Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Learn to read with

I came across this wonderful website when my kids started school here in the US. Especially my youngest struggled with the relations between spelling and how words was pronounced. I noticed that he could spend hours in front of the computer imitating, reading and singing. He had really fun with it and having fun and making progress with both reading and writing skills is a very good combination.

The site is designed for children who are learning to read. It is arranged in four different sections to play based on in what stage the child is in their reading from reading readiness to independent readers. It works both for native speakers but also for ESL learners since you have both pictures and sound. So it’s easy to understand what to do even if you don’t speak English yet. Kids progress in activities in four sections. They start with pre-reading activities in ”starfall ABCs” where they simply sound out different combinations of letters. Next, kids play games, hear and read stories, and watch animated videos to apply letter sounds to words in the “ Learn to read” section. In the “It’s fun to read” section, kids choose short reading selections to learn vocabulary. In the final section, “I’m reading”, kids choose to read from a collection of short online books to develop fluency and comprehension.

The only thing you need to use this resource is a computer connected to the Internet. It is, however optional to have a projector to engage the whole class at the same time.

Starfall is phonic-based and it is free. According to the site it is based on numerous studies and educational research. They mention National institute of Child Health as a provider of research used to create this site. Together with your class you can have fun while practicing letter sounds, reading comprehension and word recognition through online songs, rhymes and other games. You can also have kids working on their own or in pairs if you have a computer in your classroom. Since there is a lot of sounds involved you probably need a pair of headsets!

What I really like about this website is that it is entertaining and very user-friendly, both for you as a teacher, but also for the kids. You don’t need a lot of time to prepare. However, it is an American site, which means that American English is being used. You may have to take some time to explore it and see if there are some words that are not frequently used in British English, which is to be taught in Sweden. Another great thing is that when you read a storybook online or practice letter sounds, the site reads it back to you with a kid’s voice!
It’s free and has no advertising although you are offered to buy supplemental material from the online store.
The site also offers a numerous of resources for parents and teachers to use at home or in school. You can also get a glance of the “Reading and language arts curriculum” which you can buy if you are interested. 


  1. Hello!
    This is a really fun page to let the children work with, I will certainly let my pupils us this site during my lessons. It has a lot of different activities that can be easily adapted to the pupils in second grade. I tried it at home with my own children and they could find out how to do the exercises without knowing much english. I liked the task when you are to find the words that are missing and then make a story out of it. I am trying this on my pupils next week. I have only got five computers to share whit 20 pupils so I have to do this as a pair work.
    It was also a good site to use in interacting other subjects like math on there where a lot of good material and fun things to explore.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Hi ! I liked this page very much. One of the good things is that it has different levels for the children. I can use this page for my youngest pupils and for my pupils that are a little bite older. It is also fun that it has so many different kinds of tasks. That will help to get the pupils interested and focus on the tasks. It also has a fast responses and that is always good when you work with children..;).
    I also liked that it has signed language tasks since my daughter use that sometimes. I often see that the Americans are more “uptodate” when it comes to different kind of handicap issues. (I wonder if there is a Swedish page that is similar….).
    The songs are also good, with both, text, moves and singing: I like!!
    At last...I was wondering about the American English vs the British English. I can not find anywhere, in Lgr11, that they claim that we should speak English British. I could have missed it thou… I have always thought that it was British English that we should use in Swedish schools but I am not so sure anymore. I have been thinking about that and I wonder if there is a right way to speak English. For example are all Australian people speaking English wrong….? I do not know…. Maybe someone can give me a good answer?
    Thank you Marika for a useful page!
    Carolina Filipsson

  3. Hi Marika! I love this site. Discussions here in Sweden right now says we should learn from computerbased games more in teaching. Their strenght is the ability to repeat infinitely and incourage constantly and they teach the user to be an entrepreneur. All these capacities correspond well to what LGR-11 says. This program also is a good example of what Dudeney & Hockly talks about in chapter 11- e-Learning, online-Learning. I just have to find suitable assignements for the Children.