Most colleges and universities do not include significant phonics instruction as part of the training program for teachers.  However, phonics instruction can be found in the private sector.  This private sector training is usually associated with a particular phonics based reading instruction method such as Orton-Gillingham or the Spalding Method.

          The authors of this site have received training from the reading and Language Arts Centers of Bloomfield Hills, MI.  We see great instructional value in many of the phonics teaching methods learned in the course of our training.  Most of the teaching methods in this “methods overview” section have come directly from or are adaptations of copyrighted materials from the Reading and Language Arts Centers.  This entire section is to be considered the intellectual property of the Reading and Language Arts Centers, which they are allowing us to use on this web site.  More information about the Reading and Language Arts Centers can be found at their internet site:


Multi-sensory Introduction of New Concept

          The key to helping our children to internalize new phonetic concepts being taught, is using a multi-sensory technique.  Many of our students may not be strong auditory or visual learners.  For that reason, the kinesthetic mode of learning is also an important part of the new concept introduction. 

          The multi-sensory introduction of a new concept has four steps.  The first step is to show the students the card and to simply tell them the correct sound.  The second step is to firmly establish a “key word” that begins with that sound.  This “key word” will serve as an anchor for the children any time they need help remembering what sound that letter makes.  The “key words” are established through an exciting variety of activities, which will be shared in each lesson overview.  The third step, once the students truly understand the new concept, is to have them write it in a sand tray three times, while saying the letter name for the sound, “C says /c/”.  The fourth step is to have the children help generate a list of words that begin with that sound.  The teacher may choose to write this list of words on the board, underlining the phonetic concept being taught within each word.


3 Part Drill

          The 3 Part Drill will become the foundation of each lesson, because of its crucial review of all concepts presented.  Since this program is sequential and systematic, it is critical that all previous concepts are secure in each learner’s mind, so that he/she can reproduce the concept quickly and accurately.  The 3 Part Drill includes three well-defined parts, employs all three learning pathways, and is always presented in the same order.  Only concepts introduced in previous lessons are used. 

Visual Drill:  Display cards one at a time, giving students time to pronounce the sound of the letter or group of letters.  Complete the deck of all letters previously presented.  Since this is a visual exercise, the card is the visual cue, and the teacher should do as little talking as possible. 

Auditory/Kinesthetic/Tactile Drill:  Pronounce each sound clearly without showing the children the cards.  After hearing the sound, the students form the letter in their individual sand trays, and at the same time verbalize; “J says /j/”, while underlining the letter from left to right.  Other kinesthetic modes could include rice, finger paint, shaving cream, jelly, etc. . .

Blending Drill:  Use three card groups, (consonant, vowel, consonant), and place on blending board.  A pocket chart or ledge can also be used.  Point to each card while students point from their seats.  Students recite each sound in isolation.  The students then blend the sounds together into a whole unit, which may be a real or nonsense word.


Fingertap Spelling

       Fingertap spelling is a critical multi-sensory tool that should be utilized regularly.  It is a kinesthetic method created to aid in isolating sounds or groups of sounds and remembering them so the student can spell correctly.  Fingertapping is for phonetic words only.  After hearing and repeating the word with a pound, the children tap out each sound or group of sounds.  Any letters appearing together on a single flash card receives one tap such as /ch/.  The “one card, one tap” rule applies to words such as chin, it has four letters but receives only three taps.  Tap fingers on the hand opposite the wiring hand.  Tap the first sound with the finger on the left, moving in order left to right.  Re-pound the word.  Repeat this process, this time writing a letter as they tap each sound of the word.

          Refer to Working with Words lesson plans for words to use for each lesson.  It is helpful to use an overhead and write each word after the students tap the phonemes.  This provides instant correction for any miscues.


Sentence Dictation

          After hearing a dictated sentence, the students repeat the sentence aloud while pounding lightly on the table - - one pound for each syllable.  Pounding is a neurolinguistic programming skill to assist students in remembering the sentence.  This is most helpful when the student expresses difficulty remembering the sentence.  When a student has difficulty remembering the sentence or a part of it, the teacher should not repeat the sentence.  The student should pound out the sentence while reading what s/he has already written.  The multi-sensory aspect of pounding usually assists in recalling the entire sentence.

          The more clearly the students understand or can visualize what the sentence is about, the better the recall of writing.  Reading research has shown that the basis for complete reading comprehension begins with the ability to visualize what is described in a sentence.  The following activities are suggested to help students build the ability to visualize sentence meaning in their heads to better prepare them for sentence recall during a sentence dictation activity.

          Select students to act out or pantomime the sentences to enhance visualization.

          Read a sentence and have students draw a quick picture of it.

          Refer to Working with Words lesson plans for sentences to use for each lesson.  It is helpful to use an overhead and write each sentence after the students pound the words and tap the phonemes.  This provides instant correction for any miscues.


Multi-sensory Introduction of “Wall Words”

          Many of the words we want children to become very familiar with do not have phonetic spellings.  However, these words are used frequently.  Children must learn to read the words at sight, as well as to spell the words correctly.  The following method helps the children to internalize non-phonetic words.

          First the teacher shows the children the new word.  The children copy the word with a crayon, onto their paper, which is on top of a bubble pad.  (These “bubble pads” are actually plastic needlepoint mats, sold at any craft store.  They can be cut into thirds with a paper cutter.)  The children print with large, clear letters.  Their letters will appear with a texture that they can see and feel.

          Next, they hold their paper at arm’s length, with the word visible.  They “armtap” the spelling of the word with their other hand.  For example, as the children armtap the word have, they would start at their shoulder moving towards their hand holding the word, and spell it:  “h – a – v – e”, then slide their hand down their arm from shoulder to hand as they read the entire word, “have”.  They repeat armtapping for each word three times. 

          Next, they trace the word with their finger three times.  (They actually feel the texture of the letters as they trace the word.)

          Next, they write the word with their finger three times,; in the air, on their desk, on their own hand, or even on a friend’s back.

          Next, they write the word three more times on paper.  (Rainbow writing is a favorite activity, where the children use their bubble pads, and trace over each word with three different color crayons.)

          Finally, they turn their paper over, and write the new word by memory.


Handwriting using the “House Paper” ©

       As each new letter is introduced, the correct letter formation is also taught and monitored very closely.  The “house paper” is a wonderful tool to help children understand the concept of letter size and spacing.  As you are initially teaching each correct letter formation to the children, model carefully, using an overhead transparency of the “house paper”.  Show the children how each letter fits inside the house.  Have them write the new letter right inside the house.  For example, for the letter h, you may say, “Start way up at the very peak of the roof.  Go all the way down through the roof, the ceiling, and touch the floor.  Now go back up, touch the ceiling again, and make a round hill, now back and touch the floor.”  Next, the children would use the lines next to the house to make h’s just like the first one.  (Of course, some letters also go into the basement!)


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