Academy of Literacy converts the memory challenged into logic based learners.
Teaches the ALPHabetic Principle in a meaningful & predictable format.
Phonemic Awereness

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The lack of phonemic awareness is the most powerful determinant of the likelihood of failure to learn to read because of its importance in learning the English alphabetic system or how print represents spoken words.

Why can't Johnny Read?
Developing phonemic awareness

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... one difficulty in developing phonemic awareness is that it is not possible to explicitly state to the child what she must become aware of, rather we can only lead her to try to induce for herself what must be acquired.

What parents and educators need to Knowledge
Kindergarten children with explicit instruction in phonemic awareness did better than a group of first graders who had no instruction, indicating that this crucial pre-skill for reading can be taught at least by age five and is not developmental.
* Cunningham, A. E. (1990).
Research Guy Research reports that:
  • phonemic awareness is essential to the process of learning to read
  • many children do not develop phonemic awareness from traditional phonics instruction
  • simply learning letter-sound relationships does not necessarily help a child gain phonemic awareness
  • the acquisition of phonemic awareness is not guaranteed simply through maturation; in fact, about a third of students require varying degrees of assistance to promote its development
  • many teachers do not have a solid foundation in their own phonemic awareness
  • few teachers have received the level of training that produces the skill level needed to teach children phonemic awareness
  • some children are able to demonstrate knowledge of letter-sound relationships without actually understanding the Alphabetic Principle.
Teaching phonemes
The traditional out-side-in approach – using words to teach letters’ sounds (words>letters’ sounds)

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What we are asking children to do is counterintuitive because for the child learning language, meaning has been paramount, while the forms in which the meaning is represented have been unimportant - they are merely the medium, which is to be ignored in favor of the message. With phonemic awareness, we are asking the child to focus attention in the opposite fashion, ignoring meaning and attending only to form.

Traditional teaching programs use words to teach letter sounds because:
  • children’s minds are formatted to look for meaning when ready to read
  • spoken words have meaning
  • the sounds of the letters carry no such meaning
  • letters of the alphabet – seen as squiggly lines have no meaning or relevance to spoken language.
Sound Problem:

…when teaching is focused on initial sounds, many pupils appearing to learn successfully are in fact making visual and not phonological links. … they search their minds for a picture bank … without appreciating the ‘t’ is the sound at the beginning of ‘top’. (Drysdale)

light-years ahead in its unique in-side-out approach
– using sounds - phones - to teach phonemes - letters (sounds>letters)

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There is converging research support for the proposition that getting started in reading depends critically on mapping the letter and the spelling of words on the sound and speech units that they represent.
* (Snow, Burn & Griffin)

ALPHabiTunes uses animation as well as articulatory features, to capitalize on visual and phonological links to teach the pure sounds of letters –phones. “Phones” are the pure sounds of letters that form phonemes (the sound units) that make up words. Traditional literacy research maintains that it is impossible to teach phones or pure sounds explicitly, because when presented in words, the tongue and jaw are set to pronounce both the beginning and subsequent letter sound. So when we tell children the initial sound of ball is “buh” what we are actually saying is a syllable with two phonemes, not the pure sound of the letter ‘b’.

Utilizing real life experiences to teach the abstract sounds of letters

ALPHabiTunes achieves the highly impossible and teaches pure sounds of letters, by focusing on familiar sound effects rather than the letter-sounds found in words. For example, the sound associated with the letter ‘’b’, conveyed through its behaviour (bouncing like a ball on a hard surface), takes on a whole new meaning that melds its sound with shape and orientation.

Associate Children learn to associate:

  • the sound produced by a bouncing ball as it hits the ground – bbbbb, with the letter “b”
  • the path that a ball travels as it produces a bouncing sound with the shape of the letter “b”
  • the direction the ball follows as it bounces down, up and around and right off the scene with the orientation of the letter “b”.

The importance of orientation becomes apparent if we look at how the sounds, names and functions of many letters’ change when rotated:

sounds i.e. b - d, p - q. a cupCup … is … a cupCup … is…a cupCup

function from vowel to consonant (u – n, a - D)
◦ vowels can say both their names and sounds
◦ consonants can only make their sounds

By teaching pure letter sounds – phones – as reflections of life experiences, children naturally internalize letters’ sounds, shapes and orientation. Letters now make sense as they are transformed into sound-symbols that are easily read and remembered by children. As a result they develop letter sense - the basis for understanding phonemes and phonemic awareness.

Making sense of phonemic blending

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… acquiring the alphabetic principle is quite difficult for young pre-readers, but may be feasible if (1) students learn to use articulatory features as the basis for understanding phonemes, and (2) phonemic awareness and spelling-sound relations are taught synergistically.
Psychological Perspectives on the Early Reading Wars: The Case of Phonological Awareness

ALPHabiTunes develops phonemic blending by using an in-side-out format where children use the ‘letter-sounds’ (phones) they have mastered to generate 1-, 2- and 3-syllable words, as opposed to the traditional out-side-in format for developing phonemic blending where the teacher provides single-syllable words and the child decodes the words using a variety of techniques. i.e. rimes, rhyming, small words in big words etc.

As the child plays, ALPHabiTunes’ unique piano blending game:

  1. teachesPiano
    1. words are made of sounds not letters
    2. blending skills - the child uses the piano’s keys to link the pure letter sounds to create words
    3. syllabication – the child blends letters’ sounds into one-, two- and three-syllable real words
    4. synergistically - words correctly blended are used to create controlled reading materials.
  2. provides
    1. articulatory features - “Cloud” models the correct mouth shape needed to produce the sound associated with a letter.
  3. establishes
    1. the sound-spelling relations - one-sound-one-letter in the order-heard, found in 85% of English words
    2. the alphabetic principle – the corner stone of English literacy, in a way that is meaningful to children.

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Important, research demonstrates that for children who understand how the alphabetical principle works, it is relatively easy for them to add new letter- sound pairs to the working set.
California Dept. of Education

Once a child has established the sounds associated with the 26 letters of the alphabet and has used them to successfully blend short-vowel single-syllable words and multi-syllable words they are ready to explore:

  • other combinations of letters that can make similar sounds i.e. “au”, and “aw” also make a yawning sound like the letter “o”
  • letters combinations that are unique to one -, and two-syllable words i.e. “ch” and “sh”.
  • combination of vowels needed to make the vowel say its own name in single-syllable words i.e. “ai”, “ay”, “oa”, “ee” …
  • letters and vowels that combine to make consonants appear to say their own name i.e. “ar”
  • combinations of letters that make sounds not associated with the letters of the alphabet i.e. “ow - cow”, “oi”, “oo - look”…

With ALPHabiTunes children are introduced to phonemic awareness in a systematic explicit format (sounds>words) that builds a solid understanding of the alphabetic principle and eliminates the confusion associated with single-syllable and multi-syllable words.

…research shows that it may be very effective to teach children from the start how letters map on to phonemes in words. Once children have a firm grasp of this, they may be able to decode new words for themselves. This skill is an important self-teaching mechanism, which will help them to expand their sight vocabularies and see them on the road to independent reading.


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

Cunningham, A. E. (1990). Explicit versus implicit instruction in phonological awareness. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 50, 429-444.

Snow, C.E., Burns, M.S. & Griffin, P. (1998). Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.