For the last month, Monkey has been using Reading Kingdom to improve his reading skills. Although he is a newer reader, he is determined to read more challenging books that “have more going on, so they aren’t boring.” Reading Kingdom was just what he needed.
This program is designed for children ages 4-10 (grades pre-k through 3rd). It can also be used by older students who are not reading at a third grade level.
Reading Kingdom uses a unique approach developed by Dr. Marion Blank that focuses on a 6 skill model that incorporates phonics and whole language while teaching other skills necessary for successful reading and writing.
If you want to learn more about this method, you can read about why it works here.
How We Used Reading Kingdom
Monkey has been using the Reading Kingdom program consistently throughout the review period, averaging 3.5 days per week. Most weeks we actually used the program 5 days a week, but a couple weeks we were dealing with illness and didn’t do much school, so our average dropped a bit. The program tracks this for you and recommends using the program 4 days a week for the best results.
The program also recommends completing no more than 2 sessions a day. It will actually kick you out of the program if you try to start a 3rd session. You can go in again if you want, but you have to go through an extra step to acknowledge that you understand you are doing more than 2 sessions and want to do it any way.
Monkey did this a couple times when he was close to unlocking another page in his passport. He really enjoyed the reward of seeing the new animation and just couldn’t wait until the next day!
We started by taking the placement test. Because Monkey is a new reader, I wasn’t expecting him to place high in the program. He ended up passing the typing assessment, but failing the Level 1 reading assessment.
This meant that he would start with the level 1 instruction, but would skip the typing instruction. Unfortunately, the biggest pain point for Monkey with this program was the typing and the speed at which responses were required. He probably would have benefitted from completing the typing instruction, but moving back to that level would have erased all of his progress in the reading section.
The program does allow you to adjust the response time by increments of 25%. After the first day, I increased it by 25%. A few days later, I bumped it up to a 50% increase. At this point, he was able to locate the correct keys within the time limit most of the time. I didn’t want to increase the time any further because the adjustments increased the amount of time for all responses at once and he would get frustrated that other parts of the program moved too slowly. For example, he could read a passage three times before the program moved on, but he still struggled to type the word “things” in the allowed time.
I will caution that the review at the end of a level requires a lot of typing, so he hit a wall at this point and it took a full week to complete the level 1 review before being allowed to move on to level 2. He became so frustrated at one point that I decided to modify (and go against the direct instruction o fth program to support but not intervene). I sat with Monkey and had him orally spell the words while I typed them for him. After a week of struggling, he was ready to move on. He’s happily and successfully moving through level 2 now. 🙂
Two improvements I would like to see would be the ability to adjust the reading response time and the typing response time separately and having the option to be able to access the typing instruction even if that assessment was passed.
The student reports are really useful, although once he completed level 1, instead of it showing as completed, it said “not required.” Not a big deal, other than Monkey was looking forward to seeing the completed symbol (he had scored very good or excellent all the way through so was expecting either a trophy or ribbon symbol) rather than the not required symbol. As he said, “I did all that good work, why does it say it wasn’t required?”
Also, it seems to score the book based on how long they are accessing it. For Book 6, his score was “needs improvement,” however he read every word perfectly. The program isn’t actually listening to your child read, so my best guess is that because he spent extra time by reading the book twice and playing all the animations multiple times (he really enjoyed this book!), it assumed that he was having trouble reading it.
I thought this program was really good. I really like how the look changed in between levels. I haven’t unlocked my level 2 passport yet, but I’m really excited to earn enough points to open it!
It has helped me become a better reader. I can also type and spell more words now.
I wish they had a longer time limit. I needed it to be longer on the typing part because I couldn’t always find the right keys to push. And then I would have to start over if I didn’t find it fast enough. It also sounded angry to me when it said “Type That.” It made me really frustrated sometimes.
This program is a keeper for us. Monkey’s reading skills have drastically improved in a very short time. The other day he chose a book to read to me, I was impressed that he flew through a chapter with very few mistakes. I looked up its Lexile score – 560L. That’s at the higher end of the 2nd grade range!
If your child struggles with reading, I would highly recommend giving this program a try.
Thanks for stopping by!
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