Academy of Literacy converts the memory challenged into logic based learners.
Teaches the ALPHabetic Principle in a meaningful & predictable format.
Forward to the Fundamentals
ALPHabiTunes is a virtual teacher created by a virtuoso who has developed a systematic logical approach to teaching the fundamentals of literacy - the Alphabetic Principle. The program is light-years beyond traditional literacy teaching approaches as evidenced by the successes achieved in the A.W.A.R.E. Academy of Literacy

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Research has repeatedly indicated that the single most important variable in any reading program is the knowledge and skill of the teacher implementing the program… Ensuring Early Literacy Through Coherent Instruction

forward to the fun
Converting letters (graphemes) into sound graphics

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The closer the teacher gets to producing a “pure” form of the phoneme, a prototype that can be used for classification, the easier it is for the learner to establish a point of reference.

ALPHabiTunes is designed to teach children to draw on their own experience and discover how each letter acquired its sound based on its shape and habit of behaviour. As the child recognizes that a letter’s sound (phon) is reflected by its shape (graphic), the quip “Oh!” signals that s/he has made the explicit connection between the two. In this way, the child internalizes the abstract letter graphics as phon-O-graphics that visually/explicitly convey each letter’s sound(s) by its shape.
Teaching through animation

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Kids are no more attracted to things that are good for them than adults are. That doesn’t mean, that children’s interactive programming can’t have solid educational content. But it has to be done in a way that is meaningful to kids not adults.
Designing for Kids: Infusion of Life, Kisses of Death

Growl Ever wondered how children can read the word “McDonald’s” at such an early age?
Are they child prodigies? No. McDonald’s has cleverly converted the letter M into golden arches – a graphic symbol - that makes the word McDonald easy to read as it conveys the concept, “Here’s a great place to play and eat”. ALPHabiTunes engages this form of environmental print reading to enable children to construct their own knowledge about letter sounds from the inside as they interact with animated letters set into familiar environments. As the children discover how each letter acquired its sound based on its shape and behaviour, they develop the letter sense needed to translate the abstract letters of the alphabet into sound graphics - phonographics that visually convey sound and behaviour in a way that makes sense to children. Synthesizing/blending the letters’ sounds into words to be used in creating individual controlled-reading materials, becomes a game that is both fun and rewarding.
A teacher in a computer…

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Well-designed technology can help by providing cognitive ‘ramps’ from the concrete to the abstract. ‘Intelligent tutors’ may scaffold understanding… * (Healy 1998)

where letters do the teaching

K-referee ALPHabiTunes' teaching begins on the computer with the letter K refereeing a soccer game. A wayward soccer ball hits the K referee in the stomach, which on impact gives the letter K both its new compact shape (K-K) and its sound Kuh. The letter C looking for a sound of its own and recognizing that another ball will be needed for the game to continue, superimposes itself on a ball and begins to practice its bouncing techniques along with its new sound Cuh - modeled on the sound of the ball hitting the turf. The K, realizing that the C is about to steal its sound, confronts the C and a dispute follows with the letter K making its sound Kuh and the letter C responding with its Cuh sound.

The argument between the K and C over the same sound escalates and the K asserts its authority as a referee by kicking the ball with the C out of the game. The letter C clings tenaciously to the ball as it flies out of the stadium on its quest to find another sound. The K is unceremoniously stripped of its referee gear in reprimand for showing a serious lack of judgment in kicking out an opponent. The disgraced K is whisked off to be identified and to await its penalty. The letter C is seen in the following letter's story once again plotting to assume another's sound.

The conflict that plays out in the story of the K and C mirrors the struggle that children face in trying to decide whether to use the letter K or C in spelling words with a Kuh sound. (In the 41 phonemes listed as the smallest sound units, the letter C is missing). To resolve this confusion the penalties handed down to K become lessons in its usage for the students.

Tree Guy The Tree of Knowledge decrees three penalties

Each of the three penalties is presented from a child's perspective. Through discussions the child learns how each penalty plays out in the usage of the K in printing and reading words.

Penalty # 1 - K can no longer be trusted so its behavior must be closely monitored.
So unless the I, Y or E are the letters immediately following the K, the C is used for the sound Cuh.

Penalty # 2 - both K and C must receive counseling in anger management.
A compromise is the solution: C now stands behind K, and in words with only one vowel, together they make a Cuh sound.

Penalty # 3 - the letter K is no longer allowed to play on team sports.
Children discover that, in the middle of words with more than 2 syllables, the letter K is seldom used to say Kuh.

With the roles of C and K now defined, both get to keep their Cuh - Kuh sounds and C is added to the list. As the program progresses, children discover how certain letters come to share sounds. For children, each letter's behavior and function becomes increasingly logical and predictable once they realize letters respond exactly as they would. Too many educators cling to the paradigm that English is neither predictable nor logical so traditional rules continue to be taught.

C.U.T.E. by Design

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…kids love to be entertained, it is also true they’re hungry for content. Layer meaningful themes or goals into your products. But be sure the themes you choose are portrayed from a child’s point of view, and well integrated into the overall frame of the story or game.

Girl with Computer ALPHabiTunes’ format, routinely described by adults as ‘CUTE’, is in reality an interactive
C.hild-centered U.niversal T.echnical E.ducator
Teaching format: Number Blocks
  • builds on child’s prior knowledge and interests to create focus and integrate learning
  • creates synergy of learning through interactive multimedia animation
  • addresses all learning styles with its multi-modal approach
  • has children identifying with letters’ foibles and antics
  • adapts songs and rhymes from children’s nursery rhymes
  • introduces new vocabulary through the colourful rhyming dialogue and animation
  • provides interactive games to practice letter sounds, tracing, and blending words
  • piano game establishes letter sound correspondence (one-sound-one–letter in the order heard)
  • develops phonologic awareness as the entire program is spoken in rhyme
  • transforms traditional letter shapes into sound symbols
  • sets the stage for children to discover in stories how letters acquired their sounds
  • juxtaposes letters and numbers to reinforce orientation and assist in correct printing.
Laptop Graph
Children learn by comparing new information against information they already have in their heads.
A FrameWork
Child-friendly interface:  Hourglass
  • program’s interface presents directions both visually and orally:
    • letter ‘H’ appears on Man-in-Moon’s hat when he is available for help
    • Owl dons an aviator’s outfit indicating the child can move ahead
    • highlighted arrows provide opportunities to revisit letters played
    • replay of instructions is available when hourglass appears
    • bookmark becomes a traffic light child can use to stop-pause-continue the program
    • Moon uses his hands to demonstrate activities
  • Man-in-Moon repeats initial instructions on request
  • format remains consistent throughout program
  • exit button available at all times
  • re-entry returns user to last point of play.
Laptop Graph
Visual communication “is capable of disseminating knowledge more effectively than almost any other vehicle of communication”.
Hypothesis testing: Girl with Balckboard
  • the one sound = one letter correlation is established
  • a foundation for hypothesis testing is set up
  • the piano game creates careful segmentation of sounds
  • 1 sound - 1 letter correlation moves learner toward spelling
  • finger tapping tabulates the correlation of sounds to letters …
  • the brain is programmed to recognize units of sound called syllables.
Laptop Graph
Children seem to be much better at recognizing patterns and making generalizations based upon observed patterns than at applying explicit rules when decoding words. A FrameWork
Systematic blending system: Piano Game
  • introduces a touch system to blend letters into words
  • offers only sounds of letters’ mastered for words to be blended
  • adjusts level of blending words automatically to fit work done
  • establishes patterns of vowel sounds in multi-syllable words
  • formats brain to recognize syllables common to multi-syllable words
  • develops automaticity in recall of letter sounds
  • teaches blending skills needed for deciphering unknown words
  • uses formula 1-sound -1-letter to build single-syllable and multi-syllable words
  • links pure letter sound (phones) to form 2500 real one-, two- and three-syllable words.
Laptop Graph Once association between sound and letter(s) is taught, children need cumulative practice building words with letters they know. Systematic programs begin with a limited set of sound - symbol correspondences – so that words can be built right away. After ten to fifteen words with known sound- symbol connections are blended, they are used immediately in sentences.
Correct pronunciation of letter sounds: Snowman
  • naturally occurring sounds in the environment are transformed into sounds of letters
  • letter sounds become reflections of the environmental sounds that they suggest
  • letters become sound symbols free from mispronunciations often associated with letters
  • cloud icon:
    • models the mouth shape needed to create the correct pronunciation of letters
    • demonstrates how the mouth moves to create each sound
    • shows how the shape of the mouth reflects the sound associated with the vowels
  • stories teach how:
    • letters have come to share sounds
    • letters can have more than one sound
    • only vowels can say their own names.
Laptop Graph Correct English spelling patterns for the sounds of English speech and the rules of our language, generally, have not been taught at the teacher training level in America since the early 1930’s.
* The Riggs Institute
Open Book Controlled reading materialsControlled reading materials:
  • are created by the child based on print-outs from the piano blending game
  • reflect child’s interests and culture
  • establish awareness of syntax as the child forms sentences to create stories
  • provide motivation using child-generated reading materials
  • develop comprehension of the printed word.
Laptop Graph Research shows that it is important for children to practice the phonics they have learned. It is therefore essential that the initial books that children attempt to read on their own be composed of decodable text.
* Teaching Reading. A Balanced, Comprehensive Approach to Teaching Reading in Prekindergarten Through Grade Three
Letter tracing:
  • child uses computer’s mouse to trace letters’ shapes Letter Tracing
  • tracing practice becomes a precursor for cursive writing
  • continuous tracing reduces the probability of letter reversals
  • continuous movement of trace establishes motor memory for letter’s shape and orientation
  • mandated path of each trace follows the Maclean’s method of forming letters
  • sounds of the letters are heard as child traces lower case letters
  • names of vowels are heard as child constructs or traces vowels.
Laptop Graph Animation is a powerful tool for accentuating information. Through the slow animation of a pencil on screen, … the child can imagine that s/he is actually writing. Because a small mouse is somewhat easier for a young child to hold than a pencil, a child can pretend that s/he is writing a letter long before s/he picks up a pencil and tries to accomplish the same tasks in the real world.
* Better Design for Better Living: the Role of Human Factor
Accountability for learning:
  • Letter-Tree 100% accuracy in recognition of letters’ sounds required – auto-review of incorrect letters
  • assessment game at the end of each of the four modules:
    • reports progress
    • mandates reviews as indicated by incorrect responses
    • returns student to letter’s story if letter’s sound is not identified correctly
    • requires the child to identify alternate sounds of letters
    • requires the child to recognize letters with shared sounds
  • piano’s unique blending game:
    • accuracy in letter-sound correspondence is mandated in the blending game
    • level of words blended indicates the child’s ability to decode1-, 2 & -3 syllable words
    • words blended successfully can be printed out for reading and constructing sentences
    • level of words blended indicates reading readiness
  • record of the child’s interaction with the help features reveals preferred learning style
  • reports specific areas of weakness that need additional teaching.
Laptop Graph In an integrated learning system program, each student studies at his or her level, because an adaptive testing algorithm places every student at a level appropriate for the instructional process.
* Integrated Learning Systems
Resource material: Resources
  • provides supporting information on ALPHabiTunes’ pedagogy
  • details the assessment and reporting features of program
  • outlines program’s navigation system and provides helpful tips
  • includes black line masters for practice and transfer of learning
  • suggests reading activities that support ALPHabiTunes’ teaching.
Note: Some links may become archived and therefore no longer available.


California Dept. of Education Teaching Reading. A Balanced, Comprehensive Approach to Teaching Reading in Prekindergarten Through Grade Three.

Healy, Jane, M. (1990). Endangered Minds: New York, Simon & Schuster.

The Riggs Institute - The Riggs Institute Literacy Tips, Literacy tip #1

Literacy Center.Net - The Early Childhood Education Network, Better Design for Better Learning: the Role of Human Factors, Retrieved 3/17/03