Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Reading Kingdom (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

One thing Garrett struggles with is reading.  He has improved significantly but he's still not to the level I would like to see him at.  Recently I was given the opportunity to review Reading Kingdom Online from Reading Kingdom and I knew it was something I wanted to try with Garrett.  Members of the crew were given a 1 year membership to Reading Kingdom for up to two students so both Ashleigh and Garrett were able to participate in this review.

We've been working hard on reading with the kids, mostly focusing on phonics. But lets admit it, when it comes to phonics, English is confusing for kids. Why is BIND pronounced B-EYE-ND but WIND is pronounced WAHY-ND and how do we explain to them when these changes in vowel sounds occur?  We try to teach them to sound out words but this only works if the word follows the set rules and can be sounded out. Many words just don't follow the norm.

Reading Kingdom Online is a browser based reading and writing program that understands that phonics and sounding out words will work only with limited success.  It is designed by Dr Marion Blank who is a world renowned expert on literacy and whom is also the director for the Light on Learning Institute at Columbia University. Using six various skills (sequencing, motor skills, sounds, meaning, grammar, and comprehension) to help children to learn reading and writing, Reading Kingdom claims to teach children 4-10 years of age to achieve a 3rd grade reading level through their program if used at least 4 times a week.  There is also an ASD reading program for Autism Spectrum Disorder students available, however, we opted for the regular program to use with Garrett.

How We Used the Program

The kids were very excited to start using this program. How excited? Well, the first night, we only had one account set up and were waiting for the second student to be added (which was very quickly done) and Ashleigh was quite upset that she couldn't begin immediately.. LOL  Luckily, her account was ready by the following morning and I was able to log into both accounts to allow them to get started together.

The very first offering is a placement test to see how well students perform at letter recognition and keyboard skills.  These are a series of activities where kids are shown letters and they must either use the mouse to click the correct letters or type the correct letters on the keyboard. These activities are timed.  Both of my kids were at a disadvantage in this because neither have had much computer time in the past. Because of this, it was suggested that they should start with "Seeing Sequences" and "Letter Land" to learn these skills before starting Reading Level 1.

The program is very thoughtfully presented with cute backgrounds, rewarding animations when children answer questions correctly, changing scenery and engaging activities.  With a child like Garrett who easily bores, this was exactly what he needed to keep his attention focused on what he was doing. Lessons are fairly short (taking about 10-15 minutes a day) but geared towards learning letter locations on the keyboard as well as repetition, recognition and recollection of words.

Each kid did really well with the Seeing Sequence aspect of the program as they became more familiar with keyboard placement.  Ashleigh, whom already was a bit ahead in reading than her brother, quickly progressed through both the Seeing Sequence and the Letter Land and began working on Reading Kingdom Level 1. Each level consists of 6 books containing activities that help students learn to read, spell and write words used in each book.  Each book builds upon the previous learned book, helping to build word recognition and also helps to build confidence.  These activities include things such as asking the child to first type a word they might already know. If they do not know the word, then the activities gear towards repetition and recognition to help the child become familiar with the word before moving on to the next word.  Then, when the original word is repeated in the sequence, the student is quickly able to recognize the word.

Learning the word "Girls"
Activities are scored and students are made aware of what score they need to achieve in order to progress to the next level in their "passport" and move through the program. Garrett is still working on achieving his level 5 in his passport to move on to the Level 1 reading portion of the program and each time he uses the program he gets closer to the intended goal.  (I have no doubt he'll read this goal within the week).

Overall, this program seems like a great addition to any reading curriculum for younger students or those who are struggling to read on level.  The confidence that Garrett has achieved in word recognition has really become apparent as he progresses through the program as well as in his classwork when he has to read aloud with our other curriculum.  Both Garrett and Ashleigh have really enjoyed working with the program and even ask to do extra work with it during their free time.

Reading Kingdom Online can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Be sure to click the banner below and see what other Crew members are saying about Reading Kingdom, including the ASD Reading program for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Reading Kingdom Review

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