Friday, 30 November 2012

Help needed with my colours!

Mmm, probably shouldn't admit it but I am red-green colour blind which always makes working with colours a challenging feat for me! And with working on Operation Lucy there's a lot of work to do with colours… all the pictures have to be coloured in. Not my favourite task either, but I know you have some really keen color-inners in your classes so I've linked below to a number of black and white drawings below which need colouring… whilst you're waiting for Operation to Lucy to come out please feel free to use the drawings as a resource for your class… I'd really love to see them too as they will give me some ideas on colours to use… so email them over and add a caption to what you think is happening in each picture…

What's happening 2

What's happening 3

I've also included some colored drawings that I recently finished… let me know what you think!

Best wishes


Monday, 5 November 2012

No fee, no subscription for 100s of resources...

One of the findings from my recent survey was that some teachers said that Roy had gone pre-paid/subscription… this concerned me somewhat as it was quite a generalization… the bulk of Roy is still free (more than 95% of the resources in fact).

No doubt, this is an impact of adding the 5 x paid-for software elements to the site from 2009 and embedding some of the software games in amongst the free reading games. I'm thinking I might label them as demos but still it's good for everyone to see what the paid-for games are like.

Anywhoo, I'm writing this article as a) I wanted to remind everyone about the free content which amounts to hundreds of resources (check out our sitemap) and b) re-state that selling the software is very important as it enables me to continue development of the site: free elements + paid for elements.

If you're reading this and thinking you haven't tried the software yet then please click the following links so that you can download and install the trial versions… you get to try it, evaluate it and if you buy the software then you're not just getting a valuable tool that you can use to teach literacy but you're also supporting the free stuff and Roy's future! Surely that's a win win...

Here you go...

Long Vowel Phonemes: Use the long vowels phoneme software to support the teaching of a-e, aw, ay, ea, ee, er, ew, ir, oo, and or (plus more)... software comes with two activities, lesson plans, plus a whole heap of printable resources... all designed so that you minimize your preparation time...  INSTALL NOW

Consonant Blends: This time we're helping little Mo (Roy's little cousin) in her secret garden where she is trying to blend and segment CVCC words... in this way she's learning how to code and decode words.... again, packed with time-saving resources... READ MORE & INSTALL NOW

 Tricky Words: Help Zara find all her space tricky words (those words that cannot be decoded using phonics). Comes with more than 300 words that can be customized per game... setup words per student for them to find and learn. READ MORE & INSTALL NOW

Happy to answer any questions you have about the above. Just email me: Or if there are any ways that you'd like to see the software improved then I'd be really interested to hear that too.

Again, another way of visiting all the free content is to have a look at the site map… you can see the almost 600 pages of content that exists on ; )

Monday, 17 September 2012

Two New Features: More Words and Accents

I’ve recently added two extra features to the Consonant Blends and Tricky Words software which I’ve been meaning to write about here. Both now come with a database of words. It means you can create your own lists of words for playing in the games. All you need to do is to browse through the Word List and select the words for your list. It’s easy to add and remove words and you can build as many word lists as you want; so you can have them for specific children, or classes, or times of the year.
The other feature I’ve added is to do with the growing number of users in the US. 60% of the 1.5 million visitors to Roy every year come from the USA. Hello America..!. So, both Tricky Words and Consonant Blends software have been updated with a library of American accents, when you install the software you simply choose which accent you prefer; you can change this at a later date if you’d prefer English accents (but that would be odd...!).

If you’d like to know more about the above features then please do not hesitate to contact me. Hopefully the screen grabs will be able to show you how it works too... you can find out more here: Consonant Blends and Tricky Words.

Operation Lucy / Interactive Book...

OK, no more apologies, actions speak louder than words... I’m on it. There’s writing, drawing, scanning and coloring-in going on, plus a neat interactive book being put together for the next episode: Operation Lucy. It does take time ... you have been waiting patiently, I know – sorry!  I will be also be adding it to the software with a whole load of extras that hopefully you’ll find interesting... I’ve popped in a couple of the pics from the story below and some sketches of elephants I did from photos... was not happy with Lucy so went back to basics... studying what they should look like in real life and then making them into Lucy...

I don’t have an estimated time of release yet, but I am working on it... and not on anything else! Apart from the other job... I work 2.5 days a week for Roy.

Monday, 13 August 2012 Survey Findings & Survey Winner

We ran a survey earlier this year to find out more about how you felt about Roy. Approximately 400 respondents completed the survey and it showed some really interesting results. Specifically, I wanted to know more about how teachers were using the site, how important or not tablet devices are and which are the best ways to communicate with you.

Here's some of the interesting findings:
  • Roy is mostly used within two age groups: 5 to 6 year olds and 7 to 8 year olds. 65% of teachers who completed the survey use it with more than 10 pupils every year. This means that reaches out to approximately 1.5 to 2 million children every year to help them with their literacy skills (conservatively estimated).
  • Teachers in the main use mostly the free games, then the free guided reading story, then the printable resources. Interestingly the lesson plans weren't used very often
  • Naturally, teachers valued the story and the games most, with nearly 70% saying that they highly value them (as opposed to 'I value')… nearly 40% of the teachers didn't know there were songs on the site… 
  • 98% of the teachers said that helped their pupils become better readers (this is up since our last survey) with more than half saying that they strongly agreed with the fact that Roy helped improve reading skills
  • 99% of the teachers said that makes reading fun for their pupils and 98% said that the website was simple and easy to use… more than 70% for both of these questions 'strongly agreed' with these statements : )
  • Not many people knew about this blog!! More communication needed there…
  • More stories and games were wanted by everyone!
  • More than 160 positive statements were made by teachers… thank you for taking the time to write them, some added a great deal of detail…
  • A minority of teachers didn't like the fact that some elements are being charged for… 95% of the resources on are still free and the five batches of software are really needed to help support the free elements. I still work part-time on the website as I need another job to help support my work with Roy and living! So please continue to help in this area; the software gives you a great tool to use in the classroom and helps provide much appreciated income for the website - a win win..!

A very big thank you to everyone that completed the survey.

We've also just announced the survey winner...

Congratulations go to Shawn Blair who tutors literacy skills with Academic Solutions of Texas who completed the survey and won the free prize draw of $150 of Amazon vouchers. Shawn has been using the website for some years and said "Wow, thank you so much! That is so exciting! I use the Roy the Zebra website with kids I am tutoring; they can't wait to see what will happen to Roy each week…", happy spending Shawn!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Operation Lucy by Richmond Primary School

A big thank you to Richmond Primary school (Fremantle, WA) for their excellent ideas on how Roy will rescue Lucy the elephant. Some amazing story-lines that included an Apache helicopter (that George luckily knew how to fly...), Ryan the Rhino smashing into the zoo wall , other helicopter escapes, distracting zoo-keepers with an alarm clock (... I gave Richmond some clues to what's involved in the story, one clue was an alarm clock...), stealing a car (eh hem... borrowing?), a quick getaway in a plane, using a bomb and putting Lucy into a protective kevlar suit!

So specially big thanks to: Bailey, Elizabeth, Luinsok, Lucas, Noah, Sophia, Sophie, Isabella, Elizabeth, Tali, Lily, Callum, Matt, Ella, Adam, Ned, Darcy, Joe, Alyx, Charlotte, Rowan,Lachlan, and Ashley (I hope I got all your names correct). It was really amazing to read your story-endings so thank you for sending them to me. And a special thank you to Colleen and Sue for helping get the stories from Australia to the UK. By the way, you are very lucky to be living in Fremantle - I've been there twice and loved it!

I've taken the opportunity to upload some of your pictures and stories in a gallery below...

Thank you Richmond Primary School.

Best wishes


Monday, 9 January 2012

How to teach consonant blends

Knowing how to blend consonants is a critical skill - successfully blending and segmenting (breaking apart blends) will mean the child is able to read words and spell them without having to memorize them and/or learn them parrot fashion. Many teachers are successfully implementing these but to help we've put together some Consonant Blend lesson plans - just some simple fun ideas to help with lessons... good for finding the night before...

Each of the lesson plans has an overview of the importance of blending consonants, then some options for getting the class engaged and warmed up; each lesson plan also gives guidance for using our software to teach CVCC and CCVC words - great for helping to up-skill from simple CVC words to their four letter friends!

We've also put together a series of resources: flashcards, bookmarks and homework sheets - have fun using them... you don't need the software to use the resources or lesson plans but you'll definitely have more fun getting interactive with the software...

Friday, 6 January 2012

Congratulations in order...

Congratulations are in order to Julie Brown, special education teacher in Orange New South Wales - Australia. Julie won our festive prize draw of $150 after buying Tricky Words to use at Bletchington Public School. Julie uses the software with small groups of 8 students using the SMART board (age 6 to 8)... to quote Julie '... the students love it' (ed. Thanks Julie).

For those who haven't explored the Tricky Words games yet... it's all about Zara, our space wildernaut, learning her tricky words via flying through space... probably the only space wildernaut game out there! Comes with over 300 words to learn, plus wall displays, book marks and more. Check out one of the lesson plans.

Have fun using the software and spending your winnings Julie!

Tricky Words challenge screen...