Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Starfall- an ICT resourse for young children

In September 2002 the Starfall.com opened as a free public service to teach young children to read. The method is based on that the children learn to read through phonetics transcription, which means that all the tasks focus on letter sounds. Most of the exercises show each sound at
a time and this could be a bit boring for the pupils, but you can find a lot of fun exercises on this website too. For example you can find different word games, memory, stories and short movies. The website is very appealing with many colourful and fun animations. Starfall is made for children from kindergarten to second grade but I think that some of the exercises could be
used by Swedish children in third grade.

How it works
This website is very simple to use and it´s for free. You only need a computer and an Internet access. You need to download Internet Explorer or Flash Player and if you want to download something from the website you need Adobe Reader. The exercises are divided into four different steps, ABCs, Learn to read, It´s fun to read and I´m reading.

How it can be used
Very young children and children up to grade three in school can use this website. The pupils can practice on the alphabet, pronunciation, fluency, vocabulary, reading- and listening comprehension, sing songs and much more. At the ABCs you can practice the alphabet, how it sounds and how the letter writes. At Learn to read you can practice on sounds, pronunciation and how to read sentences with help of phonetic. You do it by playing games, look at short films and read short books. At It´s fun to read you can find a lot of reading exercises. You can listen to the text and fill in missing words or you can listen to poetry. At I´m reading you can practice on making your own short play. You can read short books and if you want to hear how you pronounce a word you just click on it. As a teacher you can get inspiration from the website or even have the lessons based on it. If you have a projector in your classroom you can use many of the exercises together with the whole class. For example you can practice the alphabet, listen to a story or sing a song. If you have many computers in the classroom the pupils can work with the exercises in pairs and help each other.

Other considerations when using this resource
I think this website is a fun way to learn some English for young pupils. For older pupils it can be a little childish but some of the exercises, for example the short stories can be used in fourth grade. As Starfall is divided into different stages the pupils can work at their own level. Every time I look at Starfall website I find new interesting and fun exercises for young learners. If you haven´t try it yet, do it!
Helene Hofling

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    Thanks you for your descriptions of the website ‘Starfall’. I think this website is fun and can motivate younger pupils in different ways. The pictures are nice and colorful, and it is a great help for the memorizing to hear the pronunciation clearly through the audio function. It appeals to different senses and helps the learning.

    There are many exercises at ‘Starfall’, so the first impression is that it seems a bit confusing what do to. Therefore, I think it is important for you as the teacher to go through the website before start using it with the class. When you are confident what to do, then you can see all the opportunities with the exercises.

    I also think is significant to think about the aim for the exercises and choose which exercise the pupils should work with. Otherwise the pupils may be confused and click around the pages without purpose. For a good learning result I think the exercises should be in a context and connected to the rest of our education.

    One idea, which you also mentioned a bit, can be to use the projector. Then you can review each exercise together in the class before the pupils start to work with it on their own. I think is good that the exercises are divided in different levels. When the pupils feel secure about how the website works then they all can work at the appropriate level.

    It is also a good idea for the pupils to work with this at home, maybe as a home work. I think many parents would appreciate that as well.