Details about the site:
Starfall is a free website that students can use to practice the phonics skills associated with beginning reading. There are four reading levels on Starfall: ABCs, Learn to Read (Early Beginning Reading), It’s Fun to Read (Intermediate Beginning Reading), and I’m Reading (Advanced Beginning Reading). The website includes games, and other activities like free ABC printouts for teachers to help children learn to read.
I have seen Starfall used by teachers as part of a center so students can practice their phonemic awareness skills. Students and families can also access the site at home for extra practice. The ABC section teaches students about letter-sound relationships by focusing on each letter of the alphabet. Everything is read to the student, and they provide the sound each letter makes, as well as several words that start with the letter. The students are able to navigate the section for each letter at their own pace. After the students are secure with their sound relationships, they can be introduced to the consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words that are in the Learn to Read Section of the site.
The activities on Starfall are aligned with several of the Common Core State Standards for language arts.
Kindergarten: Print Concepts RF.K.1
1. Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
a. Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page.
b. Recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.
c. Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.
d. Recognize and name all upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet.
Kindergarten: Phonics and Word Recognition RF.K.3
3. Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
a. Demonstrate basic knowledge of letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary or most frequent sound for each consonant.
b. Associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.
The website itself is not really designed to directly assess students, but practice on Starfall could cause students to identify more letters and sounds on your letter identification and letter sound assessments.
Value/Merit of Tool:
Starfall is a great tool for young students to use to help them practice their early reading skills. Since the site is so easy to navigate, this is a tool that students can use independently at a literacy center after the teacher has provided some basic instruction. The fact that students can also access it at home is a benefit.
Screenshots created by Olivia Johnson from:
Starfall’s Learn to Read with phonics. (n.d.). Starfall’s Learn to Read with phonics. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from http://www.starfall.com/