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Comprehensive Guide to our Learn to Read App Series for kids

Topics: Reading, vowel sounds, basic literacy, fluency, learn to read

A high-quality preschool,kindergarten, and first grade education, particularly in reading, is crucial to building the foundation for a student’s academic career. Children who fail to develop basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out of school in later years. Furthermore, children who are read to at least 20 minutes a day are exposed to 1.2 million words of text every year.

These facts are what motivates Quackenworth to provide high quality apps that prepare young children for preschool and beyond. In this post we discuss: 1) the basics of reading and literacy and 2) how to use our suite of literacy readiness educational apps. The focus of these educational apps is on long and short vowel sounds, rhyming, sight words, beginning/ending consonants; all important building blocks to learning how to read. We believe our apps strongly support teachers who want to provide prove supplemental reading materials and parents who want to supply a literacy-rich home environment. We also are of the opinion that there are important milestones that should be met in preschool,kindergarten, and first grade. These milestones include hearing more than million words per year, introduction to stories, the alphabet, vowel sounds, blends,sight words, and more.But before I proceed with a discussion about our educational apps, I would like to discuss some basics facts about reading and literacy fundamentals.

Reading Basics: Five Essential Components of Reading  

Among early grade teachers it is well understood that well-constructed school district literacy programs generally have these five components:

1)   Phonemic awareness — the knowledge and manipulation of sounds in spoken words.
2)   Phonics — the relationship between written and spoken letters and sounds.
3)   Reading fluency, including oral reading skills — the ability to read with accuracy, and with appropriate rate, expression, and phrasing.
4)   Vocabulary development—the knowledge of words, their definitions, and context.
5)   Reading comprehension strategies—the understanding of meaning in text.

In addition to these five important components, schools should also include diagnostic reading assessments, ongoing professional development for teachers, a plan for building students’ motivation to read, and a strategy for integrating technology that assist student’s in learning to read. Integrating these five components and addition strategies will help child in early grades to become strong and confident readers .

Benefits of Reading to Children: Scientific Evidence Shows Reading To Kids is Beneficial

Over the last 50 years, scientists have found empirical evidence demonstrating that reading to children positively effects oral language readiness, vocabulary, and literacy. Teachers and academics have always known the positive effects of reading to preschool age children. Recently, science has joined in support by using modern technology to further back this long-held belief. However, for the first time, researchers have found that reading affects brain function. In a study published in Pediatrics, researchers used magnetic resonance images (MRI)to study the brains of nineteen 3 to 5 year old kids. According to the Huffington Post, “The MRIs revealed that children from more stimulating home reading environments had greater activity in the parts of the brain that help with narrative comprehension and visual imagery. Their brains showed greater activity in those key areas while they listened to stories.”

Although the study was done on a small scale, it provides strong evidence that reading to children has positive biological effects on a child’s brain. Because of this and other studies, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents read to their kids as infants, even if it’s just a for few minutes. The positive effects are now well known and are supported not only by teachers and parents, but by science.

Fluency: What Is It and Why Is It Important for Building Strong Readers?

Most early grade teachers are familiar with the fluency basics and why it is important. Inits most basic format fluency is the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and appropriate expression.  At each grade level there are certain expectations for a student’s reading fluency.

The primary metric used by teachers and research professionals is called words per minute (wpm).Each student is expected to have a satisfactory wpm score to be considered reading on grade level. There are a number of different fluency studies with varying grade levels of wpm scores. For example, the Rasinski scale suggests that a first grader should read 80 wpm by the end of the year. Harris & Sipay recommends between 60-90 wpm and Manzo, 30-54, respectively. The 2006 Hasbrouck & Tindal Oral Reading Fluency study goes a step further and considers several different factors including reading percentile, fall, winter, and spring reading assessments, and weekly improvement.

The graph below provides you with ways to measure your child's reading fluency expectation.

Fluency: Three Proven Reading Strategies That Help Build Fluency

Since the 1970’s there have been numerous literacy tools and concepts that are intended to help children become better readers. And while many of these resources are effective, there are some fundamental and proven strategies that will help your child not only learn to read, but also become a better reader. You can do this with just yourself, a book, and your child. And with just 15 minutes, a couple times a week your child will become a faster reader. Improving a child’s reading fluency, no matter the age, will boost their confidence and ultimate their reading skills. Below are three simple and effective strategies that help improve a child’s reading fluency:

Echo Reading– You read a sentence and then the child reads the same sentence.
Choral Reading– You both read together.
Partner Reading– You read a sentence and the child reads the next sentence.

That’sit! Don’t forget get to ask lots of questions before and after you read the story. Also, have them make inferences from the images in the story to help with comprehension. We suggest doing using these proven methods for just 15 minutes a day three times a week.

Learn To Read: Vowel Stories

There are obvious benefits to using interactive books. Increasing motivation to read, feedback,and the ability to include animation and sounds are just a few. Our Learn to Read: Vowel Stories interactive book app is a great place to start when it comes to learning how to read. It contains colorful characters, animations,sound, and will increases interest in reading. While the benefits of using technology to teach children to learn how to read, we also believe that teachers and parents should also use proven traditional tools alongside technology. We believe that contemporary educators should use multiple tools (visual, audio, kinesthetic) to teach and reinforce basic reading concepts.

Below are 5 non-tablet activities/ideas to use in combination with our Learn to Read: Vowel Stories interactive book app:
1)  Use our Vowel Stories worksheets that reinforce long/short vowel sounds and sight words.
2)  Use a digital camera take a picture of 10 short/long vowel sounds found in the stories.
3)  Use a word processing program (e.g. Word) type ten sight words your child remembered from the story. Print out the assignment, sign it, and post on your refrigerator!
4)  Have a verbal spelling contest where you ask your child to spell certain words.Spell ten words correctly and someone gets ice cream!
5)  Draw a picture of ten sight words that are nouns (person, place, or thing).

Learn To Read: Sight Words

In this section we will demonstrate some quick tips for our Learn to Read: Sight Word app, an app with over 500 words including common sight words, beginning consonants,ending consonants, and word families. The purpose of app is to help improve the vocabulary of young readers.  

Tip #1 - As with most of our apps we suggest that you work at least 15 minutes, 3 times a week. If the child is unable to for 15 minutes, start with five minutes and work your way up to 15 minutes or more. 

Tip #2 - When you first start using the app work together with your child by modeling the behavior. For example, as the word appears you repeat the word. Continue this and then have the child repeat after you if they do not know the word. Modeling behavior helps the child focus on how to use the app.

Tip #3 - To swipe or not to swipe - With this feature you can elect to control the pace of the words. For example, on automatic mode the words will appear every 4 seconds. In manual mode, the child swipes at their own pace.

Tip #4 -Words completed - In this section you can track the words that the child has scene.

Learn To Read: Rhyme Stories - Why Should You Read Rhyming Books to Children?

Step into any successful preschool or kindergarten classroom and you will find an environment rich with rhyming books, songs, and visual cues. It is well known among educators that rhyming builds phonological awareness or a child's ability to distinguish between different sounds.Additionally, the benefits of rhyming are supported heavily by years of academic research. A 1987 study (Maclean,Bryant, and Bradley) of three-year-olds found that the more nursery rhymes a child knew the better their phonological awareness was when they were older. A 1994 study ((McDougall, Hulme, Ellis and Monk) found that children were more successful readers depending on their level of rhyming awareness. Children with superior rhyming awareness were more successful readers than children with weaker rhyming skills. Benefits of rhyming

• Learningrhymes early increases a child’s chances of becoming a strong confident reader.
• While rhymingbuilds phonemic awareness or the ability to distinguish between sounds.
• Rhyming helps children recognize word patterns and teaches word families.
• Rhyming is fun for children and motivates them to read more.
• Rhyming helps children’s spelling ability.

Our Learn to Read: Rhyme Stories is designed to help children build early literacy skills by providing rhyming stories and other literacy rich activities. The stories include Joe has a Sore Toe, Pete Has Big Feet, Kim Likes to Swim, Jenny Found a Penny, Mike has a Bike, and Paul is Tall.  The Learn to Read: Rhyme Stories series provides parents and educators with an arsenal of literacy weapons to help build phonological awareness. The goal of ultimately making them a stronger more confident reader.

Quackenworth specializes in mobile games for kids and educational websites. Our mission is to develop fun products that teachers and parents can use to educate and enrich the lives of children and young adults. Click here to learn more about Quackenworth's apps for kids.