Before I jump right in, I should note: this is an unprompted, unpaid, probably unwanted review for Teach Your Monster To Read.  All opinions expressed are mine or my family’s, and I get absolutely nothing for writing this up.

 

 

What is it?

 

A free video game for kids.  It teaches them to read by playing games, learning letter sounds, blends, and advanced combinations.

It’s a simple format.  The kids design their monster from the toes up and start playing almost immediately.  No annoying tutorials or long drawn out assessments.  There are 3 levels:

 

  • First Steps: for those just starting to learn sounds and letters

  • Fun With Words: for those confident with sounds and ready to move on to blends

  • Champion Reader: for those who are reading short sentences well

 

The games themselves move rather fast, but players may go back and redo letter sounds/games for practice if they’re struggling with something.

 

 

How does it work?

 

The kids go on mini quests to learn a sound.  Each quest is a game of some kind, but so far the game type has been rotating between 4-5 of the same types.  That’s actually a good thing because the kids are familiar with the game and don’t feel pressured to learn something new at the same time they’re learning a new sound.

Once the child finishes the game, they’re teleported back to the map to meet their friend (who has lost sounds and only communicates in totally annoying squawks.)  Every so often a “tricky” will show up and the child will have to chase it down to capture it – a “tricky” is a special word or sound that doesn’t fit the rules.   Once they capture it, it’s added to their collection.

 

The Destroyer and Princess are both working on the First Steps game, and the Engineer is working on the Fun with Words game.  They are slightly different in layout, but the game types seem to be the same across the versions.   First steps requires pretty basic mouse maneuvering, but Fun with Words surprised me with by its complicated mouse use.

You direct your monster by moving the mouse around.  Capturing “trickies” or starting a game requires basic clicking, and the monster will automatically pick up things if you’re close enough.  The Engineer can play without much assistance but struggles with the Super Mario style game that requires you to jump at precisely the right time.  Even I missed it a few times.

As with many educational games, the child collects rewards that they can use to purchase items for their monster.  Some rewards randomly show up in treasure chests that you win for completing games.

 

 

Technical details

 

  • Cost: free for PC.  Paid app for iPad, Kindle, Android, iPhone. (app fees help fund new content.)

 

  • Does your child have to be mouse-capable?  No.  My younger ones direct me to move the mouse around.

 

  • Who makes it? (I always check this after the ABC Mouse scientology surprise) Usborne Foundation, a charity created by Peter Usborne of Usborne Publishing.

 

  • Does it have a teacher panel?  Yes, a robust one that helps pinpoint areas your child struggles in.

 

  • Is it secular?  Yes!

 

 

Does it work?

 

Short answer, yes.  Long answer, depends on how much work you put into it.

You cannot expect this game to cover all of your reading needs.  It does a great job of covering all of the basics, but it’s more of a practice/lesson kind of thing, not a primary curriculum.  It’s a fabulous way to practice without boring kiddo to tears, so I’m happy to use what they offer!

All of the kids enjoy playing.  The Engineer begs to play more and I’m usually the one kicking him off the computer because he’s sits there so long his legs are bouncing with excess energy.  The little ones think the monster is hilarious, and love doing the spaceship game (stack the sounds to build a space ship that takes off.)

We’ve had some issues with the narrator being drowned out by small children doing their best imitation of a shrike, so the volume is turned way up to compensate.  In some of the games, the narrator will instruct the child to select the item in the game by saying “Chose the {item} that says XYZ” and there is no way to replay the command.  While this sounds frustrating, it’s actually helping the Engineer learn to be quiet and listen when someone is talking because you might miss something important.

It’s a very methodical, systematic method that goes through the entire gamut of sounds, blends, and combinations.  I love that it’s well-laid out and I don’t have to worry that we missed some critical blend because I was frazzled and forgot.

 

Ironically, this is the game that triggered my massive mommy-freakout over the Engineer not hearing the difference between sounds.  So it’s a great way to pinpoint things that your reader may be struggling with because it uses several different formats to practice and learn new and old sounds.  For instance, the game might ask them to identify a word/sound by reading it on the assorted items, or by saying a word/sound and then asking them to match the written word.  Sometimes the game will ask them to read a short sentence to direct the monster to do something (like “Get the red cat” in a mix of items.)

The only thing that bothers me is the pace.  It’s super fast – do one sound, move on.  There is some review of past knowledge here and there, but if a child isn’t ready to move on, they don’t want to repeat things they’ve already done.  They want to go see the next area, find the next treasure, or go do the next thing.

 

This one is a win for us.  It’s fun, it’s interactive, and it’s not patronizing and dumbed down.  And best of all, we use this game as a work-around for the learning disabilities and issues that the Engineer faces.

 

 

 

Review: Teach Your Monster To Read

One thought on “Review: Teach Your Monster To Read

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *