comprehension exercises. Because this is just the type of supplemental reading program I desired for our classroom, I reviewed this product with high hopes!

About The Magic Stories

From Allsaid & Dunn, LLC, publishers of The Reading Game and authors of the Wordly Wise series, comes The Magic Stories! This supplemental reading program consists of six
fanciful stories written in an old-fashioned style. Each story is written in elegant prose peppered with a more classic vocabulary. The stories (all in digital format--ideal for Kindle and iPad) are each about 20 pages long, and include line illustrations to coordinate with the stories. Each story is based around something magic--a box, an ax, a hole, boots, a hotdog, and a joke.

The stories include:
The Magic Hole – Ping Ho finds a bag with a magic hole which changes her family’s life.
The Magic Ax – Tom learns the value of hard work
The Magic Joke – An unhappy king and a Princess, war and laughing
The Magic Hotdog – Alfred can’t stop eating hot dogs
The Magic Boots – Patty was accidentally given goblin boots
The Magic Box – A Rumpelstiltskin story

The tales teach character and moral lessons too! At the end of each story is a list called The Naughty 40--a list of 40 tricky vocabulary words from the story. In order to help your child not only learn the words, but to be able to use them in a sentence, there are coordinating flashcards to match each story. The flashcards (also a digital file) can be printed out and cut apart to make flashcards.

Additionally, there are four worksheets (Maze, Finish The Sentence, Imagine, and Finish The Story) which coordinate with each of the six stories. These worksheets check for comprehension and encourage critical thinking and creative writing. To check fluency, there is also a worksheet called "Running Record" which the parent can have their child read in order to check their reading accuracy. To help determine improvement in learning The Naughty 40 words, there is a Pre/Post Naughty Forty Flashcards Sight Word Assessment worksheet for each story. With this sheet, you are able to determine how well your child can recognize the word, read it in a sentence, and understand its meaning. Meant to be used before the story is read and then after the exercises have been completed, it is a good indicator of their reading progress.

The Magic Stories can be purchased as a whole set for $16.95 or individually at $3.95 ea. They are digital, so you can take them with you and print out as many copies of the worksheets as you need!

We were given the whole set to review with my 7-year old who is in the 2nd/3rd grade level.

Our Thoughts On the Product

My first thought when I received the product was--how on earth do I use this? There unfortunately isn't a lesson plan or teacher guide to show you how to use the program. Fortunately, I have NEVER let this stop me and I quickly came up with a game plan and put it into action!

EDITED TO ADD: Since I originally posted, the company has shared that they now HAVE instructions for use. Simply go to their website and click the INSTRUCTIONS tab at the top of the page.

Day 1: 
Perform the Pre Naughty Forty Flashcards Sight Word Assessment before reading the story
Read the Story
Review the list of The Naughty 40 words at the back of the book
Give the Exercise 1: Maze worksheet to check comprehension

Day 2:
Talk about the story
Give the Exercise 2:Finish the Sentence worksheet to check memory of story
Re-read passages of story, especially if he misses answers on the Finish the Sentence worksheet.

Day 3: 
Re-read the story
Review the Naughty 40 words
Complete the Exercise 3: Imagine worksheet

Day 4:
Review the Naughty 40 words
Work together to complete Exercise 4: Finish the Story

Day 5:
Perform the Post Naughty Forty Flashcards Sight Word Assessment 
Give the Running Record Reading Fluency quiz

I chose to spread these stories out over 2 weeks--thus we did 2 or 3 days per week following the schedule above. This worked fantastic for completing these stories. The favorite activity was definitely the Maze and the Imagine worksheets. He was quite animated telling me his answers for the Imagine worksheets.

I really appreciated having the pre/post assessment! It definitely showed how he had learned the new words over the course of the program.
By the end of the week his score improved to 38/40! 
Also, the reading fluency worksheet--this showed me any words he stumbled over.

In regards to the stories themselves, we found them MUCH to long for him to read by himself in one sitting. He found the font too small, so we had to enlarge it on my Kindle (easy to do when a digital book!). The reading level WAS just right, but at 20 pages, it was just a LOT of reading. So we did a trade off--every other paragraph was his to read. This method worked perfectly! He enjoyed the stories--the Magic Hotdog and the Magic Ax were definitely his favorite in the bunch. Especially since his Papaw is a logger! :)
Reading on the Kindle
Any problems?
There were just a few. First off--the list of Naughty 40 words at the back of each book did NOT match the Pre/Post Naughty Word assessment page. There were a handful of different words. The words in the book match the flashcards though--so it's odd they don't match the assessment. Because I just used the words on the assessment, I just didn't bother with the words that didn't match. All the words WERE in the story--which is all I really cared about.

However--this is something I think the vendor should fix. Because the flashcards match the book--the assessment would be the only thing that would need changed.

EDITED TO ADD: Since the initial posting of this review, the company has since corrected the Pre/Post Naughty Word Assessment pages. They can be printed off in the FREE RESOURCES link on their website.

Secondly, the grammar in the story wasn't always...well correct. It really was minor. Comma usage more than anything else--and we only noticed because we are specifically working through a program that has us find missing grammar markings. LOL. There was a proof-reading error too that I found in our reading--

It would be nice to have this grammatically correct BECAUSE it is a reading program and I would like my boys to be reading something that shows correct markings. They are very visual and will absorb this kind of information.

Finally, I believe this program NEEDS an actual teacher/parent guide to give examples of how it can be used AND to have an ANSWER KEY! If your child is working through this independently you aren't going to know what the questions are, much less the correct answers!

EDITED TO ADD: Since they now have a set of instructions for working on the program, that will make it much easier; however, I still don't see an answer key.

All in all, this is a good program! If you use it completing one book w/activities per week, you have 6 weeks of work. If you do like us and split it over two weeks for each book, that gives you 12 weeks of work. I would definitely like to see MORE of these kind of stories--this is the type of exercise I like and what I would incorporate into my classroom. We will be continuing to finish out the reading program until all the books (we have 2 left) are completed!

*If you have a problem with your child reading about a tale about magical objects or characters, then you will want to pass on this product. 

The Magic Stories are offering a 25% discount to all my readers! Simply use the code raisingreaders in the code box at check out!

Want to Know More About The Magic Stories?

Over the last several weeks we have been reviewing The Magic Stories. I hope you will visit the other members of my review crew to learn how they used the product!
The Magic Stories {Allsaid & Dunn, LLC. Reviews}

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you for your suggestion for an answer key! You can find one under the Free Resources section at