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One of the hardest things (for me) as a homeschooler has been trying to figure out how to help my children learn to read. (read more)
WHAT IS AMAZON RAPIDS?
Of course we know all about reading together, reading daily, phonics, sight words, games, etc.
I have favorite videos, board games, and instructional books. I'll have to make a post about those, but there is something to be said for giving them the ability to practice independently.
In the moments (weeks, months, years) before your child really GETS it, there can be a lot of frustration. So much of teaching them to read relies on you having to be right there with them, running your fingers under words, sounding out syllables, and feeling more than a bit helpless as they struggle.
Amazon Rapids isn't going to remove this struggle for you entirely, but it is a well designed tool that can allow your burgeoning reader to do more on their own.
A tool that gives them a sense of freedom and accomplishment which doesn't come when they're constantly looking up at your face to figure out what the next word is.
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Amazon Rapids is an app specifically designed to help kids ages 5-12 learn to read, and to keep them reading as they grow.
My oldest son was a good reader by the time I found out about Rapids, but it was absolutely perfectly timed for my youngest son.
With so many stories to choose from, I knew there'd be something he'd like to read. He could flip through them, picking the one he liked best, and I didn't have to worry because I knew that all of the stories would be suitable.
Think of it like Kindle Unlimited for kids.
This is where Rapids really shines.
My youngest son started using it a couple of years ago as part of the curriculum I have in place for him. We were already reading together each day, but I could tell he was very dependent on me during the process. I needed him to stretch his wings a bit, which meant I needed him to realize he could read alone.
What I wanted to avoid was getting him so frustrated with trying to sound things out that he decided he disliked reading. We were getting close that point, and it just was not a struggle I wanted to mess with, if I could avoid it.
I put Rapids on his iPad and showed him how to use it. To say it was a game changer would be a massive understatement.
Rapids has different options depending on the reader and their age/interests. For my son, this meant he could choose from hundreds of different stories that were all set in a "comic" strip sort of layout.
Let's say Sally and her cat "Joe" are having a text conversation. You would see Sally's face, then the words she is speaking or texting would come up, one at a time, in a conversational format. Basically I mean the words come up on the screen as she says them. The reader sees the words, hears them spoken, and begins to associate the word written and spoken together.
If the reader didn't hear a word, or wants to hear it again, he just touches that specific word with his finger. The word is spoken again, and, if he wants, he can see the definition.
Let me show you a specific example. Here is the screen where your reader gets to choose their story. My son really loves all the "Texts From Dog" stories, so we'll choose that one.
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He taps on the icon to open the story, and can then choose how he wants to read the story by pressing the pause button that hovers at the top of the screen. Does he want it read to him as the words appear and highlight? Or, does he want to read to himself?
He likes to see the words pop up as they're read aloud, so we'll choose that option. Here you see Dog (Max) beginning the story. Once Max says the first part, the app waits for your reader to indicate he's ready to move on.
Once he's ready to move on, the next part of the story plays out when your reader taps the bottom of the screen. Now you have Santa replying to a text from Max.
As you can see, the words highlight blue as they pop up.
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If, at any time, your reader wants to hear the word again, or find out the definition, they just tap the word. It will repeat, and give you the option to see the glossary.
This continues until the story finishes, at which time your child can choose another story, or exit the app.
Since this is something my son has to do with his school work two days a week (the other three days, we read together), I like being able to check and make sure he's reading.
Rapids makes this easy by sending me a quick email each time my son opens the app and starts a story.
It also tells me what he's reading, how many stories he's read, and what he seems to like the most.
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Set up is simple, just a few steps gets your reader going, and you can make a different profile for each of your children.
Start by entering their age and gender:
Let them choose a really fun avatar so they always know they're picking the correct profile:
Enter their name:
Pick their interests so the app shows them stories they'll actually want to read:
Click finish, and you're done! The app will automatically bring up stories it thinks your child will be interested in.
If you don't see what you like, you can easily search using keywords your child provides.
You can set up other profiles for other children, change the ages, avatars, and interests, and even set it up so Alexa can read to them.
Rapids gave my 8 year old such a sense of accomplishment. He loved the autonomy of being able to choose his own book, read on his own, and learn in a way that was comfortable for him.
I wish I'd known about it sooner so I could have used it with my oldest. I really think it would have saved a lot of heartache and many, many arguments about how important it was that we read together.
Basically, Rapids is a great way to give kids a sense of control while keeping them engaged in a learning experience.
Also, one of the questions I get asked a lot is, "Is Amazon Rapids free with Prime?" The answer is that it used to cost money, but as far as I know, it's been free for awhile now, so it shouldn't cost you anything.
You can get it on the App Store or on Google Play.
I hope it helps your young reader as much as it helped mine!