Monday, February 26, 2018

Reviewing The Starfall Home Membership by Starfall Education Foundation

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My family is always interested in finding educational ways to incorporate technology into our home, so we were exited to have the opportunity to review a one-year subscription to The Starfall Home Membership. An annual membership provides a single account for use in your immediate family (including grandparents) and allows you to gain access to the games and activities beyond those available for free.

My initial impression of the Starfall Education Foundation's website was that it looked very easy to navigate with colorful pictures creating links to different topics.  The site is set up into four separate columns and one row of holidays at bottom.  There are also links to indexes for selected 2nd grade math skills and first grade activities.

The first thing my children, aged two and four, wanted to do was look at the crayons. When we had to take a break for lunch, my children said, "when can we play again?” and “I want to do brown next.” My four year old son said, “This is awesome. We can learn about colors.” 

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After using the Starfall app on their tablet, my phone, and the laptop, I think one of my children’s favorite parts is Colors! In fact, they have looked at all twelve crayon options and they have been back to play them again and again. Each crayon offers up several different appropriate colored animals and a song for the children at the end. For example, orange has a tiger, a pumpkin, and orange crackers and then a song about the color orange. 

While both of my children enjoy exploring the different games, activities, and songs, they both gravitated towards playing the holiday games (in particular the snowman and the gingerbread boy) over and over in the early days of exploring The Starfall Home Membership. Later on, both of my children wanted to do the activities in the Geometry and Measurement center. Through playing the games in the Geometry and Measurement center, my daughter has learned mathematics terms like quadrilaterals, trapezoids, and cylinder.

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learning games, phonics, kids educational games, phonics games, learn to read, kindergarten, preschool, homeschoolI think my favorite parts include geometry and measurement (specifically triangles and button sorting), the ABCs (which is similar to the colors but includes more interaction), and the calendar. 

There are short vowel games and books to introduce children to those concepts or reinforce them if they need some extra help. For example, in the short word vowel machine, children will learn about different words as they select either the star button or the purple lever to change the first or last letter of the word (or the entire word). My children have had fun playing with it and sounding out all the words like map, man, ran, and rat.



learning games, phonics, kids educational games, phonics games, learn to read, kindergarten, preschool, homeschoollearning games, phonics, kids educational games, phonics games, learn to read, kindergarten, preschool, homeschoolA bonus for me is the fact that my kids can work on Starfall on my laptop or a mobile device so we can take our learning with us.  As my children are young, we can split up our time on the site in small chunks of time easily by spending a few minutes singing along with nursery rhymes or dancing with the motion songs while waiting for dinner to be prepared.



In addition to the games, books, and songs on the website for children, there is a Starfall Parent-Teacher Center with worksheets that you can customize and projectables which include storybooks and art books. This was a great discovery for me because we have been looking at artists in our home.  There are also free printable downloads that include writing practice, holiday worksheets, consonant practice, grammar, punctuation, and other topics. 
  
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I printed out several worksheets for my son and daughter to complete including several mathematics worksheets, a printing worksheet, and a “find the letter” coloring sheet. The worksheets are very clear and easy for both my child and me to understand. And with some of them being customizable, I can focus on the same skill by creating multiple worksheets in a few minutes rather than searching the Internet for different ones on different sites.

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So far, my children have only examined the activities on the main index but after a short review of the activities on the first grade index, I have to admit I am very impressed. There are Chinese Fables and Comics for older children to read (or have read to them by pressing the ear image). In addition to the reading (both literature and informational text) and phonics activities, there are also numerous mathematical activities for first graders such as money skills, algebraic thinking, measurement, and geometry. Along with the first grade index, there is also a second grade index of math skills which includes place value, more advanced addition and subtraction work, and multiplication.

The Starfall Store allows parents and teachers to purchase a variety of materials to help their children beyond the website, as well as reinforce those skills learned from it. For example, there are practice books for writing, mathematics, and writing journals. They also offer books, CDs, teaching tools like plushes and instructional cards, along with complete curriculum kits. If you are looking for a one-stop place for teaching your preschooler or kindergartner, this is a great resource. 

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I found the Starfall Education Foundation’s site very easy to navigate between the indexes and the activities within each index. This made it very easy to set up what I wanted my son to work on each day we sat the laptop. One of the other features I discovered was that I could select the font type (block or manuscript) and the measurement (US or metric). And in order to move away from the kids indexes, a parent needs to answer a question to navigate to the Starfall Parent-Teacher Center or the Starfall Store.

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My children and I look forward to continuing to use TheStarfall Home Membership to expand upon my son’s growing reading skills and my daughter’s growing love of mathematics. The Starfall Home Membership is one that my young children can continue to use for years to come.  




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