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Homework Help - Language Arts

Build reading, language and vocabulary skills with the help of these interactive and engaging books, software and games.

abc PocketPhonics abc PocketPhonics
Ages: 4 - 7 yrs.
Developer: John Friend  
Apps In My Pocket,

A handy app for parents of children learning to write and sound out words, ABC Pocketphonics explains over sixty letter and letter combination sounds. Each letter or phoneme is pronounced by a clear voice. Children then reinforce what they’ve learned by tracing the letter or letters pronounced. The letter must be written correctly--if it is not, children will be asked to try again. Parents can choose whether their child writes in uppercase or lower letters. For older children, there is a cursive option. The app also includes a spelling activity. Parents teaching young ones to read and write will find this app very useful.

Reading Rockets Reading Rockets
Ages: 4 - 10 yrs.
Designer: Weta Learning Media   Developer: Weta Learning Media  
Weta, Learning Media,

As is implied by the site’s tagline of "Launching New Readers," Reading Rockets is not designed for children to use, but rather is dedicated to providing adults with information to help children learn to read. Segmented into areas for teachers, professionals (including speech-language pathologists, school psychologists, principals and librarians) and families, this bilingual site features articles and tips such as strategies to help kids who struggle to read, techniques for teaching reading and finding great kids books and author interviews.

American Heritage First Dictionary American Heritage First Dictionary
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / Trade & Reference Division, $17.95 (Hard Cover)   

This newly updated, award-winning dictionary gives children confidence as they learn to read. More than 2,000 entry words are clearly defined, and 850 full-color photographs and drawings enhance the text for today's visually sophisticated young readers.

Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 - English Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 - English
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Contributions From: Craig Welburn   Developer: Lisa Welburn  
Pyxwise Software Inc.,

Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 teaches spelling concepts such as short vowel sounds, long vowel sounds, phonograms and diphthongs in an interactive manner. Children move through forty-two spelling lists each concentrating on a specific concept (e.g. short a, long a, ai, etc.). The app guides children through each lesson and corresponding list with easy-to-understand pleasant voice prompts. Parents and students alike can easily track their progress. The app allows multiple children to create their own profiles and play at an appropriate level.

If You're So Smart, How Come You Can't Spell Mississippi? If You're So Smart, How Come You Can't Spell Mississippi?
Ages: 5 - 10 yrs.
Author: Barbara Esham   Illustrator: Mike Gordon   Illustrator: Carl Gordon  
Mainstream Connections Publishing, $16.99 (Hard Cover)   

Readers will leave this book having learned a couple of lessons: dyslexia is common and lots of bright, successful people are dyslexic. When Katie, the young narrator, realizes that her Dad struggles with spelling, she's genuinely surprised. Katie, "a whiz at the library" does some research and is astonished to find that people who have struggled with reading and spelling have worked to conquer their learning difficulties, persevered and went on to become doctors, lawyers, scientists or artists. With simple language and engaging, skillful illustrations the author-illustrator team unmask something as complicated as dyslexia. For those who struggle with dyslexia, or know someone who does, this book will be a welcome addition to both school and home libraries.

Stacey Coolidge's Fancy Smancy Cursive Handwriting Stacey Coolidge's Fancy Smancy Cursive Handwriting
Ages: 5 - 10 yrs.
Author: Barbara Esham   Illustrator: Mike Gordon   Illustrator: Carl Gordon  
Mainstream Connections Publishing, $16.99 (Hard Cover)   

Carolyn, a second grader, is confident, funny, good at skateboarding - and really struggles with cursive writing. Mrs. Thompson knows that Carolyn is frustrated and wants to help. A good teacher, she explains to Carolyn that cursive handwriting is simply a tool and that writing is really about ideas and creativity. And although Mrs. Thompson encourages Carolyn to keep practicing, she gently instructs Carolyn to cultivate her strengths and not let her struggles define her. A good lesson for all.

RIF Reading Planet RIF Reading Planet
Ages: 5 - 15 yrs.
Reading is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF),

Bright and colorful as a jar of jellybeans, this site has a lot going on—both visually and in the form of reading motivation for kids. Read-along stories and songs help younger children with spelling and pronunciation. A few are even in Spanish. Profiles of and interviews with authors and illustrators might interest true bookworms, as will the option to read or write a book review or browse suggested titles by author, title, or topic (horses, storms, flight, etc.) Signing up on the site enables readers to save books to their online bookshelf, as a wish list of books they would like to read later.

Spelling City Spelling City
Ages: 5 - 18 yrs.
Developer: John Edelson  

How do you spell fun and educational? Spelling City actually manages to make practicing for a spelling test fun by letting users type in their own list of up to 10 words or user one of the many sample lists, which are broken out by grade (K-8) and themes. The site offers eight spelling and vocabulary games to complement the spelling list. After taking the online spelling test, students can print out a report, retake the entire test, or get tested only on spelling words that they misspelled on the first round. The site’s TeachMe function spells and displays the word in ways that stimulate memory for visual and verbal learners. For added fun and offline learning, Spelling City also offers Printable Games including WordSearch, UnScramble, WhichWord? and MissingLetter.

Pick Up Your Pen Pick Up Your Pen
Ages: 6 - 9 yrs.
Author: Monica Dengo   Illustrator: Monica Dengo  
Owlkids Books, Inc., $14.95 (Hard Cover)   

This is not your ordinary workbook. For those who have all but abandoned the pen for the keystroke, artist Monica Dengo reawakens the fun and pleasure of handwriting. Each letter of the alphabet is treated as a work of art in waiting. Dengo presents handwriting as an art form, demonstrating not only how different the same letter can look, but also the potential for changing how each letter is perceived. Loud, soft, playful, easy, liquid, bold. Pick Up Your Pen gives children of all ages the opportunity to choreograph the alphabet. And that is a gift worth giving.

The Electric Company Website The Electric Company Website
Ages: 6 - 9 yrs.
Contributions From: Miles Ludwig   Producer: Andrea Palumbos   Producer: Erica Branch Ridley   Producer: Emily Friend-Roberts  
Sesame Workshop,

Based on the acclaimed PBS television show from the 1970s The Electric Company, this delightfully educational website ties in nicely as the online supplement to the reinvented PBS-Sesame Workshop series by the same name. Like the TV show, the site is geared to helping youngsters aged 6-9, learn literacy skills-vocabulary, phonics and reading comprehension-using cool characters, creativity, videos, animation, humor and music. Playing off the TV episodes which feature the hip New York-based, Electric Company kids and the up-to-no-good neighborhood group called the Pranksters, the website provides a companion level of fun and engaging interactivity the TV show can’t provide by itself. At the center of all this hustle and activity is wordplay--the playful use of language to solve problems, be funny, do the right thing, build teamwork, etc.

Steps4Kids Cursive Steps4Kids Cursive
Ages: 7 & Up
Steps4Kids, LLC, $19.99 (DVD)   

Steps4Kids' four-part Cursive DVD teaches basic rules for good handwriting including posture and grip as well as helpful hints to remember when and where to connect letters. The first segment is intended for parents and teachers, and provides practical teaching tips including posture, pencil grip and techniques for left-handed learners and suggests breaks and games to support instruction. The second and third segments are directed at children, and are divided into uppercase and lowercase letters in addition to grouping similar letters together. The "teacher" uses consistent terminology to reinforce the letter formation, which is helpful to students as they learn this new skill. The final segment reviews cursive rules and provided additional practice. In all, although a bit dry by its nature, this DVD offers a good supplementary resource to home- or classroom-instruction.

American Heritage Student Dictionary American Heritage Student Dictionary
Ages: 11 - 15 yrs.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / Trade & Reference Division, $19.95 (Hard Cover)   

Specially designed for students in grades 6-9, this popular dictionary has been updated to reflect the latest developments in all areas of vocabulary. It contains more than 65,000 entries and dozens of frequently occurring new words. Definitions are enhanced by hundreds of feature notes and more than 2,000 full-color photographs, drawings, and diagrams.

Also look for the American Heritage Student Thesaurus

SYNONYMS: The Word Game That Gets Your Mind Racing! SYNONYMS: The Word Game That Gets Your Mind Racing!
Ages: 12 & Up
Lindergaff, LLC, $19.99

Synonyms is a refreshingly simple game that will turn anyone who plays in to a walking thesaurus. On each turn, players land on a letter (S-Y-N-O-N-Y-M-S). Another player reads a word from either a yellow (easy), green (medium) or red (difficult) card. If the turn-taking player can name three synonyms of the word before the timer shows a minute has passed, they can score the letter on which they've landed. The first player to score all of the letters of the word "Synonyms" wins. Challenge cars and pass cards add an exciting strategy element to the game, and group play makes it easier to include players of all ages.

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