One major strength of Starfall is its Teacher's Lounge, which features full curriculum guides, customizable printout activity sheets, and a variety of other teaching resources. Use these resources and guides to plan lessons, enhance existing lessons, or assign classwork or homework.
Teachers can use Starfall as a supplement to drive home classroom topics or introduce them in a different way. There's also a chart for selected literacy activities that outlines the topics addressed and the learning scope and sequence in the selected videos and games. Games are for individual play, so they're best used in a computer lab, at an individual learning station using a classroom computer, or as homework. Using the site requires some oversight, as teachers will need to be specific and proactive about which games kids should use if you want to align exploration with a specific classroom topic.Continue reading Show less
Starfall offers a hodgepodge of songs, animations, books, and games designed to teach a range of early literacy and math skills. Reading activities go from letter and phonics exploration to an online library of animated picture and short chapter books. Math games focus on early math topics such as numbers and addition but also introduce more advanced concepts such as multiplication and fractions. The page dedicated to first graders conveniently organizes activities according to Common Core standards.
The quality and scope of Starfall's content is, for the most part, excellent. It uses a clear and deliberate teaching approach to introduce concepts. For example, kids can watch videos and play games that explore different ways to represent what the number 3 means. Starfall also provides opportunities to practice and explore new skills in creative ways. In an addition game, kids first answer that two frogs plus three frogs equals five frogs, and then they see all five frogs line up on a number line to show how 2 + 3 ends up being 5.
There's a wealth of reading content for new readers, though the original books focus more on offering good skills practice than on being quality children's literature. The most significant downfall is the lack of personalization options, like an ability to create playlists tailored to a specific student's needs. In addition, there's no feedback on performance; games are engineered to only accept correct answers so kids will end up responding correctly, but they'll get no feedback on their errors. Starfall would benefit from the addition of tracking tools to monitor how kids use the site and their progress.
Key Standards Supported
Counting And Cardinality
Count to answer “how many?” questions about as many as 20 things arranged in a line, a rectangular array, or a circle, or as many as 10 things in a scattered configuration; given a number from 1–20, count out that many objects.
Count to 100 by ones and by tens.
Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, half-circles, and quarter-circles) or three-dimensional shapes (cubes, right rectangular prisms, right circular cones, and right circular cylinders) to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.4
Partition circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares, describe the shares using the words halves, fourths, and quarters, and use the phrases half of, fourth of, and quarter of. Describe the whole as two of, or four of the shares. Understand for these examples that decomposing into more equal shares creates smaller shares.
Compose simple shapes to form larger shapes. For example, “Can you join these two triangles with full sides touching to make a rectangle?”
Identify shapes as two-dimensional (lying in a plane, “flat”) or three- dimensional (“solid”).
Number And Operations In Base Ten
10 can be thought of as a bundle of ten ones — called a “ten.” b.
Operations And Algebraic Thinking
Relate counting to addition and subtraction (e.g., by counting on 2 to add 2).
Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.2
Apply properties of operations as strategies to add and subtract.3 Examples: If 8 + 3 = 11 is known, then 3 + 8 = 11 is also known. (Commutative property of addition.) To add 2 + 6 + 4, the second two numbers can be added to make a ten, so 2 + 6 + 4 = 2 + 10 = 12. (Associative property of addition.)
Represent addition and subtraction with objects, fingers, mental images, drawings2, sounds (e.g., claps), acting out situations, verbal explanations, expressions, or equations.
Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g., by using objects or drawings to represent the problem.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Foundational Skills
Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs.
Decode regularly spelled one-syllable words.
Know final -e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds.
Distinguish long from short vowel sounds in spoken single-syllable words.
Orally produce single-syllable words by blending sounds (phonemes), including consonant blends.
Isolate and pronounce initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in spoken single-syllable words.
Segment spoken single-syllable words into their complete sequence of individual sounds (phonemes).
Demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary or many of the most frequent sound for each consonant.
Associate the long and short sounds with common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.
Read common high-frequency words by sight (e.g., the, of, to, you, she, my, is, are, do, does).
Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonent-vowel-consonent, or CVC) words.* (This does not include CVCs ending with /l/, /r/, or /x/.)
Add or substitute individual sounds (phonemes) in simple, one-syllable words to make new words.
Recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.
Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet.