App review by Caryn Lix, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2015
Teach Your Monster To Read
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Teach Your Monster To Read

Phonics adventure oozes charm, has limited learning potential

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Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 8 reviews
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Grades
Pre-K–2 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Cute and silly designs -- including personalized avatars -- appeal to kids, making phonics practice more fun.

Cons: There's not much variety in the games, and gameplay can be confusing.

Bottom Line: Great style and character that'll get young children exploring letter sounds and sentences, but games could grow old quickly.

Teachers can have students play the game at home or at school. Each student creates an account, which allows teachers to monitor their progress through a dashboard, including how often they play, what games they're playing, and how well they're doing. This makes it a great way to assess basic reading and prereading skills as well as a fun way for kids to learn, on their own time and on their own terms. Students can also use the story as a starting point to come up with their own creative ideas: Write stories about how their monster damaged its ship, for example, or design their monster's home world in art class. Flash cards also provide an opportunity for students to review frequently confused sounds.

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Teach Your Monster to Read is an early literacy game available as an app (iOS, Android, Kindle) and on the web. Kids play as an alien monster whose spaceship crashes on a deserted island. Missions focus on learning letter and vowel sounds, featuring a series of mini-games spread out across several islands displayed on a colorful map that visually tracks kids' progress. There's a lot to do, from designing the monster's appearance to conquering the mini-games to earning new rewards (such as underwear!) for the monster. The goal is to complete games to fix the monster's spaceship and escape the islands. There are three games in the series: First Steps, Fun with Words, and Champion Reader. The games build on each other and provide a logical, fun way for kids to improve their skills. It's free to play these games on the website, and users can also download a paid version of the same games for their mobile device.

Teach Your Monster to Read is a slick, colorful, and charming package that gets kids practicing essential ELA skills including sounds, blends, segments, phonemes, graphemes, and eventually sentences. If they have trouble with a specific part of the game, those sounds appear more frequently later on, so they get more chances to practice.

Though the games aren't showstoppers, they look great, and -- in combination with the customized monsters -- they should hold kids' attention. The game doesn't always explain exactly what needs to happen, so students may need some teacher support. The Champion Reader level offers more functionality for older and more advanced students as well. 

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Fun, cute, and creative, Teach Your Monster to Read will have kids hooked and giggling, but don't expect groundbreaking game design.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Enjoyable and engaging way to learn phonics and reading skills, but activities lack higher-order thinking skills.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

It's pretty intuitive, and teachers can track student progress. Kids have to play around to figure out what to do, which might frustrate some.


Common Sense reviewer
Caryn Lix Classroom teacher

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Mary F. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Stevenson Elementary School
Chicago, United States
Very engaging! My Kindergarten class loved going to this website.
I loved Teach your Monster to Read just as much as my students did! It has a tracking tool, that will let you see how the students are dong with specific letter sounds. You can also print out certificates to give to the students when they finish a level. The only negative thing that I would mention, is that is was easy for students to guess a word.
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