Oxford Owl: free ebooks (with audio!)
What it is: Oxford Owl is an incredible collection of free children’s ebooks for kids ages 3-11. Each ebook has accompanying audio so that students can choose to read along, or read independently. The books also have activities that focus on reading comprehension and story recall. There are several options for filtering the ebooks so that students can find just the right story including by age, by book type, and by series. In addition to the ebooks on the site, you can find fun activities and recommendations for each age group, games to print and play, and online games with characters from the books and site.
How to integrate Oxford Owl into your classroom: I am a big fan of books. Huge even. It doesn’t matter where they reside, books make me happy. It makes sense then, that Oxford Owl would be a squeal worthy site for me. Free ebooks with audio you guys! This site reminds me a little bit of Lookybook...I’m still lamenting its demise.
Oxford Owl is a great way to instantly expand your classroom library. Books are leveled by age and include both fiction and non-fiction. You will find biographies, dictionaries, fiction, myths and legends, non-fiction, phonics, picture books, poetry and books for struggling readers. The stories that I went through were truly fun to read! Use the books on Oxford Owl during reading time on classroom computers. Students can choose a book to go through as a read along (SO very helpful when there are students who really need to read with a buddy, but the buddy situation is limited). If you only have one or two computers in your classroom, get a headphone splitter and let students read together in small groups. The related activities are a great way for students to self-monitor comprehension. Students can also read these stories independently. When I taught 2nd grade, I had a voracious reader who quickly read through all of the classroom books and was ready for more. He was only allowed to check out from the library once a week (and usually those books went home) so I would have him use Lookybook. Oxford Owl would open a whole other world of books for them to read!
We all have days where a few extra minutes to deal with a problem, set up for the next activity, etc. Oxford Owl could be connected to your interactive whiteboard or projector for students to listen to a story while you get things sorted. The whole class can enjoy the story together. My students loved books on the IWB because they could all see the pictures and read along. Oxford Owl is also ideal for that time of year when the germs settle in and the voice has gone on strike.
One of my favorite things to do in the classroom was reading with small groups of students. It gave me the opportunity to give them the individual attention that they really deserved and let me get to know them as readers better. But…what to do with the rest of the class? I assigned tub work that students could complete independently. The tubs were centers related to what we were learning during the week. Each tub contained all the necessary materials that students would need. This was independent learning they could work on while I was with the small groups. Oxford Owl would make a great addition to the “tub” work. Students could visit the computer center and choose some books to read and play the associated games.
Tips: Now for the unfortunate news: Oxford Owl is flash-based. BOO! Not ideal at all for a classroom full of iPads like we have at Anastasis. Luckily, there is a solution. There are several Flash Browsers that you can download for the iPad to view flash content. My favorite is Rover (because it is filtered and created for kids!). If your network is well filtered, I would also recommend iSwifter and Photon.
P.S. We Give Books is another outstanding place to find free ebooks!
P.S.S. Hat Tip to The Techie Classroom- an outstanding blog to add to your reader if it isn’t already there!