Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review: See It And Say It Flip Flop Spanish

Our Spanish learning recently got a really BIG boost with the addition and review of See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish that we reviewed through The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. This program was designed by Senora Gose, a mom who believes in the importance of children being bilingual. The name of her company is Flip Flop Learning.

That's a funny name!  That was one of the first statements my 8 year old daughter made when we first received and opened our package of materials. The name comes from the concept of taking flash cards with pictures on one side and Spanish words on the other, and 'flipping them over' and 'flopping them down' to make short sentences. This is a very kid-friendly curriculum. The flash cards have colorful pictures of children, animals, and everyday objects.

The package is here...let's open it! When we opened up our box, we found a manual that contained 150 pages worth of Spanish lessons. The papers were already hole-punched, and ready to place in a binder. There was also a nice printed cardstock to slip into the front, side, and back of a clear cover binder. The curriculum also contains a white dry erase paddleboard to use in the lessons, a marker, three sets (135 total) of sturdy, colorful flashcards, each containing a word or phrase, 4 CD's that contain audio lessons, and 2 clear card holder pages to use for sentence building.

We set up our binder right away!


How do lessons work?  The curriculum is set up to do Spanish lessons three times a week. On the first day, the parent/teacher selects the particular flashcards that are assigned to that lesson, sets them out, and plays the audio lesson on the CD. Lessons take about 10 minutes, maybe a little more or less depending on student interest and how much you review the flashcards. The second and third days utilize the same set of flashcards, and transition from interacting with the audio CD lesson to the parent/teacher pronouncing the words and giving the commands. The lessons seem very flexible. If the student needs more of a challenge, you can certainly do more, but we found that the lessons seem to be just about right for my third grade Spanish student! Some days we did end up playing games with the flashcards longer though. Regular review and breaks are built into the schedule, and if you learn at the suggested pace, the entire curriculum would take about two years, or four semesters to complete.

What makes this curriculum different? While there is some writing and "book learning" available as part of the lessons, the main thrust of the curriculum is for the student to learn the language by using it. Common words and simple phrases are learned and used immediately. For my "hands on" learner, it made remembering the words from lesson to lesson much easier! While learning words and building sentences, students are actually learning Spanish grammar....nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. It reminds me A LOT of the way a toddler learns to speak their own native language! Perhaps this is one reason why this curriculum seems to be so successful - because it is a very natural way to learn language - by actually using it!

About those flash cards: The cards not only have the Spanish and English words on the back, but they also have the Spanish pronunciation. This was very helpful to me as a teacher. While I am 'familiar' with Spanish, I do not speak it fluently, yet I found plenty of 'helps' like this built into the program, so that I could still teach a beginner level Spanish to my daughter even though I am not an expert.

Here is the card combination that became Kelly's favorite Spanish statement to 'practice' on me!

Building sentences: If you would have told me that my 8 year old would be speaking full, grammatically correct sentences in Spanish after only 2 weeks of this curriculum, I probably would have laughed. The way these lessons are set up though, it really was true! And amazing! By learning simple words and putting them together properly, Flip Flop Spanish makes it easy to quickly start speaking in complete sentences. 

My favorite thing about this curriculum: It has to be how easy it was to jump right in and start! There was not tons of pages of 'teacher material' to read, or lessons to plan out. There wasn't even a bunch of pages to download and print, or worksheets to copy. Within ten minutes of opening the package, we had already embarked on our first lesson! The written lessons are nearly a word-for-word transcript of the audio CD, which made it extremely easy for us to not only repeat sections that needed extra practice, but also for me to be able to participate in the instruction end of the lessons. Some days, rather than listening to the CD, I read the lesson instead. My daughter enjoyed that very much!
Two suggestions for improvement: Honestly, I had to look hard to find anything that I would improve on in this curriculum. If I could change anything, it would be to add in blank, ready-to-write flashcards for the words that we have to add in. For example, in the picture above, I had to make a flashcard for the word "and". There are several similar words that you must make your own card for. It would be nice if there were an extra 20 cards or so included in the pack that were blank, and could be used for the "make your own" words. That way they would be similar in size and appearance to the rest of the cards. We just used 3x5 cards cut in half for ours. The other thing that didn't really work for us was the clear pocket holder for the flash cards. It is similar to a business card holder that you would use in  a 3 ring binder. It is supposed to be used as a 'sentence builder' where you can make your sentences by slipping the appropriate flash cards into the slots, and then reading them. My daughter preferred to have the cards laid out in a long line, or strip, on the table. Instead of using it as a sentence builder, I ended up using the clear holder to store the cards for the current week's lesson so I did not have to search for them in the pile every time I sat down to use them.
There was no place to store the flashcards in the binder. My suggestion would be to buy a zippered pouch, or pencil holder, that could clip in to the 3 ring binder and hold the flashcards, keeping everything together.
Who is this curriculum for? Well, the author recommends it for ages 3-93. I guess that just about covers everyone! I think it would be very easy to use this as a starting curriculum for a preschooler. My 8 year old thrived on it. It also attracted the attention of my high schooler who has 2+ years of Spanish instruction. My 8 year old loved the "Pictionary" and other games associated with using the cards and the dry erase board. She enjoyed the interaction with other family members who would participate in using the cards with her. This is an attractive curriculum that is easy to use for all ages.
How much does it cost? At the time of this review, the curriculum package is available on the website for $99.95 with free shipping. This gives two years of Spanish lessons, which can be used by an entire family with multiple ages. There are some additional items that can also be purchased, such as an iphone app, a workbook, a notepad, and some teacher tools.
The bottom line: I think this curriculum is well thought out, and very well set up, and I highly recommend it for any family looking to gain a good working knowledge and use of Spanish. I think it works very well alongside other curriculums as well.
To see what other Crew members thought of Flip Flop Spanish, click the banner below: 

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