Education Review: Monki See

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My youngest son, Robert, is three years old, and we received a complimentary set from Monki See for him recently. This book and DVD set is designed to help babies and toddlers learn to read. The premise behind it is that repeated, daily exposure to written words combined with hearing the words spoken and seeing the objects that the words represent will enable the three-month- to three-year-old to read.

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Robert likes loves monkeys, so the MonkiSee book was a big hit from the moment we opened the package. We sat down to read it, and even my six- and ten-year-olds sat down to listen. The book is about two monkeys named Howie and Skip. Each page includes a single word or a phrase along with a photo of that item.

The book is cute and was definitely enjoyable for Robert. I can see its being a good vocabulary builder, especially for babies and young toddlers who aren’t talking much yet.

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After we finished reading Know Your Monkey, I put the 30-minute DVD in and we all sat down to watch. The first thing I noticed was that Howie and Skip aren’t fuzzy on the DVD. They’re smooth and have a more realistic/computer-generated look instead of the fuzzy puppet/stuffed animal look from the book. I like the fuzzy look better. :)

The second thing I noticed is that Howie and Skip are barely shown on the Baby’s First Words DVD at all. The majority of the footage shows children, wild animals, nature, families, etc. This surprised me because I expected Howie and Skip (the monkeys) to be a constant thread through the materials.

Similar to the way words are presented in the book, the DVD shows a written word on the screen along with the object. At the same time someone says that word or a sentence using the word. I realize it’s geared toward babies, but I was ready to leap out a window after about ten minutes. I kept my opinion to myself, though, while Robert watched. Halfway through the video, though, he got up and went outside to play.

It could be simply because he’s on the upper end of the age range at 3 1/2. Maybe the style of the DVD would be more entertaining and interested for a younger child. Personally, I’m not very keen on having babies and young toddlers watch videos, though.

On a good note, the next morning, Robert’s first words to me were, “We want to watch Howie and Skippy” in a real whiny/pitiful voice. I told him “Not right now,” and he replied, “But it’s our favorite song.” :)

My personal opinion and educational philosophy is that babies and young toddlers cannot learn to read. They may memorize the appearance of some words, but that’s not a skill that will allow them to pick up a book and begin to decode (read) the unfamiliar words in it. Your philosophy may be totally different. The MonkiSee book and DVD are both cute, appealing to young children, and perfectly wholesome. At the very least, they are good tools for building a child’s vocabulary while having fun.

Each MonkiSee DVD is currently available on sale for $19.95 (regular price $24.95), and the MonkiSee books are on sale for $9.95 (regular price $11.95). A MonkiSee complete kit is available for $139.95 (regular price $265.35). This kit includes five DVDs, two books, five sets of flashcards, two video flashcard DVDs, and a parents’ guide to teaching babies to read on DVD.

Thank you to MonkiSee and The Old Schoolhouse Crew for sponsoring this review.

© 2011, Cindy. All rights reserved.

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