how-to-use-epic-in-the-classroom

How to Use Epic! in the Primary Classroom That Will Foster a Love for Reading

Let me tell you a story about how I stumbled upon this incredible website called Epic! that is, well… epic!

Once upon a time, our school librarian got rid of all our books on tape/CD… with no warnings, they were just gone.  As an avid Daily Five teacher, I scrambled trying to find a way to continue my “Listen to Reading” center without those trusty books on tape/CD. I searched and searched… and searched until I came upon Epic!

how to use epic in the classroom

What is Epic?

Epic!, also known as the Netflix of children’s books, is a website and app that gives teachers, students, and parents access to thousands of books. Luckily, this particular year that our media center librarian cleaned out our books on tape/CD, each primary classroom was assigned five Chromebooks. With Chromebooks now as my Computer/Technology center, that opened up my Donors Choose tablets I had gotten, to be used for something else. Enter in Epic! Epic! does everything that books on tape/CD did, only more!

Not only does Epic! read stories to students, highlight each word as it was being read, and flip the pages when it is time, but it also allows for a custom library of books based on each student’s interest. The icing on the cake was that it was all free!  That’s right… FREE!  Epic! really allowed me to take my Listen to Reading center to the next level that was kid-tested and teacher-approved! 

                

Using Epic! in the Primary Classroom

Since the start of using Epic!, we have been blessed with one-to-one devices for students.  This makes using Epic! even easier to use, especially with the littlest learners.  Once you set up your educator account, the sky is really the limit with this website.  There are 6 main ways we use Epic! in the classroom with my kindergarteners.

Early Finisher Option

Along with other hands-on early finisher activities available in our classroom, I also include Epic! as an option. If students finish a task, they are more than welcome to get themselves signed in to Epic! and get some reading done. If you offer it, you just might be surprised with how many students pick it over other activities.  Children really do love books, they love exploring their interests, and they love learning new things!

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Get Families Involved

Epic! allows for students to get 2 free hours a week to use at home. I print out {in color} the monthly calendar, provided by Epic!, which is full of fun tasks for students to complete each day. I don’t even need students/parents to fill out a reading log because I can see all the books read by each student in the teacher dashboard. I also love getting pictures from parents showing me the projects they completed at home. This really helps get parents involved and become partners in their child’s learning!  It’s also pretty cool when I approach students about the book(s) they read at home before they can come to me… I tell them I had a little classroom fairy tell me (thanks, teacher dashboard)!

Listening Comprehension and Visualization

Along with fiction and nonfiction picture books that students can either read on their own or have read to them, Epic! offers audiobooks. This is where students simply listen to a story. When I taught first grade and we did our unit on visualization, we would use this Epic! feature quite a bit. Students learned very quickly just how much they really needed to be listening in order to get a picture in their heads of what was happening in the story.

We also use the audiobook option when we are working on the beginning, middle, and ending of stories. I always tell my students that when they get older, the texts they pick up will have fewer and fewer pictures and more and more words. They really need to listen to the words and use their imaginations to really get a picture of and understand what is happening in each part of the story.

Listen to Reading Center {Fluency Practice}

The whole point of a Listen to Reading center is so that students can hear what a fluent reader sounds like. They need that exposure to texts being read fluently. I have also trained my kiddos to listen to the story all the way through, using the “Read to Me” feature and then going through it again with the volume down so they could practice reading the story on their own. In addition to students choosing one of their own books to listen to, I assign them a book at their F&P level, and a book one level above their F&P level (another super amazing feature on Epic!) just to make their time at this center a little more meaningful. Once they are finished reading they respond to one of their books with a Reader’s Response sheet.

 

Make it Fun

Every year, we use the Readerpillar to track our reading. It is displayed on the wall in the classroom and I set milestones throughout the year for rewards with a reading party when they hit those milestones. For example, when we reach our first milestone of 100 books read, we have an {admin approved} “Slumber Reading Party” and they can wear jammies to school, bring in their favorite bedtime book from home, and a blanket. We set aside a time where they can share their books with their peers, and/or sit in a private space and read their favorite books they brought from home. What really makes me jump for joy is when they swap books with a friend! Each party is themed, but they do stay reading-focused. Students L.O.V.E it!

Research Projects

Research projects are very basic at the primary level, but Epic! makes it easy and manageable. I can literally assign books to students based on their interests and have them listen to/read books based on that topic.  Not only are they getting the information that they need for their research projects, but they are also having fun while doing it. They get to read many different books, full of information, that they can report on and put in their ‘All About…’ books!  It’s so cool to see them so involved and so engaged in their research.

As you can see there are so many ways to use Epic! in the primary classroom. I am sure there are even more ways that I just haven’t discovered yet. Maybe once you set up your class on Epic!, you can share with me all the cool and gnarly ways you are keeping things fresh in your classroom! I’d love to hear about it!  🙂

Also, just for hanging out and reading about the ways to easily bring Epic! into your classroom, check out these *FREE* Reader Response Sheets that we use on the daily with Epic!  There are sheets for fiction and non-fiction and they are perfect for having your Littles practice a skill you’ve been learning about or for just reflecting on what they read!

2 Responses

  1. Angel! I love all your suggestions on how to use Epic in our classrooms! As a fellow Daily 5 lover, this is a great way to build literacy and engage young readers.

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Hi, I'm Angel!

I help primary teachers level up their phonics instruction so that they can focus on creating fun, engaging, and effective lessons. 

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