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Archive: December 2012

Case Study: Kindergarteners play the game

This article is written by Alison Anderson, a Kindergarten Teacher in the US. She explains how game is used in class and why it works so well.

The kindergarteners at my school enter with an incredibly wide range of literacy abilities, so we know we need to quickly focus on their reading skills immediately in order that everyone, from the high achievers to the ones still struggling to recognize their letters, will end the year strong. Not always an easy task. Therefore, it becomes a joint effort for all the teachers who work with the Kindergartners, to support the building of their literacy skills.

My job only allows me to see the Kindergartners in the computer lab for a short time once a week. When I think about where they need to be by the end of this year in order to succeed as 1st graders, I know any time we can spend reinforcing literacy will never go wasted. So, I searched to find a program that they would not only like and get excited about, but also truly help them learn to read, no matter what skills they had upon entering Kindergarten.By some divine intervention (I’m pretty sure it was a tweet, but I can’t remember from who) I found the site Teach Your Monster to Read. The title was too cute not to investigate further and I am so thankful I did. Funded by the Usborne Foundation, a quality children’s book publisher from England that truly understands quality literature for kids, it is no surprise the site provides such high quality instruction. What does surprise me though, is the beautiful graphics, ease of navigability and high level of engagement of this online program for the students- because it is completely FREE but it feels like playing a software game that should cost a good amount of money to access.

Here is my list for “why” this game works so well with the Kindergartners in the computer lab:

1. The graphics are of an incredible high quality- from the minute I introduced the little monsters, the Kindergartners couldn’t wait to get their “hands” on them… they wanted to watch them run through the demos, hear them talk, customize them for themselves and guide them through the phonics worlds! These little guys are eye candy and the kids loved them immediately

2. It’s a game that gives students multiple points of motivation. The strong readers feel successful because they are moving through the different “worlds” quickly. The ones who are still need more work on phonics earn prizes for their monsters each time they master a letter sound. Either way they all get excited and keep working because they want to see what happens next, staying involved and excited for the game.

3. The monsters are endearing characters and give the students ownership. When my Kinders come into the lab, they ask about their monsters right away and I tell them their monsters have missed them! They haven’t learned anything more about reading since they were gone! They need to get back on the computers and help their monsters learn! The students love to click on the screen, log in with a quick/easy Kindergarten friendly password, and see their monsters just where they left them last.

4. We can take breaks from playing the game and use the monster characters for other lessons. Art projects- we can draw them with digital tools or on paper to hang up around the lab. Storytelling- we can give our monsters names and unique personalities and write letters to them or tell stories about them. Across the curriculum- integrate them into other skills- like using them for math or science problems.

As the year goes on, I am excited to watch the Kindergartners master phonics as well as think of more ways to use the monsters to teach. Halloween has passed this year, but the monsters will definitely be staying in the lab with my Kindergartners and I, thanks to Teach Your Monster to Read.

The original article was posted on www.gettingsmart.com – a website dedicated to sharing articles and resources on digital learning. Thank you to Alison and GettingSmart.

December activity: Monster Christmas present

Why not have some fun designing Monster Christmas presents? Here’s a new activity you can do in school or at home.

Christmas is coming and the monsters are busy getting ready. We need your help! We don’t know what presents the monsters would like

What present would you give the monster?

What do monsters need? Do they need a new outfit, a way of talking to other monsters, a new toy or something to help them?

Can you draw our monster a Christmas present?

You will need to tell us what it is and how the monsters would use it.
To make things easier, we’ve made a worksheet which you can print here:
A Monster Christmas Present (PDF)

Email your presents to [email protected] by 24 December 2012 and we’ll award the designers of the most imaginative Christmas presents with some Usborne books.

Case Study: Using the game in primary school

Our latest blog post is by Corinne Clark, who teaches at a primary school near Melton Mowbray, UK. She has written about her experiences using Teach Your Monster to Read with her class.

I first introduced Teach Your Monster to Read to my class at the beginning of the school year. I initially showed it to them on the Interactive Whiteboard, we chose our monster together and played the 1st few levels. It was interesting that the children all joined in saying the sounds, and cheering when we won our prizes.

I then had to teach them individually to log on to their computers. I made a card for each child with the network password, website address and their own log on details on it. This means that I can prop their card on the computer and they know who is ‘playing’, and they are increasingly able to log on independently, with the more ICT literate helping the others.

I often set the children playing the game as morning work – the doors open at 8.45am, but Phonics starts at 9.15am, thus giving the children up to half an hour to play. It’s good reinforcement of the phonics, obviously, but it also helps improve their ICT skills. Occasionally, we will use it as independent work during Literacy, or have it available during play.

During our Phonics lessons, we have an orange monster puppet, ‘The Phoneme Monster’, who sounds out words, segmenting them or eating the appropriate graphemes (spitting out the incorrect ones). We also have another puppet, ‘The Word Bird’, who blends the sounds together again. They make quite a team, and the children love it!

I think my favourite thing about Teach Your Monster to Read is that it works! The children enjoy playing it, and it reinforces their learning.

I am hoping that, as well as doing a topic on Monsters in June, linking the idea of monsters making a range of real and unreal words, it will help prepare them for the Y1 Screening test. Time will tell!

The image above is of ‘Scary Larry’ – a monster created by a pupil at Corinne’s school.

I was stunned to see how much they enjoyed this. It blew me away.

Matt Lovegrove, Cippenham Primary School

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Why Play?

  • Covers letters and sounds to reading full sentences.
  • Designed in collaboration with leading academics.
  • Computer version is 100% free.

FAQ

Why is the computer version free?

The game has been funded by the Usborne Foundation, a charity set up to support initiatives to develop early literacy.

Our mission is to help as many children learn to read as possible. The computer version is 100% free and we put profits from the app back into the Usborne Foundation, to continue to create new and exciting ways for children to learn.

The charity was founded by Peter Usborne MBE and his children, Nicola and Martin, one of the world’s leading children’s book publishing companies and Children’s Publisher of the Year 2012. He was previously one of the founders of the magazine Private Eye.

What age is it for?

The game is for children in the first stages of learning to read, or for older children who need a bit more practice. Read more details about the three games.

How do children learn from the game?

The game takes children on a magical journey, meeting colourful characters along the way and collecting fantastic rewards. When children are engaged, they’re motivated to learn.

As they progress, they rehearse a range of essential reading skills; matching letters to sounds, blending, segmenting, tricky words and reading full sentences.

Find out exactly what the game covers.

Will it work on my device?

The game runs on any normal laptop or desktop computer (including Apple Macs) and the app works on iPhone, iPad, Android and Kindle tablets.

Who are The Usborne Foundation?

Peter Usborne is the founder and Managing Director of Usborne Publishing, one of the world’s leading children’s book publishing companies and Children’s Publisher of the Year 2012. He was previously one of the founders of the magazine Private Eye, and was recently awarded an MBE for services to publishing.

Testimonials

"I was stunned to see how much they enjoyed this. It blew me away."

Matt Lovegrove,
Cippenham Primary School

"The kids absolutely love this game - and they're learning!"

John Hole,
Wray Common Primary School

"This is a fun and engaging way to help your child learn to read. My son warmed to the game quickly and didn't want to stop playing it!"

Sarah Fox,
mum to Leon aged 5

This is a fun and engaging way to help your child learn to read. My son warmed to the game quickly and didn't want to stop playing it!

Sarah Fox, mum to Leon aged 5

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