Are you looking for a fun and interactive way to help your child learn? Look no further than the Starfall learn-to-read app – a popular online platform that offers a complete and engaging curriculum for early childhood education. With a wide range of topics to choose from, including reading, writing, and math, Starfall Education makes learning fun and exciting for kids. From interactive games to engaging activities, children can learn at their own pace and in their own way. But how effective is the Starfall curriculum? We’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll provide an in-depth review of Starfall Education, examining its benefits and drawbacks and overall effectiveness for early childhood education.
I hope you enjoy reading this blog post. If you want to do my course on how to homeschool, click here.
NB: I’m not an affiliate with this company. I am interested in the program, so I’m writing this comprehensive Starfall review.
Affiliate links are used in this post.
What is the Starfall Curriculum?
The Starfall Curriculum is an online learning system created to help children learn to read.
It is used in both classrooms and homeschools around the world.
The program uses interactive lessons and activities to engage children and provide them with the skills needed for successful reading.
With over 70 million users worldwide, it has become one of the most popular language-learning programs.
The program provides leveled readers that gradually increase in difficulty as children progress through each lesson plan.
Children can also access interactive games designed to reinforce their learning and make it fun for them as well.
In addition, this reading program provides students with:
- phonics instruction,
- sight word recognition activities, and
- writing exercises that support their literacy development.
Compared to BJU Press, which does online pre-recorded teacher lessons, the Starfall curriculum is much more animated. Still, there is less interaction with ‘real’ people.
This reading curriculum is a digital resource developed in 2002 by Dr. Stephen Schutz, a former professor of education at the University of Arizona.
What is unique about the Starfall Education Curriculum?
Starfall isn’t boring.
It presents a fun way to learn a Reading and Language Arts curriculum.
The Kindergarten program features:
- imaginative plush characters,
- fun online activities,
- engaging content-driven instruction and
- hands-on experiences.
Lesson plans are included.
Parents are given standards and benchmarks for every unit and holiday and character development plans.
This is useful for the mom who wants to know precisely how her children are tracking compared to other children the same age.
There are also special time slots where children have their progress monitored.
They also undergo assessment, so parents know where they’re up to.
The Starfall Education program is written by teachers, and you can get a guide for the classroom here.
The Teachers Guide for Homeschool is free (alongside many games).
Starfall is similar to other reading curriculum programs such as:
- Phonic’s Museum – online animated reading curriculum with physical lifetime access
- Focus on Fives – video lessons and physical workbooks
- Reading Eggs – online animated learn-to-read program
I’ll discuss these alternatives further down the page.
Pros and Cons of the Starfall Program
After reading multiple Starfall reviews online, I noticed many similar pros and cons listed.
Let me expand on them further here.
Pros of the Starfall Education Program:
- Full Curriculum: Starfall provides educational content for preschoolers and early elementary students, covering phonics, reading, language arts, mathematics, and more.
- Interactive Learning: The platform uses an interactive and engaging approach to make learning enjoyable for young learners.
- Phonics-Based Approach: It emphasizes a phonics-based approach to reading, which helps children develop strong language skills.
- Progress Tracking: Parents and teachers can track a child’s progress and identify areas that require support using the platform’s progress tracking tools.
- Educational Games: The app includes educational games and activities to reinforce concepts and keep children motivated.
- Available on Multiple Platforms: It’s accessible on smartphones, tablets, and computers for flexible learning options.
- Child-Friendly Interface: The user interface is designed to be child-friendly and easy to navigate.
Cons of the Starfall Education Program:
- Limited Free Content: While Starfall may offer some free content, the full range of activities and lessons often requires a paid subscription. This could be a drawback for budget-conscious users.
- Age Appropriateness: Some users think certain lessons may not be suitable for older or advanced readers.
- Device Compatibility: App performance and features may vary based on device and operating system.
- Repetitiveness: Some users may become bored with certain games or activities that they find repetitive over time.
- In-App Purchases: In addition to the subscription cost, there may be additional expenses for parents or caregivers due to in-app purchases.
- Secular Content: The program is secular, which will suit some but not others.
For now, let’s take a closer look at the program below.
Is Starfall for Special Needs (Autism)
Yes. SE has functions that make them great for sensory-impaired children.
The online component includes a dedicated index for children with sensory impairments at https://www.starfall.com/h/accessibility.php
They can also help with other special needs.
Check out their Parent & Teacher Frequently Asked Questions in the Parent Teacher Center here https://teach.starfall.com/lv/info/faq
Starfall for ESL
Starfall is also an excellent option for people who are new to English.
Those learning English as a Second Language find visual cues to help them understand the language.
Because pictures are a language we all speak, this reading curriculum is excellent for ESL students.
Starfall is accessible as a digital resource (a free app) and has others (free and paid apps) you can use.
Some require internet access, while others only need internet to download the app…then it’s free to use once downloaded.
- Starfall Free App:
- Access via web browser on tablets and mobile devices.
- Visit www.starfall.com on your device’s browser.
- Internet access is required.
- Install the App:
- Download from your device’s app store (App Store or Google Play).
- Many activities are free.
- Full content access for Starfall members.
- Individual Apps:
- No internet is required after download.
- Available on various platforms.
- ABCs (Free):
- Teaches letters A-Z.
- Learn to Read (Free):
- Introduces early reading concepts.
- It’s Fun to Read (Free):
- Intermediate beginner reading.
- I’m Reading (Free):
- Reading for advanced beginners.
- Numbers ($4.99):
- Introduces numbers 0-100.
- All About Me ($1.99):
- Customizable avatar, everyday vocabulary.
- Gingerbread, Pumpkin, Snowman, Turkey ($0.99 each):
- Themed activities for learning.
Starfall Vs Phonics Museum Vs Focus on Fives: Curriculum Comparison
Let’s take a closer look at each of the similar programs to Starfall:
Phonic’s Museum is an online animated reading curriculum that aims to teach children to read using a phonics-based approach.
(You can also get this program as software for your computer for lifetime access)
The program typically includes a series of interactive lessons, games, and activities designed to engage young learners and develop their phonics skills.
One standout feature of Phonic’s Museum is that it often provides users with physical access to resources, such as books or workbooks, allowing for a more tactile learning experience.
This combination of online and offline materials can benefit learners who benefit from hands-on activities and reinforcement.
It currently costs around $10 a month
Reading Eggs is another popular online animated learn-to-read program for children ages 2 to 13.
The program uses a combination of phonics, sight words, and comprehension activities to help children build essential reading skills.
Reading Eggs typically offers a structured learning path, progress tracking, and a variety of interactive lessons and games.
Additionally, the program often incorporates a reward system to motivate young learners as they progress through the curriculum.
Parents and teachers can also access detailed progress reports to monitor their child’s development.
This also costs around $10 a month.
Focus on Fives is a reading program that primarily targets five-year-old children.
It often features video lessons and accompanying physical workbooks.
The video lessons are designed to engage young learners and cover various reading and language arts concepts, such as phonics, vocabulary, and sentence structure.
The physical workbooks provide additional practice and exercises to reinforce the learning from the video lessons.
Focus on Fives aims to balance screen time and hands-on learning, making it appealing to parents seeking a mix of digital and tangible educational resources.
With physical workbooks and online lessons, the cost of this program is around $600/year.
Starfall Comparison and Considerations:
- Starfall, Reading Eggs, Phonic’s Museum, and Focus on Fives are reading skill programs that use phonics-based methods to teach children to read.
- Starfall, Phonics Museum, and Reading Eggs are online programs that offer greater accessibility and flexibility for users, while Focus on Fives offers a combination of online and offline materials.
- These programs have different pricing and subscription models, so it’s essential to consider the cost and value of resources and features.
- The user interface and engagement style of each program vary, and some children may prefer the colorful animations and interactive activities of Starfall, PM, and RE, while others may prefer the video lessons and hands-on approach of Focus on Fives or the physical access to resources provided by Phonic’s Museum.
Ultimately, the choice between these programs depends on the individual needs and preferences of the child.
Also, think about the goals and expectations of parents or educators.
Exploring free trials or demo versions can help make an informed decision.
Which Homeschool Method Does Starfall Education Most Closely Follow?
The closest method Starfall uses is Unit Studies.
Unit Studies is a method that encourages children to learn many subjects in one unit or lesson.
Children learn topics across a range of subjects.
This means they study similar things at the same time across different subjects.
For example, in a typical Unit Studies course, you might learn about the Pharaohs in History, the Nile in Geography, and frogs and fish in Biology.
You can learn more about Unit Studies here.
How Much Hands-On Time Is Required From Parents?
It takes about two or three hours per day in a homeschool situation.
But, the amount of time a parent has to spend with children varies with the student.
Do Parents Need to Purchase Extras?
- Pre-K – need to buy manipulatives and Learning Center materials. But objects from home may be used instead.
- K-ELA needs additional recommended literature.*
- K-Math needs additional manipulatives, though objects found at home may be used instead.
*Special thought was given to choosing required books that would be easy to locate in school, public, or classroom libraries or available cheaply from local bookstores like Amazon.com. Books may also be substituted.
Does Starfall Teach Multiple Ages?
You could teach multiple ages using Starfall Education, but each program is aimed at a set age.
That is, the focus of the:
- Pre-K program is around age 4
- K ELA and Math for ages 4-6+
So, Starfall is more designed for a specific child at a particular age.
Is the Curriculum Flexible?
Yes, Starfall is flexible.
While some lessons, such as phonics, are sequential and need to follow an order, there is a lot of flexibility during times such as “Center Time.”
Center Time is scheduled daily, allowing children to reinforce and review skills and learn through exploration.
They may include:
- computer time,
- creative writing,
- blocks, etc.
Parents may choose to be flexible with the Centers they decide to make available (for example, by selecting only the library and art) and the time students spend in Centers daily.
Extra Built-In Time
The Starfall Education curriculum is also flexible in that extra time is built into the program.
This means, for example:
- students can take time to study an area of interest or
- parents could go on holiday with their family without worrying about completing the curriculum in one year.
Parents may also adapt the schedule in areas that are not sequential.
The following homeschool “Read Me First” documents provide an excellent overview of the homeschool curriculum and products included.
They are worth reviewing if you’re thinking about buying:
Does Starfall Education Come With Multiple Schedules?
Starfall Education doesn’t come with multiple schedules.
Is It Hard to Catch Up If I Miss a Day?
Extra time is built into the Starfall Education curriculum to accommodate missed days and provide the flexibility to branch out and study particular areas of interest.
How Much Planning (Prep Work) is Needed Before Beginning?
If parents choose, they may spend time before they begin schooling to prepare materials in advance.
These planning suggestions are in the “Read Me First” documents (see section above ‘Is the curriculum flexible?’).
If they do this, preparation time may be as little as 15 minutes up to one hour.
Preparation notes are available at the beginning of each week and included in the daily plans.
Is Any Part Reusable for Subsequent Children?
The entire curriculum is reusable, year after year.
The only items needing replacing are the consumable workbooks in the $2-9 range.
Is it Self-Paced?
The schedule is organized into days and weeks but can be adjusted to any time appropriate for the family.
Does Starfall Education Offer All General Subjects?
This is what Starfall offers:
- Pre-K (4-year old -All subjects integrated)
- Kindergarten English Language Arts with Social Studies, Science, and Math.
Do They Offer All Grades?
Starfall Education is slowly building up its offerings but is currently only offering Pre-K to Grades 1-3.
Do You Have Tutors?
However, lesson plans are scripted, which provides excellent support for the person teaching the lesson.
Is Starfall Education Accredited?
Starfall has developed a curriculum designed to go above and beyond accreditation standards.
But, the program still needs to be submitted for accreditation.
This program has been submitted for state approval and is on the approved curricula list in several states.
What Is the Starfall Education Website URL?
Check out their program here: https://www.starfall.com/h/
You can also look at books on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3VVTgUC
Does the organization have any Christian affiliation?
When I asked Starfall Education this question, they replied with the following:
[This program] was created as a strictly academic and does not include a spiritual component, so it can be used with faith-based instruction.
Does Starfall align with Common Core standards?
They aim to align in Language Arts and Mathematics.
What support does Starfall Education offer?
Curriculum and technical support are available during business hours at [email protected] or 1-888-857-8990.
How much does Starfall cost for membership (2021)?
You can see different price plans below and compare them.
- One-year membership only: $35
- Pre-K Homeschool Kit: Starting at $289, includes a one-year membership
- K-ELA Homeschool Kit: Less than $400, consists of a one-year membership
- K-Math Homeschool Kit: Less than $176, includes a one-year membership
- Printed teacher guides and other optional materials are available
Will Starfall ship worldwide or domestically?
Starfall is available worldwide.
They have online and hard copy material, but they’ll ship the hard copy curriculum worldwide.
Additional points about Starfall Education
Starfall has won two prominent awards:
- the “Best Homeschool Curriculum and Resources” award from HowToHomeschool.net and
- the ON for Learning Award from Common Sense Media.
Mentions and Accolades: Romper, Kiwi families, Tutorean, Parents Magazine, and Time Magazine.
Disney’s Family Fun, The Wall Street Journal, and more.
Reviews: Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Common Sense Media, and more.
Is Starfall Free for Educators?
A small amount of material is available for free.
Still, you have to buy a subscription if you want to enjoy all they offer.
Starfall Education vs. Khan Academy
Both offer a wide range of activities and games that help to develop a child’s learning capabilities and enhance their knowledge of various topics.
SE is focused on early childhood education, while Khan Academy has more diverse offerings for all grade levels, from preschool to college.
SE provides interactive instruction in reading, math, and art through online games and activities.
The program aims to create an enjoyable learning experience with motivating visuals that appeal to young learners.
Additionally, the program offers supplemental material such as books and worksheets designed to reinforce core concepts taught in the program.
The most significant difference, however, is the price.
While both programs are accessible on their basic level, this reading curriculum requires a subscription to access all their material.
On the other hand, the Khan Academy is 100% free!
Starfall Education vs BJU Press
Starfall Education Foundation and BJU Press are popular educational curriculum providers for homeschoolers.
Both companies offer comprehensive video-based course materials that can be used to create a comprehensive homeschooling experience.
SE offers digital learning materials to keep kids engaged while learning reading, math, and language skills.
Their curriculum is tailored to fit the needs of each student, with adjustable difficulty levels and customizable lesson plans.
In addition to its digital learning tools, Starfall provides support through online tutorials, webinars, and parent forums.
BJU Press provides a range of curriculum options such as textbooks, workbooks, activity kits, and online videos presented by teachers.
BJU is a Christian curriculum, whereas SE is a secular program.
Is Starfall Education Available as Books?
Yes! You can get books from Amazon here.
This is an excellent idea if you want to keep your kids offline or give them screen-free time.
WHY did Starfall begin? (Was it to fill a hole in an area?)
Stephen Schutz, the founder, struggled with reading during his childhood.
Starfall also began as Stephen wanted to create a resource to help children like himself.
Starfall also began in response to the need for a fun and comprehensive kindergarten program throughout America.
At the time, Preschool and Kindergarten parents and teachers were often left to piece their curricula together, leaving many educational gaps.
The creators of this program also realized teachers and parents felt the existing curricula could have been more engaging and enjoyable.
Also, they wanted mathematics to include higher-level thinking rather than strict rote memorization.
So, SE decided to create a curriculum to fill all those gaps.
WHEN Did Starfall Begin?
Since 2002, which is now around 19 years.
The timeline goes as follows:
- 2002- Starfall.com Opens
- 2009 – First Edition K ELA Released
- 2017 – Second Edition K ELA Released
- 2016 – Kindergarten Math Curriculum Released
- 2013 – Pre-K First Edition Released
- 2018 – Pre-K Second Edition Released
Is the Starfall curriculum aimed more toward any particular learning style?
When I asked the creators of this program this question, they said:
Starfall recognizes different learning styles and has developed our curricula to include all modalities of learning.’
Do they offer hard copy, online curriculum, or both?
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The Bottom Line…
The Stafall learn-to-read app is a suitable secular educational tool for preschool to Grade 5 children. (Further offerings in web development may continue in future years.) It combines fun and learning in an engaging way that encourages creativity and encourages a love of learning. The curriculum covers everything from basic literacy to advanced math skills. It also offers resources such as videos, games, and assessment tools. Overall, Starfall Curriculum provides a quality educational experience for children and is worth considering if you’re looking for a comprehensive learning program.