Question from a follower (Gosh, "a follower", that is pretty humbling to me!!!):
Camille, what websites do you put on Sqworl for your kindergartners?
Well, last year was my first year to teach kindergarten and I had a K/1 combination so I am NOT an expert on the best websites out there for kindergartners. I know some of you have better ideas, which I hope you will share via a comment. But, here are the online sites I used:
1) Starfall - free and fun -
My students loved this website. My one concern is that a few of the games were not very academically oriented and those were the ones that my students were most attracted to. Since this was my first year with Starfall (and kindergartners), I learned as I went.
2) RAZ - Kids $80 /year per class (If ten classes sign up together, it's $60 /year per class.)
I love this site because it is so easy for the children (and the teacher) to use. I can choose the level of books for each child to read online or I can open up the entire library to them.
3) Sylva Dell Books - Free
This company will give schools free access to their online books if you apply. These books are much, much harder, but I liked giving my students another option for reading online (... and remember I also had first graders in my class and some of them needed a challenge.)
4) Oxford Owl - Free
I just recently discovered this site and have not used it with a class yet. Students choose books to listen to online. This site is based in England so the narrators have an English accent.
5) IXL - $199/ year per class
I was very frustrated last year in my quest to find a math program for my students to use online. In the Spring I found IXL, and although it was pricey, it somewhat fit my needs. I only used it for about 2 months with my class, so the jury is still out. However, my students seemed to really enjoy it. A plus is that all the standards are covered. A minus is that it is mostly drill and practice; however, if you miss a problem you can ask to see an explanation and the explanations are good (completely visual, no voice). But how many kinders would ask for an explanation? I think zero. Another minus for me, is that I couldn't figure out a way to control which standards my students were working on. The entire year's worth of standards is given as a choice (actually all standards from K-6 are given as a choice). Whew! That's a lot of choices! So I am not 100% sold and am continuing to look.
I also used these two math programs and cannot recommend them for kindergarten, but they might be your cup of tea. Here's the scoop:
1) XtraMath - Free
This a great drill program for mastering the basic math facts. I can't recommend it for kinder because I don't believe kindergartners should be spending their time memorizing math facts. (My two cents.)
2) Study Island - Math - $121/ year per class (It's another $121 for language arts for K or 1st.)
The upper grade teachers RAVED about this program, so I gave it a try. For kinder and first grade, Study Island uses the same standards nationwide, but it was a close enough match for me. The first year I used it, I taught first grade and it went over well with my students. I like being able to stipulate which concepts students worked on. But things changed in the Fall, when my district created usernames and passwords for Study Island that were impossible to remember and impossible for some of my students to type in (periods, random numbers and random letters). I think this was a district thing, not a Study Island issue; but for whatever reason, I can't use a program that my students cannot access. (Luckily my subscription ran out right when this happened so I didn't have to pay for a program I wasn't using.)
Whew, that was a long post!! If anyone is still reading and has ideas for great websites for kinders and firsties, PLEASE let us know in a comment. Thanks!