My district has been big on differentiation this year so I’ve been looking for websites that not only address a particular content area, but also can provide some differentiated experiences beyond the “easy, medium, hard” that is the standard of so many online activities.
Enter Starfall Reading. I’ve been using this website recently with my Kindergarten through Second graders and they absolutely love it! The students have been engaged, practicing their reading skills, and have a variety of reading levels to choose from, allowing for emergent readers of all levels to enjoy the site. Think of the old (or in some cases present) listening & reading stations in elementary classrooms that had students listening to stories on cassette or CD while following along with the text. Starfall is all of that plus more! The website is broken up into four separate categories, so there’s something for every level of emergent literacy. A nice feature is that the learner chooses what is read to them and what they read on their own. Using flash, the books are shown one page at a time with both interactive images and text. If the student is incapable of reading the selection on their own they can click on a word and hear it pronounced (either as a whole word or broken up phonetically). There are also some rather nice fiction pieces for first and second graders including Chinese Fables, Greek Myths, and classic Folk Tales.
With over 50 online books (all of them FREE; the magic word), methodology based on research, lesson plans, message boards, and links for parents, there’s a LOT of great material here for emergent readers.