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Monster Mania!

We’ve had a fantastic response to our Design a Monster Competition – over 400 entries!

We’re really excited about announcing the winner, but first we have to choose one. The unenviable task of deciding which monster will go into the next game is up to teacher and digital Leader, Sheli Blackburn (@shelibb – www.digitalleadernetwork.co.uk) and illustrator Rich Wake (www.richwake.com). It’s going to be a tough job.

Above is a very small selection of the amazing monsters we’ve received. Will it be ‘Google Pop’, ‘Jack’, ‘Bella’ or ‘Smelly’? Will the monster that likes sweets and zapping be the next star of Teach Your Monster to Read? In two days we’ll find out.

Thank you so much to all the children who have created their monsters (and the teachers and parents who have sent them in). All the entries are in the Monster Gallery on Facebook.

Do take a look through the Monsters and share them with your friends!

See your own monster in the new game!

Teach Your Monster to Read has launched a new “Design a Monster” competition with the fabulous prize of seeing your monster in the next Teach Your Monster to Read game.

The Prize

The lucky winner will have his/her monster drawn and added to new game, Teach Your Monster to Read: Fun With Words due to be launched for the new school term in September. The winner will also receive £150 worth of Usborne books for their school.

Three runners up will also each receive £75 worth of Usborne books for their school.

How to Enter

Print off the monster body template here: MONSTER TEMPLATE then add some monsterly features, such as arms and legs, eyes, a mouth, teeth, ears, belts, bows, hair – any parts your monster might want or need!

Send in a photograph of your monster with the first name and age of the designer to [email protected] or enter via our Facebook page.

Entries will be judged by the illustrator Rich Wake and teacher and Digital Network Leader Sheli Blackburn.

The closing date to submit entries is July 13th 2013. Terms and Conditions for the competition can be found here: Competition Terms and Conditions

Good Luck! We can’t wait to see your monsters!

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 http://www.the-continentalist.com

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.

Teach Your Monster to Read at home.

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.

Video Case Study: Snowsfield Primary School

A few weeks ago we visited Snowsfield Primary School to meet and film the students and teachers who are using Teach Your Monster to Read.

Snowsfield are big fans of Teach Your Monster to Read and use it regularly. In this video, teacher Matt Rogers and his students give us an insight into how it works and why they love it.

If you’re a teacher or a parent there may be a few ideas on how you can use the game with your little monsters.

Let us know what you think, and if you’d like to be included in a future video, do get in touch!

Help the Monsters find their Easter Eggs!

We have a fun-filled Easter themed activity this month!

The Island King has hidden 10 Easter eggs in this picture. Can you help the Monsters find all the eggs?

Once you have finished finding the eggs colour in the picture and send it in to Teach Your Monster to Read. We’d love to see them!

To download and print the the picture click on this link: Easter egg hunt

Happy hunting!!

The Education Show – a review

Teach Your Monster to Read attended the Education Show last week, where we had the opportunity to talk to lots of teachers about the game.

It was a successful day, with many teachers telling us that they had introduced the game to their students and were enquiring when the next game was due out. Those that hadn’t heard about the game were keen to give it a try and introduce it to their students.

The visit to the show was also insightful and inspiring with a number of new resources and projects catching our attention; for example, Lead to Change – an education hub set up in Stoke to encourage young people to learn about leadership and education; SEN Assist and Early Shakespeare – two thoughtfully made resources that offer original material for Early Years and SEN students, and The Playclub Project – a fantastic project that helps parents to get involved with their young children’s education at home.

Teach Your Monster also attended the Education Resource Awards. We didn’t come away with an award this year but we were honoured to have been nominated and it was great to to see 2Simple’s, 2Build a Profile win. For a full list of the winners, take a look at the ERA website.

This was the first year at the Education Show for Teach Your Monster to Read and we’ll certainly be going back next year. If you have any highlights from the show , please get in touch as we’d like to know what we missed!

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 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.

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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