Reading Eggs – A Reading Tool for Children

Reading Eggs is a website that endeavours to help children to read quickly, in a fun and engaging way.

I’m sure that most parents, of a primary school aged child, will appreciate the pressure that is on children to learn to read.  My son, J, started reception in September, unable to read and barely able to write. However, by July, he will be expected to read well and be able to write a sentence or two. Frankly, to me anyway, this is scary stuff.

Now I am a complete bookworm and very keen for my boys to discover how fantastic reading can be. As a result, I had been curious about Reading Eggs but had never gone as far as to try it. I was excited to be given a years free access to the site and the Mega Book Pack to really explore and see what it was all about.

I will be completely honest. J is knackered, and still getting to grips with his full days at school. I will admit to being a little hesitant at giving him more school type things to do in the evening. However, in the name of research, I was willing to give it a go, as long as he wasn’t too tired or resistant.

On browsing the Reading Eggs site, I was very keen to get J on there to see his first impressions. The site itself is very engaging, bright and friendly. As his computer skills are just emerging, it was nice to see that everything is very user friendly and self explanatory. He only needed a little adult guidance in the beginning. Each of the initial levels concentrate on one letter at a time. These letters, and the sounds they make, are studied thoroughly, but not to the point of tedium, before moving onto the next level.

Reading Eggs J1Reading Eggs J2

J really enjoyed his time on the Reading Eggs site. He was giggling when the marshmallow mouse came out,  at the end of the first level, and at various other things. In the end, we spent a lot longer than we had planned to spend on there. J was very put out when I insisted it was very much time for bed!

After bed time, I came down to find an email from Reading Eggs with suggested homework. The homework focuses on the most recent lessons learnt, and easy ways that this can be supplemented at home.

Two weeks on and he is still hooked. I love the fact that J also has his own personal Avatar for the site. This is something that he really enjoyed making, and he gets excited to see, every time he switches on. J loves Reading Eggs, most days asking ‘can I do my eggs Mummy’ whilst his little brother goes to bed. It’s really nice to spend this time together, knowing that he is learning in a way that is fun to him.

Reading eggs are currently offering a four week free trial to the online subscription. Please click here if you would like to register. Offer is available until the 31st March 2017.

App Time – Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper

Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper is a new app from Gazoob to complement early learning at school.

Read With Biff Chip & Kipper App

I jumped at the chance to review the Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper app – H is starting in reception this September and I know they’ll be reading their books, I’d been looking at buying the books or picking some up at Car Boot Sales. Shaun regularly points out we have too many books (I know, that sounds bad but once she’s reading we can box away a lot – I bought lots of ‘That’s Not My…’ books when she was a baby and they take up space) so having all of them within an iPad app is possibly the perfect solution. Plus H enjoys reading books on there – we’ve had the Mog app for a while now and she often reads it without me, doing it in her own time.

I was keen to see the books as things have changed since I was little, I learnt using ITA – these days it’s far more sensible and uses phonics. Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper comes in six levels –

Level 1: Getting ready to read. Age 4-5 years
Level 2: Starting to read. Age 4-5 years
Level 3: Becoming a reader. Age 4-5 years
Level 4: Developing as a reader. Age 5-6 years
Level 5: Building confidence as a reader. Age 5-6 years
Level 6: Reading with confidence. Age 5-6 years

There are 48 books in total. I spotted on the Gazoob website that the books go to a higher level – their response to the question is as follows : There are two parallel Biff, Chip & Kipper series from Oxford University Press.
Ours is a home reading series and is designed to complement the 9 level Classic series which is used in schools.
The classic series is not currently available as apps.

Read with Biff Chip and Kipper tips

Each book has some Tips for Reading Together – which has helpful hints of things to do when reading. I know I rush when I read books and it’s teaching me to slow down a bit, and spend more time talking about the pictures as well as pointing out each word. Most of this is about repetition and encouraging your child to join in – as well as having an activity to do on each picture – the first book you need to find a shell in each picture, and so on.

read with biff chip and kipper phonics tips

The phonics option is brilliant – so far we’ve barely gone into any depth, but having an I-spy game so the child has to work out which object starts (or ends!) with a letter is genius – and one H puzzled over for a good twenty minutes today – and tracing over the letters is always fun and good practice – I’m looking forward to more on the phonics side of things and how we’ll progress as you can almost feel it clicking somewhere with it being done properly.

Read with Biff Chip and Kipper app Get On

Within the story side you have three options – Read by myself, Read to me and Auto play. Right now we’re doing the second stage quite a lot, though H does read it herself – you can press each word and it tells you what it is. At the end of each book are questions about the story and a puzzle.

Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper comes from a new company called Gazoob who aim to develop, publish and recommend educational materials, be it Apps, Games, Videos or Teaching materials.  They already have a few titles under their belt, and will be adding a lot more as the year goes on.

Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper H

How have we found it? I’ve been impressed. H’s word recognition has definitely improved and she’s much more confident – they don’t use these books at her nursery preschool but will in her school from September. Phonics-wise I think this is where she’s made the biggest jump and can now spell words and work them out much easier than two or three months ago.

I think Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper is an excellent app – it’s free to download with the 48 books being an additional purchase at £149.99 – which is a lot of money, although you can buy individual books at £3.99 each (so it works out cheaper overall to buy the books in one lot – a lot would depend on the stage your child is at). I love how H asks to play apps on the iPad and sees these books as fun, to me that’s half the battle with learning. It’s also something we’ll get a lot of use from, and isn’t going to be something that’s ignored in six months time – potentially taking H up to her sixth birthday which is still two and a half years away. The design of Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper is nice and clean, the fonts are good (and yes, comic sans is present, grrrrr!) and instructions are clear.

It is Mac and Windows compatible – for more information head to their website.
There’s a giveaway on their site to win the full app – you need to head to their Facebook page, and quick – the giveaway ends on the 31st May 2013!

We were sent a code to review the full app with all books – all opinions are our own.

A Reading Eggs Update – and a Brand New App

We reviewed Reading Eggs recently, and while we’ve had a busy last week or so and haven’t used it as much as before, we did have a session tonight together.

Tonight we progressed onto two letters together in the game sections – AM – and it was interesting to see how H played – she recognised both letters, but occasionally they’d be reversed to MA – and she’s not quite spotting the difference yet.

The games are still the same, and she’s having a good time playing them, and most importantly of all, she’s learning. I chatted with my sister about Reading Eggs, as she independently recommended the site to me (tsk, she doesn’t read this site!), especially with H being the youngest when she starts school next year.

We received an email in our inbox this morning – Reading Eggs have a new app available, Tap the Cat – it’s currently iPad only and available at a low price initially – we’ve bought it but haven’t had a play with it yet, but hurry as it’s only at this price for a few days! I think we’re still a little way off H being able to use this, but if you use Reading Eggs and have an iPad, then grab the bargain quick.

As ever, you get the three accents to choose from, US, Australian or British (which I like as H is confused enough having an Aussie dad and a northern mum, while being at nursery in South London) and having a quick look at the app, I think there are sections she’ll discover and enjoy – and learn with at the same time.

Tap The Cat from Reading Eggs

In Tap the Cat there are 9 different activities for your child to enjoy, ranging from rhyming words, to drawing and colouring, to speaking and handwriting. Tap the Cat provides lots of variety to ensure that your child will get many hours of enjoyment and learning from this app.

An extra special feature of the app is that it makes an ebook out of the completed work of the child (such as coloured in pictures and voice recordings). This ebook is then unlocked and played back to the child when they have completed all 9 activities. Tap the Cat is suitable for children who know some 3 letter words.

As a special launch offer you can download Tap the Cat for £1.99 until 5 November (7 days) after which it will revert to its normal price of £2.49. Tap the Cat is only available for the iPad.

App Time at Mum Friendly

We Love Fudgy Bear

Way back in February (which feels like a lifetime ago), we were lucky to get to a Teddy Bears Picnic at Foyles in Shepherds Bush, where H’s favourite bear Fudgy would be making an appearance.

Fudgy Bear was created by Sarah Marley, a mother of one, back in April 2011. There’s five different Fudgy Bear books available direct from Fudgy’s website, as well as a toy which – importantly – is suitable from birth.

What we love about Fudgy is that H picked up on him immediately – we bought the Counting With Fudgy book last year at The Baby Show which has helped H a lot with her overall counting skills. The pictures are all photographs taken and put together by Sarah – we love that Fudgy as a character meets real things and animals – it all helps with learning.

Little Fudgy Bear and HSo, off we went to Foyles – where there was a table set out with crayons and a Fudgy picture to colour in – H made herself at home and started scribbling – the opportunity came up for a photo with a big Fudgy, which made her incredibly excited by it all – and she ran over and threw herself at the poor bear. Little did I know this was a sign of things to come.

Very soon we were sitting in a circle and being read two of Fudgy’s books by Sarah, the kids were all loving it, the older ones calling out when Sarah asked them questions – the books work really well across all ages (and are targeted towards pre-school children).

THEN the big surprise – the huge great big Fudgy made an appearance. Cue several toddlers faces lighting up with pure delight – as Sarah read from the books again. Now, H is quite shy and reserved, and surprised us at Christmas when she went up to Santa like he was an old friend – and yet again she caught me out, the opportunity arose to have a photo with Fudgy, and off she went – never to let go. She really truly would not have let go, I think.

Hugging Fudgy H hugging Fudgy Bear Fudgy Bear Hug

fudgyend-300x200I think it’s fairly safe to say she loves Fudgy…! The picnic finished with all the kids present (or whichever could get close to Fudgy (I apologise for my daughter) having their photo taken with him.

We love that there’s a test in the back of the books to make sure you’ve understood what you’ve read – and writing with my old 1970’s head on, it reminds me of the end of Topsy & Tim books, where you’ll have similar, which is a great way to keep your child interested and keep them coming back to the books.

Read an interview with Sarah from last year – she’s a full-time lawyer and does Fudgy in her spare time!

Child psychologist Dr. Amanda Gummer is a big fan of Fudgy. She explains: “Reading the books with the bear helps children to engage with the character in the stories, fostering empathy and adding a sensory dimension to the visual and auditory activity of reading a book. Learning is more effective when a child feels calm and secure. If parents spend time reading, whilst the child cuddles the toy, the child will associate Fudgy with positive feelings of security, calmness, love and happiness. Cuddling Fudgy can recreate those feelings and help a child cope with challenges they face.”

You can buy Fudgy Bear and his books direct from the Fudgy site, or indeed from Waterstones or Foyles (plus some stores have the bears in stock too).

Fudgy Bear February

In addition to this, the Fudgy Bear Nursery Partnership launches on April 1st 2012, getting Fudgy books into your local nursery! (I’ve already let H’s nursery know, and hopefully things will progress)

Fudgy Bear on Twitter
Fudgy Bear’s Blog

Oh, and last but not least, over to the right are some comments from Fudgy’s new celebrity fans… you might recognise a short person who I can officially confirm is currently asleep and did eventually let Fudgy go….

Thank you to Liz and Katie at Weston Communications for this opportunity, H is STILL talking about it!