Monday, October 29

Samson's Classroom

Though we generally try to limit screen time, my girls love being able to "do school" on the computer whenever they get the chance. Recently, they've been enjoying Samson's Classroom for extra practice in reading and spelling.  Samson's Classroom  consists of online games that help students learn sight words, develop their reading skills, and practice spelling. My girls beg for turns!


Samson's uses fun games to help students master the 224 most commonly used sight words in the English language.  The games are divided into four different skill levels. Each level contains 7 lists, with 8 words on each list.

Students work through 8 words at a time, until they have mastered them. These 8 words are taught through Study (watching the word being spelled as they listen to its pronunciation), filling in missing letters, unscrambling words, spelling the words by clicking on letter tiles (handy because mine haven't practiced using the keyboard yet), and then filling-in-the-blank with missing words.

The spelling section allows teachers to create their own lists to review spelling words from your own lessons, or teachers can choose from over 5000 words in  the available pre-set lists. The lists are well organized, making it easy to choose by grade level, word families, and more. Creating your own list is very quick and easy to do. As Admin, I create a title from the list (chapter # from our current spelling lesson) and enter the words I want my students to work through. Most likely, these words are already in their system and are instantly added to my list. If I try to add a word that is not in the system, they process it. This requires adding their audio recording, which takes time.

Students learn the spelling words through Study (the word is given and shared in a sentence,) filling in the Missing Letter, Unscrambling letters, and a Spelling Quiz. The spelling quiz does require typing and it is timed, but mine didn't get frustrated.

The reading section concentrates on Comprehension. Students read a short passage and then answer 10 comprehension questions. It includes 4 different reading levels. As students answer questions correctly, they earn points which allow them to swing a hammer at the carnival.

This section was a better fit for my girls. The reading passages do not include audio, so would not be suitable for early readers, but the program is designed for students K-5 and this is more suitable for the older end of that spectrum. The lower levels could work for early readers if a parent sits with them and reads the portion, letting the child focus on the comprehension aspect.

I love the fact that it is not an annoying program. Programs that aren't distracting or grating on the nerves are, oddly, a rare find. This program has no annoying error "dings". The animation is clean and not overwhelming or cluttered.  The voice that reads the audio portions is downright pleasant. This is possibly my favorite "fun" program that we've used yet.

I love that it includes plenty of reinforcement. For the easier sections, this made it a bit boring for my girls because you can't move on until you've completed all of the steps and it was very repetitious for them. But for students learning new skills, this is a very good thing.

I love that it allows me to print worksheets to reinforce lessons aside from the computer. It also includes lesson plans with many other PDFs and activities.

I love the ease of use in the Admin page:
  • It allows me to quickly track the progress of my students through a scoreboard. 
  • It is very easy to use and set up spelling lists. 
  • It lets ME go in and play the games, getting a feel for them without affecting my students' scores.
  • It shows me how often they have logged in and worked in the different sections.
  • If you have multiple users, the Admin page allows you to set up a Quicklaunch Code that allows students to easily log in without going through the process of logging in with username and password, handy for my young learners.

 The pricing is reasonable for comparable programs, costing $30 for year's membership for one year. For a program that teaches reading, spelling, and reading comprehension, I feel this is more than reasonable. If you have more than one child, there is a $50 membership that allows up to 4 users. A subscription allows you to print completion certificates for the different levels. There is an available demo to see if the games would be appealing to your students.

Disclaimer: I received this material in exchange for my honest opinion as a member of the TOS Crew, and received no other form of compensation. For whatever they're worth, the opinions are mine and mine alone, as stated in my disclosure policy.

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