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Reading Kingdom {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

September 6, 2012

I taught my eleven year old how to read years ago and my nine year old basically taught himself – yay!  So it’s been six years (at least) since I’ve taught anyone how to read!  Imagine my surprise when my nearly seven year old hasn’t quite caught on yet.  That’s why I was so excited to have been selected for this review of Reading Kingdom!

Reading Kingdom was created by Dr. Marion Blank.  It is an online reading program designed to teach children ages 4 through 10 reading up to a third grade level.  It is versatile enough to be used with your current reading program.  How exactly is the Reading Kingdom different from other programs?  It uniquely provides customized reading instruction for each child using skills including sequencing, motor skills, phonics (phonemic awareness), meaning, grammar and reading comprehension.
Skills List

I obviously chose my “overdue non-reader” to try out this program.  At seven I expect him to be much further along than basic phonetics and a few site words.  He recognizes most all the letters and knows the sounds they make, but he does still have trouble mixing up b’s and d’s and he can’t apply his knowledge of the sounds all the way through the words.  For example, he may get the first two letters sounded out correctly and then totally drop the end of the word or just guess at it – usually incorrectly.  :/

How we used the program:

I sat with my son while he used the program.  This is not necessary, in fact it was hard on me to keep my mouth shut, because if he messed up the computer corrected him.  He could have done Reading Kingdom on his own without me observing, but I wanted to see what the program was about so I could write more intelligently about it for the review.  To get started, he was given a test to assess where to start him out.  After the testing part was over was when the real fun began.

Initially, he was asked to find letters in a string that matched letters in a cloud.  For example, “go”.  He had to select the letters “g & o” out of a group like this “t g k l o”.  Each time he progressed, the words got a little more challenging and he earned points.  This exercise helped his with letter recognition as well as tracking left to right.  Once he was making real words it also helped with spelling and word recognition.

Reading Kingdom Screenshot

The next section had him use the keyboard.  He was told which rows on the keyboard would be used and then given a string of two to three letters to find.  Then he was asked to type one of those letters again to help form a word on the screen.  The woman’s voice would then read the word and a cartoon would dance across the screen to reinforce the meaning of the word.

My boy loved the Reading Kingdom!  He drew a crowd every time he played because he was so animated right along with the characters on the screen.  He would play but his brothers would watch intently.  He adored the owl mascot and would repeatedly say, “I love that birdie!”   Sometimes he was asked to use the mouse to click letters while other times he had to find certain letters on the keyboard.  If there was a word created by his efforts, a voice would pronounce the word followed by applause.  After each correct answer there is a little cartoon display which he enjoyed immensely.

Likes:

  • This was like a game to my son – which was wonderful!  He is such a reluctant reader that he squirms and tries to beg off of reading books.  Although he couldn’t read all the words presented in this program, he was still anxious to work at it.  Since the voice always read the words to him, I feel confident that he was learning while playing.
  • Ease of use.  There were tons of options from using an on-screen keyboard or an attached keyboard to increasing the response time for the child.  The ability to tell where your child was in the program as well as to see how well they were progressing was achieved with little icons and tickers-easy to use at a glance.  You can even use it on an iPad!

Dislikes:

  • Because this is an online program, it took a while to download the next screen each time.  This wait, though not terribly long, was long enough for him to lose a little bit of momentum.

My opinion?  We loved Reading Kingdom!  We feel so blessed to have been able to use it for free in exchange for this review.  It is, however, not something that we will be able to continue financially after the review period has passed.  If you have it in your budget, I say go for it – it truly is a wonderful program!  If you would love to use it but simply can’t afford it, check out their scholarship program.  I hope that it will get my Liam on the track to reading fluently before the subscription runs out and we go back to his dreaded books.

Working on Reading Kingdom

You may try Reading Kingdom for free for 30 days.  Once you love it like we have, you’ll want to purchase it for $19.99/month or $199.99 for the year.  If you have more than one reader you can add them for only $9.99/month or $99.99 for the year.  You may cancel your subscription at any time.  Additionally, further resources are available for purchase at the Reading Kingdom store.

Photobucket

DISCLAIMER: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received a complimentary subscription to the Reading Kingdom for the purpose of completing this review. All the opinions expressed here are my own and are offered honestly in exchange for the product. The receipt of the product in no way influenced my honest assessment.
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