Monday, December 13, 2010


Phonemes: /s æ t p/
Graphemes: s a t p

Words: sat, pat, tap, at, sap, ap, *as
(Bold- words taught in the textbook. The rest are other words including 'nonsense words'.
'as' - the 's' in 'as' is /z/ but you can introduce the word in this unit. Just model the correct pronunciation for 'as'.)

Phoneme:/s æ t p/
Graphemes: s a t p

Standard: 2.1
Standard: 2.1.2a, 2.1.3
Teaching Aids: Sound card 's'(3), a(3), t(3), p(3); pocket chart; chalk or masking tape
Time: 30 minutes

1. Revise phonemes
/s æ t p/. Flash sound cards and sing Association Action Song.
2. Do oral blending for words sat, tap, pat.
2. Show Sound Card Blending for words sat, tap, pat.
3. Play Blending Game Kangaroo Hop, Textbook pg 11.
4. Show Sound Card Blending again.


Phoneme:/s æ t p/
Graphemes: s a t p

Standard: 2.1
Standard: 2.1.2a, 2.1.3, 3.1.2a
Teaching Aids: Sound card 's'(3), a(3), t(3), p(3); pocket chart; chalk or tape.
Time: 30 minutes

1. Revise blending.
2. Do
Hands-on Look & Build and Listen and Build.
3. Do writing activites:
  • AB pg 9.
  • Dictation

Phoneme:/s æ t p/
Graphemes: s a t p

Standard: 2.1
Standard: 2.1.2a, 2.1.3
Teaching Aids: Sound cards s, a, t, p; pocket chart; Chant Poster(Textbook pg 11)
Time: 30 minutes

1. Revise blending.
2. Teach the chant(
decodable reading text) in Textbook pg 11.
3. Stick Chant Poster on the board. Let pupils use musical instruments as they chant.


Phoneme:/s æ t p/
Graphemes: s a t p

Standard: 2.1
Standard: 2.1.2a, 2.1.3, 3.1.2a
Teaching Aids: Sound cards s, a, t, p; pocket chart; Chant Poster(Textbook pg 11)
Time: 30 minutes

1. Revise blending.
2. Do
dictation/spelling test.
3. Do


BLENDING: Pupils are taught to read by blending the individual sounds. This is the first time they are taught blending. It's crucial for teachers to show the blending steps clearly and smoothly(and also quickly), many times. In my personal experience with 6 year olds, a majority of them are able to grasp this blending concept after couple of weeks(They have reading lesson everyday).

For slow learners, we do Hands-On Blending(Look & Build, Listen & Build) for remedial, on one-on-one basis, the better. Hands-On Blending is one powerful tool. I haven't got the chance to put a video clip. Do join my Readeasy Intensive course to have an hands-on experience.

SEGMENTING: Pupils are taught to spell by segmenting. It can be oral or written. For new Phonics teachers, do bear in mind that the pupils will spell by saying the SOUNDS not the letter names.
Spelling is harder than reading because there are no visual clues. A pupil has to think in his/her mind what are the sounds in a word and then transcribe each sound. It gets tougher when s/he learns there are more than one spelling(grapheme) for a sound( Unit 10, phoneme /k/ can be represented by grapheme c, k or ck).

So do a lot of oral spelling with your pupils. Play Phonics Spell-It-Right. Do spelling tests(during my days in primary school, we have spelling test all the time). Reward your best spellers, weekly, monthly, in class and also in school assemblies.

STEP 1: Teacher shows manipulation by
  • adding a new sound t ... at
  • deleting a sound at ... a
  • substituting a sound cat ... cot
  • reversing sounds cat ... tac
STEP 2: The pupil manipulates the letters according to teacher's instructions. Give each pupil only the sound cards they will need for the sequence.

Suggested manipulation sequence for sounds represented by s a t p:
a - as - ap - at - sat - pat - tap - ap - sap

This manipultaion exercise is very powerful because you are training your pupils to read any possible sound combinations.

Sunday, December 12, 2010



Phonemes: /s
æ t p/
Graphemes: s a t p

Note: Pupils are NOT taught to read yet in this unit.

troducing A Sound)
Phoneme: /s/
Grapheme: s
Standard: 2.1
Standard: 2.1.1, 2.1.2a, 3.1.1a, 3.1.2a,b
Teaching Aids: Sound card 's', Cory Cat Phonics Song
Time: 30 minutes

1. Teacher introduces /s/. Watch my mouth.
(Position your mouth, teeth, tongue for phoneme /s/. DO NOT say the sound yet.
Make sure all your pupils can see your mouth.)

2. Teacher says /s/ 5 times with pauses in between.

3. Teacher asks 'What sound did you hear?'

4. Practice saying /s/ , class, group, individual.

5. Sing Assoc
iation Action Song(from Cory cat Phonics Song), Sammy Snake s s s(weave your hand in an 's' shape, like a snake ).

6. Introduce grapheme 's' for /s/. 'This is /s/. What sound is this? Say /s/ 5 times with me(class, group, individual).'

7. Do writing activities(model the correct way of writing the grapheme):
  • touch sandpaper letter
  • form 's' with modelling clay(Textbook pg 8)
  • copy, write 's' (AB pg 6; intergrate ICT, use Microsoftword. Let pupils choose font, colour it and print.)
(Ask 'What are you doing?' as pupils do the writing activity. Train them to say the sound not the letter name. Use the term 'sound' when teaching phonics NOT 'letter'.)

95% of the pupils are able to say 's'. Zaid and Jugah have lisping problem. Everybody enjoyed singing Sammy Snake( He he).
Everybody can write 's' except Zaid, Aina and Aiman(letter reversal).

Above are the basic teaching steps when introducing a sound.
  • Follow the same steps for sounds /æ t p/.
  • Teach the sounds over a period of 1 week, preferably everyday. If not 3x/week, alternate days. Play games once you have introduced more than 1 sound(Textbook pg 7, Jumping Frog).
  • Revise sounds taught before each lesson.
  • DO NOT introduce letter names.
LESSON 2(Introducing picture names)
Phoneme: /s /
Grapheme: s
Standard: 2.1
Standard: 2.1.1, 2.1.2a,
Teaching Aids: Sound card 's'(2); Picture cards or objects beginning with /s/ - sun, seal, snail, socks, spider(from CD Koleksi Grafik bacalah Anakku & Readeasy if you are lazy to draw on your own)
Time: 30 minutes

1. Teacher revise
s the sound taught. Show sound card 's'.
Sing Sammy Snake s s s(with action please).

2. Stick the 's' card on the board.

3. Teacher introduces pictures with initial sound /s/.
Show the first picture, sun. Ask 'What is this?(sun). Say 'sun'. Can you hear /s/(show sound card 's')when I say 'sun'?(show picture)
Encourage pupils to repeat '/s/ as in 'sun'(exaggerate the /s/ sound in the word 'sun').

4. Put the picture on the board below the sound card 's'.

5. Repeat Step 3 for othe pictures.

6. Play Musical Pictures. Sit in a circle. Put all the picture cards in a box. Teacher plays the music and the pupils pass the box. When the music stops, the pupil with the box will pick a card and name it. Teach the pupils to say '/S/ as in (spider)' after naming the picture.


Above are the basic teaching steps when introducing picture names.
  • Follow the same steps for sounds /æ t p/.
  • for enrichment, make a Sound Poster(refer my link Teaching Phonics, Phonics Poster) for each sound taught(group/class project. Stick it/them around the classroom.
  • Go slow when teaching sounds for the first few weeks. Personally I do not advise you to teach all 4 sounds in one lesson in the early stages of teaching reading.
  • Play Jumping frog after introducing all the 4 sounds at the end of Week 1. Refer Textbook pg 7. For enrichment, I prefer pupils to say "Hello I am /p/. /P/ as in pencil." as he stands on grapheme 'p'.
The above teaching steps may look elaborate but once you get the hang of it, teaching phonics will be a breeze. Do have fun when you teach!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Learning To Read = Learning To Drive

I can still remember waiting for my driving instructor everyday, eagerly, during the school hols after my SPM.(1980). I can still remember I had to learn from A to Z about driving - from holding (& also turning) the steering; to putting the car into first gear and letting the clutch pedal go slowly while pressing down the gas pedal(Ayo don't ask me how many times my car mati at roundabouts :p). I practised all these small steps everyday. And when I got my license, I told my passengers NOT to talk to me while I'm driving. It took me many many years to become an expert driver. Now I can talk nonstop while driving. I can also eat kuaci while driving. BUT I don't talk on the phone while driving(ehem).

It's the same thing with reading. Like driving, reading is a complex skill. It has to be taught from the bottom up, from the simple parts to the complex whole. In order for a person to become an expert reader, a good speller and writer, s/he has to be 'good' at it. In order to be 'good', s/he has to be competent. Competency stems from practice(repetition). Children have to practice reading, spelling, writing everyday to obtain mastery.

So my advice to Year 1 English teachers to teach phonics everyday. Please DON'T teach reading once a week. If you do so, then your pupils will be facing READING FAILURE!
Bear in mind, whether a child becomes an expert reader depends upon:

  • the teaching method(synthetic phonics , please)
  • the teacher's skill in teaching(hope BPK has trained you well)
  • parental support(definitely not in rural areas)
  • the child's motivation and talent
  • the number of lessons & hours of practice
Readeasy Phonics has been successful at preschool level, especially, for the past 10 years because we
  • use synthetic phonics.
  • train our teachers thoroughly in reading instruction.
  • teach reading(blending, segmenting) everyday for half an hour.
Never forget that the teacher of a young child is the custodian of that child's destiny...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reading & Writing Station

Since using phonics is something new in primary schools in Malaysia, I would like to suggest a Reading & Writing Station in Year 1 classrooms.

You will need:
1. Sound cards. Put them in envelopes or 'ziplocks' according to units. Unit 1 - Put s a(3) t(2) p(2) in each envelope. It's great if you can have one envelope of sound cards for every student in your class.

2. Handy Pocket Charts. I teach my course pax to make their own.

3. Picture cards according to the units.

4. Magnetic letters & board(if your school have the
budget to buy).

5. Sandpaper or sensory letters (I stick them to the wall at pupil's eye level).

6. Modelling clay - keep them in airtight containers.

7. Sand/Salt box

8. Sound Cubes

9. Phonics Board & Card Games

10. Sound Posters

11. Letter Formation Cards(laminated- use small transparent plastic b
ags if your school doesn't have a laminator).

12. Word cards(sight words too, in blue please. Other word cards can be written in black).

13. Decodable Texts(poster size)

14. Phonics Dictionary

15. Writer's Wall - Stick mahjung paper on a wall. Have crayons, colour pencils and pencils nearby. Encourage pupils to write whatever they like on it.
In my preschool, we have to change the paper every other day.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Teaching reading in English to second(maybe third or fourth) language learners is not easy. In my personal experience as a Reading Tutor, many Malay children(who do not speak English at home) are able to read quite well after using Readeasy Phonics Beginner & Intermediate Level. However, understanding what they read is another issue.

Thus, parents and teachers alike, should include enrichment
activities at the same time of teaching phonics reading skills. These activities will help the children acquire the language. Good language acquisiton will help them learn to read fluently and with understanding.
  • Read aloud story books(so teachers please don't throw your Big Books away).
  • Sing action songs.
  • Recite poems, nursery rhymes, chants & alliterations(Cory Cat caught a crab.).
  • Role-play, show & tell.English Yr 1 Textbook, Action Song pg 29 , Poem pg 121, Role-play pg 38
I've come across a few people who refused to use phonics for the reason that children are reading like 'parrots'. Above are some suggestions to help children comprehend what they read. Showing & talking about the pictures of what they read will also help them understand. And don't forget to speak English to your kids wherever you go, whenever you can.

As a phonics practitioner for more than 20 years, I believe it is a tragedy NOT to teach children to read using synthetic phonics!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


To make teaching reading using phonics in classrooms a breeze, you will need:
  • a big pocket chart
  • sound cards
  • picture cards(of beginning sounds)

You can use the sound cards in my Cory Cat Phonic Song VCD.

These sound cards are suitable for introducing symbols for the speech sounds. The letters(graphemes) are in lower-case and big enough for the whole class to see.

When you start teaching blending, I suggest you use my 'Kad Rantaian Bunyi' which can be used for teaching blending in English & also BM.


Pictures fr English Year 1 Sekolah Kebangsaan Textbook KSSR, Book Cover, pg. 35, pg.39

As stipulated in the Learning Standards, the strategies of phonics are to be used in the teaching of reading for students in Year 1 beginning next year. I would like to stress that the phonics used for English Year 1 is Synthetic Phonics.
Synthetic phonics is a method of teaching reading which first teaches the smallest speech sounds and then builds up to blending these sounds together to achieve full pronunciation of words.

UNIT 1: Sounds Around Us
This unit gives opportunity for students to imitate sounds that people, animal or things make. This activity is to develop students' listening & speaking skill and phonemic awareness. It would be fun for teachers to take the students outdoors for a SOUND WALK - take the children around the school or neighbouring area. Get the students to cup their ears & listen and imitate sounds around them. Some teachers in the UK make big ears for the students to wear on their walk.

Teacher:(T): Listen.. What can you hear?
T: Is that a bird tweeting? Can you make the sound?
T: Was that a car? Lets all make the sound of a car.
T: I can hear a loud noise over there. Can you make the sound?
What makes the sound?

Possible sounds you might hear during your Sound Walk - sound of a drill(schools have lots of construction work going on!), motorbikes, cars, planes in the skies, bees buzzing, cats meowing, dogs barking/growling, monkeys(those teaching in rural areas)chattering, cows mooing, goats bleating, clocks ticking, bell ringing,doors creaking, people coughing, sneezing... teachers shouting(oops!)

Now if you have a knee problem and are not able to take the students on a Sound Walk, then you could draw animals & things that make sounds and put them around the class. Get the students to walk around the class with you(use a cane to help you walk) and pretend to hear the sounds. Don't forget to encourage the students imitate the sounds.

But if you have arthritis and can't draw, just open your English Year 1 textbook page 1 & 2 to teach students sounds around them. End your lesson by singing an action song All DAy Long on page 4. Sing again with other sounds - the bird in the tree, the cow/goat on the farm, the bee in the hive.

Remember the brain learns better when there's fun.. So Have fun!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Blending & Segmenting

In Malaysia, many, including teachers are not too familiar with the terms 'blending' and 'segmenting'. In the phonics approach, 'blending' is 'reading'. Children are taught to read by blending the individual sounds in a word. They will say 'puh-eh-tuh' when reading 'pet'. A word of caution to new phonics practitioners, do train your children to minimize the 'uh' sound at the end of some consonants sounds such as 'puh' for 'p' and 'buh' for 'b'.

Also, please bear in mind not to teach them letter names(ay, bee, cee). I know many who would teach both the sound and the name of a letter. But in my personal experience(I've been teaching my 6 children to read using phonics for more than 20 years), this will only slow them down. I know NOT teaching ABC is going to be a BIG challenge to primary school teachers in Malaysia because it has been a tradition to teach them from the first day of school. Take it from a different point of view, you are NOT teaching the names but you are teaching the shape and formation of the letters and associating them to the speech sounds they represent. In other words we DO TEACH ABC in phonics!

'Segmenting' is actually 'spelling'. When children are able to say the individual sounds in a given word, then they are spelling. In the early stage of spelling, children will say 'buh-uh-guh' to spell 'bug', 'sh-ih-puh' to spell 'ship'. I know, yes, you are right, your students will sound 'funny' , 'weird', you name it, when they do spelling. Give yourself a couple of months and you'll get use to it. Next year, we will hear the Year 1 students spelling this way. So teachers (& parents too), better start practising blending and spelling the phonics way.

It is easy to spell simple words like 'bit' and 'Tom'. But it gets more challenging for words with diagraphs, such as 'chess' and 'duck'. We teach diagraphs in Readeasy Intermediate Level.

To practise spelling , for example for the word 'chess', you can ask yourself "How many sounds are there in 'chess'?" There are 3 sounds, /chuh-eh-ss/.

What about for the word 'grilling'(Readeasy Intermediate)? There are 6 sounds in 'grilling', /guh-rr-ih-ll-ih-ng/. (Isn't this fun?:)

Spelling/Segmenting is an oral activity. Creative teachers will turn this activity into a game . You must also train your students to write the words after spelling orally(dictation).

Teachers and parents alike must understand that spelling and writing words is more challenging then reading because there are NO VISUAL CLUES. When children read words,the letters in the words give them clues. But when spelling and writing, they have to think of the word they want to write. Hear the sounds in the words in their minds, and then map the sounds into a symbol-by-symbol representation on paper.

The fact that there are more than one spelling for a sound(/k/, c, k, ck, que) and sometimes a spelling can represent more than one sound('a',
/æ/, /ə/, //) in the English language, makes reading and writing challenging. You have to know which symbol pattern fits which sound into which word. My Readeasy Comprehensive Reading Programme which has a step-by-step teaching manual and a Sound-Symbol Chart will help you understand the complexity of the English Sound System.

So exercise lots of PATIENCE when teaching children to read and write.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Readeasy Multi-Sensory Teaching Instruction

According to Tony Buzan, the author of "Brain Child' the brain learns better if we use colours. In Readeasy Phonics, we use three main colours. Red are for vowels, black for consonants and blue for Look & Say words. The children will understand that red and black letters can be blended whereas blue words are to be memorized. These colour codes will help them decode words easily.

The brain also learns better if we use multisensory techniques. In Readeasy Teaching Instruction, multisensory techniques are used at all levels. We teach each sound by associating it to an action in a song. The sound /b/ is associated to the action of bouncing a ball while singing 'Bobby Bear b b b'; the sound /n/ is associated to the action of driving a race car while singing 'Nelly Nightingale n n n'.
When we relate a reading activity(left-brain activity) to singing(right-brain activity), we are optimizing the child's brain(ie using both sides of the brain) for learning. The child will be able to remember the sound & symbol with ease. The brain also remembers better if there are feelings involved when children are learning. Singing and doing an action for each sound with fun will help them remember the sound & symbol easily.

The children are also taught to touch sandpaper letters or form the letter using modelling clay for each sound that they learn. They are trained to say the sounds as they do these activites.

When reading/blending words, we advise teachers & parents to encourage their children to use their fingers to point to or tap the letters as they blend the sounds. Children should also use sound cards to form words. For some children who are lagging behind, we get the parents to do Listen & Build activity using sound cards with them at home so that they go through a sensory process when reading.

For spelling/segmenting, get the children to do karate chops for each sound that they say.

At the word or sentence level, do dictation with your children. Writing is a sensory process that will help reinforce their learning.

In my personal experience, no child will be left behind if you follow these steps when teaching them to read. Moreover the reading texts in Readeasy Phonics presents highly decodable texts.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

First Steps

When I teach my child to read and write, I make sure that:
  • he is able to say the speech sounds(phonemes).
  • he is aware that words are made up of speech sounds.
  • he recognizes the letters(graphemes) that represent the sounds.
  • he uses the correct hand movement for writing letters. For preschool children you can use Readeasy Activity Book 1 to practice letter formation.
  • he understands what he reads & writes. The first step to comprehension is to show him real objects or pictures of what he is reading.
  • he is able to use symbols(letters) to write his thoughts.
Keep these points in mind when teaching your child to read.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blending Sounds To Read

Your child will learn to walk without anyone's help, But he/she WILL NOT necessarily learn to read.

Reading is a complex skill just like swimming & driving. It has to be taught step-by-step.Even if a child has acquired the skill to read, he/she has to practise to become a good reader, a good speller and a creative writer.

In Readeasy Beginner Level, children are first taught 3 sounds /k/-'c', /æ/ -'a' and /t/-'t'. Then they are trained to blend the sounds to read the word 'cat'.

Tips to teach blending(reading):
1. Play oral blending game with your child using words taught in Book 1, cat, bat, cab, cot & tot.
Say /k-æ-t/ a few times and encourage your child to blend a
ll the sounds and say 'cat'. Repeat with other words.

2. Show the blending process using sound cards(provided in the Readeasy set) at least twice. Say each sound quickly as you move the cards. Then read 'cat'.

3. Let your child move the cards as you say the sounds.

4. Let your child say the sounds as she herself moves the cards. Then read the word.

5. After teaching blending using cards, go into the book & encourage your child to read the words taught.

You can watch the Readeacy VCD Teaching Guide to have a better understanding or join our workshop for a hands-on teaching experience.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sound Games

Teaching my youngest son to read was much harder than teaching all 4 of my girls. Amir grew up with books. He loved to look at books with beautiful pictures. He loves to be read. He knows all the sounds taught through Cory Cat Phonics Song & also Lagu Fonik Abu Ada Ayam. If I say /kuh/..../a/.../t/ to him orally, he can blend all the sounds and say 'cat' easily.

BUT when I decided to teach him to read 'formally' using Readeasy at 3+, he REFUSED. There were times he threw the books to the floor. At other times he whined that the letters are TOO small. I couldn't get him to sit for even 2 minutes!

What can we do with kids like Amir?
1. Use SOUND CARDS to introduce the sound.(Refer my previous post). Use lower case letters ONLY.
In Readeasy Book 1, 3 consonants, c, b, t and 2 vowels, a, o are introduced. For each new sound, do multi-sensory activities - form letter shape using playdough, touch sandpaper letters, make letter collage, do fingerpainting(Amir's favourite).

Don't forget to teach your child to touch or fingerpaint the way the letter is written.

  • Sound Hop - throw sound cards on the floor. Encourage him to jump on the sound cards and say the sounds. Amir will insist that I jump on the cards & say the sounds too.
  • Sound Grab - stick the sound cards on the wall(I use Blu-tak). Say a sound and get him to run & bring the sound card to you. Encourage him to say the sound. Yup, be a sporting mum(or dad). Let him say the sound and you run to get the card.
  • Sound Hunt - Hide the sound cards around the room. Say a sound and encourage him to find as many corresponding cards. Don't forget to encourage him to say the sounds to you once he has found all the cards.
These simple games will keep him busy & happy for 20 minutes at least.

3. REWARD his achievements no matter how small it is. Swing him, lift him up in the air, give Hi5, etc.

4. Keep your reading session short. STOP before your child shows any signs of boredom.
5. Teach him 2 - 3 times a day.
6. Keep cool & have fun.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reading Roadblocks

Writing systems are codes for SPOKEN LANGUAGE. Teaching your child a, b, c ... z(letter names) is the FIRST ROADBLOCK to reading. Letter names(ay, bee, cee) has no relationship whatasoever to the sound of speech these letters represent.

So STOP teaching your children abc. STOP forcing them to memorize & recite the alphabet. STOP making them memorize the upper & lower-case letters.

There is a BETTER way for the children to learn the alphabet. Teach them the SOUNDS.

You could use Cory Cat Phonics Song (VCD). We make learning speech sounds fun by associating the sound with an action. The Cory Cat VCD also comes with a set of flashcards and a colouring book.

Steps to introduce a sound:
1. Say 'buh' a few times.
2. Encourage your child to say after you.
3. Then show the symbol/letter 'b'. Point to the symbol and say "This is 'buh'.
4. Ask "What is this sound?"
5. Sing Bobby Bear b b b as you & your child pretend to bounce a ball.

Many parents ask me what other helpful activites can they do with their children to help them learn to read.

My suggestions:
1. TALK to your child.
Use good language. Don't use baby talk. For parents whose child's first language is NOT English, one of you has to use English most(if not all) of the time. According to research, Reading Accuracy & Fluency are enhanced if the word you are decoding(reading) already exist in the memory.

2. READ to your child.
Reading to your child will not only enrich her language but also familiarize him with the format of books. You could trace along the text with a finger as you read to your child. Thus training your child that reading is from left to right and from top to bottom.

3. DEVELOP your child's fine motor skills.
Developing your child's fine motor skills will help his eye-hand coordination which is very important when learning to read. Good fine motor skills will also enhance his writing skills. Give him lots of opportunities to roll playdough into small balls, squeeze water form a sponge, tear scrap papers, lace beads, play with blocks/puzzles & finger paint.

Don't miss the opportunity to HELP your child learn to read.

Friday, October 8, 2010

What's The Best Age To Teach Reading?

The issue of when to teach children to read is always hotly debated.
Many parents are beginning to teach reading early, and many children are learning to read at preschools. But there are also many parents & educators who believe that early reading harms children.

Regardless of which option we choose, learning to read is not an option. Children MUST learn to read. Reading is the very foundation of academic success.

Dr Glen Doman,
founder of the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential
, says the best age is between 3 - 5. Dr Robert Titzer, founder of Your Baby Can Read, says from birth to 4.

As for me, a mother of 6 children & also a Reading Specialist, I started 'teaching' as early as when the baby is in the womb. I divide my 'teaching' into 2 parts. The first part(birth - 3yrs old) is for early literacy & the second part(above 3 years) is the formal reading lessons. For Malaysians, go to www.cepatmembaca.blogspot to get tips on what you can do to stimulate your baby during pregnancy.

Bear in mind to enjoy what you are doing. Never force lessons into your tiny baby and make sure your baby is fed and not sleepy during your stimulation sessions.
Have fun!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sound Song

Most children like songs. In my nursery schools, we teach children as early as one year, to sing this action phonic song . Our Cory Cat Phonics Song will help children say sounds through actions.

They pretend to bounce a ball as they sing "Bobby Bear b b b ".

By the time they are 3 years old, many are ready to learn to read more formally(ehem I suggest you use Readeasy Phonics Beginner Level).

To make learning sounds more meaningful for children(2 yrs and above), do multi-sensory activities :

1. Use water colour to finger paint the letters. Teacher/Parent models how to write the letter being taught for the week. It is very important for the children to learn the right way each letter is written. Children dip their fingers in the paint & practice writing the letter on their own. Encourage the them to say the sound as they write.

2. Sound Collage - Children paste paper, cotton, fabric, beans on letter shapes. Don't forget to ask them to say the sound(not letter names) as they do the activity.

3. Writing on wet sand. Ask your child to write the letter in the sand using his fingers while saying the sound. The feel of the sand will make the letters feel more real and help them remember the sound that each letter makes.
  • Level the sand after each letter so as not to confuse your child.
4. Form letter using modelling clay. As in finger painting teacher/parent models how to form the sound taught using modelling clay. For 2-4 year olds, they need a letter template to help them.

Research has shown that children learn to spell better if they have made tactile and physical associations with sounds/& letters.

Have fun with your child.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Speech Sounds In English

In order to teach reading effectively, teachers or parents must have adequate knowledge on the English Alphabet Code.

Let's begin by understanding there are 44 speech sounds(phonemes) in English. 24 are consonant sounds and the rest are vowel sounds.

However the English Alphabetic Code is one of the most complex writing systems in the world. If it was simple, each sound would only have one spelling. But it is not so. In English, some sounds can
be represented by more than one spelling(i.e. spelling alternatives). For example the sound /k/ can be represented by 'c', 'k', 'ck' and 'ch' to name a few.

Also a spelling pattern can represent more than one sound(i.e.code overlaps). For example, the letter 'i' has different sounds in words 'bit' and 'find'.

The first step that we can take is to learn to say the speech sounds in English. Speech sounds are not letter names. Learn to say the sounds by watching Readeasy Phonics VCD. The VCD is given free if you buy Readeasy Phonics Reading Series which is only RM39.90. The VCD contains speech sounds taught in Beginner Level, teaching tips and also the correct pronunciation of picture names used in the series (all for only under RM40... oh and free flash cards too!)

But if you are free on weekends, do come and join me in my workshops. Call READNETWORK 03-41435440 for upcoming workshops.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Say NO to Word Rhyme Phonics

The 'at' word rhyme/family:

/c/ (kuh), /at/ (at) ... /c
/b/ (buh), /at/ (at) ... /b
/m/ (mm), /at/ (at) ... /m
/s/ (ss), /at/ (at) ... /s

First, children are taught letter sounds, c - kuh, b - buh, d - duh, ...

Then they memorize 'word rhymes or families' such as '
at', 'it', 'op', ... as one sound.

When it comes to reading a word such as 'cat', they are taught to blend :
/c/ (kuh), /at/ (at), /cat/, and other words ending with ''
at'(eg. sat, pat, mat).
The word ending '
at' is taught as ONE sound.

At a glance, it looks quite simple & easy for children to follow.

However, it is a wrong method.
The rhymes
'at', 'it', 'op' are NOT ONE sound. They are made up of TWO sounds.

at'.... /a/ + /t/
it'... /i/ + /t/
op' .../o/ + /p/

Do you know that there are 1260 possible rhyming endings in English? It is close to impossible to teach ALL these rhymes. Many end up just teaching a fraction of them, inevitably leading to Reading Failure.

Moreover, some also teach consonant clusters or blends as ONE sound:
'br', 'cl', 'st', 'nd', 'mp', 'nk',..., when actually they are made up of TWO sounds.

Do you know that there are 76 consonant clusters in English? And do you know that many common phonics programmes teach these clusters as if they are 76 new sounds?!

If you choose to teach your child to read using the Word Rhyme Phonics, you will be teaching them to memorize 1260 endings + 76 consonant clusters + 44 phonemes). Thus, you will be wasting your child's precious visual memory on redundant information.

We should actually teach them the smallest speech sounds(phonemes). In English, there are 44 phonemes and that's about all you should teach. Why should we teach more than that? Why should we teach hundreds of ending rhymes?

As Professor Diane McGuiness wrote in her book, 'Why Our Children Can't Read?', "No reading method should ever teach children to read whole words, syllables or syllable parts like rhymes."

So say NO to Word Rhyme Phonics. And sat YES to Readeasy Phonics, a simple step-by-step way of teaching reading & writing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ayo Why Phonics??

"Ayo why phonics?"
"Don't teach a b c first? Cannot laa, Year 1 must teach abc. If not how to write?"
"Teach sounds only? How children going to spell?"
" Funnyla, /s-
ɪ-t/, (ss-ih-tuh), sit; /p-e-t/, (puh-eh-tuh), pet."

These are common comments from parents, teachers, Guru Besars, education officers, & others who are not FAMILIAR with phonics.

Let's open up our horizons. If you surf the net on synthetic phonics you will realise that it is a proven method. For the last few years, phonics practitioners(me too) are celebrating their success in teaching reading to kids. Those who are still doubtful, give yourselves 2 weeks to follow step-by-step Readeasy Phonics Early Reading Series. Are you game? Find yourself a 5-7 year old to teach.

Tips for parents:
1. Do NOT teach the names of the alphabet. STRICTLY NO a(ay), b(bee), c(cee)!
Why? Simply because the brain reads by breaking the words into sounds(speech sounds), not letters names. For example, when you see the word 'book', you don't read it as 'bee-o-o-kay' but as /b

2. *Keep the reading session short, 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times a day. Teach reading everyday.

3. Find a suitable spot for your reading session.

4. Be cool(because I know our patience is easily stretched when teaching kids) & make your lessons fun.

5. Praise/Reward your child for any achievements, however small it is.

NOTE:* If you are a preschool teacher, you can have 15-20 students in a group. Reading lesson should be at least 30minutes per day.
In primary school classrooms, you will have more students. Lessons should be 1 hour everyday. I would suggest students are grouped according to their reading abilities & slow learners be given 1-1 help.