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Friday, March 2, 2012

Reading Eggs Review

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This has been an exciting time in our house!  If you've read my last few reviews, we have really been blessed in the past few weeks to receive a few products that I've truly loved and that have benefited our homeschool SO much.  I don't want to be redundant in my praise, but Reading Eggs is another one of those products!

Reading Eggs is an online reading program designed for 4-8 year olds.  It was developed by teachers, educational writers, animators, and web developers.  Currently, it has the ability to take a child from being a non-reader to reading on a 1st grade level, and more lessons are in the works.  There is also a companion site, Reading Eggspress, for children ages 7 – 13 years old. It features more than 700 books in the library, 200 big comprehension lessons, 100-level quest-style game and a stadium with real-time contests against players from around the country and around the world.

When you first sign your child up, you can chose to either start at the beginning or take an assessment (for children with some reading skills already)-seen below.
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After that, your child begins on their own map.  Each dot is a lesson that covers a particular sound (phonogram), or sound combination. 
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Within each lesson, an animated character like Sam the Ant (below) models the concept for them and then guide the student through activities to ensure they understand.  A student must get 7 correct answers before moving on.  After that, there is a connect the dot activity for the letter or sound, and then upper and lower case letter recognition.  Then the student does some vocabulary based activities that prepares them for the biggest component-reading an e-book.  The books have audio support, and are also available in print form so you can use them when you are not "plugged in". 

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The final part of each lesson is the cracking open of an egg which reveals a critter for their collection.  For example, Catty Cake is the Reading Eggs critter for the letter Cc and everything about her reinforces the letter that was worked on.  In the "My Critters" section of the website, a matching card shows that Catty Cake lives on a cosy cushion, is friends with a cow and a camel, eats corn and carrots, and loves to cook cakes.

Students can repeat lessons whenever they want.  They also earn spendable eggs as they play, and can use them for items to decorate their own house or buy clothes for their avatar.  For fun, they can play games at the Arcade, or visit Puzzle Park, or the Playroom, or once they unlock them, several other activities like Driving Test.  All these "fun" things also reinforce the learning they have done up to that point. 

While Reading Eggs is the main area I looked at because I have a beginner reader, since others on the TOS Crew with older kids were gushing about Reading Eggspress, I just signed my son up for a free 2 week trial of that, so I can give a little information about that too.  Like Reading Eggs has it's own virtual setting, Reading Eggspress takes place on a floating island.
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When you begin, you take an assessment to see where you are at in terms of reading level and comprehension, and I was pleased that my son tested just a hair above his current grade!
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After that,  you begin playing.  Each person has an avatar, although these are more "real" looking people than the Reading Eggs ones.  Again, you can customize the look of your avatar and decorate your living space with the money you earn in-game by completing reading tasks.  Below is a screenshot of the Comprehension Gym.
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The pros:  As soon as I saw Reading Eggs on the list of upcoming reviews, I decided to check it out, since I had heard lots of good things about it from various places.  They offer a free 2 week trial, so we actually got a jumpstart on reviewing this.  My daughter LOVES it.  Really, truly, loves it.  She would do Reading Eggs all day if I would let her.  As the youngest of four, she often is done with her school work long before her siblings, and Reading Eggs has really come to the rescue with a safe online learning environment that is SO much fun she doesn't even know she's learning.  But she is!  She's on level 56 already, and making progress every day.  She loves the songs the best, and has even learned some of those typical grade school songs that I never seem to teach my kids, like The Grand Old Duke of York or The Ants Go Marching.  Her favorite one is something about a floppy scarecrow?  I don't know, but it makes me laugh to watch her do it and listen to her sing along.  She is having SO MUCH FUN with Reading Eggs, and learning while she's doing it.  As I mentioned, TJ just started on Reading Eggspress, but he reports it's fun too, and I know it's challenging, because I've seen him get a few wrong answers on the comprehension questions!

The cons:  You should know that the Reading Eggs avatars are all whimsical, like people or animals in partially hatched shells.  You can customize them, so your child's avatar could have T-Rex arms and a human head if they designed it that way.  Some of the background characters might be a little weird, with pumpkin heads or fantasy creature like attributes.  And while the Reading Eggspress avatars are more "human" there are background creatures there that are mythological or fantasy based that might bother some people.  My only person con is that it can be pricey for homeschool families if you have multiple children wanting to do it.  The cost is $9.95 a month, and is less if you pay buy the half-year ($49.95/$8.33 a month) or year ($75/$6.25 a month).  I don't see where there is a family pricing structure, so that would be per child. 

The bottom line:  Anyone who knows me knows how frugal I am, but I have to say, I'd PAY for Sari to keep using Reading Eggs.  That's how much we like it.  Unfortunately, now that I introduced TJ to Reading Eggspress, I think he'd like me to pay for that for him too, and I'm not sure that's nearly as justifiable since he reads above grade level :-).  I do want to encourage you to sign up for the free 2 week trial because you have nothing to lose, and you don't even have to give them credit card info to get your trail-I love them for that fact alone!  And keep your eye out for codes that provide even longer access.  I know The Old Schoolhouse just had one that gave you a free month.  You can only use so many codes per child, but it definitely helps.  And Reading Eggs offers 2 free weeks for each referral you send their way, so that's helpful too. 

To sign up for Reading Eggs, go HERE.  To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say (some with way more experience with Reading Eggspress than I had), go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer: I received a multi-week online membership for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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4 comments:

Tiffany said...

I'm going to try out the free trial for Joe...he reads fine but I have a really hard time getting him to spend time reading just for fun. Thanks for the review!

GraGra said...

Reading Eggs is great. You might also try www.zoowhiz.com. Its new, fun and free and also comes from Australia.

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Claire O Meara said...

Nice piece. My two girls have been using the reading eggs program fOR the last 6 months and they love it.