by Ewa Wilson, deputy headteacher at Bonners C of E Primary School in East Sussex
I have used Teach Your Monster to Read with her students over the past few years. I currently teach Year 1 and 2 and is also the SLE (Specialist Leader for ICT/Computing) at the school.
I discovered Teach Your Monster to Read while searching for phonics games online. I was looking for a fun and engaging phonics review game for students in Reception and Year 1.
Teach Your Monster to Read is relevant for key stage 1 and works as an effective additional tool for classroom phonics teaching and intervention groups. It is also free to play. The game was a instant hit with the children. It captured the children’s imagination in an interesting and colourful way and the children just wanted to play it.
How do you use it in class?
I have used Teach Your Monster to Read in our phonics and literacy lessons, with the Reception class students, Year 1s and also with the after school reading intervention class. We generally use the games for 20 minute individual computer sessions, 5 minute bursts (when children had some spare moments free), or as a class IWB session.
During our IWB sessions, children identify the sounds using a button within Teach Your Monster to Read that enables you to press on the grapheme so you can hear the phoneme. This works as a brilliant introduction to the sounds they will be working on that day and it also helped the children practise the sounds that appear on the screening test.
Who plays the game?
The game is split into 3 levels. The reception class use the first game in the series, First Steps which is an introduction to the letter sounds, high frequency words and also includes simple blending and segmenting practice. Even young reception class students were able to access the game, log on and go straight into playing.This accessibility encourages independent practice and also mouse control.
Year 1 students progress on to the harder levels and begin to practise sentences, learn further graphemes and phonemes and also tricky words. Game 3, Champion Reader has been particularly useful for those children who were coming up to the phonics assessment.
The game is also used in the after school intervention class. The children are always excited to show their parents their monsters and the game. It’s a good homework resource and parents can easily sign up their children to the game. It’s also simple to set up as a teacher, and there’s a parent letter that you can download and share.
Why does the game work?
What stands out for me is that children are completely engaged with the game. They are immersed in the world of Teach Your Monster to Read. It is an adventure rather than a set of stop and start mini games, so the reading practice flows along without stopping, which helps with independent learning.
The children become very attached to their monsters and want to make sure their monsters are learning to read. They also see the monster as their little learning partner, and this is one of the unique features of the game that really brings it alive.
The children are teaching their own monster to read and this is taking the pressure off their own learning. They grow in confidence because they are acting as the teacher and this confidence helps them engage with wider reading in general.
It’s so easy to use too. Sign in and off you go. Children can very easily use this at home or in the classroom, and work through it at their own speed.
How does Teach Your Monster to Read improve teaching/learning?
I noticed a big impact in their phonics knowledge, particularly when using the ‘sound button’ within game 3’s Champion Reader.
The game also helped children learn their ‘high frequency words’. These words are integrated into Teach Your Monster to Read. The children have to collect the little ‘tricky’ creatures and put them in their monster’s pocket. They see the words, and also read them within a sentence, which helps retain this new knowledge.
Progress is also monitored in the game and it is possible to see which sounds need extra work. This helps me to make an instant formative assessment of the student’s level and ability.
What difference has it has made to the classroom?
The children’s enthusiasm for Teach Your Monster to Read is astounding, and it has created a real excitement around learning to read away from the computer.
Teach Your Monster to Read can also be relied on as a homework tool. The game contains all the relevant information to help fill in the gaps in learning; high frequency words, blending and segmenting practice and lots of sentence practice.
It’s made phonics lessons more exciting, and it is a brilliant addition to a teacher’s phonics toolkit.
It would be very easy to integrate the game into other classroom activities; storytelling, character and personality descriptions. We’ll be using Teach Your Monster to Read in the coming year, and hope to make more of this fantastic resource.
About Teach Your Monster to Read
Teach Your Monster to Read is a free online series of games that helps children practise the first stages of reading. It complements all major synthetic phonics programmes taught in school and has been very popular amongst Key Stage 1 teachers and the home market.
The idea of Teach Your Monster to Read is that children create a monster and take it on a magical journey. Children are rewarded throughout the game with prizes for teaching their monster to read.
The educational content of the game gets harder as the student progresses, offering new challenges and adventures at each stage of the student’s reading journey.
Sign up and play at: www.teachyourmonstertoread.com
Watch the new game trailer!