Jun 092014

Got a child who HATES reading or a reluctant reader who needs to practice reading skills?

Cool Reading Games can engage your child in learning, especially your child is a reluctant reader or has dyslexia.

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

Below, I have shared several online cool reading games. The programs are listed in three sections:

Be aware, many of the free and paid reading games designed for typical learners may not check to see whether your child has mastered each reading skill before moving forward in game play. Therefore, when using these cool reading games, you’ll want to check out the features to see if the program moves forward with reading skill mastery. You may be fine using the program, but it helps to be aware of the forward progress in the program.

These cool reading games can be used as as Homeschooling Curriculum for Kids with Dyslexia, ADHD, or other LDs. They’re best used to let your child practice reading skills. However, your child will need a proven reading program to TEACH reading skills before practice with cool reading games becomes practical.

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

Also, using one of these cool reading games as a bedtime activity will help your child learn more faster. Research shows whatever you do right before bed continues to be processed by your brain. Therefore, using one of the cool reading games as a bedtime activity could seem like fun for your child, but his brain will continue processing the reading. That is a learning bonus for YOU because your child will learn to read faster!

Free Reading Games for Kids: Helpful for kids with dyslexia

cool reading games

These cool reading games are good for anyone who is not homeschooling. These particular reading games are good if you don’t need any kind of progress reporting. 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 cool 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. However these cool reading games aren’t organized in any particular order. 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.

Paid Online Reading Programs for Teaching Children with Dyslexia:

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 cool reading games. However, 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. 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 – is truly one of the cool reading games that is interactive. Kids love it! It’s a great 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. The testing 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 uses it on a daily basis, it is likely to provide reading skill benefits. The program is sequential and explicit in teaching reading and spelling skills. It is based upon Orton-Gillingham methods. Nessy could be a cool reading games choice for your child.

Starfall Kindergarten Reading and Language Arts Curriculum – This program is great. Just be aware it is targeted at Kindergarten level students.  It’s great for a child who requires remediation at the lowest reading skill levels. However, it is likely to be too “babyish” if your child is third grade or beyond. Therefore, if you know your very young child is likely to have dyslexia, start from beginning using a program like Starfall’s Kindergarten program. Then graduate to cool reading games targeted towards older students 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. It 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 includes cool reading games. It is great for developing early reading skills. It’s great for establishing initial phonemic awareness. This is not a comprehensive 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). Be sure to pay attention to compatibility with your computer BEFORE purchasing.
The new edition is designed for younger kids. It 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. It 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). There is a workaround. You can email Lexia to get help bypassing the speed drills. Just be aware, 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. 😉

** 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” program. Be sure you select the proper program so the lexia games will be appropriate for your child. 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 options you can use at home.

Online, Cool Reading Games for Practice by Typical Learners:

These programs usually include progress tracking. If you’re homeschooling, tracking can be helpful if you need documentation of your child’s program or progress for your homeschool portfolio. For anyone who is not homeschooling, the documentation can be important when setting IEP goals with your child’s school.

Kabongo – This is an interactive, online, reading skills program.  They have free “try it” options with cool reading games you can play 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 keeping kids engaged. Your child won’t really feel like he is studying reading!

Reading Egg is growing in popularity. It 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. However, it is an engaging, interactive, online set of cool reading games you can use to get your kids practicing 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. It is a great program.  Word Magic is ideal for kids between the ages 3 to 6. However, I think these cool reading 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.

General Curriculum Options for Poor Readers:

The programs listed below are programs that aren’t cool reading games. These are general learning programs for kids who struggle with reading. The programs can be used to help your child learn even though he can’t yet read (very well). The programs have captions. The captions can help your child understand reading skills a bit better. (It keeps you from having to read everything aloud to your child.)

Odysseyware from Global Student Network (GSN) As a first choice, I’d HIGHLY recommend Odysseyware. This learning platform includes teaching videos. There is also audio narration of the pages. It also has 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. The highlighting helps a child who is developing reading skills.

The variety within the Odysseyware lessons includes 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. If you like it, you can 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!

I hope these options will help you find a great practice program for your child. When our kids dislike reading, anything we can do to engage them is worthwhile!