How I Use It
I use Starfall as the first computer activity in reading stations early in the year. It is so easy for students to maneuver and it is bright and colorful. There are 4 different levels of reading activities as well as a calendar maker and some holiday activities. Early in first grade I give students the option of A,B,C's or Learn to Read. It is the one website I have found that is free, easy enough to use that students don't need my help at computers, has no pop up ads and has enough activities to keep students engaged over time. Students also like the fun games that are included with the free version, so they choose to play these at choice time or at home.
Starfall.com is a very engaging, interactive website primarily for beginning readers in K - 2. The first level focuses on learning the alphabet letters. It focuses on both the names and sounds for the letters. Children enter "rooms" dedicated to each letter and can play around in the rooms. There are games and activities in all of the rooms.
The next level is my favorite for first grade. It's called Learn to Read. This level has so much to do. There is a grid which is divided into 3 sections...Play, Book and Skills. The "Play" section has games to play based on specific skills. For example, word families, silent 'e', r controlled vowels etc. The "Book" section will have an interactive book to read which focuses on the same skill. The "Skills" section has short little movies or lessons which focus on the same skill as the play or book section.
The third level is called It's Fun To Read. This level has an All About Me book that they can make, an art gallery where they can learn about different artists, a magic section where they can make a magician, label it etc., a music section where they can learn about famous musicians in history, a poetry section where they can listen to or read 4 poems and interact with the screen, a tongue twister section where they can read or listen to 4 tongue twisters and interact with the screen and a bird riddles section where they can read 4 different bird riddles. This section just doesn't seem to have as much for the children to do. It also reads everything to them and is a bit too slow for the better readers.
The 4th level is I'm Reading. This section has a variety of books for the children to read. There are plays, fiction and non fiction stories, comics, folktales, Greek myths and Chinese fables. Again, this section isn't as engaging for the students. They really enjoy the games from the Learn to Read level.
I would highly recommend this website for early readers who need to practice skills. I would recommend the website over the app. Although the website does have a pay version, there is much more offered for free than on the app. The app is almost totally locked off unless you pay.