Educators of young children recognise the great advantage of using play-based teaching techniques as a means of instruction. A child’s first language is play, and if educators use learn-to-read games in order to teach and instruct children, they find that the hard work of learning becomes far more enjoyable for kids.
When they form part of a larger, systematic reading programme, learn-to-read games can be very effective for teaching children literacy skills. Effective reading programmes that feature such reading games generally provide instruction in five key literacy areas: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension.
It is particularly easy to find learn-to-read games and activities in specific literacy areas, such as phonics. However, phonics games cease to be an effective means of instruction on their own without complementary instruction in the other key literacy areas. Effective reading programmes instruct in all five of the key literacy areas concurrently.
Phonemic Awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate the individual units of sound, known as phonemes, which make up a word. For instance, the word ‘cat’ is made up of three phonemes – /c/a/t/.
Early lessons of Reading Eggs help develop a child’s phonemic awareness with activities and games that introduce individual letters and their sounds, immersing children in nursery rhymes, listening skills, sound play and alphabet books. Activities focus on hearing the initial sounds of words and segmenting this sound to make the first phoneme clear.
Later on in the programme, readers listen to two or three words and are asked to identify which word contains the lesson’s focus sound. Some lessons ask children to focus on initial letter sounds, others on end sounds, e.g. the –am sound in ram, ham and swam.
Extending from the idea of phonemic awareness is phonics, which is concerned with teaching the link between letters and their sounds.
Reading Eggs incorporates learn-to-read games that map individual letters, or letter combinations, with their appropriate sound. Each letter of the alphabet is introduced in its own lesson, with repetition of the letter in visual or animated form as well as the sound that it makes. Such repetition through visual and aural means helps commit to the child’s memory the letter-sound relationship.
When children read fluently, they are able to bridge the gap between word recognition and comprehension automatically. Fluent readers can therefore spend less time sounding out and decoding words and focus more on deriving meaning from a text. Researchers agree that repetition of reading activities is a very effective strategy for learning to read more fluently.
Reading Eggs lessons and activities aim to develop an automatic recall of an increasing bank of words. Sight words, that is words like ‘the’, ‘is’, ‘and’ etc that make up more than 50% of primary level reading texts, are the first set of words that are targeted in lessons. Lacking automatic recognition of sight words often poses a major difficulty for beginning readers, and so lessons that help familiarise children with sight words helps put them on the path to reading fluency.
Every child approaches reading with different levels of vocabulary, therefore any effective reading programme needs to be able to accommodate children with varying vocabulary levels.
Reading Eggs ensures vocabulary development by ensuring that words are introduced with visual support, i.e. a matching picture, to provide context and meaning to the word.
Lessons includes learn-to-read games that help build a child’s vocabulary, as well as their grammar spelling skills. Lessons feature sentence activities where children need to understand the meaning of each word as well as its spelling. Lessons also introduce new words around a common theme so as to help children categorise these new additions to their vocabulary.
Strategies for assisting readers with text comprehension include teaching children how to:
Answer questions about a text
Ask questions of a text
Monitor their comprehension
Put a jumbled-up text back in order
Recognise story structure.
By lesson 9 of Reading Eggs, children are reading their first e-book, allowing them to apply the literacy skills learnt in previous lessons to reading a real book.
The end goal of every Reading Eggs lesson and learn-to-read game is getting kids to read real books. Every literacy skill is taught in order to help kids learn to read, and incentives and rewards are offered to help them enjoy the process of learning to read even more.
Our students love this site. It is bright, entertaining, engaging and educationally sound. What a fun way to learn to read! They can’t get enough of it and ask regularly “is it our turn on Reading Eggs today?”
- Katrina Kruger, Elliott Heads State School
Reading Eggs is great for my preschool aged child who is just learning to read and for my 6-year-old fluent reader. My younger child is engaged by the lessons and also motivated by the games and rewards. A surprise benefit is that his computer and keyboard skills are improving. My 6-year-old uses Reading Eggs for her spelling and basic grammar. She is working on her sequencing and creative writing skills by composing stories on Reading Eggs. Even the games develop reading, math and logic skills. I really see this as a website we can use from preschool through grade 3 with academic benefit.
- Jennifer Ware