Friday, September 7, 2012

TOS Review: Reading Kingdom

When the opportunity arose to try out Reading Kingdom, I was interested to see if it was something that would work for Little Miss.  The minimum suggested age for the lessons is 4 years old, and she just turned 3 a few weeks ago.  I am by no means trying to push her into reading before she is ready, however, she does absolutely love books.  On the Reading Kingdom website I found the following criteria:
  • to sit and do school like activities for 15 minutes at a time
  • to express ideas in complete sentences
  • to match shapes, and
  • to use a computer mouse and keyboard (with adult assistance if required)

Little Miss does all these things.  Or, at least, I thought she did.  After I got the log-in information for the site, she sat on my lap and we did the assessment.  It was quickly obvious to me that she does not have the mouse skills necessary to do the lessons on her own.  We resorted to her pointing to the objects on the screen, and me clicking on them.  I didn't influence her at all - if she pointed to the wrong letter, I clicked the wrong letter.  After the assessment was done, the program moved Little Miss into the "Seeing Sequences" portion of the lessons, which look like this:

The "Seeing Sequences" portion will last about 2 weeks, according to the cute little owl mascot that leads you through the program.  Each lesson is meant to be able to be completed in one sitting, but you can pause or even stop a lesson if needed.  Here is where I got a bit confused.  There was no meter that I could see to show the parent how much of the lesson was left, and nothing came up to say that we had finished a lesson.  I stopped the program at what seemed to be a break in the lesson, and went to look at the Reader Report, which shows progress.  It shows Little Miss is 9% done with the "Seeing Sequences" level, but it doesn't say if she's finished a lesson or not.  I did discover, however, that there are optional training exercises for the mouse available through the Reader Report screen!  I believe I will have her work on those before we go any further in the program.

Reading Kingdom is designed to teach children ages 4 to 10 years to read up to a 3rd grade level.  It supposedly teaches all six skills necessary for reading and writing success, including sequencing, motor skills, phonics (phonemic awareness), meaning, grammar and reading comprehension.  The program can be used in conjunction with other reading curriculum or on its own.  It is web-based, so it can be accessed by logging in from any computer (well, any that has internet access!).  

Right now, I don't plan to put too much emphasis on  Reading Kingdom  with Little Miss.  She definitely enjoys it - she loved it when stars or smiley faces appeared when she got the right letters, and was delighted when the letters she got right made a word.  However, I feel like she definitely needs more practice with the mouse.  I also feel like the program could give a preschooler a little more time to respond before it offers hints or moves on.  Maybe Little Miss just needs a slightly longer attention span.  My thoughts right now are to have her do the mouse skills exercises, see how she does, and possibly wait until after Christmas to have her try the reading lessons again.  If she wants to play on the site, I will let her, but I will not force her to.

Reading Kingdom is available as a monthly subscription for $19.99.  If you choose to pay for a full year, it is $199.99.  Additional children are 50% off.  There is also a scholarship option, with details on the website's pricing page.

***Disclaimer:  I received a one year subscription to Reading Kingdom in exchange for my review through the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  All opinions are my own.

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