Starfall is a pre-K and Kindergarten website developed by Dr. Stephen Shultz who holds a Ph.D. in physics, and is a successful artist and publisher. He and his dedicated team released Starfall.com in 2002. Over the years it has won multiple awards including awards from CommonSenseMedia.com as well as Parenting, and Family Fun magazine.
There are five main areas of the website you can access without a paid membership. Each area has tons of activities to promote letter recognition and sounds, sight words, and early reading. The site contains other free materials for access to more reading, math, and song activities and videos.
Level 1 - ABC's
Clicking on a letter prompts a Sesame Street-esque interactive cartoon. The letter appears, along with an image of something that begins with that letter's sound. Click on the letter to hear the sound, click on the green arrow to move to the next page on which there will be a few other examples of the letter in action! Click on each one to hear the sound and the word. There are several pages of examples, ending with a game of separating the upper case version of the letter from the lower case.
Level 2 - Learn to Read.
Each Learn to Read section has two sight-word games, a short sight-word story, and a video about letters or sounds that pertain to the previous activities. The videos are a little ridiculous, but in a way that will ensure kids remember what they have learned! Kids (or grownups) can rate each video too.
Level 3 - It's Fun to Read.
It's Fun to Read has slightly more challenging interactive games. Each category has several options in which kids can read and listen to the text in order to accomplish the required tasks. The tasks include creating a mini cartoon of their own interests and home, reading simple words in order to perform magic tricks with a customizable cartoon magician, interactive riddles and more! Because part of this level is creating their own world, it can be played over and over for more learning and new words.
Level 4. I'm Reading!
I'm Reading features both new and familiar stories, and plenty of them! Some of the vocabulary is challenging for a beginner, but there is always help in context clues, pictures, and clicking in order to hear new words. The text is large and clear on simple backgrounds and the images further explain the text. These reading activities can be done by the child alone, or with the help of a grownup.
Click on any of the holiday icons for special reading games and activities for that season!
Parents are often wary of using technology too often. Most experts suggest once a child is of school age, screen time (any time spent in front of the tv, computer, iPad or other personal device) is fine as long as it is limited and monitored by an adult - just so we know what our children are up to! Each family is different. As always, ask your pediatrician, local librarian, or child's teacher for further recommendations and ideas about technology use in your family!