Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What Can I Do to Help My Child Learn to Read? Part 1

We hear from many parents about their children’s struggles with learning to read. Difficulties with reading can have a negative long-term effect on a children’s self-esteem, their desire to learn and succeed in school, and ultimately their success in life.

Although there are no quick ways to teach children to read, it doesn’t have to be a difficult task. In the next blog posts I will outline the basic skills children must master in order to learn to read. These posts will go hand in hand with the recommendations made by the National Reading Panel’s (NRP) 2000 report. The goals of the report were simple: to identify what works when teaching children to read. The NRP report identified five areas of reading instruction that must be addressed in order to teach children to read:

1. Phonemic Awareness: Being able to notice, understand, and work with the sounds in words.
2. Phonics: A method of teaching reading, based on sounding out letters to read words.
3. Fluency: Being able to read accurately and quickly.
4. Vocabulary: Knowing what words mean when we hear and read them.
5. Text Comprehension: Truly understanding what is read.

How can I help my child gain phonemic awareness?
There are many activities that can help parents accomplish this task. Here are two simple ones that you can do with your child without having to buy, make, or read anything (outside of this post!). When you see a letter between slashes, /a/, it represents the sound of the letter. When you see a letter in bold, a, it represents the name of the letter.

Activity 1:
Parent: Listen to this word: cat. One more time: cat. /k/ /a/ /t/. Can you say the word?
Parent: Good job! Now can you say the sounds? /k/ /a/ /t/.
(If your child makes an error, be positive--“Good try!” “That was pretty close!” “You almost got it!”--and ask him to try again.)
Child: /k/ /a/ /t/.
Parent: That was great! Now write each letter for the word cat. Write the letter that makes this sound /k/ (allow your child to write the letter c); /a/ (allow your child to write the letter a); /t/ (allow your child to write the letter t).
Child: /k/ (child writes letter c); /a/ (child writes letter a); /t/ (child writes letter t); cat.
Parent: You said AND wrote the word cat. You are so smart! (Now try more words like fan, sad, bat, pig, pen, and box.)

Activity 2:
Watch this video with your child. Listen to the narrator and follow the prompts:

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Biteys: Best Food ABCs of 2009

The votes are in, and here are the official winners of the 2009 Bitey Awards. These are the best food ABCs of the year. Enjoy!

First Place:

"EATPHABET" by Luiza Prado

Courtesy Luiza P.

2nd Place:

"VALUE PACK" by Robert J. Bolesta

3rd Place:

"Apple Alphabet" by Anna Benaroya
Courtesy Anna Benaroya

Honorable Mention:

"Communication Just Got Sweeter" Ad for M&Ms

Courtesy Larryfire

Thanks to everyone around the world helping to make every day and every meal an alphabet celebration. Now go eat your peas... and your Ts and your Fs!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Season’s Readings...Take our Holiday Poll!

Flip through the channels of TV this week and you’ll come across many versions of A Christmas Carol, but have you actually ever read the original by Charles Dickens—the one that inspired it all? Or what about The Nutcracker? I see a live performance every year, but I only found out today it was a book long before it was a ballet. Take a look at this short list of famous Christmas stories. Which ones have you actually read—not just seen—but actually read? Take our poll: We’d like to know!

Poll: Which Christmas stories have you read?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Festival of Lights...and Books!

Here's a starter list of Hanukkah books to help bring extra reading and fun to this week's festival of lights.

The Chanukkah Guest by Eric A. Kimmel is a personal favorite. This silly story of a bear who is mistaken for a dinner guest provides great opportunities for dramatic reading and overacting.

The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes by Linda Glaser is a charming tale of sharing and bringing family and friends together.
D is for Dreidel by Tanya Lee Stone is an alphabet book celebrating many themes and symbols of Hanukkah. (Okay, X is tough, so we'll forgive the author for using "Xylophone.")

Sammy Spider's First Hanukkah by Sylvia A. Rouss is a great preschool story about a spider exploring the meaning of the holiday and--bonus--colors and numbers, too!
- - -
Special thanks to Lisa Ginns for these suggestions, and--no--there is no one correct way to spell the word Hah-noo-kah in English.

2010 Hooked on Phonics Commercial

Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read is an award-winning program designed to help children learn how to read using phonics. Dozens of prominent educators, award-winning authors, illustrators, composers, and parents have partnered to make this the best Learn to Read yet. Visit for more.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Helping Your Child Blend Sounds to Read Words

What is blending? In phonics, blending is the ability to recognize sounds and manipulate them in order to read words. To blend, children must first say each sound and then blend them together. For example, if you say each of these sounds, /c/ /a/ /t/, and blend them together, you get the word cat.

Children must be able to blend parts of words together and recombine them easily to read words they don’t know and to acquire fluency (the ability to read accurately with speed and expression). Although many children learn to blend sounds independently, others must be taught the process step by step. The sooner a child learns to blend, the more easily he will learn to read fluently.

A great way to teach blending is to start with cvc (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, for example, fan. Words that start and end with the sounds /f/, /v/, /n/, /m/, /l/, and /s/ are easier to blend because they can be drawn out: /ffffaaaannnn/.Have the child say each sound of the word fan, pausing after each sound:/f/-/a/-/n/. Have the child repeat the sounds again, this time by holding each sound as they move to the next.: /fff//aaa//nnn/. Repeat several times a little faster until the sounds are blended and the child can read the word: /fffaaannn/, /ffaann/, fan.

You can give your kids a head start by helping them learn to read a few words before they even start school. We’ve made it easy for you: Here’s a script for teaching them to blend sounds to read the word mat:
Parent: ‘When you see a letter, make its sound: (letter a) /aaa/’
Child: ‘/aaa/’
Parent: ‘(letter t) /t/’
Child: ‘/t/’
Parent: ‘Now, say both sounds: /aaa/ /t/, /aaa/ /t/’
Child: ‘/aaa/ /t/, /aaa/ /t/’
Parent: ‘A little faster: /aa/ /t/, /aa/ /t/’
Parent: ‘Now, a little faster: /a/ /t/, /a/ /t/’
Child: ‘/a/ /t/, /a/ /t/’
Parent: ‘Now, say the sounds together, starting at the left and moving to the right. Ready? /at/, /at/.’
Child: ‘/at/, /at/’
Parent: ‘Now. Let’s add one more sound: /mmm/ /at/, /mmm/ /at/.’
Child: ‘/mmm/ /at/, /mmm/ /at/’
Parent: ‘Now, blend the sounds together, starting from the left and moving to the right: /mmaat/, /mmaat/.
Child: ‘/mmaat/, /mmaat/’
Parent: ‘One more time: mat.’
Child: ‘mat
Parent: ‘You read mat!’

Watch this clip for a visual representation of this blending lesson…

Thursday, December 3, 2009

V Song - Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Pre-K

The V Song is part of Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Pre-K and is designed for children ages 3 to 4. Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read is a reading program designed to help children learn how to read and improve reading skills using phonics. Follow us on:
Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read
Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Blog
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Hooked on Phonics dot com

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Oh, go on...

For any organization, one of the greatest things is coming across unsolicited praise from a consumer. We are always keeping our eyes peeled and ears open to hear what our customers are saying. We want to deliver the best experience that we possibly can for your child. But there is no sweeter satisfaction than finding out what you are already doing is right on!

We recently stumbled upon blogger, who has been saying great things about our Master Reader product, which teaches advanced phonics skills. When we contacted him to thank him and let him know we had recently updated our Learn to Read product, we found out that, not only had he used our products with both of his sons, but two of his sisters have had great success with Hooked on Phonics as well!

Take a look at his blog and see what he thinks.

If you or your family members have stories about using any of our products, please let us know!