by Kimberly Kimbell-Lopez, Ed.D.
A challenge for K-2 teachers is how to supplement instruction in letter recognition and phonics with authentic texts and resources. Starfall (http://www.starfall.com) is a web site that can meet this need. Recognized by The Reading Teacher as one of five Internet sites too good to miss (Labbo, 2006), teachers and students are provided access to multimedia texts and activities designed to supplement instruction in these key skill areas. The activities and animations at the Starfall website are “short, engaging, and supportive of students’ letter recognition and early phonics awareness” (p. 811).
In the section ABCs-Let’s Get Ready to Read
, students can practice their letter recognition skills. When the letter of the alphabet is selected, the uppercase and lowercase letter is read aloud. As each new page opens, a graphic that corresponds to the letter is shown. Students click on the graphic (e.g., boy), then the name of the graphic is read aloud and placed in a phrase or sentence (e.g., I am a boy.). An additional option is that students with a hearing impairment can see the sign language version of the letter displayed at the same time as the written version. The section Learn to Read
provides multimedia texts that reinforce phonic elements and word families. There are 15 options that include games, texts, and video clips. For example, activities for the short “a” sound (/ă/) include word family games for –an and –at as well as a book titled Zac the Rat
. I’m Reading
includes texts for plays, nonfiction, comics, folk tales, Greek myths, and Chinese tales. Students can opt to hear segments of text read aloud, or they can hear the words read aloud one by one.
If you have web access, then the Starfall resources can be used one-on-one, with small groups, or with large groups. The resources are also great for literacy stations where students can work at a single computer using headphones. As noted by W. Ian O'Byrne in his article Opportunities for Multimedia Reading (December, 2011), it is important to teach your students how to access multimedia texts. This could be done by first “reading” the text with students without accessing any of the multimedia components. You can then teach them how to access the other available features (i.e., videos, audio features of text, interactive games). Take time today to explore the resources found at this award-winning website!
Labbo, L. (2006). Five Internet sites too good to miss. The Reading Teacher, 59, 810-812.
O’Byrne, W.I. (December, 2011). Opportunities for multimedia reading. Reading Today Online. Retrieved January 27, 2012 from http://www.reading.org/General/Publications/blog/BlogSinglePost//11-12-09/Opportunities_for_Multimedia_Reading.aspx.
Kimberly Kimbell-Lopez, Ed.D., is a professor in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Leadership in the College of Education at Louisiana Tech University.
This article is part of a series from the International Reading Association's Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).