Friday, March 2, 2012

Reading Eggs (Crack the code right open?)

It has certainly been fun to have a pre-reader, interested in letters and learning this year! Youngest has just had the opportunity to try out the online program ABC Reading Eggs (For 3-8 year olds). Reading Eggs is a product of Blake eLearning, an Australian company that "is a recognised leader in creating innovative, exciting programs that both teachers and children enjoy using." 

If your child is older, you may wish to read about the partner site Reading Eggspress for 7-12 year olds. There are a few Crew Reviews that include information on that program as well.  
This screenshot shows that this student is on map 8, and stepping stone 71. The strip on the left is the tool bar, which enables the student to move around the website~ from the lessons on the map to a playroom, a store, their own "house",  a "story factory," and more. Navigation is fairly intuitive here.

Basic set up~ Your child creates a "Reading Egg" avatar, and starts out on the Stepping Stone Reading Lessons. Each stepping stone is a lesson, and each lesson is filled with 9 or more different activities and games that teach various phonemes, lessons in phonics decoding, sight words, vocabulary and comprehension. The lessons build upon one another, with an occasional quiz (And corresponding certificate) to measure retention and/or trouble areas.

The majority of the games in each lesson were fun and interesting to Littlest, although we have had some troubles that are typical with laptop use~ the combination of track-pad vs mouse-pad ease of use when combined with "Timed" activities.  We ran into a situation where he appeared to  "double mouse-click"  on the track pad which would make an answer wrong by virtue of the second click answering a question he didn't even see (This shouldn't be too much of an issue for desktop users, but all we have is a laptop, so that's what we use!).  Thankfully only a few of the activities are impacted by this, so I hang out when he's doing those and "Assist" by clicking where he points on the screen. ;)
Dragging and dropping on a track pad can be interesting, but we've figured out how to manipulate that fairly consistently (hold the item on the trackpad with one finger and move  the item across the trackpad with a finger on the other hand). 

Although we haven't been doing this long enough to determine if Littlest is actually learning to read, I can say that his letter sounds have improved greatly, and he is able to identify all of the letters of the alphabet(He was previously shaky on some of the lesser used ones... u, v, w, y). He was also able to pass the first "Quiz" with a silver certificate, so he's definitely retaining what he's seeing.

One thing I really like about the program as a parent are the progress reports, and the ability to see his statistics on the parent dashboard.

The progress reports are sent directly to my email after he completes a quiz (Every 10 lessons, at the end of each map). They detail exactly what was accomplished~ Here is the first one:

XXXX  has just completed the Zoo 1 Quiz at the end of Map 1.
XXXX  passed the quiz, earning a Silver certificate. To see and print out this certificate go to your child's My Stuff page and click on Certificates.

In this set of ten lessons, your child learnt the following words, sounds and skills.
Map Information : Level 1 Map 1 Lessons 1 – 10
Letters and sounds – m, s, t, b, c, f, am, at
Words learnt – I, a, am, at, Sam, cat, bat, sat, fat, mat
Sample of sentences read – I am a cat. I am Sam.

The Reading Eggs lessons are designed to be played more than once. All children benefit from repeating lessons as it reinforces learning and builds automaticity (instant recall). We recommend that young learners repeat each lesson at least three times for maximum benefit.

Littlest asks to do Reading Eggs, so I know that it's a positive and fun experience for him and I can tell that he is right on target when I look at the dashboard, which tells me that his current "Reading Age" is 4.75, and he knows 34 of 237 phonics skills, and he has learned 4 of 200 sight words.

So far, I'd say this is a popular program in our homeschool (And it helps to keep him productively occupied while I work with the olders, or get something done in the kitchen, etc). He has been known to want to do more than one lesson at a sitting, although I try to discourage this so that he won't get burnt out. I haven't had success just yet in having him repeat any of the lessons as recommended, but if he gets frustrated with anything beyond the technical at any point, we'll definitely back up and repeat a few.

Just a side note~ the voices can be set to have American, Australian, or British Accents~ how fun is that? :)

Now for the Nitty Gritty~ 
ABC Reading Eggs
Recommended ages 3-8
Price options: 14 day free trial  No credit card required!
1 month recurring: $9.95
6 month subscription: $49.95
1 year subscription: $75.00
Family discount: Add a second or third child to either the 6 month or 1 year subscription at the same time and receive 50% off their subscription price.

I hope that this was helpful to you as you navigate all of the options and opportunities available to help to teach your child to read. For more reviews and opinions, please do visit the TOS Crew blog.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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