Thursday, September 6, 2018

Improving Reading Comprehension with Reading Eggspress {A TOS Review}

My kiddos LOVE being able to do their learning on the computer, so I am thrilled when I find sites that the children enjoy, sites where they can't wait for their turn to get on the computer. Reading Eggs is one of those sites. Harold has been using this site for a while now actually. Several months ago we reviewed their math component called Mathseeds, which is one of their newer offerings. They also offer the following: Reading Eggs Junior (ages 2-4), Reading Eggs (ages 3-7), and Reading Eggspress (ages 7-13). Though Harold is only six years old, we discovered he is quite ready for Reading Eggspress. And thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew, we are getting to use it for a few months. 

What is really awesome is that Reading Eggs has come out with workbooks to supplement the lessons on their website. While we did receive a workbook, as did many of my fellow Crew Mates, we didn't really get to utilize it the way we had planned. I will be sharing a bit about the workbook, titled 200 Essential Reading Skills for First Grade, later on in the review; however after we received the book, I realized Harold was beyond it. Remember I mentioned above that we discovered Harold is ready for Reading Eggspress. Well, once we got access to the site, he took the assessment and he placed on the LAST "map" in Reading Eggs. Which meant he was ready for the END of the First Grade workbook we received. I tried to get him to back up and use earlier lessons on the site, ones that would correspond to earlier lessons in the workbook; however, he kept saying he was bored. So, I decided to bump him up to Reading Eggspress instead. 

You see, here is how the assessment works. A child will take the test until they get three answers incorrect. The child will then be placed at the appropriate level. 

Reading Eggs has the following levels:
  • Starting Out (starts at Lesson 1, beginner, assumes no prior knowledge)
  • Beginning to Read (starts at Lesson 41, emergent reader)
  • Building Confidence (starts at Lesson 81, early reader)
From what I can tell, if you feel your child was assessed a bit high, and they are struggling with lessons, a child can easily move down to a previous map to start there. However, if you (or your child) thinks the work is too easy, they can't move ahead without retaking the assessment. 

Once a level has been set, a child is to work their way through the "maps," each of which has ten lessons. 

Throughout the Reading Eggs program, children are introduced to letter sounds, word families, and high frequency words. As they move through the program they will learn to read CVC words, CVCC words, words ending in -y and -ing, CVCe words, and words with different digraphs and blends. As you can guess, when a child completes the Reading Eggs section, they should be able to read a slew of words.

They can then move on to Reading Eggspress. This is the program Harold has been focusing on. This program is divided by grade level (first through sixth grade), with each level having multiple maps as well. Harold did place at the very beginning of the Reading Eggspress program, which is their First Grade level. In all levels, children will read both fiction and nonfiction selections to work on reading comprehension. They are introduced to multiple strategies to help them understand what they are reading. The text type also varies, from narrative, information, and procedure for the younger children, to such things as speeches, scripts, persuasive exposition, and rhyming hexameter verse for the older children. Additionally, there is a wide variety of different genres represented, such as fantasy, humor, realistic fiction, history, art, cooking, biology, poetry, and fables. And that is just a small representation of what is read. 

Reading Eggspress will take a child from Reading Level 7 through Reading Level 33, or from Lexile Level 180L through 1200L. 

Let's take a look at using the program. 

First of all, a computer with good internet access is required. Our internet connection isn't always the best, and with some sites we sometimes have issues; however, we have had no issues getting Reading Eggspress to work.

When we first log in, we come to the family dashboard.

From this dashboard I, as the parent, can see my child's progress for all the programs being used. A parent can also adjust the child's level or have them redo the placement test. A child, on the other hand, will click the start button and will come to a screen where they can choose which program they would like to work in. 

After Harold selects Reading Eggspress he will come to his dashboard, which you can see here:

There are quite a few options for children to choose from. 
  • English Skills appears to focus on spelling. The child will watch videos explaining a specific spelling rule, and will then answer questions.
  • The Stadium is a place where children can practice skills through fun competitive games. They can work on spelling, grammar, vocabulary, or usage at either an easy or difficult level. 
  • My Lessons is where you will find, well, the actual lessons for your child to work on reading comprehension, vocabulary building, and word recognition. They earn eggs for work completed.
  • The Library is where a child can choose a book to read to earn eggs. The child can choose to read the book themselves or have the program read it to them. Then they have to answer questions. They can choose from many subjects and can narrow the books by reading level.
  • Targets are goals that the child can strive to achieve, such as reading a certain number of books, completing so many lessons, getting trading cards, getting pets, getting trophies, and writing reviews. 
  • In the Mall, the child can use the eggs they've earned to buy items for their house, accessories for their avatar, pets, or trading cards. 
  • In the Apartment, the child can check out all the trading cards and trophies they have earned, plus change their avatar's looks, then they can add items and pets to different rooms or move them around.
  • The Trophy Room is just another, quicker way to get to see the trophies earned. The child needs to earn at least a 1000 eggs a week, by playing certain games, completing lessons, and reading books, to earn a bronze medal. These then add up to allow the child to get silver medallions and then gold trophies.
  • The Arcade is where the child can "spend" eggs to play fun, yet educational, games. 
Let's take a closer look at the "My Lessons" portion of the program:

When the child clicks on "My Lessons" they will pull up a map similar to Reading Eggs.

The lessons themselves all have multiple components. A child can see where they are in the lesson by clicking the purple arrow shown in the screenshot below to pull the sidebar out.

There will be an animated video which teaches the child a different strategy for reading comprehension. The first strategy they learn is learning to use "Think Marks," which I had never heard of before. 

They are taught to look at a passage to figure out if there are parts they can "see" in their mind. If there are words they don't understand they mark them with the "W." And they can use the check mark if they want to state they understand a specific part. Additionally if they finish reading and realize they then understand something better, such as the word that originally caused confusion, they can then add the check mark. 

There are many different strategies that will be taught in this program. Such as looking at the main idea and details, answering questions, visualization, and word study. As they advance in the program they will add such strategies as comparing and contrasting, sequencing, making connections, making inferences, making predictions, and analyzing characters.

Here, Harold is answering who, what, when, and where questions.

Each lesson has nine components the child is to work through. Not only will they work on interactive activities to practice the strategy taught, they will also increase their vocabulary and learn to make connections with different words, and they will practice reading or listening to stories and answering questions.  I appreciate knowing that my son is comprehending what is being read to him. He is learning listening skills, and learning to answer both literal questions and ones where he has to infer information, plus he is working on pay attention to details and the main idea. Though he can choose to have the program read a story to him,when he takes the quiz he has to be able to read the questions and the answers himself, and comprehend what he is reading.

He loves that he earns not only eggs, but trading cards by completing these quizzes. 

Here he chose the "Animalia" realm and earned the following card:

I asked him what his favorite things to do on Reading Eggspress are, and he stated he enjoys reading the book passages and answering the questions. One of his favorite activities is answering the "Who, What, When, and Where" questions. He does enjoy playing in the stadium.

However, we have discovered that if he is just "practicing" it doesn't give him any credit on his progress screen. A child has to actually click "VS the World" to be playing for points and credit. He did say he has tried to play, but it takes too long for the program to find enough opponents and they only have a set amount of time online each day, so he clicks on practice instead. I honestly am not sure how long hye considers "too long," so I will have to pay closer attention to him while he is trying to play in the stadium. You know, he's an impatient six year old boy, I'm sure he could probably be exaggerating.

He also mentioned that he doesn't really play in the Arcade very often, as the games are a bit tricky for him. I'll admit, the "Puzzle Parrot" game I played, which is a bit like Hangman, was challenging. He did say he enjoys playing "Food Science," which was sort of cool, because he is getting science in while working on his reading.

He even gets to read a cool proverb when he is done:

There are 11 different games that use a varying amount of eggs to play. Each is education in some way.

Another wonderful component of the program, is that there are activity sheets that can be printed out to help a child practice the concepts they have learned. You simply go to the Family Dashboard and click on "Bonus Material."

There are activity sheets for Reading Eggs, Reading Eggspress, and Mathseeds. For Reading Eggspress I could print out black and white worksheets for Comprehension or for English Skills - Spelling. 

This really is a wonderfully, thorough program. And now they have made it even more awesome by coming out with these workbooks. Now, you might be thinking, as I did, why would I need to purchase a workbook if I can print activity sheets directly from the site. What I have learned from having the 200 Essential Reading Skills for First Grade workbook, is that though the workbook pages are similar, they are not exact duplicates of what you will find on the site. Plus, they are in full color!

Though I can't speak for the Second Grade book that would go with Harold's level of Reading Eggspress, I can show you a bit of a comparison between the one I did receive and the Reading Eggs activity sheets. Harold and I did flip through the book briefly, and I had him read a bit to me and orally work on some of the activities, just to make sure he had mastered these skills. Yes, he was most definitely ready for Reading Eggspress. I could tell by the "Mooommm! This is too easy!"

Here are a couple of the Phonics pages from the workbook for Lesson 111 (this lesson is found on the map Harold placed in).

Here is an activity sheet from the site which most closely resembles it.

Here is a Comprehension page from the workbook from that same lesson. 

And here is the similar, but not quite the same, activity sheet.

 Finally, here is a page that focuses on vocabulary from the workbook.

The corresponding activity sheet is almost identical, but it doesn't include the third activity shown above.

The First Grade workbook is 270 pages in length and has wonderful content. Each group of lessons corresponds to a map on the site. There are four workbook pages per lesson, plus a quiz, certificate, and "Fun Spot" activity. Children will work on phonics, word families, high frequency words, vocabulary, reading and writing, and reading comprehension. At the end of each lesson they will fill in the boxes at the bottom of the page, stating that they completed the online lesson, their egg hatched, and which high frequency words they learned. It also shows which new book on the site they should be able to read.

Personally, I think the workbooks are wonderful resources to help your child get the most out of the program. I would highly recommend NOT ordering a workbook until you have your child signed up on the website, and have the results from the assessment test. That way you will make sure you have the correct workbook to go with the level. I would say the workbook would be worth the investment, even though there are activity sheets on the site for free. With 270 pages in the workbook we received, just think how much ink we are saving. Plus these workbooks are high quality, color workbooks. 

That said, the online program in and of itself is a wonderful stand-alone program if you are not able to justify the cost of the workbooks. Harold is really enjoying his time on Reading Eggspress, and I am glad to see his reading comprehension improving. 

Would you like to try Reading Eggs out? Here's some great news. You can try the online subscription out for free for 4 weeks. Just head on over to the Reading Eggs website. Make sure to use that link and you will get an extra 2 weeks for free. I have also been allowed to offer my readers coupon code for 10% off the workbooks. Just use this code: WK1066SF6AF.

How awesome is that?

You can find Reading Eggs on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates have to say about the different Reading and Math workbooks.

Online Reading Eggs Suite {Reading Eggs Reviews}
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