Written by John Jones, Father, Head of ICT at The International School of Monaco and an ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator).
My monster is now four and a half. Ever since I can remember she has been fascinated and absorbed by books. From her earliest days, a book was something that calmed and engaged her. Indeed, she even had favorites such as the Bernstein Bear classic Old hat, New Hat, and Little Fish by Guido Van Genechten, long before she even recognised a single letter.
Therefore, since those early days of exposure to letters and words, I have been excitedly counting down the time until she and I would be able to pick up a book together and begin the invaluable journey of learning to read. That time finally arrived earlier this year.
However, I quickly became aware that things were a little more complex than perhaps I had expected. Teaching children to read takes effort, patience and endurance; three qualities I have sprinklings of but never a surplus. Indeed, expertise would also be helpful, and that is where, I’m afraid, I am very thin on the ground.
Yes, I am a based in Primary Education, but my specialism is ICT. As far as teaching English is concerned, the youngest year group I have taught is Year Four and by then they have moved significantly past the initial sounds and phonics stage. Therefore the only card I had left to play to help my daughter start reading was by calling upon my Twitter PLN. Sure enough, it was by sourcing those tweachers that I came across the amazing ‘Teach Your Monster to Read’.
As soon as I established an account, my daughter was hooked. The premise is that your monster has crash-landed on a strange planet, but my helping the fantastical Island Kings to recover their letters, they in turn help you to fix your spaceship. As you travel from island to island, you practice learning more difficult sounds and do so my playing some simple but addictive games. Along the way you are able to choose from a variety of presents with which you can dress or feed your monster. It is often the subtle touches that make a difference and in this case those rewards really added incentive for my daughter.
The graphics are beautiful in their simplicity and wonderfully complimented by the voice of horrible histories’ Simon Farnaby. The games are addictive and also served the dual purpose of helping my daughter get used to using a computer mouse. The only shortcoming of ‘Teach Your Monster To Read’ is that my daughter loved it so much, her monsters spaceship was rebuilt and ready to leave within a week! I really hope there will be another instalment of this superb reading tool available soon.
After completing Teach Your Monster to Read, I instantly advised our Early Year department at the International School of Monaco to set up accounts for our younger pupils. So far the feedback has been 100% positive and the site will become integrated within the curriculum next year. As far as my own monster in concerned, she has not looked back. Teach Your Monster Read gave her the foundations to tackle more complex phonic sounds; she is gaining confidence everyday and her reading is noticeably improving. Interestingly, she still refers back to the game when she notices the phonic sounds referenced in Teach Your Monster to Read.
I would wholeheartedly recommend the game to any parent or school that wants to help their children get started on that invaluable and life changing journey to literacy, whilst having a whole lot of fun on the way.