Friday, December 30, 2011

Technology (Reading and Spelling)

At my school, our classrooms have been blessed to have tablet pc's and LCD projectors in every room. In my classroom, we are using Saxon Phonics for reading and spelling. As a way to enhance my lessons with some engaging activities, I use Microsoft PowerPoint and an excellent FREE site: As a new letter is introduced for the week, we visit Starfall's website to see their cute, animated, fully colored two minute video for each letter we are looking at. (found in their section called "ABC's Let's Get Ready to Read." From their website: " opened in September of 2002 as a free public service to teach children to read with phonics. Our systematic phonics approach, in conjunction with phonemic awareness practice, is perfect for preschool, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, special education, homeschool, and English language development (ELD, ELL, ESL). Starfall is an educational alternative to other entertainment choices for children."

As students learn most of the letters, I begin to do Starfall story reviews from their section "Learn to Read". I take key words from the story and create PowerPoints for the class. For instance, previous to reading through Mox's Shop, I created a PowerPoint that I recorded my own narration over. Each slide introduced a key CVC word from Starfall's story such as a character's name or element from the story. I use this opportunity to also compare and contrast how animal characters in the story are fictional and different or like real animals that are well known to the students. 

Students have a kindergarten lined piece of paper in front of them. They see a picture and hear me say what it is in the PowerPoint and repeat it themselves. They then slowly sound out the word with me on the PowerPoint. As they say each sound, that letter appears on the PowerPoint slide eventually spelling out the word. We then blend the letters together and say the word again. The word disappears and students see only the picture. They then repeat the process themselves as they spell the word on the paper in front of them. The next slide brings the word back as a way for them to check their spelling. I do this with 9-10 words from the Starfall story. We then go to the Starfall site and view the story together.

The Starfall stories have so many child-friendly options. When you move your cursor under each word of the story, it highlights the word, so you can move along as quickly or slowly as you like. If the students can not read the word themselves, you click on the word and a child voice will read it to them. If you click on different parts of the pictures, they are programmed to do a variety of different things. At the end of the story, students are always given the option to vote on whether they liked the book presented or not. Also, the background wallpaper changes with the seasons. 

This website has tons of free and inexpensive download options and also allows for students to make printouts of things they create here. It also has a tab called "More Starfall" which offers an amazing amount of new things in a "Teacher Lounge". If you haven't seen or tried this site yet, I highly recommend you explore it in the New Year! I have used this site with many of the K-3 grade students I tutor and we all love it!


  1. I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Check it out when you have time!

  2. Christina, this is so exciting! I've heard of Starfall before but I didn't know how helpful it could be. I don't know if you've ever looked at National Geographic for Kids (, but I have used their video clips with sound and pictures with my kindergarten and pre-k classes. They really love watching the animals in their natural habitats. There's also a narration that tells facts about each animal. I'm a new blogger. If you have any advice to give me, please come and leave a comment on my blog.


  3. Happy New Year! So glad I discovered your blog! I wanted to let you know I awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award! You can check out the details by linking back to my blog. :)
    My Kindergarten Kids


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