Using Videos to Teach Letter Names and Sounds

Using Videos to Teach Letter Names and Sounds

The past couple of days we have looked at how using names of family members can help with learning the letters of the alphabet and how can help as well.  Another resource that I like to utilize is video.  My favorite website that incorporates video to teach letter names and sounds is  I have found a great way to get a bunch of videos for the specific letter that you are focusing on with your child.  Using this resource will increase your child’s knowledge by 50%.



  1. First you need to open up the website, go to the search box.
  2. Type in the search box the letter that you would like videos and games for.  For example, if your child was working on the letter x, then you would type “letter x” and then push go.
  3. Look for playlists on the left hand side.
  4. Choose one of the playlists that has the letter you would like to work on.


Now, you are ready to sit back, watch, and learn.  All of the videos will play consecutively, along with the games.

What is the Best Website to Teach the Alphabet?

What is the Best Website to Teach the Alphabet?

With the evolution of the computer, ipad, phones, and all of the technological toys out there parents have a plethora of ways to introduce the alphabet to their children.  I am not going to do a review of all of the technological devices and toys that try to teach the alphabet, instead I am only going to focus on one great one.  That website is Starfall.  You can also purchase it as an app for your phone or ipad if you wish.

What makes this website so great?  Well, it teaches the name of the letter and the sound of the letter in an interactive manner for kids.  When you get to the website click on learn ABC's.


You will see a group of blocks on the next page.Alphabet_blocks

At this point you can click on any of the letters that you would like to learn about.  The program will show a capital letter and a lowercase letter.  Then it will make the sound the correct way when the sparkling letter in the lower right hand corner is clicked.

You may be wondering what the right way to pronounce letters is.  Well, often when different programs pronounce the sounds of the alphabet they will make the /uh/ sound after many of the consonants.  So instead of a pure /b/ sound, you will hear /buh/.  This can become a problem for kids as soon as they begin to put sounds together to make a word.  If a child was trying to sound out the word bat and sounded it out this way, /buh/ /a/ /tuh/, then when they put the sounds together it would sound like buatuh.  The child may think, "Hmmm, what does this sound like?" and blend it together as batu.  It will confuse the child and change the purpose of reading him/her.  You can see a quick demonstration of the letter sounds in the video below.

The Starfall website repeats each of the letter names and sounds throughout the demonstration.  Children are taught the letter names and sounds through a series of pictures and the names of the letters reiterated.  In order to see the next picture the child clicks on the letter again in the bottom right hand corner and this will result in hearing the sound again.

I love that the voice the child hears is the voice of another child.  At the end of the demonstration there is an interactive game that the child can play.  This game sometimes focuses on one letter, or is a review of other letters.

At the bottom of the main alphabet page that is featured above you will notice that the vowels are each listed.  When the child clicks on one of the vowels there is a little video that goes over the short sound of each of these letters using a song.  The songs are quick and easy to remember.

If one clicks on the ABC button you will hear an alphabet song that is linked to words that kids are familiar with.  This website has many other useful tools on it for beginning readers, but for now if you have time check out the ABC's and let me know what you think.

Do you have a favorite website or app that you like to use with your child?  Share in the comment section below.


Should Letter Sounds be Taught with Letter Names?

Should Letter Sounds be Taught with Letter Names?

When I was a kid people taught letter names before they taught letter sounds.  If you visit a Montessori school you will find that they do not even teach the names of the letters, they only teach the letter sounds.  So the question, "Should letter sounds be taught with letter names," is a valid question.

The answer is yes according to The National Reading Panel's report that was released in 2000.  According to the NRP,


It is essential to teach letters as well as phonemic awareness to beginners.  PA training is more effective when children are taught to use letters to manipulate phonemes.  This because knowledge of letters is essential for transfer to reading and spelling (2000).

Therefore, it is important to teach not only the letter names, but also the letter sounds.  Yesterday we took a look at a fun way to teach letter names with the names of our family members.  So if we were taking a look at the name grandpa, we could say, "The name of the letter is g, the sound of the letter is /g/.  Do you hear it?  /g/ /g/ /g/ grampa"

Not only can the names of family members and friends be used, but you can also teach the letter names and sounds by playing fun games.


Bingo - Choose a 3 x3 Bingo grid or a 4 x 4 Bingo grid.  Write some letters of the alphabet that your child knows and some letters of the alphabet that your child is working on in each of the boxes on the board.  Use the alphabet card deck to call the letters or the sounds and have the child put an x on each one that is called.  Whoever gets a straight row is the winner.

Memory - Use two decks of alphabet cards (just print out two of these).  Flip the cards over so that the white side is showing and the letters cannot be seen.  The child flips over a letter and says the sound that it makes.  If the child does not know the sound, then tell her the sound it makes.  Then, the child flips over another letter and looks to see if they match.  If the letters match, then the child gets another turn.  The person with the most matches at the end of the game wins.

Go fish - Use two decks of the alphabet cards and mix them up.  Deal 3 cards to each player.  The youngest player starts and asks if you have a certain letter or sound.  If you have the letter, then you need to give it to the child and the child goes again.  If you do not have the letter, then the child gets to pick a letter from the pile and it is your turn.  Whoever is out of cards first is the winner.

Learning the names of letters and sounds can be so much fun.  The more fun that you make this activity the less it will seem like learning or work for the child.  What are some of the creative ways that you teach letter names and sounds?


It all Starts with the Right Reading Assessments Part II

It all Starts with the Right Reading Assessments Part II

Yesterday we took a look at assessments for rhyming, blending sounds, and segmenting sounds.  Today we are going to take a closer look at FILE00~4letter names, letter sounds, phonics patterns, and sight words.

Letter Names

There are some things that you need to keep in mind when it comes to identifying letters in the alphabet.  First, being able to sing the alphabet song does not mean that your child knows the alphabet, it just means that she can sing the alphabet song.  Being able to identify each of the letters in random order, which is the way that we see it in books, is a more advanced skill.  So you want to make sure that your child can do this.  Also, you want to make sure that your child can recognize both the capital letters and the lowercase letters.  Some people will just use the refrigerator letters and think that their child can recognize them all.  Some capital letters are different shapes than the lowercase letters.

You will want to have a system for recording which letters your child knows immediately and which letters she still needs help with.  here is a free  letter assessment that you can record on.  The child that you are assessing will look at the uppercase letter naming powerpoint and tell you the name of the letters while you record the ones that she is able to read with a check and the ones she has difficulty with as the letter she names it.  Then you can repeat the process for the lowercase letters.

Letter Sounds

This is invaluable information because once you know the letters that your child is having difficulty with identifying, then you can begin focusing your instruction specifically on those letters.  Next, you will want to take a look at what letter sounds your child knows.  Again, you will want to record the sounds that she is able to read correctly with a check and write the incorrect sound the child says for incorrect ones on this form.  For this assessment you can use the lowercase letters powerpoint above.  Since kids will usually see letters in lowercase form, it is more important to test them using lowercase letters versus using the uppercase letters.

Phonics Patterns

In Phonics the Easy Way you and your child are going to learn about 6 of the most common patterns that exist in the English language.  Those patterns are called closed, open, silent e, bossy r, two vowels, and c +le.  The purpose of the next assessment is to find out which of these patterns your child already knows.  You have free access to the PowerPoint and the recording sheet.

All of the words on this assessment are nonsense words because psychologists have found that assessing nonsense words actually helps you to be able to see what a child does when she is reading an unknown word.  You can see if the child is reading the word quickly or sounding out each letter and putting together the sounds.  You will also be able to learn if the child knows when the vowel sound makes it's long sound or it's short sound.

The easiest pattern to read is the closed pattern.  If the child has difficulty with reading words from this pattern, then you will want to discontinue the assessment.  There is no need to further frustrate the child when she is not able to do the easiest task.

Sight Words

It is important to have a few words that are just memorized so that your child is able to read complete sentences.  Sight words are words that appear frequently in text.  Some examples are the, you, and was.  These lists are broken down into grade level appropriate words.  Pre-primer words are words that kids in the middle of kindergarten need to know and Primer words are words that kids at the end of kindergarten need to know.  The rest of the words are broken down by grade level.

1.  Pre-Primer 

2. Primer

3.  First Grade

4.  Second Grade

5.  Third Grade

6.  Fourth Grade

7.  Fifth Grade

8.  Sixth Grade

9.  Middle School

If a child is able to read 18-20 words on a list, then those words are at the child's independent reading level.  If the child is able to read 14-17 words correctly, then this is the level that you should be instructing the child at.  Reading less than 14 words correctly on a list puts those words at the frustration level.  If the child is at the independent level for a list, then you automatically test her in the next grade level of words.  Keep testing the child until you reach a level that is at frustration.

These basic assessments will give you a fantastic idea of what your child's reading level is.  You will know which phonics skills she has mastered and which ones she needs instruction in.  Now that we have base level data we will learn how to teach each of these skills for the rest of the month.

Which areas of reading does your child seem to struggle with the most? Do you have strategies that have helped her with developing the skills she needs or are you looking for strategies that can increase her reading ability?  Let me know in the comment section below.