Letter Sound Learning

A key to early literacy success

09/03/2009  |  BRENDA LARSON

According to the Report of the National Reading Panel, “an essential part of the process for beginners involves learning the alphabetic system, that is, letter-sound correspondences and spelling patterns, and learning how to apply this knowledge in their reading.” For children to be successful readers, they must develop a strong foundation in letter-sound correspondence.   

In 34 years as a Remedial Reading/Learning Assistance Teacher, I consistently worked with children who struggled to learn their letter sounds. Armed with the knowledge that the majority of individuals are visual learners, I started drawing pictures in the shape of the letters to give children a visual cue to remember. Not only did the students show improved mastery of their sounds, they were also able to retrieve the shape of the letter by remembering the picture cue — spelling and printing improved as well. 

With Itchy’s Alphabet, children are given a “picture” of each letter which connects the shape and the sound in a way that is readily remembered.  Another alphabet may use ‘moon’or ‘monkey’for the letter ‘m’. When children visualize these key word pictures, they are not reminded of the shape of ‘m’ — Itchy’s ‘mountains’ give them “the picture” as well as the sound. One skill complements the other and learning occurs at a faster rate, with greater retention. Itchy’s Alphabet is a complete, systematic approach to teaching the letter sounds

Itchy’s Alphabet focuses on the lower case letters and letter sounds. While recognizing that upper case letters and names must be learned, I want the children to be working with the forms of the letters they will be encountering in both reading and writing. There is a belief that it is easier to learn the upper case letters.  However, when we look closely, over half of the upper case and lower case letters are either identical or extremely close in formation and the rest are simply different combinations of lines and circles, whether upper or lower case.

In the 1998 joint position statement of the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), they state, “A fundamental insight developed in children’s early years through instruction is the alphabetic principle, the understanding that there is a systematic relationship between letters and sounds (Adams 1990). The research of Gibson and Levin (1975) indicates that the shapes of letters are learned by distinguishing one character from another by its type of spatial features. Teachers will often involve children in comparing letter shapes, helping them to differentiate a number of letters visually. Alphabet books and alphabet puzzles in which children can see and compare letters may be a key to efficient and easy learning.” Itchy’s Alphabet picture cues reinforce the spatial features of each letter by providing children with a visual cue, thus significantly enhancing their learning and establishing the foundation of success in Early Literacy.

Brenda Larson recently retired after more than 34 years in the British Columbia public school system. Most of her career has been spent in the area of Learning Assistance, providing support to regular education students struggling with various aspects of their learning. Visit
www.itchysalphabet.com or contact Larson directly at 877-368-7890.
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