Articles Posted in Educational Websites

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My favorite website for teaching children how to read is Starfall.com. Starfall is a (mostly) free website that focuses on teaching children to read with phonics.  I started using Starfall in 2006 before my son turned one.

My kids no longer use Starfall. But I have a six-year-old and I just went back to update this post for 2019.  Sure enough, Starfall has expanded its mission and it has some great new math programs that extend out to 3rd grade.  I don’t really think it is true 3rd-grade math.  It looks to me a bit more like early 2nd-grade math.  It is far from perfect.  It is not adaptive to the child’s individual learning and aptitude like so many modern educational sites and apps do.  Still, I love the feel of the website and I think children are drawn to it.

The site is free but to get all the programs it costs $35 a year.  It really is a steal.

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I’ve been spending a lot of time on Reading Bear with my youngest son.  I always touted Startfall as the single best site to teach young readers.   I think Reading Bear is the next “learn to read” vehicle after you have finished up Starfall.

Reading Bear is a wonderful tool for young readers

Reading Bear is a wonderful tool for young readers

While Starfall does have more advanced stories as readers progress, they are not nearly as much fun or as well done as the original stories with Zach the Rat, Gus the Duck, and their colleagues on Startfall that I have learned to love so much. Starfall’s more advanced stories are hard for “young but advanced readers” because they are dry and don’t maintain interest.  My son is easily bored by these.  Also a factor: you have to pay to get these stories from Starfall.  I still recommend buying the upgraded Starfall because there are good counting and math games we like to use.  But the extra reading is just not fun like the characters in original (and free) stories.

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I’m a big fan of standardized tests. I’m probably the only one. But I think it is helpful to have a measuring stick that cuts down on variables. It also allows you to get a clean handle on what you child needs to work on to get better.

This webpage from Hamblen County, Tennessee (I’ve never heard of it either) has a great collection of different standardized tests administered in different states. I’m a big fan of the California Achievement Test which is on there. I remember the fateful day it replace the Iowa tests when I was in the 5th grade. Or something like that.

A lot of the links are down on this page but most of them work and there a just a lot of good tests here.

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Yesterday, when I was looking for the link to Undersea Math for my review of that educational iPad math app, I found this math game on the Internet. Essentially, you are popping balloons in order, starting with the math sum of the lowest value. I have not tried it out on my kids yet but I probably will tonight.