I've been able to review some really neat things through my position on the Review Crew, but Crossbow Education's Eye Level Reading Rulers have to be some of the coolest. Simple but effective, these reading rulers have so many applications that probably not even Crossbow Education itself thought of all of them when they created them!
I have such a person in my house! Michael is 7 and, like many boys, he loves Redwall books. While he is completely capable of reading the books and understanding them, there is a *lot* of text on the page and the writing is very small. When I saw these rulers, I thought they would be good for him to help him focus only on a small part of the page at a time so that he would not be overwhelmed by the entire page. As it happens, the rulers are a little too big and bulky to be used for this purpose (which is actually a point in their favor, I think. They are very sturdy - a plus in a homeschool house).
Although I wasn't able to put the rulers to use in the way I had planned (to make reading small print easier for my son), I soon realized that the proper place for them is in the schoolroom (which is probably where I should have used them in the first place). Because the rulers allow a child to focus on only a small part of the page, they are ideal for use in looking up words in a dictionary, a favorite part of Language Arts for my 7 year-old daughter. Finding the guide words at the top of a the dictionary page is the easy part for a young child, but scanning the entire page for a specific word can get tricky, especially when there are lots of similar words. The Eye Level Reading Ruler allows a child to digest only a small group of words at a time, rather than being tempted to try to take in the entire page. This feature really helps to build confidence when looking up words in the dictionary.
The other surprise use I found for the Reading Rulers was for my 11 year-old daughter. Like my other kids, my 11 year-old reads way above grade level. In fact, her Theology textbook is high school level. While she understands the material, she sometimes get discouraged by the sheer volume of words on the page. It is amazing how she has responded to using the Reading Ruler. It is kind of like the adage by which many of us live - take it one day at a time, and if you can't take it one day at a time, then take it one hour at a time. Well, sometimes with school work you can't take it one page at a time. It's still too much. The Reading Ruler lets you take it one paragraph at a time. So if you have older children who read way above grade level, consider this product for them as well. It helps break up the reading into more manageable chunks, while bringing a little fun and novelty into it as well.
I am blessed not to have a child with visual stress, so I can't evaluate the extent to which these rulers solve that problem (of course, I am convinced that they do, just by reading the fabulous information on the rulers on the Crossbow website!). For gifted kids, though, I think they are great. They allow kids who can comprehend a lot more than their maturity level often allows to slow down the intake process a little. Any product that does that is a huge winner in my book!
Crossbow offers a couple of different kinds of rulers. Those that I received come in a 10-pack for $16.95. I know that these rulers will help my advanced kids read more things that they want to (even if their brains may fight it at first!). To see how other Crew members used the rulers (and there was a lot of diversity this time!), read the Crew blog.