Starfall is primarily an educational site which is actually fun for children. Set up by the Polis - Schutz family, who are also the people behind Blue Mountain Arts Publishing Company and bluemountain.com, Starfall was founded in 2002 with the aim of making learning to read easy and fun.
The contents are better than the slightly tacky looking home page suggests. The few games shown here are more of animations which do not fit anywhere, and kids do enjoy them, chiefly because of the fact that each is a full page one, with no advertisements, and they are free to explore by clicking here and there. But even toddlers enjoy the alphabets more -
Clicking on each letter leads to a series of pictures of objects starting with that letter. Some are with animations, but all have voice overs. The next arrow, as well as the letter, when clicked will be read as the phonemic equivalent rather than the letter itself. Beware though that the pronunciation is different from BBC's, and even if it be recommended by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, I will still disagree with the letter 'l' being pronounced 'o' :) After a few of those pictures, there is time for a mini game, usually involving picking a letter, but there are others as well. A few have songs which my kid loved.
The vowels have a song associated, which includes only one way of pronouncing the letter. There is however, a section for sign language alphabet as well, whose accuracy I can't vouch for.
In the next level, 'Learn to read', there are a couple of short games emphasizing the pronunciation of a letter or letter combination.
This is followed by a short story including similar words -
The next level, 'It's fun to read', look out for the usual music, art and games - but with an educational content. For example, the music section features ultra short pieces from well known composers and a tiny snippet of information about them. And the magic game is all about reading words aloud -
The last level, 'I'm reading' has folk tales, plays, myths, even Chinese fables to read:
The url - http://www.starfall.com/
Edit some hours later (now that is the real postscript, but I have already used mine otherwise!) - the download section allows free downloads of related material, and for even more, check out their shop.
P.S. I apologize for the delay - again! I really should have some extra drafts ready to post when I am suddenly busy, or when my net is acting up. But just for now, am posting at least this part till the other takes full shape :)