How I Use It
This website did take over 15 minutes INITIALLY to create a class, select levels for your students based on their academic development in class, and design avatars for your students. Afterwards, to use the product with students, it takes less than 5 minutes to get logged on. I liked creating the avatars to look like the students. They really got a kick out of this! I was able to select levels 1-6 for each student. Level 1 is the most emergent learner, working on letter identification and number recognition and counting. Level 6 is the highest level and works on concepts such as opposites and more focus on short vowel sounds. We used this program for extra practice during computer lab time or as a computer choice during exploratory play centers. You could also use as a center during literacy centers.
After I designated levels for my students, I was able to create personalized lessons designed for each students' individual needs. These lessons include songs, audio books, puzzles, sound sorts, and games. Each lesson has, on average, 9 activities. As students complete activities, they receive tickets, and at the very end of the lesson they pick a "prize" to put in one of their virtual scenes. However, I noticed that without proper instruction, students gravitated towards the "My Classroom" or other areas on the left margin. These areas, although engaging and educational, did not include the lessons I had taken time to develop. I would suggest instructing students to complete "My Learning Path" first (which is where their lessons are), and then they can complete extra choice activities upon completion.
All the activities and functions are free with a teacher email account, but the site does try to sell avatar accessories like different outfits and pets. I just simply told my students we were not buying these items, and it was not a problem.
I really liked using this site for literacy practice. It is a perfect site for practicing concept of a word for emerging readers! Because you can develop personalized lessons for each student, you know they are working on the skills that are specific to their needs and not just "gaming". I also liked the integration of math, science, and social studies.