Monday, February 28, 2011

Like Starfall? Try MORE Starfall.


If your little ones are like mine, they LOVE Starfall. Starfall is a FREE! reading site with TONS of activities which encourage your pre-readers and emerging readers to try out new skills. Based on phonics, but with plenty of sight words thrown in, a child who is able to point and click can spend hours (not all necessarily on the same day!) learning and having fun with the colorful and engaging activities available for FREE on Starfall.

More Starfall is a new subscription site which offers, well, MORE. For $35 dollars a year, members gain access to many new activities, songs, learning games, books, and resources, as well as all the familiar and proven content from classic Starfall. The new activities include things such as math learning activities, color activities, songs and rhymes, stories (read-alouds), lesson plans, and many customizable printables. Specifically, some of the activities include: Colors, Backpack Bear's Books, The Word Machine, Vowel Pals, More Phonics, Math Songs, Nursery Rhyme Videos, a Talking Library, Folk Songs, Addition and Subtraction, and much more.

More Starfall has a mascot, Backpack Bear, who is the star character of many of the stories. He will lead your child through many adventures at More Starfall. In fact, if you find your child really likes the Backpack Bear, you can order a stuffed one from the Starfall Teachers Store. Stuffed animals are not the only items in this store. It also offers resources to compliment and enrich the teaching materials and lesson plans available on More Starfall, as well as resources to support Starfall's complete homeschool Kindergarten curriculum. I particularly liked the VERY INEXPENSIVE writing journals and ordered two, as well as print copies of the books my kids so enjoy from the original Starfall site. Did you know you can also order a cd-rom of all of the content from Starfall (not including the More Starfall content) in case you want your child to be able to use the wonderful Starfall materials, but do not want to have to link up to an internet connection? What a great idea! It's only $19.95.

Aside from the additional kids' content, which your 3-8 year olds will love, part of the appeal of More Starfall is that you can access The Teacher's Lounge. The Teacher's Lounge is stocked with customizable worksheet generators, resources, and projects. For example, they have a story page which can be printed with or without space for a picture to be drawn by your child AND you can type in a story starter to also be printed out on the sheet. Awesome! The Year-long Kindergarten lesson plans and supplementary materials are available for download when you purchase a More Starfull subscription for just $35 a year. Additional materials, such as print books and games, flash cards, and stuffed animals are available for an extra fee. You can read more about that option HERE (pricing) and HERE (content). Click the link to view the entire Starfall Kindergarten Catalog.

The Kindergarten lesson plans incorporate Backpack Bear and other characters from both Starfall sites and will appeal to a wide range of kids. They encompass reading, math, and handwriting, as well as history, holidays, art, and more. The year-long subscription allows for up to three simultaneous users in one family...perfect for homeschoolers of young "stair-step" children like us. Click HERE to see a short video demonstration about how special features available only with More Starfall can help you organize your children's daily work.

Our family was able to try the site for a month and found that the little ones quite liked what it had to offer (ages 3-8 mostly...though even our 20 month old enjoyed watching). The site seemed to best fit Firefly and Cowboy (pre-K and K students), who especially enjoyed the songs (such as The Wheels on the Bus and Yankee Doodle) and the math activities (which classic Starfall does not offer). One reason it was particularly good for Firefly was because since both Cowboy and Ladybug have memberships on more advanced sites (for reading and math), the More Starfall site gave her something simple she could do, so felt like she was a "big kid" and had "school" to do, too. It also helped develop her mouse skills in a fun, non-threatening way. 

While we did print activities from The Teacher's Lounge for the kids to try, we never tried out the curriculum, but what I saw looks like it would be a good option for Kindergarten...especially for those parents who prefer to incorporate the computer, are looking for support, and appreciate the idea of customizing their own worksheets (for example, the math printing practice sheets allow you to choose which object will be displayed to demonstrate the number...ants, flowers, hearts, turtles, etc. Nice.).

More Starfall is a safe, ad-free, easy to navigate, friendly, colorful, enriching and interesting site for ages 3-4 and up (how high depends on your own child). 

Can you find content like this anywhere else on the internet for FREE (our favorite price)? Maybe some of it...BUT you will have to spend a lot of time finding it and organizing it into a usable form for your family...AND it won't be connected to the fun Starfall characters, it might not be as cute, it probably won't be ad-free, and it likely won't be customizable (the worksheets). This is a good deal.

If you have a child who LOVES Starfall and wants MORE... consider giving More Starfall a try. I think you will like it.



I received a free month's trial of More Starfall from the company in exchange for sharing my opinions on the site here on my blog. The opinions you read here are an honest reflection of our experiences. I cannot guarantee and do not expect that yours will be exactly the same. If you have questions about More Starfall that I did not answer here, feel free to contact me and ask. Thanks!


Nikki said...

Found you through starfall's link to you from Facebook. You mentioned that your older kids are signed up on more advanced math and reading sites. Would you mind sharing what those are? On my way to check out more starfall too! :)

Heather said...

We have been trying different programs online. Here are a few: Time4Learning, Reading Kingdom, Click n' Read (join the Homeschooler's Coop if you are a homeschooler for a great deal on that one), and Funnix (this program was free last month). Many of these have free month long trials. There is a free month giveaway of Time4Learning on my blog right now. Sign up!

For math: Mathletics, IXL (20 problems free a day), Quarter Mile Math, and Math Facts Now.

See my sidebar and check out the links to the Three Amigos site (on the left) to see how I organize my kids' work. Check out my homeschool-for-free site for some links to free materials online.

Thanks for stopping by!



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