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Online Phonics Program/Games?


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#1 Ordinary Shoes

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 12:58 AM

Because DD (going into 2nd grade next year) was working with the reading specialist at school, she was supposed to use an online phonics program called Mindplay. She was supposed to do 20 minutes 5 times a week. DD thought it was fun for the first few months. She liked earning stars and changing her avatar. She's now pretty tired of it. I have mixed feelings about this program. It has both phonics and grammar lessons. I asked if we could skip the grammar lessons but there is no way to turn them off. You don't know until you start the lesson that it's a grammar lesson. The phonics lessons are pretty thorough and I think it has really helped DD to move ahead in her reading. But it is not intended to be fun. It's actually very much like what you would find in a classroom. There is a "teacher" who lectures and then asks questions.

 

Tonight I told DD that the reading teacher says she has to do 2 hours a week of Mindplay over the summer and she groaned.

 

Would Reading Eggs or Reading Eggspress be worth it? I want her to do something that is fun and doesn't feel too much like school.

 

She will also be reading every day.

 

If not Reading Eggs, do you have another suggestion of something that is fun and practices her phonics skills? We've used the Phonics Concentration game on ElizabethB's site and DD has really enjoyed it but we need some variation.

 

She is not ending 1st grade behind. She is currently reading Amelia Bedalia and Mercy Watson so I think she's at the level where she needs to be for a rising 2nd grader.

 

If a rising 2nd grader is reading books like Amelia Bedalia, would you recommend continuing phonics instruction during the summer or just games and reading?

 

 



#2 SKL

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 07:57 AM

Have you looked into reading pathways?  I found this to be helpful for my kid when she needed to work on reading longer words and fluency.

 

https://smile.amazon...reading pyramid

 

This does not involve any writing or anything online, and it's pretty quick.


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#3 Heigh Ho

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 08:20 AM

I would contine the phonics and grammar instruction along with practice, until she has reached mastery.

I would subscribe to Brainpop Jr. for variety.
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#4 Ordinary Shoes

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 09:18 AM

I would contine the phonics and grammar instruction along with practice, until she has reached mastery.

I would subscribe to Brainpop Jr. for variety.

 

To clarify, I'm not saying no more phonics or grammar instructions. She will have phonics in 2nd grade. Her private school uses a good phonics program (SuperKids) and she is caught up. I don't understand why a kid would need more phonics instruction over the summer if the child is caught up and the school's program is good. I think she needs to keep practicing what she learned in 1st practice and improving her reading stamina. 

 

I'm going to use ELTL this summer for grammar even though the school uses a good grammar program (Voyages in English - which is solid but boring).

 

DD attends a good parochial school. There are things I don't like about the school but they use good curricula for phonics, grammar, and math and the children come out well prepared for high school.

 

BTW, the instructions from the reading specialist were generic instructions for all of the children who were in the reading program this year. The reading specialist told us that DD was the strongest 1st grader that she worked with this year and did not think she needed to come back next year. We got the testing results back yesterday and DD is above she is supposed to be at the end of 1st.



#5 Heigh Ho

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 12:30 PM

To clarify, I'm not saying no more phonics or grammar instructions. She will have phonics in 2nd grade. Her private school uses a good phonics program (SuperKids) and she is caught up. I don't understand why a kid would need more phonics instruction over the summer if the child is caught up and the school's program is good. I think she needs to keep practicing what she learned in 1st practice and improving her reading stamina.

I'm going to use ELTL this summer for grammar even though the school uses a good grammar program (Voyages in English - which is solid but boring).

DD attends a good parochial school. There are things I don't like about the school but they use good curricula for phonics, grammar, and math and the children come out well prepared for high school.

BTW, the instructions from the reading specialist were generic instructions for all of the children who were in the reading program this year. The reading specialist told us that DD was the strongest 1st grader that she worked with this year and did not think she needed to come back next year. We got the testing results back yesterday and DD is above she is supposed to be at the end of 1st.


Usually more instruction is recommended because a second pass is necessary to get to mastery, and the subsequent refreshers are needed to get the instruction in permanent memory (spaced repetition). Everything has to be mastered,no weak spots. Practicing what she learned is necessary if there wasnt enough practice prior to get her to mastery. A repeat of instruction goes along with that, where necessary. And the bonus is that she gets practice in auditory listening comprehension,which she will put to good use in later years. Be sure and read nonfiction as well as fiction. Success later is easier if the background knowledge is there.

#6 Ordinary Shoes

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 01:52 PM

I understand the benefit of more instruction but why over the summer for a child who is caught up and will be using a good phonics program when the next school year starts? Can't little kids have a break from phonics during the summer?

 

I ordered Reading Pathways from Amazon and I told DD that the deal is that she needs to do that every day as well as more daily reading than she is doing now. If she keeps that up, we can skip Mindplay. If she does not keep up with this, she will have to go back to doing Mindplay for 2 hours a week.

 

 



#7 Heigh Ho

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 06:16 PM

The school is trying to get your dc to mastery. Next year is new material, so.this year needs to be mastered. They don't want her to experience the 'summer slide', aka forgetting skills that weren't taught to mastery. Spaced repetition is how skills become mastered. You can make it fun...give her a sticker each day, treat her to something each week, watch it in a special.chair or with a reading buddy (stuffed animal), or whatever. Enjoy!

#8 Have kids -- will travel

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 08:44 PM

It sounds like you're asking if your kid can ignore the advice of the reading specialist. The answer is of course. You know your child and her level. The very last thing you want is to make her hate learning. Online learning can be great for some kids, but particularly highly social kids benefit from personal interaction. 

 

If you're looking for something online, I would not in the least recommend Reading Eggs or Eggspress for such an old child who is not behind. It's very repetitious. My kids at ages 3 and 4 loved Teach Your Monster to Read. My six-year-old, who is a strong reader, is now beyond that point, but here is the description of what's covered by the third level of the game so you can judge if it's a good level for your child: https://tymtr.cdn.pr..._3_original.pdf

 

Readtheory is a reading comprehension website that may be worth looking into.

 

Phonics is of course very important, but by first/second grade, I'm assuming the phonics focus has moved much more from reading to spelling. If you want to keep her phonics knowledge up without the online program, a well-levelled spelling program may make more sense.

 

Over the summer, you can always just insist on daily reading and writing to keep away the summer slide. 



#9 Ordinary Shoes

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 09:25 PM

I might be dense here but I'm confused about why she needs mastery. I just checked her Mindplay reports. It shows that she is now at the 2nd grade level. It also shows that she's mastered all of the phonics lessons that she's done. It shows that her latest WPM was 150 with a baseline of 90. She is almost done with Phonics Level 2 out of 5 levels.

 

It looks to me like she is a little ahead of where she is supposed to be, at least on paper.

 

I'm still a little concerned though. She's too hesitant about reading and only reads when I tell her she has to. Based on the Mindplay reports and her reading grade, I think she's got the necessary phonics skills but needs to work on stamina and fluency. I'm also concerned that she's not as comfortable as she should be in her writing.

 

I hate to sound like I'm trying to get out of work here but 2 hours a week of Mindplay is a lot of time for a child who will be in camp from 8 to 5 everyday. She comes home tired and sometimes even exhausted. She would fall asleep in the car on the way home from zoo camp last year. If we commit to 2 hours a week of Mindplay, then we won't have much time for math facts, writing and our usual schedule of reading (read alouds and DD reading to me). With a 7 YO, 2 hours of Mindplay is probably at least 3 hours total of work because you have must her to focus, then sit still, then not play with the dog, and on and on.

 

DD came home yesterday with their journals. Most of her entries are only half completed. I asked her why she stopped mid sentence and she said she ran out of time. My biggest concern at this point is the speed in her writing. She won't be able to get away with not completing assignments in 2nd. I think she needs a lot of copywork to get her writing speed up and to be more comfortable with writing. That would probably be a better use of 2 hours a week than Mindplay.

 

I think we're going to work on nonsense words to keep up her phonics skills using games and then read everyday.

 



#10 Have kids -- will travel

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 12:10 AM

OP, it doesn't sound like you're getting out of work. This computer program sounds like an awful idea, and drilling phonics isn't going to help reading skills. Given that the online program will have to be fit in around full day camp, I definitely wouldn't waste my kid's time on it.

 

Did I mention that I don't have my K'er do his spelling work from school? You don't have to do what the school asks. The best thing my mom did for me in elementary was to tell me that I didn't have to read the school's (awful) books, that I could read what I chose. How freeing.

 

Phonics is IMO overly pushed on young readers. It has its place, but I have two kids who learned to read with very minimal phonics, primarily by sight. My oldest is filling in the gaps now with spelling, and my youngest is blissfully unaware of complicated phonics but reads fluently in two languages. I never even had to tell him the phonics of his second language; he just learned from being read to. Not to say that phonics isn't a great approach for many children, but your kid is not behind and you have a better plan for improving reading skills (and have accurately realized that there is much more to reading than phonics).

 

I wouldn't drill nonsense words either. Read lots of books. Go to the library. Enter every summer reading program available. 


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#11 SKL

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 07:34 AM

Do what works for your child, in your experience.

 

BUT.  You could use Mindplay as a threat if she doesn't cooperate with the better stuff.  :p  For example, "you need to spend x minutes on reading and ___ per day.  Any unused time will be spent on Mindplay."

 

Seriously, I would ignore the general advice dispensed to all the kids in the pull-out class.  Your child has moved beyond that.

 

My kid was in a Title I pull-out in 1st grade, and I thought it was an awful fit for her.  The Title I teacher seemed pretty uneducated and seemed to lack insight into individual differences.  She way underestimated the level my daughter was at - or maybe she was just lazy and wanted to teach all the "slow" 1st graders at the same level.  If she gave any year-end advice, I ignored it.

 

What I did do was finish the unfinished phonics workbook that was sent home at the end of the school year.  I also used some reading comprehension materials (let me know if you want links to those).


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#12 Heigh Ho

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 12:03 PM

It sounds like there is difficulty with attending to the task at hand, as well as lack of specific feedback from the teacher. Break whatever you do up into a chunk of time that allows focused attention. Ask that teacher what phonics topics are mastered and what is in progress and needs to be moved to mastery. Games have the same issue as the program, you need to adjust so she is receiving targeted instruction and spaced repetition. Stamina and fluency come from focus, background knowledge, instruction, and repetition. One thing you can add is partner reading...alternate who reads aloud. Is the camp doing a read aloud or is it providing read to self time?

#13 SKL

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 12:08 PM

I would just note that online stuff works better for some kids than others.  I think it's fun for many, so teachers think this is the way to go.  But there are still kids who do better with old-fashioned workbooks.  :)  Mine is one of them.

 

The other good thing about workbooks is that you can see what she's doing even if you're not looking over her shoulder.  You might use that information to better tailor her future work.  Plus, usually there is some handwriting practice, which you say she may need.

 

ETA:  possibly screens are more difficult for some people, because there are so many colors and other visual noise.

 

ETAA:  also it is harder to bring online practice with you and do it just anywhere.


Edited by SKL, 25 May 2017 - 12:10 PM.

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#14 EKS

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 06:05 PM

It is much easier to maintain learning that it is to recover it when it is lost over the summer (especially in a school situation; homeschooling is more forgiving).  If your daughter had enough trouble in reading to require intervention this past year, and it is in her best interest that you maintain her skills over the summer.  But it does not need to be with a computer based program.  You could find out what skills were taught this past year and then practice those every day in a cuddle on the couch kind of way.  I'd also have her read aloud each day from real books on her level (meaning she shouldn't struggle) to help her develop fluency.


Edited by EKS, 26 May 2017 - 07:41 AM.

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#15 SporkUK

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 06:23 AM

It does read like generic advice to prevent losing skills which is common and disheartening for some kids. I agree with the recommendations that there are other, possibly better, ways of doing that. Having her read aloud to you or someone else for the time period, with the online programme as a backup/stick would be what I would likely do.

 

None of mine had much luck with online phonics programmes and often got bored quickly, though I do use the print version of the Ultimate Phonics programme which helped one of mine a lot in keeping and progressing in her skills when she got to level by using it for reading and copywriting alongside reading aloud.


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#16 Heigh Ho

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 07:26 AM

I would just note that online stuff works better for some kids than others. I think it's fun for many, so teachers think this is the way to go. But there are still kids who do better with old-fashioned workbooks. :) Mine is one of them.

The other good thing about workbooks is that you can see what she's doing even if you're not looking over her shoulder. You might use that information to better tailor her future work. Plus, usually there is some handwriting practice, which you say she may need.

ETA: possibly screens are more difficult for some people, because there are so many colors and other visual noise.

ETAA: also it is harder to bring online practice with you and do it just anywhere.


Writing by hand helps memory and understanding.

Reading improves focus and concentration.

#17 Ordinary Shoes

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 01:57 AM

I've been very hands off about reading for the past week. It was the last week of school and I wanted to ease into our summer of reading and writing. I told DD that she can read whatever she wants to us. We went to the library yesterday and she chose a stack of books about animals.

 

She took a book about a sea lion to bed with her last night and chose to read it to me tonight. There is an AR sticker on the dustjacket that says it's level 4.5. She easily read the entire book other than needing help with "New Zealand." Then she chose a Paul Galdone book and read it with no errors. The AR bookfinder says it's a 3.0.

 

Has she improved her reading skills in a week? I'm thinking that maybe this low pressure approach which allows her to read what interests her is the key here.

 

I'm feeling better about our decision to not stress about Mindplay this summer.

 

 



#18 Have kids -- will travel

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 09:10 PM

It doesn't surprise me at all that your daughter is reading better with books she chooses. Kids interested in the book's subject will find it easier to pay attention and follow the storyline. The vocabulary is more familiar, since it's an area of interest. 

 

My six-year-old also reads much better and at a higher level with books he chooses. Get a book in an area of his passion, and he'll beg to read it even if it's really too hard and really too long. That happened this weekend. 

 

That said, she still has the same reading skills she had a week ago. Book levelling is an imperfect science. The Mr. Men (and Little Miss) series is a great example. The grade level for those runs often up to 4th grade, but I don't think anyone is suggesting that a child capable of reading those can sit down and silently read and understand Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, also a 4th grade book.

 

The practicing will give her lots of exposure to vocabulary and story dynamics. Much richer than just online phonics IMO.


Edited by Have kids -- will travel, 29 May 2017 - 09:10 PM.

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#19 Mainer

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 11:38 AM

It sounds to me like you're doing a great job! If you want her to write more, you could make it a game. Two ideas come to mind-  first, you could write a story together, each writing a line. You can make the story as silly as you want. She might be motivated to write a few sentences in one go if you take turns. Second, I just heard of a game called "two truths and one fib." Each person writes three sentences about whatever topic they want. Two are true, and one is a fib. The other player has to try and guess the fib. I think a rising 2nd grader would really like either of those games :-)