Have a preschooler? Looking for help with teaching the ABC’s or reading? Just want to hear some catchy tunes and your kids laugh? You need to check out Starfall!
Starfall is a FREE website that has loads of activities, both online and printable, to help kids learn to read. Starfall has four levels of instruction. In each of these levels, clicking an individual word causes Starfall to read it aloud. In addition to the reading instruction, each page has something that kids can click to get an amusing animation.
Starting with the ABC’s section, kids select an individual letter and are presented with words that begin with the letter as well as the phonetic sound the letter makes. Each word is read, the sound emphasized and a cute animation follows. My kids (even the 10 year old) find the animations hysterical! When I hear them all cackling around the computer, it’s a good bet that they are on Starfall. Starfall even teaches the ABC’s in sign language!
The “Learn to Read” section leads kids from beginning three letter words through fifteen phonetic combinations. Each word family, such as long A, has games, a book, and sometimes an animated video. The games are cute; they show how words are built from the sounds. The books will read a short sentence. Again, the animations are cute and funny. Beware, though! The songs they sing are catchy and can get stuck in your head. I love the beatnik style song for two short vowels in the Soap Boat!
The next level is “It’s Fun to Read!” This level puts words together into simple sentences, under a variety of topics. Poetry, music, art, and riddles are a few of the topics. You can hear a Scott Joplin piano piece under the music section. Finally, once they’re really reading on their own, kids can check out the “I’m Reading!” area. This is a huge section with plays, fiction and non-fiction writings, comics, folk tales, Greek myths and Chinese fables.
The Download Center has tons of printable worksheets to reinforce everything that has been learned online. The online store has a selection of books, stickers, stuffed animals with the Starfall characters. I haven’t purchased any of their products, but the book prices look very reasonable.
If you’re just looking for some fun, try the activities on Starfall’s homepage such as Snowman or Turkey. Like the ABC section, my kids find these highly amusing; I usually have to “Check this out! Look at that turkey!” constantly.
Before you know it, you’ll be singing along with me, “When two vowels go a walkin’, the short vowel does the talkin.'”