Wednesday, August 14, 2013

TOS CREW Review- Reading Kingdom

Reading Kingdom is an online reading program aimed at teaching children 4-10 years old how to read AND write up to a third grade level.  Using fun graphics, numerous activities and cute little books this program will challenge your child in several areas!   Using sequencing, motor skills, grammar, meaning, sounds and comprehension children can use this program independently as a complete reading program or as a supplement to the current program they are learning.  While it may be considered a game to a child, there is no fluff and stuff here!  Developed by Dr. Marion Blank, author of the book The Reading Remedy and director of the Light on Learning program at Columbia University, Reading Kingdom uses both phonics and whole language learning.

Reading Kingdom may sound a bit familiar to you as I had the privilege to review this program last year when my son was 5 and just learning to read.  The hardest part for him at the time was the placement test! He got frustrated quickly with not knowing the answers and it was a challenge to get him through that part. Once we did, however, he had a lot of success and enjoyed his daily time with it.

We were again offered the opportunity to have a 1 year subscription to Reading Kingdom, so I was excited to be able to see how far he had progressed after taking some time off.  Luckily for us, and for you, customer support for this company is amazing and a simple email allowed us to pick up right where we left off!  No placement test this time...yea us!

Reading Kingdom uses various activities to teach children word and sentence reading.  You can see from the example below that the choices are first offered.  In the picture below, the blank box on the bottom right side listed the word "some".  Once CJ clicked on it the word disappeared and then he had to type in the missing letters to make that word.   Then it proceeds on to the next word.  Once sentences are completed you can read the whole sentence or have it read to you as well.  After several parts of each level are mastered the program presents a book to be read using the words mastered.

When new words are introduced, it will ask the child to spell a word.  "Can you type the word walk?"  After the child tries and gets it incorrect then it teaches that words with various activities such as matching and filling in missing levels.  My son did get frustrated when he did n not know a word, but I just kept reassuring him that the whole point of the program was to learn new words, not know all they asked him about.  Yes, we tend to have a perfection issue here!

To help with motivation, once a certain number of points are earned, your child can "open" a new passport. While this seems a little silly to the adult in me, my son loves it and is always asking how many more points he needs.  He loves watching the little animated pictures come to life, and hey, if it works, bring it on!

One of the challenges we have found with this program has been using the keyboard.  It is one thing to be able to read words or even write them, but let's face it, keyboard skills are sometimes lacking in younger children.  The GREAT thing though is that this has pushed CJ to start to learn the keyboard.  In addition, if they type in a wrong letter a screen will pop up like the one below to show them where to find the letter they got wrong.  As a matter of fact there have been a few times where I realized my son was just waiting for that screen to pop up to help him.  Smart kid, huh?  Or does that count as sneaky?  You also have to make sure your child enters spaces between words as well as use proper capitalization and punctuation, but I actually like those being taught to enforce writing skills.

Another great thing about Reading Kingdom is that you can easily see where your student is on the progression of the program.  Every time you log in you see the below chart that shows how your student is doing and where they are in specifically. Each little icon means something different.

Reading & Writing Part 1
Intro Assessment 
Assessment to determine whether Seeing Sequences and/or Letter Land are required.
Seeing Sequences 
If the Skills Survey determined that Colby will benefit from learning visual sequencing skills Colby will be taught the Seeing Sequences format.
Letter Land 
If the Skills Survey determined that Colby will benefit from learning keyboarding skills Colby will be taught the Letter Land format.
Reading & Writing Part 2
Skills Survey 
Assessment to determine level at which to start reader.
Reading/Writing Level 1 
Reading and writing exercises for Level 1, including books 1-6.
Reading/Writing Level 2 
Reading and writing exercises for Level 2, including books 7-12.
Reading/Writing Level 3 
Reading and writing exercises for Level 3, including books 13-18.
Reading/Writing Level 4 
Reading and writing exercises for Level 4, including books 19-24.
Reading/Writing Level 5 
Reading and writing exercises for Level 5, including books 25-30.

Overall, we have been very happy with this program and I have seen great progression with CJ's reading as well as his overall confidence.  I also seen that since we have worked with this program daily he has been able to stay with it a little longer each time.

You can sign up for a 30 day free trail if it is something you would like to try out yourself.  After 30 free days you will pay $19.99 per month or $199.99 per year.


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