After the closing of schools in the spring because of COVID-19, educators across the country began to share e-resources with their students, parents and families to continue to provide learning materials. Sharron McElmeel, an instructor in UW-Stout’s School of Education, is a nationally known children’s and young adult literature specialist and literacy advocate. She understands the importance of making resources readily available and appreciates the time and effort educators are putting in to ensure their students’ success while learning from home.
Even though McElmeel has taught at all levels, from early childhood education to the university, she was surprised by the plethora of online sites available to young learners and their families. “I am a parent and grandparent, educator and librarian and I was overwhelmed,” she said. “I wanted to eliminate some of the chaos that I was encountering with the overload of resources. I wanted a selection of sites that parents, grandparents and caregivers could utilize without feeling overwhelmed.”
Out of chaos, McElmeel strove to find clarity for herself and noneducators alike, so she developed her website, McBookwords, a gateway to free, accessible elementary-level learning sites.
She had a specific vision in mind when gathering sites for McBookwords. They needed to be of quality and be organized in such a way that young learners could navigate them without help. And after looking into pay sites like ABCmouse.com and Epic! and knowing many families cannot afford subscriptions, McElmeel chose free sites in McBookwords. “I tried to stay very strict about the free part,” she said. “I wanted a list of resources that carried no strings.” Some of these sites include ABCya!, Scholastic Learn at Home and Storyline Online.
You can find McBookwords, including a link to a companion page designed just for first-graders, at www.mcbookwords.com/readalouds.html.