Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Learning to Read with Starfall
This post has been refreshed in April 2014 with new graphics. Originally it was written when my daughter was 2.5. She was reading fluently at 3.5, and is testing at 11th grade level in reading now when she is 7.5.

I cannot rave about Starfall enough. I think that its creators did a great job teaching phonics in an easy and engaging way. We did not allow Smarty to watch TV, when she was an infant (a subject for another post), but I started sitting her on my lap and showing her letters in ABC portion of Starfall, since she was about 6 months old. Here are all the reasons why we loved Starfall and for several years it was the only electronic entertainment that was available to our daughter.

1. Starfall Lessons Are Short

One beautiful thing about Starfall is that every segment is very short and perfect for attention span of a very young child. Smarty considered Starfall a special treat, and we could repeat every letter many times over days, since learning letters is not as easy as it appears. Apparently, research shows that letters are not remembered as a holistic shape, but rather by the spatial relationships of the curved and straight line. I noticed that in the beginning Smarty was constantly mixing m and w as well as lowercase p and b. One letter that is still somewhat of a challenge for her is g- probably because it's so close to number 9. I can see how confusing English letters can be for someone who is just starting to recognize those squiggles on the page.

2. Starfall Provides a Path to Literacy

I credit the time spent on Starfall and reading all those alphabet books to my daughter's early alphabet knowledge. At the age of 2 she was recognizing all the letters in any font and distinguishing between capital and lowercase. From there we could easily jump to more advanced parts of Starfall site and start making connections between letters and sounds. These lessons are still short, engaging, and build upon each other. My daughter is beginning to sound the words out and understands now at her ripe age of 2.5 that the same letter can make different sounds.

3. Starfall Curriculum Is Available

Personally, I think that anyone can design their own preschool and K curriculum just by using free Starfall materials, but “More Starfall” section offers a full curriculum for preK and K with printables and teacher guides, plus materials for the first grade.

4. Starfall is Extendable and Growing

My daughter is always so excited about finding new things to do on Starfall site. They are pretty good putting spotlight on seasonal activities and also adding new sections. Music and art sections can easily be extended by additional books and hands-on projects.

5. Starfall is Free

You cannot beat this price! All that you need to access this rich source of early learning is Internet connection. I should also add that Starfall can be an excellent resource for older English as a second language learners.

More “Learning to Read Resources”?

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Your Turn:

Have you used Starfall? What did you think? What is your favorite early literacy resource?

5 comments:

Alphabet Activities with Toddlers « Teaching Young Children said...

[...] entertainment combined are limited to max of 30 min a day in our house. I cannot say enough about Starfall - we started doing “letter of the day” there (for about 10 min a day) when Anna was [...]

Debbie Jackson said...

Thanks so much for all the info! I really want to use it more now! Pinned it! Thanks!

Jill R. said...

Thanks for sharing this, Starfall sounds like a great tool for learning to read.

Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

Emma @ P is for Preschooler said...

Thanks for sharing this! I'm looking for a good program for my daughter, who is interested in starting to read. I've just glanced over the lessons for a moment, but this looks awesome!

KiddyCharts said...

Thanks for linking up to PPIP again! :-D