Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Teach Your Monster to Read

Oh my goodness, I think I love this game! Teach Your Monster to Read is free for PCs and has been made to encourage early literacy. Perfect for our household then! I couldn't have had it recommended at a better time, either - today Daughter sat with a book open, told me what each of the letters on the page said and then fell into total meltdown because she couldn't get them to 'make words'. She's not generally a mardy sort of child, so it was heartbreaking seeing her so cut up about something - especially since I don't have the first clue about where to begin teaching her to read.

I'm not usually an advocate of computers for kids, or screen time in general really, but Daughter is three now and I think I have to let go of my preconceptions regarding what childhood should be - day after day she astonishes me with her thirst for learning and I'm left lagging, trying to find activities which nurture that lust for knowledge. I was rather under the impression that the early years of childhood should be spent sat in the garden, eating bugs and mud pies, sticking leaves up one's nostrils. Apparently, things have changed since my day... Daughter's peers not only have access to tablets and iPads, but in many cases, have them sat ready and waiting in their own toy-box. I don't think we'll be going quite that far, but a half-hour per day, supervised on my laptop isn't going to be the childhood-eroding horror that I had - in my pre-children days - envisioned.

In any case, Teach Your Monster to Read does exactly that. It uses phonetics and simple, flash games to help children learn the various sounds they need to read. It's colourful, customisable and I love the fact that they need to use a mouse, rather than just poke things with their fingers (thus paving the way for the hand-eye coordination that the girl will need when she gets old enough to play console games with me).

The sounds are split amongst different 'islands' and children need to complete all the games before moving onto the next one. Each island takes about half an hour to play through (so far) so taking breaks is natural and easily possible. I've dug out various letter toys (wooden letter blocks, a Melissa and Doug letter puzzle, a Hello Kitty wipe clean writing book etc.) so that we can continue practising the sounds after we've finished playing. And I think I read somewhere - in our Bookbug pack, perhaps (the equivalent of Bookstart for north of the Border) - that children learn to read better when they're able to practise making letters as they learn to recognise them.

I'm not expecting this game to single-handedly teach my child to read and write, but it's a wonderful starting point for someone like me who has absolutely zero teaching experience. I can use each island section as a jumping-off point for the day and use those letters for as long or as short a time as Daughter wants to. Then my regularly scheduled programme of, "Stick your rain suit on and go outside," can be resumed...

Do you have any ideas for teaching reading? Are there any great online games you would recommend for pre-schoolers?


  1. Time for magnetic letters on the fridge...

  2. Thank you for this brilliant review of Teach Monster! All the best with the reading.