Review by Caryn Lix, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2015
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Teach Your Monster to Read

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Free phonics adventure oozes charm, has limited learning potential

Subjects & skills
  • Critical Thinking

  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (7 Reviews)

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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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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 kids' monsters. 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.

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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. 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

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

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

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

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

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

Teacher Reviews

(See all 7 reviews) (7 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Cynthia M. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Very engaging characters and graphics. Both of my sons love this product, but it does advance quickly. My kindergarten son had a hard time keeping up once it was past letter id.

I like this app and have recommended it to a few other parents. I think now that school is back in session, my son will enjoy it more as he is gaining some sight words and learning to blend and segment.

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