Jun 092014

If your child can’t read or hates reading, practicing with reading games can help build your child’s reading skills.

Cool Reading Games can engage your child in learning, especially when he has dyslexia and is reluctant to practice reading skills.

If your child has ADHD, dyslexia, or another learning disability, using these cool reading games to engage your child in learning. The more your child has exposure to reading games, the more they’ll help build your child’s reading skills.

Below, I have interactive, online cool reading games and programs listed in three sections: Free reading games, Paid reading games for Typical Learners, and Paid reading games for Learners with Reading Disabilities.

Generally speaking, the free and paid reading games for typical learners will check to see whether your child has mastered specific reading skills before moving forward. Moving forward in the reading game before learning the reading skill can make those programs ineffective for kids with known learning disabilities.  The reading games can be used as as Homeschooling Curriculum for Kids with Dyslexia, ADHD, or other LDs to the extent that the child needs to practice reading. However, your child will need a program to TEACH reading skills before reading practice becomes practical.

To benefit from reading practice, have your child practice with one of these reading games for at least 20-30 minutes per day.  Tending towards 30 minutes would bring the most meaningful benefit.  If you break practice into two 15 minute segments, it would be ideal. That’s because research shows a child tends to remember the first thing and last thing taught in a lesson.

Free Reading Games for Kids: Helpful for kids with dyslexia

These reading games are good for anyone who is not homeschooling. That is, these particular reading games are good if you don’t need any kind of progress reporting. If your child does not have a specific learning disability in the area of reading, these free reading games are good for regular reading practice.

Starfall Reading – A free public service program to teach children to read with phonics. Starfall’s systematic approach uses phonics in conjunction with phonemic awareness practice to help children learn to read.

Reading is Fundamental Reading Planet Game Station – Fun reading games designed to enhance reading skills more at the word-based level than at the phonemic awareness level.  In other words, a child would build reading skills here after the basic decoding skills are in place.

Jumpstart Reading Games – A fun, free site with reading games for K-5

Knowledge Adventure Reading Games – Great site with the ability to select grade level and subject.  Easy site to use.

PBSKids’ Reading Games – Basic reading skills with All KINDS of games, but they aren’t organized in any particular format.  It’s a great place to visit just to play around.

Phonics Vowels – This is an app that focuses on teaching vowel sounds and vowel combinations.  Given that vowels are core elements of every word, working on vowel mastery can help any child develop better reading skills.

If your child has a reading disability, you’d probably be better off paying for a program designed to insure concept mastery. These programs track your child’s progress as he progresses through the program. These programs are similar to many reading games, but they follow a specific sequence of learning for kids with dyslexia.

Fast ForWord via Gemm Learning – Fast ForWord is a great program for any child that has significant Phonemic Awareness difficulties accompanying difficulty with reading. The Fast ForWord program is usually provided through a provider who oversees your child’s use of the programming, but Gemm Learning company has an option that allows your child to use the program on your computer at home. Gemm then provides oversight and consultation. Fast ForWord is an excellent and proven program.

Nessy – This program is interactive, game-like, and a good step-by-step program. Your child has to follow the progression of steps that take him through a logical progression of learning. The information on their Evidence of Results page speaks mostly of the proven nature of Orton-Gillingham Methods, structured multi-sensory phonics teaching, as well as how much kids LIKE the program. There is study data for Nessy that used before and after testing which showed, “students on average made a gain of 1 year after 18 weeks of using Nessy Reading,” however the study appears to have been conducted with typical kids. Therefore, the program’s effectiveness specifically for kids with significant issues with dyslexia is not established yet through the study data they cite, BUT, if your child LOVES the program and willingly uses it on a daily basis, it is likely to provide reading skill benefits. Specifically, since the program is sequential, explicit in teaching reading and spelling skills, and is based upon Orton-Gillingham methods, it could be a good choice for your child.

Starfall Kindergarten Reading and Language Arts Curriculum – This program is great, but targeted at Kindergarten level students.  Thus, while it is great for a child who requires remediation at the lowest reading skill levels, it is likely to be too “babyish” if your child is third grade or beyond and needs help with reading remediation.  So, if you know your very young child is likely to have dyslexia, or a problem with reading skills, you would want to start at the very beginning of their education using a program like Starfall’s Kindergarten program, and then graduate to a program targeted at older students (like Lexia above) when needed.

Computer-Based Reading Programs for Learners with Reading Disabilities or Dyslexia:

Language Tune-Up Kit (LTK) – The Language Tune-Up Kit is based upon the proven Orton-Gillingham methodology. It provides comprehensive reading instruction beginning with sound-symbol correlations, includes sound blending, syllables, sight words, etc. The Language Tune-Up Kit is a comprehensive reading practice program designed specifically to help children with true dyslexia learn the essential elements of reading skill.

Earobics – This is the program we used with my sons for their foundational reading skills.  Earobics is a dynamic interactive program that is great for developing early reading skills, especially for establishing initial phonemic awareness.  This is not a comprehensive, robust reading program though–it is designed for auditory-phonemic training more so than as a reading solution.  If your child has speech-language issues or has difficulty properly hearing or speaking sound/syllables in words, then Earobics is a good place to begin.  Your child must have proper phonemic awareness in order to develop reading skills. The old edition of Earobics for older students is available through Christianbook.com. (Earobics is not a “Christian” program, it’s just offered for sale through them).
The new edition, designed for younger kids, is available through Houghton-Mifflin.

Lexia Reading At Home – This is one of the programs we used for reading remediation in our homeschooling.  My boys worked through the Lexia program, in its entirety, twice. HOWEVER, you should know this product has been updated for common core and now includes timed practice elements. I’ve had several parents report to me their child is reduced to tears because he/she can’t get past the speed-based drills (they are for reading fluency). SO, if your child has a slow neurological processing speed, this may not be the best program choice for your child. ;-) That’s just a heads-up for you.

** Be aware: The Lexia Reading Core 5 program is designed for students in preschool through 5th grade. The Lexia games for kids sometimes seem like play, but they’re learning too!  Older students will use the “Strategies for Older Students” program. Be sure you select the proper program.  To purchase a one year subscription, click visit Lexia Reading At Home online (NOT an affiliate link).

For additional resources, check out the “Home School Curriculum for Learning Disabilities” Resource page for a variety of options you can use at home.

General Curriculum Options for Poor Readers:

These are not reading games at all. This section shares a program you can use to help your child learn even though he can’t yet read (very well). This program has captions, which can help with understanding reading skills. (It keeps you from having to read everything aloud to your child.)Global Student Network

Odysseyware from Global Student Network (GSN) As a first choice, I’d HIGHLY recommend Odysseyware. This learning platform includes teaching videos, an audio narration of the page, and a highlighted text-to-speech ability. The text-to-speech reader emphasizes (bolds and enlarges) each word as it is read. Having the animated highlighting lets your child follow along with the reading, which  helps a child who is developing reading skills.

The variety within the Odysseyware lessons include audio, visual, and the highlighted text . These combined modes of learning create a varied learning environment.  The audio-visual nature of the program is likely to hold the attention of kids with ADHD better than standard curricula too. You can request a demo of the Odysseyware and buy a one-year subscription that will provide your child with unlimited access to their courses. If your child finishes one course, he can just move on to the next!

Zane Education for Reading Difficulties: provides a highly effective online visual learning solution for children of school age with Reading Difficulties. It provides the use of subtitled educational video, quizzes, video study tools and free lesson plans for more than 260+ K-12 curriculum topics, with more material being added all the time. A library of over 1,000 educational videos removes the reliance on being able to read to learn, and enables each child to then enjoy the learning process. The use of closed captioned video provides the option to watch, listen to, or read each presentation thereby accommodating the widest range of Learning Styles, and allows each child to progress at their own speed thereby enabling them to achieve their greatest individual potential. The use of the video subtitles can also be used to improve reading difficulties at the same time they are studying each topic.

These programs usually include progress tracking, which can be helpful if you require documentation of your child’s program and/or progress for your homeschool portfolio.  For anyone who is not homeschooling,

Kabongo – This is an interactive, online reading skills program.  They have a couple of free “try it” games you can use to see if you like the program.  As a way to engage an active audio-visual learner in reading practice, this is a great site for academic engagement.  The child won’t really feel like he is studying reading!

Reading Egg is growing in popularity and is being used in schools as a “Response to Intervention” platform.  The program is not specifically designed as an Orton-Gillingham reading program for children with learning disabilities in reading or dyslexia, but it is an engaging, interactive, online program you can use to get your kids going with reading.   Whether or not your child makes adequate progress with the program will likely depend upon the type and severity of your child’s learning disability.

Word Magic – this isn’t “online,” but it is an app that can be used anytime, anywhere and is a great program.  Word Magic is ideal for kids between the ages 3 to 6, but I think the games would appeal to children as old as 9-11 depending upon the child. “It is an excellent application for kids to have fun with words and their spellings. Word Magic is very ideal for parents since it engages kids while driving, in the airport or while waiting in the restaurants.” It’s a very inexpensive app well worth having available for your child’s reading and spelling practice.

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