Website Review: Reading with Starfall
The Starfall website was developed by Dr. Stephen Schutz and poet Susan Polis Schutz, who are also the creators of Blue Mountain Arts Publishing Company. When Stephen Schultz was younger had difficulty reading and after years of hard work he has become a very successful publisher and writer as well as attaining a PhD in Physics. Schutz set up Starfall for to help children with learning to read, aimed at pre-k to 2 grade.
Starfall has been recognized by top educational sites including:
- The Reading Teacher named Starfall.com one of "Five Internet sites too good to miss" (May 2006).
- Homeschool.com recognized Starfall as one of their top five educational websites. (2005,2008)
- Starfall was the first Internet site to be recognized by Children's Software & New Media Review as the highest rated product in their Early Elementary category. (Spring 2004)
The Starfall Program on the internet is free for users. It is divided into four categories including (1.)ABC’s-Let’s Get Ready to Read, (2.) Learn to Read-Zac the Rat & Other Tales, (3.) It’s Fun to Read-About Me, Art Gallery & More, (4.) I’m Reading-Plays, Non-fiction, Comics & More.
As you progress from categories 1 to 4 the children will first learn letters, sounds, blended sounds, vowels and consonants which will all lead up to reading the material provided. Each section provides a guide for the teacher or parent which may provide helpful hints how to use the educational material as well as additional activities which can complement the material already provided.
As you advance to level 2 where the student begins to read, skills for each story are listed to the right of the book. The children read along with the “child” narrator. The idea of a child as the narrator is a wonderful and interesting one. It allows the student to see that “Hey, if this kid can read…so can I!”Activities are not limited to reading. Other activities on this site include make a calendar, word hunts, alphabet printouts, and holidays theme worksheets.
The Starfall store includes a plethora of educational material you buy to use in addition to the free online reading program. The prices are very reasonable. The lowest priced item is the Starfall blank “Dictionary or Starfall blank “Writing Journal”. The highest priced item is the Special Prepack for parents at $18.95. This prepack includes the Deluxe Phonics Kit: Boxed set of 15 Learn-to-Read books, Level I and Level II Reading/Writing Journals, Stickers, plush Zac the Rat, & pencils.