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How to Teach Phonograms: Part 2

Explicit phonics

How to Teach the Phonograms Part 2

The phonograms, sound symbol relationships, are the foundational building blocks for spelling and reading.YP_DVD_Slide_2

In part one of this blog we concentrated on what we typically call the “circle letters” and why they are taught together and out of alphabetical order. Please glance through that article if you are seeing Part 2 first.

Remember to practice each phonogram 5 times as prescribed; never in a rote way. This will not be enough for mastery, but it will be enough to move forward in the learning. The phonograms will be reviewed many times in many ways. Review previously learned phonograms every day.

Similar phrasing or dialogue can be found on pages 33 and 34 in the Yes Phonics Express manual.

In addition to learning the alphabet phonograms, your students are also learning how to write. The presentation of the writing is precise because a lot is being established during this time. Students are learning the basics of manuscript writing (printing) and also are learning the basics of the thinking processes throughout this program.

Download part 2 of the phonogram flash cards to begin. You will be teaching part 2 of the phonograms in two ways; 1.) using manuscript writing (they will physically write the letters using dotted lined paper and the Four point circle system seen in examples below), and 2.) presenting the actual flash cards while dictating each phonograms’ sound/s; students will repeat the sounds.

The phonograms, sound symbol relationships, are the foundational building blocks for spelling and reading. Click to tweet

Let’s Continue with the Alphabet Phonograms

b: Say: /b/  (Now write it.)  Say: Begin almost at the top line, go down to the baseline, retrace to 2, circle around to 3.                                                                                                                

Now say: /b/ bumblebee.                                                    phonograms * Remember: the /b/ is not a circle letter because we make the straight line first.  This is to help prevent reversals and give students ways to think, to write and spell correctly.  Remind students to use the language of: top line, mid-line etc. and the points on the circle.

e: Say: /ě/ē/  (Now write it.) Say:  Begin at 2, go straight across to 1, circle to 4.

Now say :/ě/ē/  help me.phonograms h: Say /h/  (Now write it.) Say: Begin almost at the top line, go down to the baseline, retrace to 2, circle to 1, go down to the baseline.           

Now say: /h/  hug    The h is sounded with air rather than with voice.  Very short, no vowel sound attached to it.

phonograms i: Say: /ĭ/-/ī/-/ē/  (Now write it.) Say: Begin at the mid-line, go down to the baseline, lift pencil, dot.

Now say: /ĭ/-/ī/-/ē/   it’s a giant radio.

phonograms j: Say: /j/ (Now write it.) Say: Begin at mid-line, go down below the baseline to the lower 4, circle to 3, lift pencil, dot.

Now say: /j/ jumping jack.phonograms k: Say: /k/     (Now write it.)  Say: Begin almost at the top line, go down to the baseline, lift pencil, begin at the mid-line, slant in to touch the first line, slant out to the baseline.

Now say: /k/ king. * With the /k/ you must lift your pencil but only once.phonograms l: Say: /l/ (Now write it.)  Say: Begin almost at the top line, go down to the baseline.

Now say: /l/ lollipop.phonograms


m: Say: /m/  (Now write it.)  Say: Begin at the mid-line, go down to the baseline, retrace to 2, circle to 1, go down to the baseline, retrace to 2, circle to 1, go down to the baseline.

Now say: /m/ mammoth.phonogram n: Say: /n/ (Now write it.)  Say: Begin at the mid-line, go down to the baseline, retrace to 2, circle to 1, go down to the baseline

Now say: /n/ noon. phonogram p: Say: /p/ (Now write it.)  Say: Begin at the mid-line, go down below the baseline almost to the lower mid-line, retrace to 2, circle to 3.      

Now say: /p/ prick a pickle.phonograms r: Say: /r/  (Now write it.)  Say: Begin at the mid-line, go down to the base line, retrace to 2, circle to 1.

Now say: /r/  roadrunner. */r/ is not an /er/ sound.  It is /r/ like the sound a dog might make, but very short and staccato.

We have six /er/ sounds spelled with the following multi-letter phonograms: /er/, /ir/, /ur/, /wor/, /ear/, /our/.

The /r/ by itself does not say /er/.


phonograms t:  Say: /t/  (Now write it.)  Say: Begin almost at the top line, go down to the baseline, lift pencil, cross.

Now say: /t/  teeter totter.phonogram

uSay:  /ŭ/-/ū/-/o o/  (Now write it.) Say: Begin at the mid-line, go down to 3, circle to 4, go up to the mid-line, retrace to the baseline.

Now say: /ŭ/-/ū/-/o o/  ducks use output.phonogram v:  Say: /v/  (Now write it.)  Say: Begin at the mid-line, slant to the baseline, slant up to the mid-line.*

Now say: /v/ valentine. *Alternate dialogue to write /v/: “Middle. Down to the right, up to the right.”phonogram w: Say: /w/  (Now write it.)  Write a double v.*

Now say: /w/ wiggle worm. *Alternate dialogue to write /w/: “Middle. Down to the right up to the right, down to the right, up to the right.”phonogram x: Say: /x/  (Now write it.)  Say: Begin at the mid-line, slant to the baseline, lift pencil, begin at the mid-line, slant back across the first line to the baseline.

Now say: /x/  x-ray a fox.phonogram y: Say: /y/-/ĭ/-/ī/-/ē/  (Now write it.)  Say: Begin at the mid-line, go down to 3, circle to 4, go up to the mid-line, retrace to 4 and continue down to the lower 4, circle to 3.

Now say: /y/-/ĭ/-/ī/-/ē/ your gypsy* can fly quickly.phonogram The /y/ is made with one motion, without lifting the pencil, so it must be rounded. Capital Y should be the same.Phonograms

The first sound of the y is as a consonant. The other three sounds are as vowels having the same sounds as the phonogram /i/. When we use rules for marking words, the y as a consonant will be treated as the first sound, the other three sounds will be counted as the first, second, and  third sounds of the vowel sounds the y makes. This will be made clear as it comes up in the process.*Define gypsy as a traveler.

z: Say: /z/  (Now write it. )  Say: Begin at the mid-line, go across the mid-line, slant to the baseline, go across the baseline. *Alternate dialogue to write /z/: “From the mid-line go across in the direction we read and write. Slant down to left, and go across in the direction we read and write.”

z Now say: /z/ zebra at the zoo. phonogram Teaching the rest of the phonograms is a bit easier now. All of the letters of the alphabet have been taught. The rest of the phonograms are simply combinations of those letters.

Continue to practice each phonogram 5 times at the first sitting. They will be played with and practiced many times in the future.

Remember to use the DVD for yourself to hear the phonograms if you are not sure how to pronounce them. However, the keyword captions will also help you to know exactly how  Sound-A-Long DVDthey are spoken.

For example: /ă/-/ā/-/ah/  have a ball………means /ă/ as in the word “have”, /ā/ as in the word “a”, and /ah/ as in the word “ball.”  Do not point this out to your student yet.  They will learn how to use the phonograms in a step by step sequential manner.

Continue teaching the multi-letter phonograms. When we use these in words, they will get underlined so that students see them as one sound in a word.  The example in “How to Teach Phonograms, Part 1, was the word “cough.”  Another example is the word “earned”.  This word is made up 6 letters, but only 3 phonograms: /ear/, /n/, and /ed/.

We underline /ear/ because it is a learned multi-letter phonogram that has one sound. We underline the /ed/ because it also has one sound in this word, but we put a 2 above it because it is the 2nd sound of the 3 possible sounds that /ed/ can make. We call this phonogram:

/ed/-/d/-/t/ past tense ending. phonograms


Write each phonogram 5 times as prescribed, not in a rote way.

Review previously learned phonograms every day. For the sake of time, you may choose several rather than all 30, 50 or 70 each day.


Play with the phonograms: Use Phingo. Call out the phonogram and have student write on the Phingo card. Watch for correct writing. Correct reversals as they happen. Remind students of the points on the circle.

Play Phonogram bean bag toss. Place phonograms on the ground. Toss. Say that phonogram and write it on marker board or elsewhere.

Place some phonograms on a table. Ask student to hop, skip, or leap to the table, choose the correct phonogram, say it, then write it on a board or elsewhere.

Have fun with the phonograms!

In Part 3 of this blog we will continue with the multi-letter phonograms. They are taught within the Sequence numbers of the YesPhonics system. You will be told to teach the rest of the phonograms in a particular sequence. Then there will be a certain number of words that will be placed into a spelling notebook, one sound and one syllable at a time. After thinking, spelling, writing, and reading a certain number of words, more phonograms will be taught, etc.

The entire sequence will not be given in the article, only the phonograms. The learning of the multi-letter phonograms will slow down now. They will not look as familiar to students as the “alphabet” phonograms did.

Enjoy your phonogram lessons. They will provide you and especially your students with a lifetime of reading enjoyment.

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How to Teach Phonograms: Part 1

How to Teach Phonograms Part I.

In Yes Phonics (YP) and all other superior Orton-Spalding (OS) methods of teaching to read, the phonograms are the firm foundation from which to build an excellent reading program. The phonogram flashcards provided by Yes How to teach phonograms: Part 1 Phonics include pictures, help for the teacher, and key word captions. The keyword captions are an element that makes YP standout from the other OS programs. They give students a reference point in the learning process.

Simply print them, cut them out, and use them as prescribed or to your heart’s content. We want you and your students to have every advantage possible as you give them the precious gift of learning to read.

Phonograms are single letters and combinations of letters that make sounds. Words are simply just phonograms that we put together in a certain order. When a student catches on to this idea, the world of words and reading begins to open and expand quickly.

Click here to download the phonograms. Teach them to your students.  They will be ahead of the reading game in any educational setting with this knowledge.

In practice this is all much easier than it seems when explained piece by piece.  Trust me; you will not be disappointed.

[quote]Teach them [phonograms] to your students. They will be ahead of the reading game in any educational setting with this knowledge. Click to Tweet[/quote]

A word might have five letters in it, but only two sounds.

How to teach phonograms
How to teach phonograms: Part 1 For instance, the word “cough”:  There are 5 letters, but we teach that the /c/ is making the first of its two possible sounds.  Then we teach that the /ough/ is making the 4th of its six possible sounds.  We distinguish the multi-letter phonogram by underlining it when we write it.  The phonogram is underlined so that a student learns to see it as one sound.

Because the /ough/ has six possible sounds of which the students learn together, we put a tiny number above the phonogram.  In the case of cough and the /ough/,   we put a tiny 4 above it.

YP provides a DVD of the actual sounds and their “keyword captions” so that you know how to say them. The keyword captions are words that students say right after they say the sound or sounds of the phonogram on the card.  You can also teach the phonograms without the DVD.

Teaching with the phonogram flashcards uses all of the senses: the mouth for speaking, the ears for hearing, the eyes for seeing, and the hands for writing. Use all of these senses as much as possible when using the phonogram flashcards.

Step 1.

The following shapes are used in manuscript/printed writing.  Teach them to your student. Any letter made with a circle begins at the 1 and goes to the 2 and each relevant point. The points on the circle are used as references in the formation of letters and in preventing and correcting reversals.

how to teach phonograms






Step 2.

Teach the phonograms and their keyword captions.  What the student doesn’t and shouldn’t understand yet, will be very helpful to you, the teacher. The key word captions give you tools to know how to say the individual sounds of the phonogram at hand. “ /ă/ā/ah/ have a ball”, tells you how to say the first sound of the /a/, like in “have”, the second sound in /a/, like in “a”, and the third sound in /a/, like in “ball”.

The phonogram sounds are made short, staccato. Spoken any longer and a vowel sound accidentally gets added. Write each phonogram 5 times or as many times as needed to learn them. Review previously learned phonogramsHow to teach phonograms: Part 1 every day.

You are teaching how to say the phonogram and keyword caption after you teach how to write it but at the same time. In other words: in the same session. Say the sound or sounds. Write the sounds (phonograms) then say the phonograms and keyword caption. Say. Write. Say again, and then say the keyword caption.

Teach the phonograms in the order presented here rather than in the order that they are as they come packaged. The “circle letters” are taught first, and the /b/ and /d/ are taught apart from each other. The /b/ is NOT a circle letter.

You can use dotted lined paper, or teach an imaginary dotted line with any lined paper. You will get the same results with either type. You can use marker boards or write in the air for practice before putting down on paper.

Draw a circle on a marker board or paper, and number it as seen here, so a student can always have the reference handy.

how to teach phonograms


How to teach phonograms chart


Begin teaching the circle letters; download 3/8 inch writing paper here:


a: Say: /ă/-/ā/-/ah/  (Now write it.)  Begin at 1, circle back around to 1, go down to baseline.     

a  Now say:  /ă/-/ā/-/ah/, have a ball


c: Say:  /k/-/s/  (Now write it.) Begin at 1, circle around to 4 and stop.

c  Now say:  /k/-/s/ cat in the city


d: Say: /d/ (Now write it.)  Begin at 1, circle around to 1, go up almost to the top line, retrace to the baseline.How to teach phonograms: Part 1

d Now say: /d/ daddy’s dragon


f: Say: /f(Now write it.)  Begin on the upper circle 1, circle to 2, go down to the baseline, lift the pencil, cross. *        f Now say: /f/ funny face

*We make the cross by drawing the line from left to right to promote the direction in which we read and write. We write the f beginning at the 1 as a circle letter even though it’s “in the air” rather than below the midline.


g: Say: /g/-/j/ (Now write it.)  Begin at 1, circle around to 1, go below the baseline, circle around to  3.

g Now say:  /g/-/j/  goat and giraffe


o: Say: /ah/-/ō/-/ŭ/-/oō/ (Now write it.) Begin at 1, circle around to 1.

o Say: /ah/-/ō/-/ŭ/-/oō/  Ox over? Love to! (The keyword captions aren’t meant to make sense as sentences, although some of them do, but there is a fun way to explain this one to students.  “…Want to come over for dinner?  I’d love to!  Ox over?  Love to! )


s: Say: /s/-/z/ (Now write it.) Begin at 1, circle to 2, slide over to 4, circle to 3.

s  Now say: /s/-/z/  Susie

The last circle letter we make is qu. The q is never written without the u, so they go together. Notice the space before and after the qu on the line of alphabet phonograms. When we write phonograms in a straight line for practice, we skip a space only big enough to fit an /o/ before and after multi-letter phonograms so that we see them clearly. During the dictation of words we underline all multi-letter phonograms so that students see them as one sound.

qu: Say /kw/ Always write q with u.  (Now write it.) Begin at 1, circle to 1, go straight below baseline, add a tiny flag.

qu Now say: /kw/ Always write q with u. Queen.

As you review after you teach a few phonograms, if a child can write the phonogram when you call it out (say it), they know it well enough to continue. This does not mean that they will know it every time they need to in the How to teach phonograms: Part 1 future.

Practice and review is essential, but perfect memorization is not necessary. The phonograms will be used in words over and over again. The words get dictated one sound and one syllable at a time. Students use their knowledge of the phonograms as they begin to sound out, spell, and then read words.

Play With the Phonograms

Place several on a chair, table, or bench.  Have a marker board or piece of paper nearby.  Ask a child to hop, skip, jump, or run to the bench, choose a particular phonogram that you tell them. Pick it up, say it, write it on the board or paper, then hop, skip, or jump back to the starting point.

Play Phonogram Bingo, called “Phingo” by Yes Phonics. Make many copies of or laminate the  “Phingo” cards. Call out some phonograms. Watch your students write them anywhere they want. Watch for mistakes. When the card is filled, call out the same phonograms and have students mark them with an X or circle them. Have a small prize for the winner or praise the student for doing a good job. Practice the missed phonograms. Use the Phingo Cards in a numerous ways.

Phonogram bean bag toss: Place several phonogram cards on the floor. Allow student to toss the bean bag on any phonogram. Have student say the sound and write it on a nearby board or paper.

With only a teaching of the phonograms, older students who struggle, but do know how to read at some level, will start to see the value of the phonograms and will begin using them even before the rest of the program is implemented. This has been true of every student in my twenty-five years of teaching and tutoring.

Part 2 will include how to make/teach the rest of the phonograms and some of the prescribed sequence of YesPhonics.

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Phonemic Awareness and Words

Phonemic awareness

Phonemic Awareness and Words

And the Importance of Learning Them Properly

Phonemic awareness Everyday we use words to communicate with friends, family, loved ones, but have you ever wondered what it is exactly that drives this form of communication, a.k.a – the spoken word? Wonder no more; welcome to Phonemic Awareness, but what is it, exactly?

What is Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear the sounds within a word when it is spoken. There are 45 sounds in the English language; they are heard and practiced in the 72 Orton Phonograms.

What Does Phonemic Awareness Accomplish

The phonograms teach phonemic awareness, which is literally “sound” awareness. It is the understanding that words are made up of sounds and being able to hear, recognize, break apart and manipulate the individual sounds that make up a word.

For example, it is the ability to recognize that the word “mother” is made up of the separate sounds /m/-/o/-/th/-/er/. Children vary greatly in their natural ability to hear the sounds within words. Many do not realize the words they hear break apart into smaller sounds (phonemes).phonemic awareness

Hearing the individual sounds within a word is difficult because when we speak, we effortlessly blend all the sounds together which hides the phonetic nature of spoken language. In order to read and spell fluently these sounds (phonemes) must first be taught systematically and explicitly in isolation which is easily accomplished with the phonograms.

[quote]The consequences are disastrous, just look at our current level of literacy; more than 40 million adults (in the US) are illiterate. Click to Tweet[/quote]

What Happens If Students Don’t Learn Phonemic Awareness

The consequences are disastrous, just look at our current level of literacy; more than 40 million adults (in the US) are illiterate. But, even worse, what do you think happens to those children of those adults who can’t read? Most youth suffer the same fate; ineffectually being able to read, much less spell or write effectively.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, these children go on to lead frustrated lives; uncontrollable emotions, inability to relate to their fellow peers, poor job opportunities, lower standard of living, and being stuck in a perpetual feeling of failure- all because they weren’t presented phonemic awareness the proper method to learn the English language. I think it’s clear that something needs to be done, but what is that something?

The Solution

First things first; throw out Common Core, Whole Language, Implicit phonics, Text Clues, Picture Guessing, Invented Spelling, throw it all out. All of this is mumbo-jumbo and has filtered into – mainly – the public school system/academia, which is unfortunate as this is where most children learn. Obviously there is an exception to every rule, but most (if not all) students fail miserably when taught these methods or a combination of them.

On the bright side, some public schools (and private/charter schools etc.) are more progressive than their brethren and actually use Classical phonics (Explicit phonics) as their core curriculum, but most have been swayed to this more ‘new age’ form of teaching. Obviously, it has failed miserably, and by all means, correct me if I’m wrong.

What Can I Do?

Are you a parent with a child in public/private/charter school? You have power not only within yourself, but more in numbers! Simply approach your local school board – especially if you’re interested to see exactly what they will be teaching for that particular year – and ask them what method they’re using to teach English.

If your local school board is not using Explicit or Classical phonics, implore them to do otherwise! Someone once told me that you can achieve quite a bit with a please, thank you and a smile, the older I get, the more I realize, it’s somewhat true.phonemic awareness

And if that doesn’t work, then come prepared with back up! Have some statistics at hand showing the efficacy of phonics (we’ve provided some you may like at the end of the article) and how teaching phonemic awareness will improve their test scores DRAMATICALLY! If it’s one thing teachers like to hear (God bless them), it’s improving test scores, am I right, ladies and gentlemen?

Lastly, make sure your school board is adopting a method that has a proven, rooted methodology, a method that actually HELPS dyslexic students (for example) – instead of hindering them- by working with their innate strengths; whether they’re a tactile, auditory, visual learner, or a combination of those, a multi-sensory, phonetic method will suit their learning needs brilliantly.

Our children need to succeed, it’s just so important that they do. The future is what we give them.


Citation 1: Educational Resources Information Center
Research illustrates that the teaching of phonics is crucial for reading development, because, unlike sight reading, phonics offers children the ability to decode words. The study further concludes that teachers need to receive phonics-based training and school districts need to increase funding for phonics programs.

Citation 2: Lyon, Reid G. (1997) Report on Learning Disabilities Research
Lyon strongly believes that “phonics reigns supreme” over all other reading methods.
He also testified before the Committee on Education and the workforce in the U.S. House of Representatives that, “for about half of our nation’s children, learning to read is a … formidable challenge, and for at least 20 to 30 percent of these youngsters, reading is one of the most difficult tasks they will have to master throughout their life.”

Citation 3: Michigan English Language Arts Framework Project
Educators agree that children learning to read texts written in English need to learn that there are relationships between letter patterns and sound patterns in English, and that children need to develop the ability to relate letter patterns to sound patterns.

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YesPhonics’ 4 Point Circle Handwriting System

handwriting system

YesPhonics’ 4 Point Circle Handwriting System

Step-By-Step Instructions to Teach Your Student to Write the 26 Letters of the English Alphabet – Tried, True and Guaranteed

4 Point Circle handwriting systemIntroducing: The 4 Point Circle System to Teaching Manuscript Writing
YesPhonics™ offers a guaranteed method to teach students how to write the 26 letters of the English alphabet. Our 4-Point Circle System for manuscript writing is fun, easy, and unique to YesPhonics™. If your students can draw a circle and a straight line, the 4-Point Circle System puts the entire alphabet at their fingertips, and you can watch their confidence soar with each successive letter they write.

For the teacher, your supply list is easy: Collect a #2 pencil and find the rest of your tools, free, at these links:

Begin with the 7 Strokes: Start your student off nice and easy by having them practice the 7 Strokes of Manuscript Writing by downloading and printing out the Lined Paper. In this fashion, they will begin to understand each stroke, which will prepare them to write letters.

Start by practicing each stroke seven times: Once you are done with the first stroke, move onto the second stroke and have your student practice it seven times and so on. Make sure they are practicing it according to the 7 Strokes diagram.

Teach Only Lower Case First: It’s easier to begin by teaching lower-case letters only, as you’re not mixing upper-case and lower-case letters together, which can be confusing to young students. Only teach capital letters as they are needed.

Letter Formation:
Teach the circle letters first. Sequence the alphabet letters as follows (we’ve already sequenced them for you in this order; see 4 Point Circle Technique Chart #1 and #2 )
a, c, d, f, g, o, s, qu, b, e, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, t, u, v, w, x, y, z.

Always Supervise: Supervise writing exercises until the letters are formed exactly. These proper writing habits formed will last a lifetime!

Don’t Let Mistakes Stand: Correct mistakes until the letters are exact; this makes an important “brain connection” to printed material.

Teach Left to Right: Beginners learn to write in the same direction as we read.

Keep Practicing: Each student will come to this exercise with different levels of motor skills and coordination. It might take a little extra time for some students than others. That’s Ok!

Results: Each student will have different results. Some may catch on quicker than others. Generally, you’ll want to practice each letter at least once. But like anything, the more the student practices each 4 Point Circle handwriting system letter according to the Four Point Circle System the more they will become proficient in writing, and before you know it, your student will be able to write each letter with ease!

Practice Makes Progress!

So far so good! You’re now ready to teach the circle points. This is where it gets fun, as your student puts his or her pencil to the page and begins writing the English alphabet!

Teach the Circle Points:
Use this example to point out the top line, mid-line, and baseline. Using the 4 point circle diagram, trace around the circle with your finger and let your student/s do the same. Then have them trace around the circle with their pencil. They are now ready to begin writing all 26 letters of the English alphabet! Here is how to teach the letters:

Click Here and Here to teach the dialogues for writing the letters a – z. Read aloud the written instructions next to each letter to your student. 

That’s it! Congratulations! Your student can now write all 26 letters of the English alphabet. This is a huge accomplishment and a great start to writing, reading and spelling skills that will last a lifetime.

YesPhonics™ offers eight other FREE lessons, with easy to follow instructions, as well as access to the complete 72 Orton Phonics Sound-A-Long Video, and fun, step-by-step teaching guides and activities. Link here to Test Drive YesPhonics™, absolutely free.

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Multisensory Methods and Teaching

multisensory methods should be implemented!

Multisensory Methods and Teaching

What Is a Multisensory Method?

multisensory methods should be implemented! Children have very different learning styles. When a multisensory approach of seeing, hearing, saying and writing the phonograms and spelling words directly from dictation is used, then all students will learn whether they have a learning mode that is auditory, visual or kinesthetic.

A multisensory method has a synergistic effect of addressing the stronger learning mode while reinforcing the weakest; it is effective for beginning, remedial and advanced students.

Other Methods Involved In Multisensory Learning

Most people learn through two main ways; seeing and hearing. However, modern research now shows that a number of students need a variety of learning styles to learn effectively.

An important method of learning is the tactile method. This involves children using a-hands-on approach. I know personally that I learn MUCH better when I can physically do a task or complete an assignment by using my sense of touch, for some reason that information just ‘sticks’ with me longer.

Another method that that offers a tremendous benefit to teachers and students is the kinesthetic method. This method involves stimulating students’ fine-motor skills by playing games; such as, jump roping, juggling (one of my personal favorites), and basketball – to list just a few- all while being paired with activities such as signing songs related to certain concepts. An example of this would be juggling while reciting mnemonic catch phrases in order remember the sounds involved with each phonogram.

Does Using a Multisensory Method Work?

Absolutely! Research conducted by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has shown the tremendous value of using explicit, structured language teaching for all students, especially for students with dyslexia! Although, they have haven’t pinpointed the exact reason why it’s so effective, they have discovered that programs that use multi sensory practice for symbol learning are highly valuable.

“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” — Robert Frost Click to Tweet

Some examples of multisensory methods.

What Instructional Approaches Are Effective?

The use of direct, explicit teaching of letter- sound-relationships, syllable patterns and meaningful word parts, fluency building exercises, language instruction and vocabulary instruction are key to a great multisensory based program.

An important aspect to an effective instructional approach is making sure that it has a great deal of successful practice sessions of the skills that have been learned. Review, review, review!

While reviewing, it’s important to mark any mistakes that the student may make, let no mistakes stand! This ensures that that word recognition and spelling skills are applied in a beneficial and meaningful manner when writing sentences or reading literature. By not letting any mistakes stand such as; skipping words, guessing at words or using invented spellings, it allows the teacher to ingrain meaningful knowledge on how to read and analyze unknown words.

Principles Involved In a Structured, Multisensory Language Approach

Here is a quick rundown of a few principles that should be applied when using a well structured, multisensory phonetic language arts program:

Diagnostic Teaching:
Like learning anything new, it requires the teacher to be able to gauge what is right for each individual student. Some students multisensory methods work well for big groups of students.may progress faster than others and vice-versa. Monitoring progress and adjusting for each individual student is key. A good multisensory program will make this adjustment easy as pie.

Simultaneous Multisensory:
This method uses all the pathways in the brain, i.e.; kinesthetic, visual, auditory and tactile. Using this either sequentially or simultaneously provides excellent benefits.

Direct Instruction:
When learning a new language or phonograms or anything of importance, it’s important that direct teaching of all concepts include constant student-teacher interaction and review.

Systematic and Cumulative:
The organized material should follow the logical order of the language being taught. The basic underlying principle here is to teach the information from easiest to hardest and building each concept upon the last, that way, when reviewing each concept (an important aspect) that has been learned, review will be smooth and fruitful.

At the End of the Day

Using these tools and techniques will help any teacher who is looking for an edge when it comes to advancing our youngest generation. One thing’s for sure: we desperately need well educated youth (and adults) to further the advancement of education, our world depends on it.


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Mnemonic Phonic Technique

Mnemonic Phonic Technique

What Is A Mnemonic?Mnemonics with Phonics are key.

In today’s fast moving world, remembering important facts and information can be challenging, to say the least. So when it comes to education, specifically phonics, how are we supposed to remember all of those sounds and sound sequences?

First we should address what mnemonics are. A mnemonic is a learning device that helps aid memory and retention by translating raw information into a form that the human brain can easily retain. Mnemonic tools are unique illustrations that serve as memory aids, embedding a strong foundation upon which students build all their reading, writing and spelling skills.

Why Are Mnemonics Important?

What makes mnemonics so special? Besides the fact that they helps us routinely remember information that we wouldn’t otherwise remember, they also make learning fun and interesting, especially from a child’s point of view. They also work by creating a connection where there wasn’t an obvious connection to the learner in the first place.

When a child is learning, it’s much easier for them to grasp information if they have something tangible in their minds; this can be a picture, or a phrase, that is closely associated with the information that they are trying to process.

This makes learning much easier for young children, not to mention, fun!

Different Types of Mnemonic Strategies

The two main types of mnemonic devices; organizational mnemonics and encoding mnemonics.

Organizational mnemonics help organize and interrelate new information in students’ memory, that way they can easily recall it later.

Encoding mnemonics, on the other hand, help transform abstract and low imagery information into a concrete and memorable information that is easily retainable. Encoding mnemonics are sometimes used before Organizational mnemonics.

mnemonics and our catch phrase techniqueThere are a variety of mnemonic strategies out there as well. The primary mnemonic is keyword strategy; which was originally developed for students learning a foreign language (Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1989), but, as it turns out, is very effective in other areas of learning, when using this technique.

Students can also incorporate acronyms; this strategy is an abbreviation in which each of the letters stands for the first letter in a list of words to be recalled. One of the primary examples that comes to mind is HOMES, this acronym is used to help students remember all of the Great Lakes of North America (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior).

Acrostics is a similar acronym – instead of having each letter represent a word- the first letter within each word in a sentence helps students retrieve a list of words; an example of that would be “My Dear Aunt Sally” which helps students remember the proper order of mathematics (Multiply and Divide before Adding and Subtracting) and “Every Good Boy Does Fine” which helps students remember the notes of the lines on a scale.

Another popular mnemonic is rhyming, “I before e, except after c, or sounded as a, as in neighbor and weigh.” Kids (and should I say adults, because I sure do) love signing as a form of remembering information via this mnemonic strategy.

“If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered.” –Edgar Allan Poe Click to Tweet

Adding Mnemonics to Phonics Is Transformatory

If phonics had mnemonics- something that would make learning fun, easy and memorable- I’m sure that it would be much more appealing to teachers and parents everywhere.

When you add mnemonics to phonics, the learning process is simplified; no more trying to remember the random 45 sounds of the English language that are created from the 46 multi-letter combinations, nor a lack of visual images to associate these sounds with.Mnemonics transforms teaching phonics

When both of these key elements of a mnemonic are added: the illustration and the catch phrase- that incorporates each sound that that particular phonogram makes in it’s original sound-sequence- you take the headache out of teaching and learning phonics.

Mnemonics; Proof Is In the Pudding

Mnemonics help invigorate mundane, but useful information into an exciting information superhighway. Mnemonics will help your students remember the sounds of the phonograms, and if they’re adopted as a useful tool for life; they’ll help enhance their mind and body as well as help their careers and relationships.

According to a study (Carney & Levin, 1991) that involved college students using a mnemonic strategy to study and recall painting-artist matchings, four different experiments were conducted and the results were conclusive; the students who used mnemonics did substantially better than those students who did not use a mnemonic strategy. The research was then reviewed and analyzed from all four experiments and it became apparent; mnemonics are a definitive aid in the retention of important and factual information.

Who Can Use Mnemonics?

Everyone! Mnemonics have been proven to work especially well with children and/or adults who have learning disabilities.

Mnemonics also benefit ESL students who are learning a foreign language as it allows them to learn the phonogram sounds before they start learning english words, this is key because without learning all of the sounds in the English language, ESL students will struggle to pronounce even the most basic words.

Where Do I Find Great Mnemonics?Try our mnemonics today!

It’s hard these days to find a multi-sensory; phonetic language arts program that provides teachers and parents with a step-by-step Method and Sequence to teach reading, spelling and writing. But have you ever heard of a program teaching manuscript writing, cursive formation, the 29 spelling rules of the English language, the Ayres 1300 most commonly used words, much less, mnemonics?!

We’ve incorporated our signature mnemonic Catch-Phrase Technique, along with our captivating illustrations into our Express Program. Both of these amazing devices help students easily remember the sounds of the 72 Orton phonograms and the sounds they make in their order of use frequency, it just happens to be our signature touch. No other program in the WORLD uses mnemonics like we do.

As a matter of fact, you can see our mnemonic Catch-Phrase Technique in action in our Sound-A-Long DVD. You’ll also get access to other fun, easy and comprehensive  mini-lessons, by signing up to our Test Drive course right here:

Go on give it a try, I promise you’ll like it! You’ll be teaching (and learning) phonics with mnemonics – and more- today, all for free.

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Phonograms and Their Importance

teach the phonograms before the alphabet

Phonograms and Their Importance

What Is a Phonogram?Phonograms are important when learning to read

Phonograms are quite possibly one of the most important tools your child will ever learn. K-3rd graders bring a hunger for learning to their first day of Kindergarten, but they’re not being given the right tools to develop a love of reading. Even worse, they’re being given the wrong tools, all the while teachers and parents believe they’re doing the right thing.

Orton-Spalding and It’s Ability to Teach Children to Read

A phonogram is a letter, or combination of letters, that represents one or more voiced sounds in a word. The phonograms are the 26 alphabet letters and 46 multi-letter combinations that combine to make the 45 sounds heard in English speech.

In the 1950’s, neurologist Dr. Samuel Orton created what are now widely recognized as the 72 Orton Phonograms, encompassing all the sounds and sound sequences in the English language. With phonograms, Orton and his colleagues in linguistic research revolutionized how children learn to read, write and spell.

The NRP (National Reading Panel) has compiled over 100,000 research studies demonstrating the effectiveness of teaching children ‘phonemic awareness’ which is the result of studying phonics.Teachers can and should teach Kindergartners phonics, it’s really the sensible thing to do.

The Folly of Teaching the Alphabet First

I’m sure we’ve all been subjected to this irresponsible practice before, “A, B, C, D, E, F, G,” so why is it so widely thought that teaching the alphabet first is a ‘good’ thing? It’s one of those pernicious myths that just doesn’t seem to go away. The simple solution is to teach phonograms first.

teach the phonograms before the alphabet Part of the problem is that students don’t have a proper way to ‘decode’ the English language; i.e., using phonics to see, hear, identify and manipulate sounds and sound combinations. Combine this with teaching them that the letter ‘a’ has only one sound (it has three sounds, in fact), you start to see that we have a big problem on our hands.

On top of that, not only does the letter ‘a’ have more than one sound; most of the alphabet letters don’t even make the sounds that are prescribed to them when ‘saying’ the alphabet! For example, the phonogram ‘b’ doesn’t say ‘bee’, it says ‘b’, as in ‘bumblebee’; the double letter ee is what gives it the ‘e’ sound, but that’s because it’s a completely different phonogram, not to be associated with the phonogram ‘b’. And this goes for many of the other alphabet letters, hardly ANY of them say the alphabet letter sound, so why are we teaching kids sounds that don’t even exist?

This method of teaching the alphabet first starts them on a limited and incomplete foundation from the start, as students believe that there is only one sound per alphabet letter. In the event that they’re introduced to phonics, they struggle to learn phonograms because it’s been ingrained into them that there is only one sound per-letter. This creates even more confusion and stress, on top of not being able to read effectively.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ― Nelson Mandela Click to Tweet


The Solution and How It Affects Your Child

The easy solution to all of this is to introduce phonics into your local area. If you have a Kindergarten teacher in your area, make sure to approach her and voice your concerns about teaching the alphabet first. Present her the evidence that this approach is flawed and that phonics is the superior method, it’s easy to teach and most every student will benefit from it. Every good teacher will listen as they want the very best for children, just as much as you do.

As a result, your child will start learning the mechanics of the English language right from the very start which will give them a tremendous advantage for when they get to grade school.

If all else fails, you can empower your child by taking their education into both of your hands by homeschooling. This is sure-fire method to make certain your child is learning what you want them to learn, including phonograms, phonics and comprehensive language arts skills.

Once children start learning the mechanics of the English language via phonograms, our illiteracy rate of 42 million adults will start to decline. One thing’s for sure, we can’t keep heading in the same direction that we’ve been going, it’s a steep cliff ahead, turbulent and jagged at the bottom.


National Reading Panel, (2002)
Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the
Scientific Research Literature on Reading and its
Implication for Reading Instruction—Reports of the
Sub Group.Washington D.C.: The National Institute
of Child Health and Human Development and the
U.S. Department of Education.

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Whole Language Approach Vs Phonics

teachers should strive to eliminate whole language out of their classrooms.

Whole Language Approach Vs Phonics

Whole language doesn't have phonograms to help the student decode words. Whole Language Approach Isn’t Phonics 

In this day and age, it’s safe to say that education needs a major overhaul. Not just education itself, but the way we think about education. And phonics is the key.

Phonics is a method for teaching reading, writing and spelling by developing students’ ability to hear, identify, and manipulate all the sounds and sound combinations in the English Language.

Phonics teaches students to decode words into their individual sounds using the 72 Orton phonograms and the 45 phonetic sounds in the English language.

Phonics also teaches advanced linguistics such as constructing syllables, semantics, grammar, structure and language comprehension.

Phonics is Key

Phonics is the key to revolutionizing education.Time and time again phonics has demonstrated that it teaches children how to fluently read, spell and write with precision and accuracy.

With the adoption of ‘Whole Language,’ and it’s rise in popularity in the late 80’s and 90’s (which was implemented as an untested theory), it quickly started showing it’s true colors; an ineffective and wholly unsound way to learn how to read, spell and write.

The major problem with Whole Language is that children (and adults) base their reading comprehension off of memorizing words, which on paper may seem like a good idea, but in reality, is an insufficient method as individuals can only memorize so many words.

For instance, first and second graders (a small perecentage) can memorize words quickly, but by the time they reach 3rd and 4th grade, they encounter words that weren’t used in their textbooks. Whole language fails children when reading at an advanced levelUnfortunately, this leaves them with the inability to decode words that they’ve never seen before.

In essence, it’s impossible to read at an advanced reading level by using the Whole language method, as the English language has approximately 595,000 words.

Phonics Is Superior to Whole Language

The evidence to support the notion that phonics is superior is stated simply as such; every good reader has excellent ‘phoneme awareness,’ or ‘phonemic awareness,’ which is the ability to ‘decode’ words.

People who support the theory of Whole Language, on the other hand, claim that students need to be exposed to words, and after enough times of seeing these words( and through massive amounts of rote memorization of ‘whole’ words) they’ll be able to read with accuracy.

This is based on the myth that good readers use syntactic and semantic cues to guess words, and as a by-product, good readers make many mistakes.

However, this simply isn’t true, as a study that was conducted by Philip Gough and Sebastian Wren, Ph.D., showed that only poor readers depend upon context to try to ‘guess’ the words they are reading. Whereas, good readers depend upon visual information in words themselves (i.e. letter/ word cues, or phonics) to identify and decode a word.

“We had over 400 college students read a passage of text from Ken Goodman’s book Phonics Phacts, and showed that the modal number of mistakes made by these students was zero- almost all of the students read the passage flawlessly. To suggest that good readers are correctly guessing the words in the passage with one hundred percent accuracy stretched the boundaries of credulity.”

Phonics gives teachers a set system to teach. It takes away the pressure and the stress of trying to plan their own lessons, and gives them a structured curriculum that is easy to follow.

On the other hand, ‘look-say’ or ‘see-say’, does not. So, not only will a teacher have to plan their own lessons and organize EVERYTHING when using and/or adopting a Whole language method, they’ll also be whole language impedes children from writing with accuracy required to implement this strategy effectively, which is daunting, to say the least.

The last thing teachers need is a bigger workload, I think that is something that we can all agree on.

The Proof Is In the Pudding

Today we have over 40 million adults who are functionally illiterate and that number is growing.

A recent study emerged that nearly 80 percent of high school graduates  at CUNY community college in New York, required immediate remediation in English or math.

While phonics has been proven effective, Whole Language still lurks in many corners of the education field. Why is this? There are many culprits involved, namely, the lack of knowledge on phonics in of itself, and miseducation that is being promoted regarding the truly revolutionary method that is phonics.

Out of the hundreds of studies that have been done that prove the superiority of phonics, there are still those that will condemn phonics. These individuals cite 8-10 studies, but upon further investigation, they all turn out to be off base and off point.

There is some mistrust of phonics as well, some even go so far to say that phonics is a ‘right wing conspiracy’ to keep students from critically thinking for themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Far from being a ‘left’ or ‘right’ issue, this is a human issue, an education issue, and and issue that includes everyone. Phonics not only fosters creativity and intelligence, but it also stimulates critical thinking.

If a person can’t decode words properly, in order to read, spell and write, how are they going to be able to critically think for themselves? They can’t. Not only will they lack the ability to research, which requires a great deal of reading; they won’t have the ability write stories, poems, books, or plays, much less any other creative endeavor.

In all actuality, they’ll be chained to the failed, untested theory of Whole Language, further distancing themselves from critical thinking and creativity.

The Duty of Teachers and Parentsteachers should strive to eliminate whole language out of their classrooms.

At the end of the day, though, this issue goes beyond phonics.

True education depends on teachers’ and parents’ diligent understanding of what works when it comes to teaching children.

A thorough examination of the facts and data is necessary.

Teachers and parents need to be the ones pushing for reform, because without them and their efforts, children will truly be lost and wholly uneducated.

Our education system will continue to erode without phonics, and our next generation will be even less equipped to deal with the challenges of the English language.

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