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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!

We’re up for an Education Resource Award!

We’re excited to announce that Teach Your Monster to Read is a finalist in the Education Resources Awards this year, in the Early Years Resource and Equipment category. The Education Resources Awards are produced by BESA – the trade association for education suppliers.

The awards focus on the resources, services and people that really make a practical impact on learning and the day-to-day work of the teachers in the classroom. We’re really pleased to be a part of this celebration and amongst some of the best educational products and services in the industry.

Teach Your Monster to Read has some tough competition in it’s category from 2simple: 2 Build a Profile, Reflections on Learning: WordWand and TTS Group: Turtles and Mobile Mini Phone.

Good luck to everyone who has been nominated. Here’s a link to all the finalists: http://www.educationresourcesawards.co.uk

The awards will be announced on March 15th. Wish us luck!

Personalised Monster Posters and Certificates!

The poster is available once the player has started playing the game – click the ‘Poster PDF ‘button next to the player’s name. You can then give your monster a name and write about what it likes and dislikes.

A certificate can be downloaded once a player has completed all the levels and the monster’s spaceship has been mended. Hurray!

Send in pictures of your monster posters – we’d love to see what monsters you have created.

Good luck playing the game!

January Activity: Monster goals for 2013.

Here’s a new monster related activity to download at home or at school.

What are your monster’s goals?

It’s January and the monsters are really looking forward to the year ahead. They need your help.

What goal should they set themselves for this year?

A goal could be something they really want to do, like visiting a special place. Alternatively it could be something they really want to achieve, like learning a new skill

Can you draw what you think your Monster would like to set as their goal for 2013?

Download January’s activity worksheet here: January Monster Activity

Have fun!

Teach Your Monster to Read at BETT 2013

Teach Your Monster to Read will be going along to BETT 2013 this year. We’ll be there the full four days, talking to teachers and students about the game and offering demonstrations of the next game from the Usborne Foundation, due out this Summer.

We’ll also be hosting a session on Saturday 2nd at 10.15 – 11.15am at the Technology Training Live Theatre A. (Hall 14, Stand 282)

In this session, Peter and the team will give you a run down on the game and how it works. You’ll also get a chance to see plans for the next game, and tell us how we can make it better.

We’d love to hear your feedback so come along and get involved!

Sign up to meet us at BETT 2013 using our doodle calendar: http://doodle.com/xmeu23mt433ivtuh or just come down on Saturday morning and have a chat to the team.

More information about the BETT Show can be found here: http://www.bettshow.com/

Image above by franksteiner

Case study: A Year 3 teacher’s perspective

By Matt Rogers, ICT Subject Leader and Year 3 Teacher: Snowfields Primary School

When I first discovered the wonder that is Teach Your Monster To Read, I was immediately taken with its interface and design – and I could see straight away how it would come to be loved by the children at Snowsfields Primary. The fact that it uses the voice of Simon Farnaby is an huge bonus (especially as I’m a teacher who loves Horrible Histories!)

We have been using the program for around 3 months, mainly with our children in EYFS. However we have also begun to use it with our pupils in Key Stage 1, as both a preparation tool for the Y1 Phonics Screening Check, and as a way of engaging the children with Phonics through an interactive medium. The program is a perfect mix of both engaging content and stimulating ‘graphics’ to keep the children entertained and most importantly LEARNING!

The main point I have to make about Teach Your Monster to Read is that it works! We have seen first-hand the difference that it has made to our children, when used both as a whole class/small group session (our Reception and Nursery classes have a class monster they travel with together), and also on an individual level; the children are ‘glued to the IWB/Computer screen’.

I am a Year 3 teacher – I have worked both in EYFS and Key Stage 1 prior to this- and I understand phonics and the role it plays in children’s learning. I know the game itself is initially targeted at the early Phases within Letters and Sounds and so would not necessarily be appropriate for the children in my class. However, we have one child with ASD who is absolutely addicted to the game. In the 2 years I have worked with him we have made very little in the way of progress in terms of phonics, but since the introduction of Teach Your Monster to Read we have seen a dramatic improvement in both his engagement with phonics and the retention of what he has been learning. It’s definitely the ownership of teaching his monster what he ‘already knows’ that drives him on!

The children (and I) are really looking forward to the next instalment of the game, where we can continue our learning journey!

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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