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1. Learning the letters and letter sounds

 

This is a selection of recommended materials to help you at the stage of teaching letters and their sounds to your child or students.

As you can see,  there isn’t anything too fancy or extravagant here. Just simple (but powerful) tools! That’s all!

You may even have some of these things already at home!

If you just want the bare minimum, then maybe just go for the alphabet cards and something to write with and on!

 Apart from pencil and paper (by the way, check our recommendation for good-grip pencils!), we really like using whiteboards as well! 

Children LOVE them and REALLY help them learn!

The rest of the materials (especially letter magnets!) are a great addition to your array of tools for teaching letter names and letter sounds. Pick the ones that you think will be more suitable for your child’s learning style (for instance, play-dough letters for kinetic learners).

Alphabet cards

When getting alphabet cards, make sure that there is at least one side with the letters standing alone by themselves, like it is the case on these alphabet flashcards. This way your child won’t be able to rely on visuals. 

Letter magnets

Possibilities are endless with them letter magnets. 
Besides,  letter magnets allow children manipulate and touch the actual shape of the letters, which helps them learn kinetically.

Whiteboard

Working on a whiteboard engages multiple senses (visual, semantic, sensory, motor) for a more holistic learning experience.  They’ll also help your child develop physical dexterity and control. 

Magnetic Letter Tiles

Possibilities are also endless with letter tiles. At the beginning use them for letter recognition and identification. Later on: practice spelling, letter manipulation,  word-building, and much more!

Letter mat

Learn while having fun! You will be able to play lots of different literacy games with a letter mat, like this one. Besides, it will create safe space area for children and toddlers.

Kinetic Experiences

A great kinetic activity to learn about the letters. Young children will learn about letters and practice letter formation using play foam. Beautiful / colorful set that gets really good reviews.

Good-grip pencil

These fat triangle-shaped pencil are fantastic for achieving mastery at correct pencil-grip. If your child struggles with holding the pen correctly, give these type of pencils are try!

Interactive letter sounds poster

Interactive poster to learn letter names and sounds. Touch the letters to hear the letter name, the letter sound, words starting with that letter and little songs, for extra fun. 

Shaping letters with Play dough

This is another kinetic set (this time using play dough, instead of play foam) to use manipulation to experience letter shapes with our own hands. Very popular and lots of fun.

Stickers chart

It is always good to reward your child for his/her accomplishments at reading. Apart from for encouragements words, as you may already know, children get extremely motivated by stickers! But don’t give stickers away so ‘easily’! Best strategy: set some clear objectives (with a young child it can be as ‘simple’ as  listening to you throughout the entire lesson) and reward when they truly make an effort! 

VTech ABC Learning Apple 

Interactive learning take-along toy to introduce preschoolers to letters, letter sounds, phonics, memory skills and time concepts. 

Music, lights and songs make it fun for children! Not too loud for parents (also has a turn on/turn off button) as children will probably be playing for a while with this toy. But, they will be learning at the same time!

Alphabet Bingo Games

A classic game that still works! This is a sneaky way to introduce more literacy time to your child while having fun. I like this simple version of the Bingo game because it actually focuses on the letter recognition, rather than on picture + letter recognition. With these, you don’t know whether children are recognizing the letter A or the apple, the letter E or the elephant, etc. If you prefer it, you could also  build your own bingo! 

APPS FOR LEARNING LETTER NAMES AND LETTER SOUNDS!

Learn with HOMER is a great app for learning with the phonics approach. Especially good when you are on the Phonemic Awareness stage and learning about the letters and their sounds. 

They offer a 30-day free trial!

More details on this article.


This app has preschool learning program that introduces children to the alphabet and letter sounds in a fun way. 

Later on, your child can move on to STEP 1 (36 progressive phonics lessons).

Get started for just $1 for the first month!

 

For even more app ideas, check this article out!

2. First steps at reading

 

Congratulations! Your child already has developed an automatic recognition of letter names and sounds. 

Now it is time to practice his / her blending skills reading books, text passages and words that are in line with his/ her phonics level. Beginner readers books play a crucial role here. 

As you may have read on our Guide or throughout the blog, we recommend phonetically decodable books (also called phonics books or decodable books) at this stage. 

Below you’ll find a few suggestions of good-quality decodable books and word lists created by us that are appropriate for your child at this stage.

Bob Books

BOB Books are a classic, but… They surely still work!  Clean design, short and simple stories, as well as simple phonics, that advances as your child’s level of phonics does as well.

Dog on a log

DOG ON A LOG books are popular  for students with dyslexia /struggling readers. I think they can be great for any child learning to read. Extremely controlled text. They offer lots of opportunities for review and practice. 

Primary Phonics

Again, PRIMARY PHONICS readers offer lots of practice before moving on to the next set of rules! The sequence is really well-thought-out. 6 sets of phonics books with 10 story books each.

For even more decodable books, check out this exhaustive list of the best decodable books!

Our Master Phonics Word List – AVAILABLE SOON!

Did you know that with the right phonics sequence (order of introduction of sounds) and a great word list to match that sequence, you can have amazing results? 

SIMPLE AND EFFECTIVE!

That is exactly what this EPIC Word List will include! An extraordinary resource for you to put into practice the phonics approach!

It also includes: The sequence of introduction of High-Frequency Words + LOTS of comments, tricks and teaching tips! 

 

This list is ideal for children transitioning from reading simple CVC words (Consonant / Vowel / Consonant: cat, dog, log) to more complex words, such us CCVC (stop, grab) and even CCVCC words (brand, stomp).

Children need a lot of practice at sounding out words with blends.

They do NOT need to memorize the actual blends, though.

Why do you want to use this list?

> No overwhelm: words are introduced gradually! > Avoid cognitive overload > No guessing, no memorization… Just decoding!

 For a limited time get the list for ONLY $5.99!

Children Learning Reading

  • Great program for young readers and for reinforcing reading instruction at home, if your child goes to school.
  • Lessons don’t take too long to complete or require complicated materials.
  • It uses a combination of Phonemic Awareness and Synthetic Phonics principles.
  • Effective, solid and easy-to-implement program.
  • Read our full review of this program here.
Hooked on Phonics Readers

Hooked on Phonics

  • Great for children that thrive on having a very clear routine when it comes to learning, and appreciate the use of audio-visuals (video lessons).
  • The system used is a sequential, systematic synthetic phonics approach.
  • Hooked on Phonics also offers a pretty good literacy app.
  • If you were to buy Hooked on Phonics,  you can get a bundle with all the levels + plus 1 year access to the app for a little bit more.

All About Reading / All About Spelling

  •  Great for children that learn best through multi-sensory experiences.
  • It uses the Orton-Gillingham Approach.
  • This could be a great option if you are after: A multi-sensory program, which also offers very explicit instruction. A very popular curriculum for home schooling. Also very popular program for struggling readers / dyslexic children. 

Logic of English.

  • It also uses the Orton-Gillingham Approach to teaching reading.
  • Great if you are after a multi-sensory program, that also goes really deep into rules (into the ‘logic of English’). Very appropriate approach for dyslexic/struggling readers. Tackles spelling, writing and reading all together. Another very popular curriculum for home schooling.

To discover more about these programs and to understand the differences among them, we recommend you check this post.

Some children will need more practice than others when it comes to learning to read, and that is ok. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how long it took you to learn to read, as long as you learn!

Apart from using a strategy/ a system for learning to read that focuses a lot on Phonemic Awarenessthat is even more important for struggling readers, dyslexic children or anyone at risk of reading difficultyand is very systematic in its approach, there are many other other tools that are available for struggling readers these days.

One of the latest trends (and, frankly, quite an interesting one as well!) is the use Artificial Intelligence to help these readers out. Not to do the job for them! We don’t think it is RIGHT or FAIR to throw the towel on them by just putting at their fingertips apps that will read to them! 

Many times what is actually missing is: a strong phonics foundation, integrating a more holistic approach to learning, and way more practice at reading.

Below you will find some suggestions for children with challenges and difficulties when it comes to learning to read.

Struggling readers need someone next to them when reading. If  you don’t have as much time as you’d like to to be by your child’s side when reading, check this app for smartphones and tablets.

It uses Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Voice Recognition Technology to detect the words that your child is reading.

 If they are not right, it corrects your child’s mistakes, in the same way you would if you were reading with your kid yourself. 

Thanks to their
detailed reports, you will also be able to check your child’s progress! Reports include: the duration of time their child spent reading, their accuracy and comprehension! 

Reading Buddy also uses Artificial Intelligence for an interactive reading experience between Reading Buddy and your child. 

Again, the software supports your child along the way, correcting his/ her mistakes, helping her/him when stuck, and prompting him/her to pronounce words right.

Child is first cued when he/she makes a mistake, and only corrected in s/he doesn’t get it right. Sessions are  structured and follow their 7-step practice protocol (repeated readings, word mastery exercise, & comprehension questions). Detailed reports.

ONLY available for PC’s

If you want to know more about the differences between these two apps and see which one may be a better fit for your child, check this post!

curriculums/ learn to read programs for struggling readers

Struggling readers and dyslexic children usually benefit a lot from programs that use the Orton-Gillingham Approach. 

The Orton-Gilligham approach tends to produce better results with struggling readers because: it is systematic, explicit, sequential and multisensory.

 Two good-quality Learn to Read Curriculums that follow the Orton-Guilligham approach are this one and this one.

books for struggling readers

S.P.I.R.E.

Dog on a log

Primary Phonics

FREE Learn-to-Read Materials!