Learn to read with www.starfall.com
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.