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Read A-way App Review by Amanda Hopkins

Jeff Coleman aka “Captain Jeff”
Captain Jeff Enterprises
1408 Atlantic St.
Unit A
Melbourne Beach, Fl. 32951

Technology plays an important role in the way children are learning. It is a thing that I have come to accept in our homeschool. I love finding new apps that allow my children to learn how to use technology as well as learning how to read. This is exactly what I found with Read A-way, an app that is a reading program based on storytelling.

The Read A-way app is a book, 32 chapters, that take your child through the different word families, word building, poetry, story predicting, retelling of the story, and more as we interact with Captain Jeff. Each chapter is a lesson broken down into distinct parts. We even have pages to print to go with each chapter.

When we start a chapter, the first thing we do is print the pages. These will be used throughout the chapter and Captain Jeff tells us when we need to use them. After we have those ready to go, we move onto the video. The videos have Captain Jeff storytelling the chapter for the day. They are only about 6-10 minutes long. This is a fun way to introduce the story to the kids.

After we finish watching the video, we take to our worksheet and retell the story, or as much of it as we can remember. I used this program with my daughter who is just learning to read. She was not able to write the retelling of the story down, but she could tell me, and I would write it for her. This worked for her and allowed her to be the storyteller!

After we finished retelling the story, we worked on the questions about the story. There were just 4 questions. Once again, with my daughter just learning the reading and writing, I would be the one to write her answers while she told me what to put.

Next came the word building. This is a section that we would use the word family and try it with letters and blends to see if they would make a real word. If it made a real word, we would write those on our sheet to use in the next activity, writing a poem. This time around, my daughter would be the one to write, because it was copying the words off the screen of the iPad. We noticed during this time that sometimes the letter names were quieter than the word family, sometimes too quiet to hear. I would take the time to repeat what the name was to make sure my daughter knew what it was.

After the word building, we made our way to the poetry section. This section used the words we found in the word building section to draft our poem with. Our review sheet finishes with us finding describing words used in the chapter and us predicting what was going to happen in the next chapter. I loved hearing the ideas my daughter would produce. Some days she was right, others, her imagination got the best of her! The final page was an undrawing page. We had the basic outline of the picture and a description from the story.

Finally, after a break, we go back and listen to the chapter while we follow along with the words. As we read, we see the words that are part of the current word family pop up on the screen and we sound them out. It was also fun to see pictures and videos randomly pop up to go along with other parts of the chapter.

My daughter had a challenging time with the word building part. While it was interactive and helped her sound out words, it was long. We spent close to half an hour sounding out the words and writing the real ones down. I think that a break halfway through this section would be ideal and would allow her the chance to get the most out of this section.

Overall, this was a great product that just needs a few tweaks. There is a delightful story and the art of storytelling is a wonderful thing that I love to have in my homeschool. I look forward to seeing more storytelling lessons from Captain Jeff!

-Product review by Amanda Hopkins, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2019