Sunday, February 6, 2011

VocabAhead ~ SAT Vocabulary: Cartoons, Videos & MP3s

Vocab Ahead Book

We are a vocabulary loving family. Most people do not want to play word games with me anymore. My children read dictionaries for fun. We are drawn to new words like a divining rod to water. It must be in our genetics.

When the VocabAhead book, SAT Vocabulary: Cartoons, Videos and MP3s came in the mail, it didn't surprise me that the children took it right away. They sat down on the couch together, and began reading the words out loud. The book has been at the top of the "we're reading this one now" pile since we got it. I even met a little bit of resistance when I took it back from them to do this review. The verdict from both boys is that this is one terrific book!

Designed to help students prepare for their SAT exams, the authors used a whole brained approach to keep the reader engaged. By incorporating a cartoon, the reader will make a visual connection to the word. Because of the often humorous depictions, they are even more memorable and (hopefully) fun. A few words had some examples that made me a little bit uncomfortable - but my boys are a bit younger than the intended audience. (teens preparing for the SATs) We were able to discuss why I would have made different choices, and came up with some examples we thought might be better.

Each page has one word. The definition and type of word are shown above the cartoon. Below the word is used in context. They give several examples. Synonyms and antonyms are also listed. It looks like this:

Vocab Ahead Example page

The 354 page paperback volume is published by Lafzi publications. There are 300 words included. After every tenth word there is a quiz page with matching exercises as well as sentences with blanks to fill in. The answers can be found in the back of the book, or by simply skimming the previous pages and re-reading the words. I thought that this was a nice feature for children less inclined to devour vocabulary. These students could be assigned ten word blocks and the quizzes could easily be copied right from the book.

You may have noticed that the title also mentions videos and MP3s. The first page of the book will direct you to a website. Once you navigate to the page you will be prompted to enter information confirming that you have purchased the book. When this process has been completed, you will be able to download a zipped file which contains audio and visual files of the words for further reinforcement. Now the student can carry the words on his MP3 player or computer.

This approach to teaching vocabulary is highly praised by English teachers and authors. Rather than including an introduction, there are several pages of excerpts lauding this book. It is also worth noting that ten percent of any profit made from the sale of this book will be donated to non-profit organizations providing educational services in underdeveloped countries.

If that's not enough to make you feel good about the company, VocabAhead also has a website that is full of free resources. There are word lists, videos, and a study room for students to improve and test their knowledge. This is not as portable or convenient as a book, but my children do enjoy any time they can get on the computer.


There is also a website area for the teacher, (me) to make word lists and share them with students - among other things. Click on another tab to purchase the book, or their DVD-Rom which has over 1,000 words that can be viewed or listened to on a computer. You'll also find a link to their apps for iOS, Google Play, or Android which come in both free and paid versions. There is even a mailing list to have word a day emailed to yourself, or your child.

If you think you would like to buy this book, please visit the website to learn more.  Currently, the price is $12.95.

Find VocabAhead on the web at, or VocabAhead on Facebook. Their email address is, or to call by phone, the number is 503-336-1338.

If you stop by the TOS Crew Blog you can read what my crew mates had to say about their experiences with both the book, and the DVD-Rom with more than 1,000 words.


***As a member of the TOS crew, I was provided with a copy of this book for review purposes. I was not compensated in any way, and my opinions are genuine.**