Are you a classroom teacher finding that your current curriculum isn’t helping your struggling readers? Maybe you’re a homeschooling parent who needs supplementary materials to meet the needs of your kids across different grade levels – without breaking the bank. Or perhaps you’re a private reading tutor looking for additional resources.
I think you’ll love SNAP! Learning — use of a yearly membership has helped many people improve kids’ reading.
Disclosure: I was compensated for this review. All opinions are mine!
What is SNAP! Learning?
- It’s a learning tool designed to supplement your instruction.
- The reading materials are intended to be used for reading interventions, guided or shared reading, tutoring, or simply as a way to supplement a classroom library.
- SNAP! Learning is not a stand-alone reading curriculum.
- It is not intended to be used as an independent-learning program apart from direct teacher guidance.
What does SNAP! Learning cost – and what do you get?
- For $89 you receive one year’s access to SNAP’s printable PDF books, lesson plans, and other materials – for up to 30 students.
- You’ll also receive digital versions of the books with over 1000 audio files, more than 2500 slideshows, videos, fun facts, interactive maps, and animations. Digital versions can be accessed with an Apple iPad, Android tablet, desktop, laptop, whiteboard, or the Web.
- A membership will also give you access to data analytics, which will help you organize data and track assessments.
How do you get started with SNAP! Learning?
- Determine the reading level your student is learning at (this may or may not be equivalent to his or her actual grade level). Choose a pdf or digital book with which to begin. I love that DRA, Fountas & Pinnell, Rigby, and Reading Recovery levels are provided for the books through first grade. Lexile and Flesch-Kincaid readability levels are provided for second through eighth grade.
- If you’re using the PDF version, you’re welcome to use the scripted lesson plan as you teach your student or small group. The PDF version also comes with an alphabet book, word books, and assessment materials.
- You might also choose to use the digital version of a book. These are very similar to the PDF versions but contain a variety of other features:
- Assessments are interactive, allowing students to correct their mistakes when prompted.
- Children can touch, hear, and view new vocabulary.
- Videos, audio, animations, photo slideshows, and more enhance and improve kids’ reading.
What are the strengths of the program?
- The reading material itself is terrific, starting at the beginning. I love how the earliest books are not phonics readers but instead focus on concepts of print, phonemic awareness and sight words. This is not to say phonics is excluded, but it is approached in a developmentally appropriate way.
Here you can see my Three reading a very basic “Ready to Read” book.
Here’s a page from the PDF version of another “Ready to Read” book. Perfect for emergent readers.
- I also think that the books for older children have a high interest level and will be appealing to struggling readers.
- The digital versions of the books are neat, clear, and effective. There are no flashy, distracting images that lead to sensory overload – instead, the slide shows, videos and audio make the books very interactive and appealing.
- In my opinion, SNAP! Learning’s greatest strength is its nonfiction lessons. Teaching students to enjoy and comprehend nonfiction text is a challenge. SNAP has mastered this!
- Many teachers will find the data analytics component to be very useful. It will allow them to keep a long-term record to track student fluency, comprehension, and more.
- Some instructors will appreciate that SNAP! Learning’s titles were developed meet the Common Core Standards for English Language.
What does SNAP! Learning look like?
Because I believe that SNAP’s biggest strength is its digital library program, I will focus on that below – using screen shots from actual lessons.
At the beginning of each lesson (PDF or digital), children are given a list of learning objectives. (Personally, I feel this is a bit ridiculous when teaching preschool and kindergarten, but I suspect this is required for the Common Core.)
For children who are ready to read longer passages, a fluency test begins each digital lesson. Children set the timer and record the number of words they read (see the word count at the side of the screen shot) when the timer ends. Teachers can then store and analyze this data over time.
I think that the vocabulary development is a huge strength of SNAP! Learning. I had my daughter (age 6) read each new word before she clicked on the arrow – then she could hear if she was pronouncing it correctly. She enjoyed finding words she already knew and learning some unfamiliar ones.
As you can see, the font is clear and easy to read. There’s a clear distinction between the text and the illustrations.
Mixed in with the digital stories (both fiction and nonfiction) are audio files, slideshows, and interesting facts. I LOVE THESE. Even though my daughter was reading a fictional second grade level story about a boy playing his guitar on stage, the slideshows taught her things about real guitars and even let her hear their sound. She was totally into this!
When I taught, many of our classrooms used Accelerated Reader. I’m not sure if things have improved since then, but I was completely unimpressed with the 10-question multiple choice format for assessments. In contrast, SNAP! Learning’s assessments really require kids to think. The digital assessments are, in my opinion, easier than the PDF versions because kids are given choices rather than just filling in the blanks. Yet they still provide a good challenge – and I love the interactive nature of the questions – kids are given instant feedback so that they can stop, rethink, and correct their mistakes.
What improvements would I like to see?
- I’d love to see the lessons rewritten so they are not scripted but more of a a guideline. I realize I’m in the minority here as scripted lessons seem to be the current wave in education. However, to me they feel contrived, awkward, and even insulting to teachers . I wouldn’t want to see homeschool parents feel that they cannot improve kids’ reading without following the lesson exactly.
- I’d appreciate shorter lessons and more books for the lower grades. Turning a very basic early reader (A cat. A dog. A bird, etc.) into a 2-day lesson (albeit “optional”) feels like wasted time. I’m a firm believer in the idea that kids learn to read by reading. When I taught first and second grade, my emergent readers spent their reading time reading through a stack of books at their level – not reading one short book and talking about it for two days.
- I’d love to see a larger collection of books for older kids. (Thankfully, SNAP! Learning is working at expanding its library.)
- Even though the nonfiction digital books are fantastic, I think older children would benefit from fiction titles as well.
What’s my verdict?
SNAP! Learning is an excellent add-on to any reading curriculum and would be especially helpful for reaching struggling readers. Its reading material, digital elements, and assessment tools are top notch. I definitely recommend SNAP! Learning to anyone looking to help improve kids’ reading.
Visit SNAP! Learning’s website to learn more about it and get your own free trial!
© 2013 – 2016, Anna G. All rights reserved.