Back to School – Make Your Own ABC Book!

It’s nearly fall and children are going back to school.  Whether you homeschool or your children attend public or private school, you may enjoy doing this activity with your preschool or kindergarten student.


At ages 4 and 5, children should still be playing a lot of the time, so learning should be casual and informal. If your child shows an interest in learning the alphabet, you can teach the letters in many different ways. You might post a large letter on the wall or refrigerator (one at a time) and talk about its name and sound at random times during the day. You can read ABC books together.  You can point out words for objects that begin with a specific letter.

Your child might also enjoy making his/her own ABC book. This is a fun activity for your preschool or kindergarten students that can help them begin to recognize letters and learn letter names. Teach just one letter at a time.  It really does not matter at this age whether you teach a letter every couple of days or one a week. Let your child’s interest be your guide.

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Your child will need to be able to cut reasonably straight lines with scissors first.  Then he/she will be able to do this activity with just a little guidance from you. Use plain white cardstock or typing paper for each page and bind it when you complete the project—or purchase an inexpensive spiral notebook to paste the letters and pictures into. Give your child the pictures for just one letter.  Ask her to cut out each picture for the letter she is learning. Show her how to paste the letters and pictures onto the paper. It doesn’t need to look perfect. Use a glue stick rather than liquid glue. Young children may find it easier to use a glue stick that looks purple when applied, but dries clear, so they can see where they have put the glue.

Here’s where you can get your FREE Cut & Paste ABC Book from Sound Bytes Reading:

ABC Cut & Paste Book – part 1 & part 2


Teaching Your Child to Read – Get a Head Start Right Now

Have you decided to teach your child how to read? Looking for an effective and easy method to teach reading? Rainbow Resource Center is now selling Sound Bytes Reading at a discounted price to homeschooling families–so if you’ve been meaning to pick this book up to teach your beginning reader or your struggling reader, check them out.

Here’s a quote from the review they wrote:

Indeed a sound approach to reading, this program is a solid, phonetically comprehensive program with reinforcing reading text incorporated directly in the book. It reminds me somewhat of a cross between Alphaphonics and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but with improved teacher instruction, lesson implementation, and textual presentation. As in those popular programs, your child will begin reading as soon as the first letter sounds are taught. And, in a mere 90 “byte-sized” lessons, your child will be reading at a beginning 3rd grade reading level. This program is also recommended for both remedial and ELL students. In fact…

Read more on their website right here:


Beginning Reading and Learning Handwriting – Part 1

Some children are interested in learning to write at a very young age while others are not interested at all.  Learning to write A-B-C’s and numbers and one’s name are considered to be very basic writing skills and some children learn how to do these things before entering school.

Some school programs teach children to write only capital letters in kindergarten and then teach writing lowercase letters in first grade.  They do this because it is easier for children to write capital letters when they begin to learn to write.  Children who learn to write only the uppercase letters may find reading difficult until they have also learned to recognize and write lowercase letters.  This can have a negative effect on early reading because stories are written mostly in lowercase letters. Capital letters in stories are used only where necessary, such as at the beginning of sentences, for proper nouns, and in titles.

There are many handwriting practice booklets on the market that will help your student learn to write letters.  Some programs begin with vertical and slanted strokes and then combine them to make letters such as: A, E, F, H, I, K L, M, N, T, V, W, X, Y, and Z. They then move on to teaching students to form circles and half circles and then teach them to write these letters:  B, C, D, G, J, O, P, Q, R, S, and U.

If children are able to write capital letters they can learn to write lowercase letters. These are just a bit more difficult because they have more curved lines (a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, j, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, and u) than capital letters do.  Many handwriting booklets just present letters in alphabetical order.  Keep in mind that short practice sessions are easier for young students to tolerate than long sessions. You can determine which type of handwriting program is best for your student.

If you want to teach writing and spelling in conjunction with learning to read as recommended in Sound Bytes Reading, have your students practice writing lowercase letters in the order that they are presented in the reading program.

How Does Memory Affect Learning To Read and Teaching Reading?

How does memory affect reading?  What are the normal limitations of memory?  How does memory affect the learning of beginning or struggling readers?  Does the amount of material we introduce at one time affect whether beginning readers will be successful learners?  What is one simple thing can we do to raise reading achievement in our students?

The following exercise is adapted from Sound Bytes Reading, pages T5-T6:

How much can you remember?  Time yourself while you try this exercise. Look at the list below for 30 seconds.  Then cover the words and write down every word you remember.

Now, look at the next list for only 10 seconds.  Then cover it and write down every word you can remember.

How well did you do?  You had the same amount of time to review each item in both lists—two seconds per item.  The average person will recall about seven words from the first list, and all of the words in the second list.  There are two reasons why this happens.  The second list is short, and the items are related to one another.  You mentally group the items in the list as “school supplies” which makes them easier to remember.

It is easier to remember small amounts of information, and even easier when the bits of information are related to one another. If we try to teach too many new letters or sounds at one time it is difficult for students to retain the information.  If you want to be successful when teaching beginning or struggling readers, do not introduce more than three new sound-patterns at a time. Review them frequently.

Some reading programs introduce as many as 10 new letter-sound patterns all at once at the beginning of the week.  If you introduce just two sound-patterns a day for five days, students will learn just as much—but they will be far more likely to retain it. Keep in mind that students also need to practice reading new words and stories containing those new sound-patterns.

Does It Matter How We Teach Kids To Read? — Part 3

We have previously talked about why the whole word method of learning to read creates problems for many students.  Why is it important to learn phonetic decoding?  What are the advantages of learning to read phonetically?  Does it have to be difficult to learn phonics?  Do kids learn to read faster if they learn to read whole words first?

When students learn to read by decoding words phonetically rather than by learning each whole word as a unit, they learn the sound or sounds for each letter or letter combination.  At the very beginning of reading instruction, phonetic decoding may take a little longer than whole word reading—but in the end, will the students be stronger, more competent, and more independent readers?

Why does whole word reading create reading problems? As we saw in the previous blog, many words look very similar to other words.  In fact, many words have only one or two letters that make them different from other words, or the order of the letters may change.  (Example:  friend, fiend, fried, fired.) This makes it critical for a reader to pay attention to every letter in a given word, and in the correct left-to-right sequence to be able to read accurately.

Initially, beginning readers who read whole words will usually be able to read more difficult words sooner because the more difficult words may have unique shapes—at least until they have to read many words. (Compare the words from an early children’s story: Cinderella, slipper, and glass, to these words: umbrella, sloppier, gloss.) Over time, the whole word reading advantage is lost because students must learn to read many words that look very similar. Whole word readers must frequently re-read passages and use context to figure out words and make sense of what they are reading.

Most reading programs require a student to memorize the names of the 26 letters of the alphabet. Phonetic reading programs usually require students to learn the sounds of all 21 consonants and the five short vowel sounds before beginning to read. This works well for many students. Some programs require memorizing all 70 sound patterns before the student is allowed to read stories.  However, when a child is struggling with reading, he or she may no longer be cooperative with this approach (memorizing many sounds first) because of the discouragement of having failed.

Now I am going to put in a blatant plug for my reading program, so you can skip the next paragraph if you really don’t want to read it.  But if your child is struggling with reading, or you want to teach a beginning reader, I would encourage you to keep on reading.

Sound Bytes Reading takes a unique approach to teaching reading.  Students only need to learn the sounds of four consonants and one vowel to be able to decode and read all of the words in the first story.  The next day, they will learn a new consonant sound and read a new story.  Soon they will have learned all of the sounds and they will also have had a lot of practice reading many stories. Granted, the stories at the beginning level are very simple and very easy to read—and that is the reason why struggling readers are so successful with this program.  When struggling readers have had difficulty learning to read, they need to have success from the very beginning if they are to be motivated to continue to try.  And they are successful from the very first day!  There is no other program like this on the market today.

This takes us back to the discussion of just how quickly students will learn to read if they learn to read phonetically instead of learning to read whole words.  When students only need to remember a few letter-sounds at a time, they will learn to read very quickly.  In addition, they will retain the material better because we have not asked them to memorize too many things at one time and—because they know how to decode words, they will not have difficulty reading words they may have forgotten. They simply sound them out and go on reading. It is a simple and joyful and effective way to learn to read.

Students will learn to read quickly with an effective phonics reading program that is appropriately paced and they will not forget what they have learned as they move into more difficult material.  After just a few weeks, they will also have the tools to read many words that they have not seen before without asking for help.  This does not happen when students learn to read whole words.  Those students must learn and memorize each individual word separately, thousands of words, one at a time.

Next time we will talk about the limitations of memory and how that affects students who are learning to read.