I have heard about the Starfall website on and off for the last couple of months. There hasn't been a lot of people pushing the website in the communities I frequent online. Nonetheless, when questions are asked in regards to early childhood and early readers, the site name comes up.
I have been slowly taking a look at it the past couple of weeks. Two weeks ago, I introduced the ABCs - Let's Get Ready to Read section to the Kindergartener's. Today, I introduced the It's Fun to Read section to the first grade.
I have the program A to Zap! on the computers in the lab and Starfall's ABCs - Let's Get Ready to Read is comparable. When I introduced the website to the students, I had them access it via Firefox and our school delicious account. It's the first time the Kindergarten students used the Internet in class on their own. I have used it to show them sites previously.
They were able to easily find the Kindergarten set of links from the list on the right side of the page and identify the ABC entry.
I demonstrated how to use the program by walking them through the letter M. I had them help me find where to click by looking for the sparkling stars. They seemed to enjoy the sounds and images associated with the site. The one child who asked, "Do we have to use this website", stayed engrossed the longest and came back to it the following week by special request.
I have the class 35 minutes. They were just about ready to move on to something else by the time the period came to an end. Again, the following week, there were several students who chose to use the website after completing their KidPix project.
First Grade's Use
The first grade has gotten used to using Firefox and the delicious menu due to our time with Dance Mat Typing. We used the All About Me section of the program. I demonstrated how to use the Reset button at the top of the screen to clear out other student's settings. I walked them through the first link, Who Am I.
Afterwards, I brought up a screen capture (see right) of the completed set of four links. I expected them to complete all four links about Who, What, Where, and Which before using the four About Me's in the Play box.
Again, in a 35 minute session, the students had exhausted all eight links, so I told them to click the It's Fun to Read link at the top of the page to explore the other options.
The End Result
I will be adding both websites and activities to the annual rotation of things to learn in Kindergarten and first grade. I want to explore when I will use the two other sections: Learn to Read and I'm Reading. I believe Learn to Read will make it into the early part of the first grade program next year. I will probably try I'm Reading with the second grade this week. It may be better for the early part of second grade.