Recently we have been reviewing lots of literacy resources. It’s important to support children’s reading at home. It’s hard for children to get enough one to one time and attention in school in a class of 30 so I am always interested in different ways to encourage reading at home, to help my kids get in more practise in fun ways.
Here are some of the products and ideas we have been impressed with. Hopefully some of these recommendations will suit you too! These are predominantly for infant school aged children (4-7 years). I will do another post with the younger ideas some time soon!
First up is Reading Eggs – This is an online reading scheme, which I have been using with my eldest for a couple of years and he has now completed at 5.5 years old. It takes children from the most basic level, into being able to read and then with Reading Eggspress it helps them progress much further into reading comprehension and more advanced literacy skills. All this is done in a really fun way, so Z loves it! Click through for the full review here and to get a code for a free extended trial.
Reading Chest – This is a reading scheme book postal subscription service. I just started this with Z 2 months ago and within that time he has gone up by two book bands. We don’t get many books sent home from school. It is meant to be 2 books once a week, but often they will miss a week and it can go a few weeks before they actually send them – that’s just the way it is in a busy school. Reading scheme books are essential as they are so well targeted to their stage and ability, so substituting it with any story book from our shelves wasn’t always working so well. With Reading Chest we always have a supply of reading books at the perfect level and stage, and it’s just really convenient. Click through for our full detailed review here.
If you do want to buy a set of phonics reading books at home, I find the Usbourne Phonic Readers book set works well with my kids. Not only are they decodable and manageable for early readers to try, but my kids also enjoy the stories.
Cardooo – Is a clever idea which incorporates extra reading into every day life and special occasions. They are greetings card with a story or activities inside. We were sent a couple to try out and found them fun. Z is always interested in stickers and activities like dot to dot and these would keep his attention a lot longer than just a normal greeting card.
Sending a whole story in a birthday card would be such a nice idea for friends and relatives living further away, rather than just a normal card. This is just a simple idea, but any excuse to sneak in some extra reading into fun situations is always a bonus!
Orion Early Readers
This series of books is ideal for young readers of about 5 years old. I have been using them with Z throughout the last year and he always enjoys them. They challenge him more than the reading scheme books and feel like more of a step up, towards reading chapter books, and are less intimidating for early readers than jumping in at the deep end with something more advanced.
This week we have been sent a new book from the series – The Dragon’s Dentist
This is a funny and sweet story all about a young boy called Harry who wants to become a knight like the rest of the family, and decides to prove himself by capturing the most fearsome dragon, Eric. He, and his loyal horse called Oats, go to find the dragon but discover him in a lot of pain from toothache. They help him and then are able to ride back to the family on dragonback and Harry can show how brave and worthy of knighthood he is!
The book is split into six short chapters and is pretty manageable for Mr Z to read at age 5, with plenty of colourful illustrations throughout so that the text does not look too intimidating.
You can read reviews of other Orion Early Reader books we have tried here. I definitely recommend the series. They are all also available as e-books if you prefer.
Leapfrog Leap Reader – The Leap Reader is something that I had been wondering about for a while and has proved to be a fun tool to help the children along with their reading, not just for Z but for my younger children too.
The Leap Reader system has books available for so many of children’s favourite characters which is ideal if they need that extra incentive to motivate them to read. We found the system very convenient and fun to use. Click through for our full review.
Hot Dots – The Hot Dots system also works with a pen, but is quite different to the LeapReader so we definitely found there is a place for both of them in our home learning.
Z has been trying out the Hot Dots high frequency words set, which are like interactive worksheets to familiarise children with the most commonly used words. It involves reading small passages and answering questions, which is great to reinforce those high frequency words in the right contexts. Z enjoyed working with the Hot Dots and I thought it was a great concept and really handy for extra learning at home. You can just do one card of questions to fill the spare 5 minutes here and there, and it keeps Z entertained as well as supporting his learning. Click through to read our full review.
Literacy Games – Learning Resources have a fantastic range of educational products for all topics. I have bought quite a lot from them in the past, and I was sent Grandma’s Trunk literacy game to review for this series of literacy posts. This game is really 5 games in 1 and provides hours of learning fun. Z’s favourite game was Grandma’s Riddles but click through to our full review to read the details of all 5 games and find out more about it.
There are plenty more literacy games available on Learning Resources too so have a browse through and see which ones would appeal to your kids the most.
We have also been trying out comprehension cubes from Learning Resources which are a great way to encourage children to think more about the books they have read. Read here to see them in action.
Another company worth having a look at for literacy games is Orchard Toys as they have a few, like Alphabet Lotto or Pass the Word, which would be good for this too.
If you are looking for more material for your child to read or want to sample books of different reading bands to get an idea where your child should be, these free e-books on Mumsnet would be really useful.
There is also quite a wide selection of free e-books at www.starfall.com. The site starts from the very basic level of teaching letters and then works up to reading books. It is an American, not a UK resource but personally I haven’t found that causes much of an issue.
For educational printables and worksheets, I would say the best website to use is Twinkl (see our previous review) and they also have a phonics suite app which is available for iPad. The Phonics suite app is made up of 5 phases and costs £4.99 for all of them together.
The app starts from very basic learning letters and phonic sounds in Phase 1 (which is ideal for Mr T age 4), and moves onto simple CVC words then gradually goes up to more advanced games in Phase 4 and 5. When I showed the games to Mr Z he straight away recognised the games as they had been playing them in his class at school (Year 1) and he enjoyed practising them again at home. All of the phases includes games like “Buried Treasure” where children have to recognise whether a word is real or made up. Mr Z loves this for the pirate theme!
We found the app easy to use and it all worked smoothly on my iPad mini. There is a lot included in the app for the price and it’s a great resource to have to help support the children’s learning. As it’s on the iPad my kids always find it fun!
Alphablocks is another fun way to reinforce phonics and early reading skills. If you watch CBeebies then I’m sure you would have already come across it but if not, the series can all be bought on Dvd. The characters are all very likeable and I have found certain episodes really helpful, especially the Magic E song which explains the concept of split digraphs in a very easy and fun way with a very catchy song! There are Alphablocks games and print outs on the CBeebies website, and you can also get the magazine from newsagents or supermarkets.
We also have an Alphablocks floor puzzle which is a gentle start to learning the letters and sounds.
Disclaimer: We have been sent some of the products included as PR samples
There are so many brilliant ideas and activities available on blogs too: check out these free literacy ideas to try at home
How are your little ones getting on with their reading? What would be your #1 tip to share? Let me know in the comments.
Images source: Shutterstock (modified)