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Get your kids to love reading with Oxford Owl

Dec 19, 2013

A few years ago I discovered Oxford Owl and started using it as part of my teaching material to encourage my younger students to read and, most importantly, to love reading. It was free, with fun graphics and over 250 free eBooks with after reading activities. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?

There was just one major drawback: it didn’t work on tablets, so I couldn’t use my iPad to read books in the classroom nor could I assign reading homework to my technologically advanced students who use tablets. My excitement about Oxford Owl soon faded—at this point you probably know I'm all about technology in my classes.

A few weeks ago, though, I received an email from the Oxford Owl team announcing they are now tablet friendly!

I immediately tried it out and loved it! To make a long story short, all my young students now have their own Oxford Owl account to read as many books as they want (or as I make them ;-).

Why is it soooo good?

1. First of all, the website is free and so are most of the eBooks.

2. You can filter the books by age or reading age of your kid.

3. You can choose between many different types of books (fiction, non-fiction, phonics, traditional stories…) and some of the best series (Oxford Reading Tree, Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper, Read Write Inc Home…).

4. When reading a book, you can choose to mute the reading voice or to pause and play it whenever it’s convenient. If you want your kids to just enjoy a good book, turn the volume up, let the voice read and press the "next" arrow to turn page. Easy peasy lemon squeeze!

How can parents/teachers help children use the Oxford Owl?

Let’s take a very simple book for early readers, Floppy’s Fun Phonics.

1. Let the book read the speech bubble part to you—if it’s the book telling the kids what to do, they are more likely to do it. Then press the pause button before the book reads the caption, as this is the part that your kid is supposed to read by himself (i.e. “Dad is sad”).

2. If your kid is struggling, you can help him by pointing out something in the picture and telling him to find the word for it.

For example, in the picture below, you’ll see a woman holding a sock. Ask the kid what the woman is holding and have him find the word “sock” in one of the two captions.

At this point, he already knows the right answer, but you can push him to read the whole sentence by telling him that now he found the key word, it will be easy to read the rest. Do the same with the other sentence.

Something to keep in mind

1. Reading has to be about fun, not work. Make it a daily routine if you can, but when your kid doesn’t feel like it, read for him. Passive reading is good, too!

2. If he gets stuck on a word or sentence, help him out before he gets annoyed or frustrated. If you read a sentence for him, though, always ask him to repeat it after you.

3. Repetition is key, so it would be great if he could read every book more than once, until his reading is confident and expressive—when children enjoy reading, they become little actors and actresses!

Oxford Owl for schools

If you’re a teacher,  you can create an Oxford Owl class account and give out the same username and password to up to 50 students.

Find out more about it here.

Tell me what you think

Did you like it? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear from you.

Podcast

On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

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The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Mums, dads & kids
We don't know how to be parents, we learn it everyday as we go. This is my way of motherhood, the small victories and the bitter defeats, my inconvenient truths and the endless life lessons. And also all the baby products and toys we love the most.
How to leave the playground without power struggles
This is life
Audiobooks of real-life stories for kids
Let's not project our insecurities onto our kids
Question authorities
Parents need to be constructively selfish
One more step towards self-acceptance
When you think your marriage is over after kids.
Alex
We forgot our 10-year wedding anniversary!
Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
Montessori express: change the sentences into positive
Montessori express: everything is NOT fine
My baby cries desperately in the car (15 months)
Take care of the mother behind the woman
Montessori express: ask instead of correcting
Montessori express: describe instead of criticising
An example of how I practice empathy with my kids
How I show empathy to my children
Happy 4th birthday, Emily
Montessori New Year's tradition
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.

Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

Instagram

I update Instagram almost every day to be "close" to my family far away.

Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.