Emergent literacy and early reading are incredibly important to the future literacy success of student. The skills and habits they form from birth through about 8 years old are the most crucial to their future learning, so it is an important time to expose students to books and reading. As a former teacher of very early readers (having taught preschool, kindergarten and second grade) I did a lot of research to identify websites to supplement my curriculum in fun and meaningful ways for my students. I always found that if students learned through playing they grew and retained a lot more. With a limited budget it was also always important that I could find free resources that were still high quality. The good news is, I’m sharing a bunch of these resources with you today.
My all time favorite site was Starfall (www.starfall.com) which is suitable for Pre-kindergarten through almost 3rd grade as well as for homeschoolers, ESL students, and special needs students. It’s amazingly interactive, with lots of fun graphics, cartoons and sounds. When I was teaching my students couldn’t get enough of the stories and games all the while they were learning anything from word families to vowel rules. They thought it was playtime, but I knew it was learning time as well. It has a comprehensive curriculum and best of all it’s free!
PBS kids has a lot of fun activities, movies and interactive games but one of the best sections on it is the Between the Lions portion of the site (www.pbskids.org/lions) As the site says it’s a place for kids to “get wild about reading” There are stories, games, video clips and a lot more to engage a child in reading and a parent/teacher section that provides more information as well as printable and downloadable resources and lesson plans.
Roy the Zebra (RoytheZebra.com) is another site worth checking out. This site is perfect for emerging readers with simple comic book style graphics, fresh primary colors and friendly animal characters. The games can be played on a computer or interactive device. In addition to plenty of interactive reading games covering things like capital letters, rhyming words, singular or plural and question marks there is also a decent sized selection of guided reading stories complete with printable discussion sheets and worksheets.
Leading to Reading (http://www.rif.org/kids/leadingtoreading/) from Reading is Fundamental one of the largest children’s literacy nonprofits in the USA - sections for babies through preschoolers have delightful graphics and cheerful sounds and music perfect for encouraging a love of reading.
Professor Garfield has extremely catchy cartoons and graphics and a wealth of activities that range from pre-kindergarten to even as far as 8th grade. This link provides all the content arranged by grade level so you can specifically target the skills and age level you are looking for: http://www.professorgarfield.org/parents_teachers/instructions/cont...) For the early emergent readers, the section Orson’s farm is chock full of phonemic awareness games and the Easy Readers and Think Aloud Series have printable books.
Scholastic has a section dedicated to kids aged 3-7 called the Family Playground (http://www.scholastic.com/parents/play/) You can capture the attention of your little ones with links to activities with some of their favorite characters including Clifford, the big red dog, Maya and Miguel, and the Magic School bus kids.