Product Review: Rime Magic

About a year ago, I met the creator of Rime Magic, Sharon Zinke, at the Illinois Reading Council Fall Conference. We met at a Bennigan's after a long day of conference-ing and presenting and needed to relax. Sharon was by herself and struck up a conversation with my colleague and I and started talking about her work on Rime Magic.

I remember thinking that this was a "real teacher" talking to me, and not a rep for a company selling a product and how that made what she was saying feel more authentic and believable. I was hooked. I came back from the conference talking about Rime Magic to everyone here and trying my best to get people interested. Sharon said she'd be coming to Chicago for a visit in the spring so that she could show her product in some schools - I jumped at the chance and immediately set up a time for her to come to my school. She did a mock lesson in a first grade classroom in which I invited our administrators, teachers who might be interested in using the program, out school psychologist, and outside teachers and reading leaders. It went well (though was not nearly as well attended as I hoped) and I had convinced our Title I coordinator to at least get me ONE KIT.

MY EXPERIENCE:

This year, I have been using this as an intervention with two third grade students who are not reading. It's not my first choice for implementation (there is another student in fifth grade who struggles to decode), but I'm hoping that if there are some results apparent from using Rime Magic, I will get a chance to make an effect with some others, too.

PROS:

1. The kit comes with the Decoding Solutions book, which not only introduces you to the program and guides you on how to use it, it also gives you ideas on ways to extend the program and how to use it differently in whole group and small group. That has helped me since I'm using it in a VERY SMALL group of only two students.

2. By focusing on the rime, students are working towards being able to decode larger words because they can chunk the smaller pieces. I have found that this has been helping my two guys to decode unfamiliar words.

3. It's quick! It really allows you to work on some phonics practice and get into reading and writing by referring back to the "magic rimes" during those times.

4. I can add on as I choose. I have been doing writing with my friends and adding in decodable readers to practice these skills and I can make the choice based on what I think will be best for them. I like the freedom this program allows.

5. It's realtively inexpensive! Only $89 for the kit!

CONS:

1. Can be repetitive and seem boring for my two. Obviously, repetition is what is going to help them to make connections in their brains and build on that for their reading and writing, so it's not all bad. However, they sometimes lose focus and I have to work to bring them back. A pro to add on to this, though, is that because it's a short amount of time spent in the actual review of the rimes, it picks up after.

2. This is really specific to my small group, but my guys are still struggling to decode JUST THE LETTERS THEY SEE. They add in letters and sounds in the embedded rime cards. We do continue to practice this and it's only been about six weeks, but it makes me nervous that they're only able to spot the "magic rimes" in the embedded rime cards and not in authentic texts.

3. I haven't gotten to the "Rest of the Rimes" with my guys, so I may have to change this later. There are SO MANY words that don't have common rimes that we're still struggling with those for now. I imagine that with the "Rest of the Rimes," we will begin to see some growth in that area.

OVERALL REVIEW:

So far, I like it. I would like to see how this would work with whole group instruction and how that might make a difference between our current program (Wilson Fundations) and this one. I would also like to work with some of our students who are WELL BELOW grade level to see if it can make an impact in the way that Zinke claims in her book.

Go for it!

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