Starfall Education is an online digital resource for early learning that is aimed at younger children yet can be used by parents and teachers too.
While the main offering features digital game-based learning, there is also a section specifically for teachers and parents, full of resources to use for instruction -- including printables. With a focus on phonemic awareness and Common Core state standards for arts and math, it's perfectly aligned for schools.
Since this entire site is built as a public service, aimed at children, it is safe, much of it is free, and it doesn't require any information to get started using everything on offer. And since this has been around since 2002, the amount of resources here is great.
What is Starfall Education?
Starfall Education was started in 2002 as a resource to help children read. It has since grown into a massive platform that covers language, math, and more, from pre-school right up to K-3.
The site is still primarily a reading resource, so the four main sections cover ABCs, Learn To Read, It's Fun To Read, and I'm Reading. But with the ability to filter by age group, you can dive into lots of sub-sections including games, math, historical folk songs, seasonal offerings, and more.
Everything is laid out beautifully with big clear icons and titles, lots of color, and a minimalism that makes it attractive and easy to use, even for younger students.
In addition, there's a section that's aimed at parents and teachers, filled with resources that can be printed, projected, and more. These can be used to teach students off-screen or to add to lesson plans. Crucially, it's all Common Core state standards aligned.
How does Starfall Education work?
Starfall Education is an open site that is available for all to use. That means a parent, teacher, or child can access the site and much of its interactive content immediately.
Since this is aimed at younger ages it will likely work best with an adult to help guide the child -- although since this is all super safe, they don't require supervision.
While a lot of the resources are available for free, to get the best access you will need to pay for a subscription service. With that you get access to detailed programs, such as the More Phonics section that has eight modules aimed at expanding reading, each with a different theme to keep kids engaged, from Go Outside to The Wild Life.
Modules are generally colorful and clearly laid out with larger arrow buttons to progress. In many cases there is a written example with an ear icon you can select to have it read aloud. You click through each slide, reading and listening, without much need to interact actively in many of these cases.
To get more interactive, the worksheets are helpful, allowing parents and teachers to print follow-up exercises in which kids can put into practice what they've learned through the site.
What are the best Starfall Education features?
Starfall Education is super simple to use, beautifully laid out, and in a follow-along style that makes kids want to come back and progress further.
While all the learning games on the site are excellent for teaching, it's the resources site that is particularly useful for teachers. Head to the Parent-Teacher center and there are worksheets, books, music, projectibles, and curriculum specifics that can be accessed to print or download and use as needed in class.
When introducing words there is a helpful sounding out option that will spell the word, repeating it faster each time, until the whole word is heard. Everything is self-paced, allowing students of varying levels and abilities to navigate as they need. This can be a positive but may also be too much freedom for some students, so some guidance or supervision could benefit their experience.
The I'm Reading section is a great way to progress more advanced readers, allowing them to read short books in which they learn about other subjects such as fables and Greek myths, for example.
One issue is that there isn't much feedback, meaning no negative feedback, but also little personalization.
This site is a viable option for projection in class to help introduce letters and math to the group as a whole before working on the printable worksheets to help with mastery.
How much does Starfall Education cost?
Starfall Education offers quite a few free options although you will find it's more of a tease, with parts of modules, which means you do need to subscribe for the full learning experience.
There are four subscription models:
- Home is charged at $35 per year
- Teacher is $70 per year covering up to six student devices
- Classroom is $195 per year covering one class per grade
- School is $355 per year covering all school devices
Starfall Education best tips and tricks
Start on screen
Project the basics of math and language to introduce new letters, numbers, and sounds to the class as a group with engaging visuals and audio.
Have groups of students, or individuals, work through content separately as a reward to encourage progress.
Make sure to use the resources to have students work on the sheets so that learning is cemented either in class, or beyond, at home.
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