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Archive: May 2013

iPad App Launching this Summer

Coming soon to an iPad near you… Teach Your Monster to Read: First Steps goes mobile!

With all the same functionality and features that your little monsters loved about the online game, this iPad version will be just as fun and educational, helping young children to practise the initial steps of reading.

Teach Your Monster to Read: First Steps is built on the principles of synthetic phonics and follows the teaching sequence in the “Letters and Sounds” programme

The game develops children’s speed and accuracy of letter recognition by taking them on a fantastic adventure through a magical world where they meet island kings and collect letters to win prizes. It also explores blending and segmenting, and introduces “tricky” words in a fun, interactive setting. It is aimed at beginning readers, both those who are on track and those who need more support.

Teach Your Monster to Read: First Steps app features the voice of Simon Farnaby from BBC’s Horrible Histories.

To register your interest in hearing about the Teach Your Monster to Read: First Steps please email us.

Teach Your Monster to Read 2: Fun With Words

This Summer, join the monster on his new adventure with Teach Your Monster to Read: Fun With Words.

Designed for children who have already mastered our first game, in Fun With Words, the monster will continue his journey through a spectacular new kingdom of hidden treasure, balloon flights and spaceship rides!

Meeting new characters along the way, such as the Hungry Word Beast, the Space Pirates and the naughty “Trickies”, the monster has been set the task of finding his way home once again. Throughout his adventure, the monster will collect gold coins which can be exchanged for fantastic prizes.

The game will introduce further graphemes and phonemes. There’ll be lots of tricky word practice, plus more blending and segmenting. The students will also be given the chance to practise blending when reading basic captions and sentences. This new game complements Letters and Sounds up to the end of Phase 4.

For updates about the launch of Teach Your Monster to Read: Fun With Words, join our Facebook group or follow us on Twitter. Alternatively email our Community Manager [email protected] with ‘Game 2’ as the subject.

Case Study: Using the Game for Home Learning

This article is written by Mara Dettmann, a freelance writer based in Paris where she runs

I stumbled across TYMTR while browsing Usborne’s website for educational kids’ books back in mid-February – and Lee, my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, was captivated from the start.

First, some background on our situation: I’m German and my husband’s British; Lee spent the first three years of her life in the UK (where she went to a British childminder and nursery) but is now attending a German preschool. Though I’m hoping for Lee to be fully bilingual I also want her English to progress at native-speaker level – especially since she’s (re-)entering the British educational system this fall.

How we use TYMTR

TYMTR has become a firm part of our evening routine, and Lee has become quite attached to her monster and its adventures.

If it were up to Lee, she’d play the game hours on end – but to ensure the information sticks to her long-term memory and limit her screentime I keep it at one letter a day. If I think she needs additional practice with a letter I quit the game before her monster gets her prize, so she has to review it again the next day. She is not a fan of this technique and protests heavily, but it does help.

As far as I can see, Lee learns the most from the princess minigame. Flowers and factory are too fast-paced for her – though playing the game has definitely improved her cursor skills – while sheep and aliens don’t really challenge her any more. Initially, Lee needed my help in understanding what exactly she had to do; now, she goes through the game independently (though I still supervise).

Supplemental tools for early literacy development

For us, TYMTR is part of a bigger home learning project to instil a general love for learning within Lee, in the languages, maths and sciences alike.

Specifically for her English literacy skills, we read a lot – bedtime includes at least four picture books. Lee’s a big fan of dinosaurs and lift-the-flap books, so one of her favourites is Usborne’s See inside the world of dinosaurs

After our daily TYMTR session, Lee will normally finish her screentime with a few educational music videos – she especially likes They Might Be Giants kids’ songs. From Here come the ABCs she currently likes best ‘The alphabet lost and found’ and ‘D and W’.

When we’re out and about, we also make a point of talking to her about the letters and numbers that surround us – mostly on billboard posters, sometimes on license plates (less fun since you can’t sound out the letters into words). Most recently, I’ve started making flashcards that have a word on one side and its picture on the other, with which we play to make simple sentences – like ‘the dog is small’.

We practice basic writing with crayons and an electronic learning pad, the LeapFrog Scribble & Write.

It’s hard to say how much influence each single method is having on Lee’s introduction to reading – but together, they’re all reinforcing each other in a positive way. By turning early reading into a game rather than a challenging task, TYMTR has been an important tool for getting Lee more interested in how letters fit together to form words from a phonetic standpoint. And she loves it: though she’s already completed the game once, she and her monster are now on their second round through the islands.

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.


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 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.

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.


"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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