Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Starfall Review

As a mom of many, it can be challenging to keep my little ones busy learning during the school day.  I am a big supporter of learning through play in the younger years, but sometimes that play needs a bit of direction. I appreciate when I find online programs that teach through games and fun, especially during those times when I'm focused on the older kids. The Starfall Home Membership from Starfall Education Foundation  is one of those resources, as their goal is "Children Have Fun Learning to Read."

The organization was founded by Stephen Schutz in 2002. Having struggled to learn to read as a child, he was determined to create a way to help children thrive. His program focuses on exploration and positive reinforcement to give students the tools they need to become "confident, intrinsically motivated, and successful." Starfall is now a comprehensive program for pre-k and kindergarten and offers supplemental language arts and math for first and second grade. 

Starfall is user-friendly, so when I tell my 5-year-old it's his turn for the computer, he goes right to the site and gets to work, er, play. He can navigate the site through the pictures. When there is text that he cannot yet read, he can click on the picture of an ear to hear it read to him. There are many options for learning and exploring. The activities include songs, games, books, calendar work, rhymes, and more. 

While we are choosing to use this program as child-lead learning, there are detailed lesson plans in the new Starfall Parent-Teacher Center. My little guy is in kindergarten, so if we were to follow the guide, we would cover the following topics:

  • letter recognition
  • color recognition
  • pre-decodable text
  • short vowel recognition
  • letter/sound substitution
  • beginner reading
  • emergent reading skills
  • rhyme and rhythym
  • familiarity with literature genres
  • calendar concepts
  • holiday activities
  • reading along
  • phonics

The curriculum guide highlights activities from the website and the mobile apps and incorporates supporting materials that can be printed. There are also additional resources that can be purchased from their online store, such as games, instructional cards, posters, incentives, books, and more.

Starfall also offers many additional supplemental resources. There are worksheet generators, custom printables, projectables, books, posters, and more. These valuable tools are free and create a flexible and engaging learning experience.

Here is what my 5-year-old said about the program:

"My favorite game is the alien planet with the equals and the ups and the downs 
(greater than/less than) and the future and the past, because I'm learning about it. 
My second favorite is Halloween fractions. I like the pumpkins and the background. 
And I like the pluses, like 1/8 + 2/8 equals what? 3/8. I'm learning a lot."

My boy gladly heads to the computer each day for more learning. I often find his little bother sharing his chair, engaged in the screen. I know that the information is sticking, not only because he tells me about what he's learning, but because one (or all, ha) of the kids is walking around singing one of the learning songs.

If you're needing an online program for your young learner, Starfall Education Foundation might be just what you need.

You can connect with Starfall Education Foundation on the following social media sites:

You can read more reviews of this program on the Homeschool Review Crew blog. 

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