App review by Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2012
Starfall Learn To Read
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Starfall Learn to Read

Delight emergent readers with lively phonics lessons

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Learning rating
Community rating
Based on 7 reviews
Privacy rating
60%| Warning Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Covers phonics basics and caters to variety of learning styles, including auditory, visual, and tactile.

Cons: Android version freezes up, and inconsistent activity names may confuse kids.

Bottom Line: Easy-to-use, plentiful phonics activities keep emergent readers engaged.

Tablet based versions of the app could be projected for whole class or small group viewing of videos and to demonstrate reading and matching activities. You could also model using the "say it" buttons (an ear with sound lines) and the sentence strip word blends, so students are sure to practice their reading and speaking skills when they work with the app individually either at school or at home. An added record feature would give teachers and students a powerful before and after assessment tool.

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Starfall Learn to Read is a complete beginning phonics instruction and practice resource. Its colorful main menu features 15 panels; click on any one of them for an activity to engage emergent readers. You'll find instructional songs and videos, complete-the-word activities, concentration matching games, and more. Standards content includes blending, isolating, short and long vowels, vowel pairs, and consonant digraphs. Arrows on every page allow kids to explore freely, but if they work in order, completed levels earn kids verbal praise, stars, and a review of what they've learned.

Starfall Learn to Read offers an impressive array of dynamic and interactive phonics lessons in auditory, visual, and tactile learning styles. Instructional songs illustrate lessons with lyrics like "When two vowels go a walkin', the first one does the talkin'," and videos feature original characters like Queen Emphasis (shaped like an exclamation point, of course) who shapes the story of the alphabet. Goofy sounds and characters like Zac the Rat and Spot the Dog featured in full read-aloud sentences make learning challenging and fun for students as high as grade 2.

Data reporting is mostly age appropriate but could be more thorough, for instance, they could highlight progress with a star system displayed on the main menu. Another nit-picky improvement?  It would be nice to have the  main menu and submenu activities named more clearly and consistently. A final gripe: the Android version does freeze up occasionally.

Overall Rating


Videos, instructional songs, cute characters and graphics combine for a fun experience.


Clearly informed by classroom teachers, this app puts basic phonics concepts and multiple learning styles to work.


Panel menu provides easy access, but there's no in-app link or reference to extensive web-based resources.

Community Rating

(See all 7 reviews) (7 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
August D. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Ridgewood Elementary School
Eureka, United States
Outstanding app for use in conjunction with an outstanding website.
For those familiar with, the Starfall Learn to Read (SLR) app will NOT disappoint! All of the printable books available on the website are present in the app, but made even better through the fact that children can interact with the stories. Each "book" has supporting activities for the target reading skill, such as word creation, games, and songs. This app guides students through 15 "books", beginning with short vowels, moving next onto blends and digraphs, then silent "e", and finally ont ...
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Data Safety
How safe is this product?
Unclear whether this product supports interactions between trusted users.
Unclear whether personal information can be displayed publicly.
Unclear whether user-created content is filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.
Data Rights
What rights do I have to the data?
Unclear whether users can create or upload content.
Processes to access or review user data are available.
Processes to modify data are available for authorized users.
Ads & Tracking
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Personal information is not shared for third-party marketing.
Traditional or contextual advertisements are not displayed.
Personalised advertising is not displayed.

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